Here in New York state, we are lucky to have some of the most amazing historical venues still intact, showcasing their spectacular architecture and the history that goes along with each one.
One such venue is The Stanley Center for the Performing Arts, located in Utica, New York. Originally built to be a movie palace, The Stanley opened on September 10, 1928 with 2,963 seats. Constructed in just 13 months, it was designed by famous architect Thomas Lamb, who is considered one of the foremost designers of theaters and cinemas in the 20th century. His creations include the Fox Theatre in San Francisco and the Capitol Theatre in New York, both now demolished. It is one of three remaining Lamb theaters: The Stanley, Proctor’s Theatre, Schenectady, NY, and The Landmark Theatre, Syracuse, NY.
Today, The Stanley is host to shows presented by the Broadway Theatre League of Utica, and the Utica Symphony Orchestra as well as several promoters. Recent acts include Martina McBride, Trace Adkins, Tony Bennett, Jerry Seinfeld, Jackson Browne, The Goo Goo Dolls, Green Day’s American Idiot and Shrek: The Musical.
Each year the venue strives to make ends meet and continue to bring those in the central New York region top acts in the entertainment business. Fund raising plays an enormous part in keeping their doors open. Local sponsors see the need in continued support and this year reached out to legendary performers REO Speedwagon to join with them in raising money to support the local Stanley Center for the Arts. It was no surprise to NYSMusic readers to learn their (REO’s) dedication to community support, as we recently learned when Neil Doughty spoke with readers in a two part interview this past summer. They have a reputation for rallying behind community in times of need. As the announcement for the October 17, 2015 show came out, patrons scrambled to purchase tickets to the sold out show.
Opening for the evening was local talent, Justin Smithson, perhaps best known as member of a favorite local band, Showtime. This dynamic musician belted out a few numbers warming up the crowd and literally hit it out of the park, reaffirming to patrons to get out and enjoy local music because today’s local artists are tomorrow’s national acts.
With the crowd sufficiently warmed up, REO Speedwagon took the stage and for the next two hours rocking the house in true rock and roll style, showing up their signature lyrics and instrumental solos they are best loved for. Playing hits from early days such as “Golden Country,” “Keep Pushin,” and “Music Man,” together with 80’s hit’s “Time for Me to Fly,” “In Your Letter,” “Back on the Road Again,” and “Tough Guys,” audience members were up out of their seats dancing and singing along for the entire evening.
It was good to see the venue filled to capacity. It is this support that music venues need to continue to bring us both local and national talents. As the holiday season is upon us, I can’t think of a better gift to give and receive; a night out with good music, time with friends and family, and community support. It’s a win/win.
Setlist: Don’t Let Him Go, Music Man, Take It on the Run, Keep Pushin’, In Your Letter, Can’t Fight This Feeling, That Ain’t Love, Tough Guys, Golden Country, Time for Me to Fly, Back on the Road Again (Bruce Hall on lead vocals), Roll With the Changes
Encore:Keep On Loving You, Ridin’ the Storm Out