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Proctors To Open For Broadway Rehearsals This Fall

Proctors Stage
Jesse King
Proctors in Schenectady eagerly awaits the return of Broadway this fall.

Theaters were some of the first businesses to shut down during the coronavirus pandemic. Now, Proctors in Schenectady is preparing to open its doors to Broadway rehearsals. Proctors Collaborative Chief of Staff Jean Leonard says Broadway “teching” will return to the theater this fall. “Hadestown” will rehearse from September 9 through October 2, while “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations” will tech from November 11 to December 4. 

Proctors' Jean Leonard
Credit Jesse King / WAMC
Proctors Collaborative Chief of Staff Jean Leonard

“They build their sets, they work on their costumes, they rehearse their cast, they work on the lighting design. They put it all together, and then they get it ready to go on the road," she explains. 

Leonard says “Hadestown” and “Ain’t Too Proud” won’t be open to the public – but a third, yet-to-be-announced musical will offer public performances during its stay from October 2 to November 11.

The announcement Monday comes amid similar moves expected in cities across upstate New York, including Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, and Elmira. In total, upstate theaters will tech 11 Broadway productions this fall – a move encouraged by the state’s 25 percent Empire State Music and Theatrical Production Tax Credit, which Proctors lauds as a strong incentive in convincing production companies to head north.

If you ask local officials, the credit brings a lot more than entertainment. State Assemblyman Phil Steck expects this fall’s productions to bring roughly 300 temporary jobs and more than $8 million in direct spending to Schenectady over the course of 13 weeks. Steck’s fellow Democrat, State Assemblyman John McDonald, says it’s a sign of good things to come for the Capital District arts scene.

John McDonald
Credit Jesse King / WAMC
New York State Assemblyman John McDonald

“Why does the state support these initiatives? Let’s face it, it brings people to our region," says McDonald. "They eat, they drink, they sleep, they enjoy what we have to offer in the Capital Region. And I’m glad to be here today as we kick off this venue.” 

Close to New York City, Leonard says Proctors has been a popular destination for Broadway tours for the past eight years. Before the pandemic, she says Proctors would see more than 700,000 visitors at a total of 1,700 events a year.

Like theaters nationwide, however, the curtain dropped in March 2020. Aside from virtual events and, more recently, graduations, the stage has been silent since. As much as 80 percent of Proctors staff were cut in the fallout, and while the road to reopening is a slow one, Leonard says the theater will start to hire and re-hire employees this summer. 

"And we will invite our audiences back at whatever protocol we are that. That's how we will do it here for the health and safety of everyone involved," Leonard adds. "There a lot of rules backstage and front of house, and you can be sure we will be on top of all of them, and make sure that you are here comfortably and happily as we bring the curtain back up." 

Proctors will officially kick off its Broadway series with a week-long run of “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical” starting December 7. Proctors also manages Capital Repertory Theatre in Albany and Universal Preservation Hall in Saratoga Springs. 

Jesse King is the host of WAMC's national program on women's issues, "51%," and the station's bureau chief in the Hudson Valley. She has also produced episodes of the WAMC podcast "A New York Minute In History."