T he Bridge Theatre is once again changing its locale, but this time it’s choosing to do so.
“The big news this season is the move to the Armory,” said Martin Kelly, artistic director for the Bridge Theatre.
The Bridge will stage its upcoming cabaret season in the basement of the newly restored Armory.
Kelly said a stage will be constructed on the eastern wall of what was once the dining area in the basement of the Armory, with capacity to seat more than 80 people.
He said the theater has been looking for a new home ever since its original location — a converted 100-foot bridge over the Champlain Canal — was closed by the state in 2009 after structural defects were detected.
Since then the theatre has held performances in the Cooke’s Island Recreation and Arts Center on Lower Main Street near the Champlain Harbor RV Park.
“It (Cooke’s Island) was meant to be a stopgap,” Kelley said. “It got us through our first season and we received a good reaction and had some nice crowds, but it wasn’t meant to be permanent.”
He said the theater had planned to construct a stage at Cooke’s Island but the cost to do so was prohibitive, and organizers had problems drawing crowds to the small facility.
Earlier this spring, Martin said he discovered that Gregory Gross, owner of the Armory, had agreed to allow Our Lady of Hope Church hold its annual basket party inside the Armory and he wondered if Gross might be open to allowing other community groups to use of the building.
“I sent him an email and told him about our background and our struggles, and he jumped at the opportunity,” Kelly said. “He was thrilled about it.”
Kelly said the Armory is a ray of light for the company and has bred new enthusiasm into the group.
“The reaction from the group has been very positive,” he said.
Besides a six-week cabaret season, Kelly said the Armory space may allow the company to extend its season.
He said the organization is considering a four-week season this fall and maybe something similar in the spring, but have yet to finalize those plans.
This summer’s cabaret season has already been finalized and Kelly said it should be an interesting season.
“It’s a fairly eclectic mix,” he said.
The Jonathan Newell Band open the series on July 7 and the program will include ’60s and ’70 s tunes covering songs from iconic performers like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Bruce Springsteen and many others.
On July 14, the music will take a decidedly more country feel when the Spurs USA Quintet performs.
The following week, veteran cabaret performer Laura Roth will take the stage in Whitehall and will replicate the appearance and music of four country western stars in “1960s Grand Ol’ Opry.”
At the end of July, Paul Stillman will perform “Ben Franklin Walks Among Us.”
Stillman, who has been portraying historical figures for a quarter century, performed in Whitehall last year as Teddy Roosevelt.
“He was excellent and we’re excited to have him back,” Kelly said.
After a one-week hiatus for the Whitehall Powwow, the cabaret season continues on Aug. 11 with Kathy Beaver in “I’m Flyin’.”
Kelly said he first saw Beaver, whose father started the Fort Salem Theatre in Salem, perform when she was 18 and the performance is based upon her time as a flight attendant with Jet Blue airlines.
The season comes to an end on Aug. 18 as the Jonathan Newell Trio returns.
“It will be completely different than his first show,” Kelly said.
Instead of classic rock, the performance will feature classical chamber music.
Shows for kids
Although not technically part of the cabaret season, but still a function of the Bridge Theatre, the children’s summer theater program will return for a second consecutive year and stage an original production on Aug. 25.
The program, which is under the direction of children’s author Ann Duncan, was a big success in its inaugural year, and this season’s storyline will once again take place in Whitehall.
Tickets to any of the upcoming season’s performances will cost $19 for adults, $17 for seniors (60 and older), and $15 for students 17 and younger.
All tickets will be available online through the reservation system for the Wood Theater in Glens Falls, something the Bridge is using for the first time. Kelly said attendees will be able to order tickets online and pick them up at the Armory the day of the performance.
Light food and beverages will also be available for purchase during each performance.
The Bridge Theatre is a nonprofit organization operated by the Arts and Recreation Commission of Whitehall.
For more information, visit www.bridgetheater-whitehall.com