Theaters are cropping up across the Catskills

Photo by Flickr user Alina Sofia.

It's a renaissance weekend for theaters in the Catskills. At the Woodstock Playhouse, the first summer stock season on the safe side of foreclosure continues.  In Tannersville, the expansion and renovation of The Orpheum Performing Arts Center is on the brink of completion. In in Oneonta, the Oneonta Theatre is in its 114th year of operation. If you want to spend a night out this weekend, all three venues have big plans in store.

The season kicked off for the Woodstock Playhouse with the singular sensation, "A Chorus Line," on June 30.  Tonight the second production of Summer 2011 opens:  "Anything Goes," a Cole Porter classic, will run through matinee and evening performances on Saturday and a Sunday matinee; the run continues through July 24.  High life, debonair insouciance and cocktails aboard an ocean liner:  It's a fitting celebration for a theater that has a history of defying long odds against its survival.  The playhouse is also showing off two new lobbies that will provide a forum for local artists.  And if pre-war gaiety isn't quite your scene, the playhouse will shift gears next month when (how could they resist?) "Hair" opens on August 4.

The Orpheum Performing Arts Center has been more than ten years in the making, but this Saturday night it will roll out a red carpet even as its team applies the finishing touches.  The Catskill Mountain Foundation is throwing its annual benefit at the theater, which has undergone an enormous expansion with the help, most recently, of the Catskill Watershed Corporation, which extended a loan that pushed the theater's renovation and expansion to completion. CMF now needs to raise funds to fulfill its ambitious programming agenda. From the CMF's website:

The CMF's annual benefit raises funds that enable us to present year-round programming in music, theater, dance and literature and to host arts residencies at our facilities. This year we celebrate our partnership with the National Dance Institute and welcome their Celebration Team of young dancers to be the first to perform at the new Orpheum Theater.

The National Dance Institute dancers will perform two pieces on Saturday in accompaniment of a cocktail supper.  It's an appropriate beginning; CMF executive director Peter Finn has stated that the Orpheum will be a multi-purpose venue, but dance will play the prominent role. “This is a dance performance stage,” he said. “Next summer will be our first full season.”

The Oneonta Theatre sticks to music -- lots of it -- and it has enough booked to make its Big Pickin' Weekend into a four-night affair that gets rolling at a 6pm happy hour tonight.  At 9pm, The Carolina Chocolate Drops, who won a Grammy this year for Best Traditional Folk Album, will team up with special guests Richie Stearns and Rosie Newton, a banjo and fiddle duo.  Saturday night will feature the acoustic blue-grass quintet The HillBenders.  The pickings continue with the Dixie Bee-Liners on Sunday and The Rockridge Brothers close out the long weekend on Monday.

All shows begin at 9pm, but the happy hour, which showcases local Ommegang Brewery beers, runs from 6-8pm.  Andre's Blue Ribbon Barbecue will be serving K.C.-style specialties.  Doors for the music open at 8pm.  By now we've gone far and wide of Cole Porter; the Theatre promises "a boot stompin’ hootin’ and hollerin’ good time."

'Anything Goes' opens at Woodstock Playhouse, 103 Mill Hill Road, Woodstock, NY, Friday, July 15, 8pm. 845-339-4340.  Tickets available at the box office, Wednesday through Saturday, 2pm-5pm, Sunday 12pm-2pm, and at the Playhouse website.

Catskill Mountain Foundation annual benefit, Orpheum Theater, Main Street, Tannersville, NY, Saturday, July 16, 6 pm. 518-263-2001. Tickets available at Catskill Mountain Foundation website

Big Pickin' Weekend at Oneonta Theatre, 47 Chestnut Street, Oneonta, NY, July 15-18. Happy hour begins at 6pm each night; doors open at 8pm, music begins at 9pm.  607-643-4022.  Tickets available at box office and at Oneonta Theatre website.