Community turns out to support revival of Schoolhouse Theater
Last Sunday, community members braved the season’s first snowfall to attend “The Schoolhouse Theater Holiday Rave Up,” a benefit concert held at the Hygrade Market to support the planned reopening of the historic Schoolhouse Theater in Croton Falls. Accomplished jazz saxophonist Houston Person and his quartet performed at the sold-out event, which included craft beer, wine and light fare.
The benefit was a first for the recently restored Hygrade Market, which opened earlier this year after extensive renovations. Tom and Dawn Christopher, co-owners of the Hygrade, helped organize the event to raise funds for its 2023 season, which will be the first time the theater hosts live performances since the pandemic began.
"People were so happy to have somewhere to go and hear live music. It reinforces the idea of arts in Croton Falls," said Dawn Christopher.
In 2023, the Schoolhouse plans to host three plays as part of its ‘American Icons’ season. “I think people are going to be knocked out by our 2023 season,” said Owen Thompson, creative director for the Schoolhouse Theater. The plays, Thompson said, “let our audience hear the uniquely American voices of Mark Rothko, Ulysses Grant, Mark Twain, and Hattie McDaniel. We will continue our mission to bring incredible new plays like ‘Grant & Twain’ and ‘(mis)Understanding Mammy: the Hattie McDaniel Story’ to the Schoolhouse, along with bold new productions of award-winning plays like ‘Red’ which I am proud to be directing and which will re-open our theater in the spring.”
Thompson, who first became involved with the Schoolhouse in 2020 when he directed a Zoom production of George Bernard Shaw’s ‘Great Catherine,’ expressed delight at the community’s support for the performing arts.
“I was incredibly impressed and a little bit awed to see that kind of amazing turnout!” he said. “It warms my heart to know that the people in our community seem to love us as much as we love them.”
Thompson added that Schoolhouse leaders are grateful to North Salem town government for their support in restoring the theater. Extensive renovations to the building have been ongoing since the town purchased the property in 2021.
“We are committed to working with [the Town] to make the Schoolhouse an oasis of culture for everyone to enjoy. We’ve all been battered and bruised by the events of the last couple of years, and I think people are starved for the sense of community that live theater provides better than almost anything else,” Thompson said. “We are here to share our love and our passion with every one of our neighbors and to welcome them with open arms.”
Click below to view more photos from the event.