The Bridge Street Theatre Brings Indie Productions to the Hudson

In the heart of the Hudson Valley, just 30 minutes south of Albany lies Catskill’s Bridge Street Theatre. The theater is a non-profit seeking to enhance the cultural life of Greene County through the independent production of musical and theater performances. 

Exterior of the Bridge Street Theatre

Greene County’s seat of Catskill is home to the Bridge Street Theatre opened in 2014. Since its founding, the theater has sought to set itself apart from the region’s other performing arts centers, with a focus on accessibility. The theater’s board focuses on highlighting overlooked musical and theater artists, even commissioning new works for the stage. They also strive to keep ticket prices low to make sure their performances can reach the widest possible audiences.

Since 2014, the Bridge Street Theatre has been a haven for cutting edge performance art. The theater has hosted over 62 musical performances, 84 plays, and 33 dance performances. It has staged productions of Monty Python’s Spamalot, Frankenstein and the Epic of Gilgamesh. Amongst these productions was The Shaggs’ Philosophy of the World, a stage retelling of The Shaggs’ legendary outsider music career. Additionally, the theater has also hosted a decade’s worth of musical performances ranging from classical to bluegrass. These concerts include San Francisco’s award winning Zelos Saxophone Quartet, and Capital Region folk band Ramblin Jug Stompers. 

Downtown Catskill, NY

The theater’s story begins with its founder John Sowle. Following decades of acting and theater production in both San Francisco and Manhattan, Sowle relocated to Catskill in 2008. Following the move, Sowle focused his attention on finding a permanent home for his nomadic theater production company Kaliyuga Arts

This plan came to fruition in 2013, when Sowle purchased a derelict air curtain factory just outside of downtown Catskill. After a year of renovations, the abandoned factory was transformed into a state of the art 12,000 square foot center for performing arts. 

The Curtron factory that became home to the Bridge Street Theatre
The derelict air curtain factory on the site of the theater, 2009

The theater’s premises house many venues for performing arts. At the center of the theater, is the Charles and Priscilla Patterson Mainstage. This auditorium has seating for 84 people, making it a perfect setting for the theater’s major productions. 

There is additionally a smaller cabaret-style concert space, known as “The Speakeasy.” This area also currently serves as the theater’s lobby, but can be quickly converted into a performance space, with a small raised stage allowing for intimate shows. The venue also houses “The Big Room,” a space to host sculpture and art exhibitions. The theater values the comfort of its performers, housing dressing rooms, a lounge and living spaces for visiting artists.

The theater prides itself in collaboration with Catskill’s local youth. As it is located next to Catskill High School, the theater provides opportunities for local students to get involved in theater production and performance, getting a new generation involved in music and the arts. 

The Bridge Street Theatre has a busy upcoming Summer season, with a host of performances set for the near future. On June 1, the theater will welcome world-renowned sitarist Ustad Shafaat Khan. Khan is famous for his simultaneous vocals, sitar, and tabla playing, which has spread appreciation for Indian classical music across the world. His performances have taken him around the globe, playing with legends like Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles.

On June 8, the theater will be hosting the local magician Thomas Baker for an all-ages journey through the history of magic. The Saugerties-based illusionist puts a modern twist on classic magic tricks, all while sharing fun stories from throughout his life. 

Finally, on June 22, the theater will host the 7th Bridge Street Belly Dance event. This event will weave together dance,  music, and poetry  to tell a story of how pain and beauty go together in life. Featuring dance from multi-disciplinary artist Jesse Sykes, and the poetry of Alysia Quinn, the event will tell a story of innovation and personal growth.

For more information, visit the Bridge Street Theatre website here.

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