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Cohoes Music Hall Under New Management

The sign outside Cohoes Music Hall
Lucas Willard

A theater company well known to Albany residents will take over management of the Cohoes Music Hall.

Cohoes Mayor Bill Keeler announced Thursday that Park Playhouse’s Playhouse Stage Company would be the next manager of the city’s historic theater on Remsen Street.

“At this time it is my pleasure to formally introduce the group that will manage the Cohoes Music Hall into the foreseeable future, and that will be Owen Smith and his incredible team at Park Playhouse.”

As the pandemic took hold in the Capital Region in March, the theater was closed and Cohoes severed its contract with Music Hall Arts Alliance.

A search then began for a new management deal. Six proposals were whittled down to three finalists: Guthrie Bell Productions, Music Hall Arts Alliance and Park Playhouse. The first-term Democratic mayor accepted the recommendation of Park Playhouse from an independent committee.

Park Playhouse’s Owen Smith, whose organization previously staged shows at the Cohoes Music Hall, said their next season would be announced soon.

“While a theater company may be taking the reins of management here at the hall, it will not become a venue just for plays and musicals. Quite to the contrary, we firmly believe that the surest way to program this hall successfully and to have the greatest impact on the City of Cohoes is to program it as diversely as we can.”

Smith said Park Playhouse will work with the other two finalists to develop programming.

“I’ve had the opportunity to speak with Holly Brown and with Greg Bell of Guthrie Bell Productions, another finalist in the process, we look forward to working with them – and with Tommy Nicchi of the Comedy Works and so many other promoters who have helped to bring a diverse variety of entertainment to this venue.”

The City of Cohoes says the new contract will save the city $200,000 to $300,000 annually.

Prior to the new contract, the city paid more than $285,000 in Music Hall management costs. In 2019, the city received back just over $90,000 in ticket and other revenue.

Under the new agreement the city will not cover management costs and will receive $2 per ticket sold. The city will provide utilities and maintain the historic building, which is also contains the city’s visitor center.

The venue, which dates to 1874, reopened in 2016 after an extensive renovation. The theater had been closed for much of the 20th century before ramping back up in 1974, three years after it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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