This is a cheerleading piece. Because Tuesday is the first official day of summer and I’m a lover of the arts, I get especially excited about summer.
It’s not as if fall, winter and spring are wastelands. We have national Broadway touring shows at Proctors. There is the Albany Symphony Orchestra and other great orchestras that play at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. We have Capital Repertory Theatre presenting professional plays all year, and numerous not-for-profit theatre organizations offering quality theater for modest prices. And the Palace and the Egg in Albany, along with several local venues offer the best touring musicians in the country. And let’s not forget Caffe Lena in Saratoga, a local landmark with a history of discovering folk artists with amazing talent.
That’s a great number of arts organizations any city in the country could be proud of. But, in the summer, the arts up their game. Park Playhouse offers two fantastic musicals at Washington Park in Albany. Both are free. Capital Rep still produces during the summer and too many to list not-for profit theater companies offer free outdoor theater throughout the area.
The same is true with local music concerts. Almost every community offers a free concert in a local park or other setting. There’s Alive at Five at Jennings Landing in the Corning Preserve in Albany every Thursday. Rockin’ on the River performs downtown Troy on Wednesday and Rock the Block offers music every Thursday in Downtown Cohoes. On the Roof, arguably the most sophisticated series in the area, offers free concerts every Thursday on the roof of the Tang Museum on the campus of Skidmore College.
On Saturday nights a diverse variety of music is offered at Powers Park in Lansingburgh. Every Sunday, Music in the Park (Central) offers an astounding array of internationally famous musicians. If you look up the concerts available, it would be possible for you to see a free concert every day of the week.
On the topic of great pop music you have to think first of Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga. They host the best of the best in popular music. Better than that, they have the Philadelphia Orchestra in residence as well as the New York City Opera and the Lincoln Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and the Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival.
If that’s not enough local culture for you, add Opera Saratoga to the list. This year they are performing at several venues, including SPAC, Proctors, The Egg and Charles Wood Theater in Glens Falls.
Adding to the abundance is that the nearby Berkshires has almost as much activity. In less than an hour’s drive there is Tanglewood in Lenox, MA, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. They also offer a lineup of great pop musicians. A few miles from Lenox is Beckett, MA, the home of Jacob’s Pillow. It’s world-famous for the contemporary and traditional dance companies they present in two indoor spaces and one outdoor site.
However, when I hear Berkshires I think of the nationally famous theater festivals like Williamstown Theatre Festival, Barrington Stage Company, Shakespeare & Company and the Berkshire Theatre Group. All offer work in multiple stages and are well known for many of their productions moving to Broadway.
Amongst those giants of theater exist smaller companies who offer delightful work like Theatre Barn in New Lebanon, Mac-Haydn Theatre in Chatham, Fort Salem Theatre in Salem, NY and Chester Theater in Chester, MA.
It’s an imposing list of entertainment to attend. Indeed, it’s probably impossible to attend everything. But, I’m going to try.
Bob Goepfert is theater reviewer for the Troy Record.
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