Seeing live theater is something you just can’t get on your computer or other devices with an app like Netflix or Amazon Prime. The feeling of walking into an old historic theater and finding your seat, do a little people watching and then having the lights go down with the thrill of live actors appearing on a stage is special.
For the last few years I have had the opportunity to frequent the wonderful live theater venues of the East End. Each one is different with a unique feel of the East End community it is in.
The audiences are so different also. The common denominator is the powerful sound of the applause erupting when the audience loves the show.
I believe everyone should take the opportunity to attend live theater on the East End at the Quogue Community Hall, Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor, Guild Hall in East Hampton Village, The North Fork Community Theatre in Mattituck, and the Southampton Cultural Center. Each is unique, but all of them wonderful live venues.
Each theater has its own identity led by the vision of their artistic directors and show directors/producers. At the moment the East End is flush with committed seasoned legends at every venue. Long-time all-time talented theater folks. It’s quite a unique time.
The Quogue Community Hall for example has Diane Marbury who has been acting, producing and directing shows at the Quogue Community Hall via The Hampton Theatre Company for the last 40 years! Matthew Conlon is one of the regular leading men in the Hampton Theatre Company in Quogue, sort of a local legend and a favorite of mine.
Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor has had the successful vision of their Artistic Director, Scott Schwartz, for the last hugely successful seven years. Scott is the son of musical theater legend Stephen Schwartz and Scott has made a name for himself producing/directing and discovering great shows for the East End at Bay Street.
In Mattituck, the newly renovated North Fork Community Theatre is producing high level plays and live musicals, usually with both Liz Liszanckie and Mary Kalich somehow involved. I remember Mary, now a mom with a teenage boy, telling me about her days as a teen performing at that historic theater.
Then there is the majesty of Guild Hall that went through a $20M plus complete rebuild to spec’s renovation completed in 2009. The genius of Artistic Director Josh Gladstone’s abilities, along with the influence of his wife, Kate Mueth, and her forward thinking active theater mind brings a certain cache to all the live shows there. By the way, people watching at Guild Hall over the years has been star-studded. Richard Gere, Alec Baldwin, Julie Andrews, Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick, Blythe Danner and others usually show up during the summer season.
Last, but not least, is the Southampton Cultural Center (SCC), which for the last decade has been under the supervision of its Center Stage Director Michael Disher. The SCC is a beehive of live theater activity and over the years Disher has nurtured a host of talented directors such as Joan Lyons, Bonnie Grice, Josephine Wallace and now Bethany Dellapolla. It’s amazing the reverence and respect Disher has on the East End. There isn’t an East End theater interview that I do where the interviewee doesn’t mention how Disher has somehow influenced them positively.
So, folks perhaps it’s time to take in a live show this winter at any of these venues. They have their calendars on their websites listing shows and ticket availabilities. Why pay crazy Broadway prices when great affordable theater is available all over the Hamptons and East End?