Three theater companies in our area are planning to launch ambitious programs over the coming months, each in an historic Hudson Valley building dating from the region’s boom industrial times. One is in Ulster County, one in Dutchess, and one in Orange. For more information or to help raise funds, visit the websites.
Perhaps the most ambitious of all these second acts is the revival being planned for the old theater on Beacon’s Main Street, which ceased to function as a theater in the late 1960s. In mid-July, after several meetings between economic development officials, elected leaders, and the buyers, contracts were signed to sell the theater, a Main Street entertainment staple for over fifty years. The buyer is 4th Wall Productions, an established not-for-profit based in Dutchess County.
“We are very excited to return the old Beacon Theatre to its original grandeur and bring live entertainment, classes, concerts, and movies back to the city that I call home,” said Jim Brady, president of 4th Wall Productions, who will oversee the restoration of the theatre. The announcement comes just weeks before the groundbreaking of a major development at the historic Roundhouse building located just two blocks away on the Fishkill Creek. That project will include a boutique hotel and restaurant, artist live/work spaces, a hydro power plant, a performance space, and other residential units.
The group first looked at the theater five years ago, but nothing came of it. This time, says Brady, “The stars are aligned.” His group plans a $3 million capital campaign. In addition to having an angel in hand, the group will be organizing fundraisers and reaching out to the community.
4th Wall plans to restore the 800-seat performance hall, with its marble Art Deco accents and velvet flourishes, back to its original feel when it opened in 1934. This will take determined fundraising and construction, but all involved believe the community will respond enthusiastically. The restored theater will be home to 4th Wall Productions’ selection of plays and musicals, an expansion of its already successful summer theatre camp, acting, voice, and choral classes, improvisational theatre for teens and adults, Teen Glee, puppet theater, other live performances including concerts, and independent movies. The large open hall, elevated stage, and high fly space allow for a wide array of uses.
How did fundraising and grants save the Rosendale Theatre? Read about it here.