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On New Year’s Eve have fun, but stay safe

A new year's eve celebration with Zachary James at Universal Preservation Hall
Courtesy of Opera Saratoga and UPH/Proctors Collaborative

Christmas, has barely passed, yet it’s time to start planning how to celebrate New Year’s Eve.

Last year everything was totally shut down. This year, there are activities available. So there are choices to be made,

Of course, many of you, for safety reasons, might choose the quiet night spent with family.

For those people, I remind you that the Capital Holiday Lights in Albany’s Washington Park is open through January 2.

A ride through the park, a family dinner at a restaurant or take-out for home is a lovely evening. It can be an especially poignant visit this year as this will be the display’s last year in Washington Park. No new site has been announced for future years. This year reservations are required. Call 518-435-0392.

What isn’t available locally is a massive group event. First Night Saratoga cancelled the event this year. It is a very responsible decision as the concept is wrong in time of COVID. It brought 10,000 people to downtown Saratoga for the night.

Those who weren’t mingling at outdoor activities would disperse to 50 or 60 venues - many makeshift sites – to enjoy various types of entertainment. It is a formula for a super-spreader event. Too many spaces were not crowd friendly.

However, over the past year, a lot has been learned about making spaces safe. Ventilating systems have been upgraded. Proof of vaccination is demanded for entrance and most places require a face mask be worn inside. When the rules are obeyed, there is a high degree of safety.

This year, perhaps because it is most needed, comedy is king. It might also have something to do with comedy shows being easier to produce on a technical level and only one person on stage.

What has become an area comic tradition returns this year. First Night of Funny will be at three local theaters. Proctors in Schenectady, Cohoes Music Hall in Cohoes and the Charles Wood Theatre in Glens Falls.

The idea is to unite four comics who usually work in New York or Boston and produce them in one show. Instead of getting 90-minutes of one style of comedy, First Night of Funny offers four different styles in the same show.

The comics are selected so as to be popular and appealing to all types of audiences, and profanity is kept to a minimum. Each comic does a 20-minute set, so everything stays fresh. Curtain is at 7 p.m. in Cohoes and Glens Falls; 8 p.m. in Schenectady.

The timing is also designed to get you home to enjoy the start of the new year without being in a crowd.

Even though First Night is not happening in Saratoga Springs, it doesn’t mean there is no entertainment opportunities in town.

Proctors Collaborative and Opera Saratoga are offering a free concert starring Broadway and opera star Zachary James, accompanied by pianist Laurie Rogers. It will be presented at Universal Preservation Hall at 7 p.m. New Year’s Eve.

James had the lead in this summer’s production of “Man of La Mancha” presented by Opera Saratoga. He created the role of Lurch in the Broadway production of “The Addams Family” and has been featured in other Broadway musicals, including “Sweeney Todd.”

As a classical performer James has performed at the Metropolitan Opera, Opera Philadelphia, English National Opera, Nashville Opera and companies located throughout the world. The event is free of charge, but seating is limited and advance reservations are highly recommended by going to operasaratoga.com

It’s been a tough year and things are still tough. But we all wish for a better year in 2022. So it is fine to celebrate the end of a poor year as a display of hope for things to come.

Go out, enjoy yourself and be safe. Continue that philosophy throughout the year and we can really party on New Year’s 2023.

Bob Goepfert is theater reviewer for the Troy Record.

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.

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