“Something Spectacular” is happening at theREP

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There was a ray of sunshine on this gray, drizzly, pandemic day on North Pearl Street this morning. There was talk of fairy tales, dreams come true and happily ever after at a press conference to announce the completion of construction of Capital Repertory Theatre’s new home at 251 North Pearl Street, half a mile up the street from its old theater.

“I’ve used the metaphor ‘Always a bridesmaid but never a bride’ and I feel like a bride almost today, maybe a bride, but I can’t have my honeymoon night.” said Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill, Artistic Director of theREP. The reason for no honeymoon night of course is that while construction has been completed on the building there’s no schedule for opening the doors to the public yet due to the pandemic.

Philip Morris hosted the press conference and beamed with justifiable pride at announcing a new 14.5 million dollar theater opening in the Capital Region “It’s not very often in the theater world that a LORT theater, a professional producing theater can announce a new building, especially one this spectacular. So, for the Capital Region, for which, Cap Rep is the only theater of its kind for 11 or 12 counties, we are ecstatic to say this is complete.”

14.5 million buys you a lot of upgrades and it takes 40 years working in a theater converted from a grocery store under a parking garage as their old digs were at 111 North Pearl Street to really know what you want in your new theater. A short list includes:

  • No pillars blocking the audience’s view of the stage.
  • 28,000 square feet versus 11,000 at former space.
  • No seat farther than 24 feet from the stage.
  • 14 public toilets versus 6 at former space.
  • A black box theater on the second floor that seats 70.
  • Massive expansion and upgrade of dressing rooms.
  • VIP Lounge on second floor.
  • A Prop and Costume Shop with greatly expanded work and storage space.
  • ADA accessibility at street level to building and ADA accessibility to stage for performers.
  • State of the art sound and lighting board and equipment.
  • Loading dock/door at stage level.

All this and Philip was ready to take on the tough questions as well, before he turned it over to Mayor Kathy Sheehan, he asked himself “Where are we going to park? The answer is easy, if you walk out to the corner of North Pearl and Livingston and just turn a 360, there are 65 parking spaces you can see. See!” Of course, those parking spaces weren’t empty as people live in this neighborhood but he also talked of a shuttle that would run from downtown and a lot that they were going to lease on Colonie Street around the corner. Mayor Sheehan, a fairly recent new homeowner in the neighborhood had another suggestion for parking:

“When Philip and Maggie were deciding that this could be turned into a prince or princess or whatever you want to consider it, I decided I don’t want to have to worry about where I park. You can buy a house in Arbor Hill and walk here… just saying.”

Mayor Sheehan eagerly went on “So, the completion of this renovated space at a time when we are all starting to slowly and safely emerge from what has been an experience that no one in our lifetime has ever had, is to me a symbol and it is a sign of our hope for our future, of our ability to be resilient and to have something to look forward to that’s new and amazing.”

“I think it is going to be appreciated in a way that it wouldn’t have necessarily been had we not gone through what we’ve gone through in the last year and so I’m a silver linings person and I’m always looking for that silver lining but I think coming into this space literally takes my breath away in a way that I am so much more appreciative of what can come of the partnerships that exist and the amazing work that is being done with Arbor Hill Elementary School, with Albany Housing Authority, with really thinking about this space in context of where it sits with the story of America, the story of our city, the story of our country, the racial reckoning that we are undergoing. The responsibility that all of us have to one another. There are so many layers upon layers I think…I don’t want to weigh down the building too much but I believe this building represents that, a hope for our future and our community that is going to be something spectacular.”

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