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Capital Repertory Theatre Has A New Home

Composite Image by Dave Lucas (WAMC)

One of Albany’s leading arts institutions is moving to new digs, but staying downtown.

Since its inception in 1981, Capital Repertory Theatre has occupied a former supermarket at 111 N. Pearl Street.

Now, on the strength of a $1.8 million Restore New York Communities Initiative grant through Empire State Development, the company is heading to a new Livingston Square space in December 2019.

The National Biscuit Co. building, at 251 N. Pearl Street, will become the new home, with a 300-seat main stage,  full time café and box office.

Producing Artistic Director Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill:   "For me, having a new theater space is all about what we can do on our stage and behind our stage. For the first time, we won't have columns for people to stare through. Every seat in that theater is going to have a perfect view of the stage, and our backstage people will be able to bring a whole new world of technology to the theater that we can't right now because of the limitations in our facility. And on top of that, there's going to be a 70-feet black box theater so that we can do experimental work, we can do some things for children, and we can really develop our new plays in a way that we can't now."

Spokesman Michael Eck says the 30,000-square foot former bakery will also house new administrative offices, rehearsal rooms, an event space and dedicated costume and prop shops.   "Now that we're going to be under our own roof and we can make changes that we desire, we're gonna be able to have a full-time cafe, a full-time box-office, so we'll really be open all the time. People could come in and visit. We have great neighbors around the corner with Albany Distilling, Ida Yarbrough Homes across the street, so we're really gonna make an effort to invest ourselves in the community around Livingston Square."

Jean Leonard, chief-of-staff at Proctors, theREP and Saratoga Springs’ Universal Preservation Hall, says they've been working for a long time to secure a permanent home and theREP intends to be the community centerpiece.   "You know we love the idea of reaching more people. We love the idea of having more space so that we have some options for the kinds of things we do with folks in the neighborhood and beyond. It certainly gives us an opportunity to do more educationally, which is excellent. We already reach more than 17,000 students from 64 schools in the area, but the opportunity that we could reach even more and do it with some different programming is exciting. We love the idea that we've become a part of something greater, a piece of the puzzle in Livingston Square, which looks like it's gonna have some really fun things happening."

It's anticipated that during the construction phase, the Livingston Square project will create up to 70 new jobs and have an $11 million impact on the Albany County economy. Officials say once fully operational at Livingston Square, theREP will create 47 permanent jobs and have an annual impact of $4.5 million on the local economy.

A second phase of the Livingston Square transformation will focus on creating on-campus artist housing near Livingston Avenue and Broadway.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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