BWW Interview: Mr. Todd Fogdall of The Appell Center for the Performing Arts - CELEBRATION WEEKEND
THE STRAND-CAPITOL PERFORMING ARTS CENTER in York, PA becomes the APPELL CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS
Officially beginning Friday, May 5, 2017, The Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center will become the Appell Center for the Performing Arts, located at 50 North George Street, in downtown York, PA.
The Appell Center for the Performing Arts is being named in honor of Mr. Louis Appell, Jr., who passed away in June of 2016. A prevalent philanthropist, Mr. Appell spent his life devoted to numerous local and statewide organizations, one of which was The Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center.
The commencing of the renaming Celebration Weekend begins Friday, May 5, with a performance by a jazz group in the Studio at 5:00 p.m., and a free First Friday Family CapFilm of "Sing," at 7:00 p.m., followed by the sold out performance by Mr. Tony Bennett at 7:30 p.m. The weekend offers celebratory free events for people of all ages, all weekend. From arts and crafts with Creative York, to Improv, hip-hop and percussion workshops; there is something for everyone. A complete list of events and times is listed at StrandCapitol.org, or by calling 717-846-1111.
With such a monumental event taking place I sat down with Mr. Todd Fogdall, President and CEO of the Appell Center for the Performing Arts, to learn more about the Appell Center and its contributions to the community of York and surrounding counties.
Christy Brooks: What types of performers and events will be involved in the Celebration Weekend?
Todd Fogdall: As we started to put this concept together, we wanted to bring a wide range of performers and types of art forms. We wanted to engage with some of the groups we have partnered with before but wanted to also reach out to additional artists and organizations as much as possible. We wanted to offer a variety of creative presentations. For example, the Capitol Theatre has a Wurlitzer organ and we will be showcasing it, along with a silent film at 11:00 a.m., on Saturday. We will be having performances and events on all our stages and spaces. For example, we will have things like interactive dance demonstrations, a recycled percussion drumming performance, and different types of music offerings, as well as partnering with York Story Slam.
Christy Brooks: Besides honoring Mr. Appell with the name change, what is another goal for the weekend?
Todd Fogdall: It is intended to be a time to throw the doors open and invite the community to come and see what we are all about. Whether someone has been here before or not; everyone is welcome to check out our spaces and learn more about the different programs we offer.
Christy Brooks: Will there be a permanent display in the lobby of The Appell Center to showcase Mr. Appell's years and types of contributions he has made for the York Community?
Todd Fogdall: Yes, we do envision something like that in the near future. For the weekend, however, we will have a special playbill that we will hand out at all the performances. In there will be a two-page spread that is really a very condensed version of the history of the Appell Family and their more than 90 year connection with both theatres.
Christy Brooks: Would you speak to the history of the Strand and Capitol Theatres?
Todd Fogdall: It was Louis Appell, Jr.'s grandfather and father that built The Strand Theatre. Nathan Appell, Louis' grandfather, was a big theatre mogul. He owned theatres all around the Northeast. He had theatre troupes that toured as well. It was his vision, along with Louis Appell, Sr., as motion pictures were coming on the scene, to build this movie palace in York. They spent one million dollars back in 1925 to build the Strand. Then in 1926, they purchased the space next door which at the time was a dance hall called, "The Jackson." They converted the dance hall into a movie theatre, added the balcony and reopened it as The Capitol Theatre. Throughout the proceeding years, the theatres were owned and operated by other companies. The theatres were closed in the 1970's and basically abandoned. There were a lot of conversations about what to do with the space. There was an active proposal in front of the City Council to raze the buildings and put in a parking lot. But then Louis Appell, Jr., along with a group of others in the community, spoke up and said that these buildings were needed for the community. So, they raised the money needed to purchase and renovate the buildings and then reopen in the 1980's as The Strand-Capitol. Mr. Appell, Jr., continued to be, up until his passing, our most generous donor and benefactor of the theatre.
Christy Brooks: Understanding your mission and goal is to bring the very best of the performing arts and education into York City, York Counties, and beyond, can you talk about some of your programs?
Todd Fogdall: The education piece is a significant part of what we do here. We have a literacy and theatre program called, "Stage the Page" in conjunction with the York City elementary schools. All the classrooms receive a book and study guide to learn about a particular play then all 7,500 students come here to see a live production of it. We hire professional performers to stage the show. We also operated The Performing Arts Institute at William Penn High School. We are in our third year of the program which includes classes on acting, stage make-up, production, playwriting, and dance classes. We also organize their fall play and the spring musical. We also operate a High School Playwrights Festival focusing on submissions by students of the York County high schools.
Christy Brooks: Is there one thing you know about Mr. Louis Appell, Jr. in regards to his interests in the arts that others may not know?
Todd Fogdall: One of the things that always stood out to me is that Mr. Appell, along with his wife, Jodie, bought tickets to every one of our performances and it did not matter what the performance was, they would typically be here to watch it. He was so pleased to see the community coming together and having fun enjoying the arts.
For more information and a complete list of the Weekend Celebration for naming of The Appell Center for the Performing Arts, contact AppellCenter.org or 717-846-1111.