Many braved frigid temperatures Thursday night for the grand reopening of Madison Theater. Some were in attendance to support the neighborhood landmark, while others were excited to see the new Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. What was really the hot ticket for the night was the much anticipated performance of Capital Region’s favorite country band, Skeeter Creek.
Taking the stage at 5:30 PM, Skeeter Creek drew in a large crowd and rocked the house despite the freezing temperatures. Starting with a Brooks & Dunn classic “Brand New Man,” for the next hour and a half the popular cover band tackled songs from Toby Keith, Luke Bryan, Darius Rucker and threw in a few classic rock songs including a crowd favorite “Jack and Diane” from 80s rocker John Mellencamp.
Fans consumed hot dogs, burgers and drinks provided by Mike’s on a Roll food truck while huddled around the several large space heaters outside. Inside the theater one could grab variety of alcoholic beverages at the theater’s new bar.
A ribbon cutting ceremony led by Honorable Owusu Anane – Councilman for the 10th Ward, had several including John Clarkson the Pine Hills Neighborhood Association President and Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan reminiscing on their experiences at the Madison Theater.
“The Madison Theater was a gathering place for the Pine Hills Neighborhood even back when it was a one screen theater. It is great to see everyone who has come together to revive the local landmark” said Sheehan.
Albany native Kevin Parisi of Trinity Realty Group, the building’s new owners. and the theater’s general manager Kris Kiesling were presented with plaques from Sheehan and Albany County Legislature Representative Raymond Joyce (D), deeming December 19 Madison Theater Day not only for the city of Albany but also for the county.
Kris Kiesling told NYS Music of the changes slated for the theater. Movie goers will be able to order food, take their seats and the food will be delivered by waiting staff while they are watching a movie. There will also be a lounge area with a bar, along with a full-service restaurant called The Box Office, Keisling said.
Future plans of the theater also include a space for comedy shows and a performance stage for bands slated to be able to accommodate up to 500 people. This is conjunction to the four screens that will also be playing the newest movies.
Never before has the theater served as a performance venue and there is nothing like it that exists in the Capital Region.
“Parisi, the entire team and I are excited to bring the Madison Theater back to not only it’s same but a better glory. We are all on the same page with the Neighborhood Association and are going to be establishing the Madison Theater as more than a venue to watch movies at. This is going to be a entertainment space. We want people to be able to come here and hang out, feel part of the neighborhood.”Kris Kiesling, Madison Theatre GM
Kiesling also said that they will be taking over and re branding the Cosmic Theater in Hudson, NY as a Madison Theater.
The Madison Theater has been open since the 1920s making it Albany’s oldest theater still in operation. It has experienced periods of darkness before. About 15 years ago the theater was shuttered for some time according to Anne Savage, City of Albany’s School Board President, “a few hundred people braved a blizzard then to meet in attempts to reopen the theater”.
During it’s most recent two year closure the Madison Theater went through many hands including Cosmic Cinemas before they went out of business the Times Union reported last month.