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Offering a fresh way of helping you keep up with art and entertainment happenings around the Capital District.

Friday, August 20, 2010

12-month theater

It would appear that the summer theater season is coming to a close. There are a couple of shows that open this weekend and a few more openings that straggle into next week, but for all practical purposes summer theater is done by Labor Day.

However, it's getting hard to tell when summer theater really closes as many companies now produce a fall show. Barrington Stage Company, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Shakespeare & Company, Theater Barn and Oldcastle Theatre have shows that run in September and October. The reason is that the tourist season does not end on Labor Day. Come fall, the leaf-peepers arrive.

For many theater organizations the season is 12-months long. Capital Rep always runs a popular summer entertainment, as does Curtain Call Theatre in Latham. Both organizations have September shows getting ready to open.

Proctors is also looking at the summer market. Last year they had a successful week run of "Rent." This summer they brought in "Cats," and "Miss Saigon." Tonight they begin previews for a three-week run of "Forever Plaid."

Indeed, Proctors is so intent on developing a summer season they have taken the risky step of becoming a co-producer of product. Traditionally, Proctors presents other people's product. This is still a risk because they negotiate a price for the run that is usually guaranteed. If the show fails at the box office a loss is incurred.

When Proctors becomes a producer, as they were with "Miss Saigon," the risk can be even more because the expenses are higher. They partnered with Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera and a company in Toronto for "Miss Saigon" with Pittsburgh CLO taking the artistic lead in producing the show. Proctors had a financial stake in the production and had strong responsibilities for the technical aspects of the show (lights, sound, orchestra) when it played Schenectady.

Proctors is also a co-producer of "Forever Plaid" which is at the smaller G.E. Theater in the Proctors complex. It plays through September 12 and even though it is in a smaller theater three weeks it's a long run for a familiar show.

Self-producing appears a way to control the flow of product and even though the risk is higher the reward is also greater - if its a success.

It's an example of how area theater is changing - not only by the calendar but by the way productions are mounted.


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