Elmwood Playhouse Celebrates Renovation with Gala Tonight

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Elmwood Playhouse Celebrates Renovation with Gala Tonight

Elmwood Playhouse, Nyack's 67 year-old community theater providing live, quality, affordable Broadway, off Broadway, original and children's productions to the tri state community, has recently completed Phase I of a major renovation. The renovation is to be formally celebrated with a GALA for invited guests tonight, May 16, 2014, at 6 PM at 10 Park Street Nyack, New York. County Executive Ed Day and County Legislator Harriet Cornell will be among those attending.

The current renovations include a physical space that is now more disabled friendly with restrooms on the audience level and a new street level entrance on Park St. The main lobby has been widened to allow seating areas for waiting patrons. The hospitality area has been refurbished, fire prevention and alarm systems upgraded, space reallocated to allow for maximum usage. An entirely new studio has been constructed and may be used for 'black box theater' as well as rehearsal space.

In celebration of the beautification, the fund raising, and the performing feats of the members, an invited audience will attend the 'GALA' Renovation Celebration to acquaint the local dignitaries with the theater and commemorate the efforts of the membership. Guests will be given guided tours of the building. Beverages and light hors d'oeuvres will be served.

A very limited amount of tickets (on a first come first service basis) are available for the evening's performance. After the show, SMOKEY JOE'S CAFE guests will be treated to a champagne and dessert party where they will be able to meet with the actors, directorial staff and stage crew.

It took the all volunteer membership over ten years and a lot of hard work to raise the funds for the new improvements to the theater, which was originally built as St. Paul's Lutheran Church in 1897 for a total of $1,650. In 1947 the group evolved from numerous groups with names like the 'Curtain Callers', the 'Nyack Players' and the 'Camp Shanks Players', into one group known as The Rockland Community Theater. The next few years saw performances by 'The Rockland Foundation Theatre Group', 'Rockland Foundation Players', and 'The Nyack Theatre Group'. Eventually the group took the name the Elmwood Community Theater which then became simply, Elmwood Playhouse. Their first formal performance, a triple-bill of THE BOOR, THE WORKHOUSE WARD, and THE DARK LADY OF THE SONNETS, was performed at the Liberty School in Nyack as they still had no theater of their own yet. Tickets were sold for the odd sum of 74 cents each.

From its inception the group's members were philanthropic to other organizations performing a 'Benefit' for the Rockland County Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol in 1951. By 1953 five shows a year were being produced.

In 1954 the Elmwood Community Playhouse members were the first non-professional group in the country to perform Arthur Miller's THE CRUCIBLE. In 1963 the members elected their first female president, Stella Levine (later Blasenheim).

In 1958, the building was formally purchased from the St. Paul's Lutheran Church for $8,000. Almost 20 years later, in 1976, under the leadership of President Elaine Vogel, the 3 buildings next to the former church were acquired for $25,000. The organization, along with the mortgagor, now owned the entire corner of Park and New Streets in Nyack. The buildings were turned into: a workshop space; a set building area; storage for costumes, scenery, properties and lighting equipment.

Mrs. Vogel served again as President and was able to 'burn the mortgage' in 1996.

To complete the current renovations and begin PHASE II, which includes expanding seating space for more legroom, a new mortgage has been procured and fund-raising efforts have begun again.

The group is hoping to burn their third mortgage before too long.

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