Written by: Katherine Kim
Did you know that a mere twelve miles away from the well traveled path of Warren Street is one of the country’s only theater-in-the-round venues for live musicals? The Mac-Haydn Theatre, located in Chatham, NY, is reopening on July 29 with a new production of Pippin! Tickets for all productions are on sale now online! Yes, Chatham, where the last standing video rental store is, Video Visions, along with the oldest single screen movie theater in the county, The Crandell.
Kylan Ross and Mikel Hunter in “Pippin”
The Mac-Haydn Theatre opened in 1969 by co-founders Linda MacNish and Lynne Haydn in Chatham, NY. The first production was My Fair Lady. Fast forward to its 50th anniversary in 2019 only to be forced to cancel its subsequent season because of a global pandemic.
Kylan Ross in “Pippin”
During its pandemic closure, the crew at Mac-Haydn bucked up, forged ahead and worked hard to create an amazing and unique 2021 season. Significant changes were made to the stage and the program. The stage was “transformed…to make room for the actors,” and create space for social distancing, says Executive Assistant Amanda Calvin. An entire section was eliminated and the lighting was reconsidered while enhancing the theater-in-the-round feel. For the remaining seats, every seat will be allowed to be occupied but each patron will be required to show proof of vaccination. Walking around, the theatre will require masks with the option of removing the mask once seated.
Amber Mawande-Spytek in “Pippin”
The season which normally starts on Memorial Day and ends on Labor Day will start on July 29 and go through the end of September. Throughout this season, there will be classics such as She Loves Me, Man of La Mancha, and Beehive. When asked which may strike the most interest this season, Producing Artistic Director, John Saunders, said it could be Man of La Mancha because they had not performed that for twenty years.
Mikel Hunter and Kylan Ross in “Pippin”
One of the changes this season, aside from not having subscriptions, is the repertory style schedule in September. There will be two musicals and a number of limited performances such as Still Within the Sound of My Voice by Mac-Haydn alum Elizabeth Ward Land paying tribute to the sounds of Linda Ronstadt. Another notable limited engagement is Exiled: The Evolution of Kurt Weill which traces the survival of exiled musical figure Weill from 1933 Germany to New York City.
Mikel Hunter, Kylan Ross, and Amber Mawande-Spytek in “Pippin”
The administration will be watching the numbers closely and keep track of feedback on the repertory style schedule. According to Saunders, “if the numbers are good” he wouldn’t mind bringing back this type of scheduling.
What about musicals such as Hamilton, Wicked, Chicago? These are still on Broadway and as long as a musical is still being performed on Broadway or on its national tour, they are not released for regional productions. “It could take several years,” says Saunders before smaller theaters can acquire the rights and permissions to produce very popular musicals still on Broadway.
To purchase tickets, please visit The Mac-Haydn Theatre website, here.
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