The Suffolk Theater in downtown Riverhead has a new director.
Gary Hygom, former executive director of the Patchogue Theater for the Performing Arts and 20-year production manager at the Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor, will take the reins of the historic Riverhead Theater on October 15.
General and artistic director Daniel Binderman is stepping down after eight years in this role.
At the Patchogue Theater, Hygom has reshaped and expanded the theater’s programming to include more diversity and higher caliber artists as well as educational efforts and community initiatives, the Suffolk Theater said in a press release on Friday afternoon. It “dramatically increased attendance, more than doubled grant revenue, and created ‘The Loading Dock’ a new music venue in one venue,” the statement said.
Hygom served as Executive Director of Main Street Theater, Patchogue from June 2017 to October 2020, according to his Linked-In profile.
Most recently, he was the producer of The Rock Project, a live music show that combines âexceptional Broadway singers with the classic sounds of rock and rollâ, in productions that celebrated the music of The Who, Aretha Franklin and the Beatles.
As production manager at Bay Street, Hygom created and expanded off-season programming, cultivated local partnerships, launched an educational program and restructured the theater’s main season, according to the Suffolk Theater press release.
Hygom’s previous professional experience over a career spanning more than 30 years includes working as production and touring director for Phoebe Snow, founder of Oak Hill Theater Company and technical director of Guild Hall, according to the Press release.
âI am happy to be at the helm of this wonderful and unique performance space and to build on the great successes and achievements of this historic theater,â Hygom said.
âGary was the perfect choice – a visionary with a solid artistic background as well as the administrative and personal qualities that will help him take Suffolk theater to the next level,â said Binderman. “With his knowledge of the Long Island market and his strength in production and administration, he will be truly perfect.”
Binderman, the theater’s third director since it opened in 2013 after a long and painstaking renovation and restoration by Cutchogue owners Bob and Dianne Castaldi, said he was proud of his accomplishments. It has elevated the theater to a place of regional fame, featuring legendary musical artists like Art Garfunkel, Arlo Guthrie, Mavis Staples, Judy Collins and many more, as well as comedians like Rob Schneider, Marlon Wayons, Gilbert Gottfried and Bob Saget.
âFrom our first show with blues legend Johnny Winter, throughout my tenure, we were able to create a truly special environment and a unique place in the artistic landscape of the Tri-State region,â said Binderman. âI love this theater and I am so happy to present it to a friend and colleague whose work I sincerely admire.â
Castladi said he appreciated the work Dan has done in theater and what he has accomplished. With new manager and caterer, Greenport-based Ellen’s on Front, along with the new town plaza across from the theater and the planned expansion of our facilities, âthis remarkable venue has a very bright futureâ, said. said Castaldi.
The 800-seat art deco cinema opened with great fanfare in 1933. The nationally recognized building has received top honors from the New York State Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the Art Deco Society of New York.
In 2005, the Castaldi bought the theater, closed since 1987, from the town of Riverhead for $ 707,000. Their multi-million dollar renovation effort got bogged down in city politics and ultimately litigation, but the lawsuit was settled in 2010 and work began in earnest. The theater reopened on March 2, 2013 with a 1930s-themed celebration.
Plans for the future are advancing
The currently proposed expansion of the theater includes the construction of a larger stage, a backstage area, changing rooms and green rooms, offices and new bathrooms. It also includes a five-story mixed-use addition offering commercial space on the ground floor and 28 rental apartments on the upper floors. Plans for the proposal, initially filed in early 2018, are progressing through the review process.
City council on Tuesday began a coordinated review of the proposal under the state’s Environmental Quality Review Act, classifying the plan as Type I action for review – a action which is expected to have significant impacts – and requested lead agency status for review.
Councilor Catherine Kent, who opposes five-story buildings on Main Street, allowed by the zoning code for more than a decade, voted alone in the opposition. She argued that the start of the review should wait until the applicant submits the parking analysis required by the city planning department and has a “final site plan”. Planner Jefferson Murphree said the parking analysis will not change the classification or lead agency request and that the final site plan will evolve during the review.
Other council members said the theater was a mainstay of downtown revitalization efforts.
“It’s part of what puts Riverhead on the map,” said Councilor Tim Hubbard. âAll of these things that come together are what will make Riverhead a much better place to live. “
Supervisor Yvette Agiuar said she would like to personally thank Castaldi.
âYears ago when you decided to take on the great challenge of resurrecting the Suffolk Theater that had been dormant for so many years and brought it back to its – the better to shine, you gentrified this block it’s one of the best places to visit here and now we’re going to take the next step, “Aguiar said.” It’s the start of a new era.
The theater was closed by the COVID-19 pandemic last year and reopened after nearly 18 months on August 27. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test performed within 72 hours of an event is required to enter the venue.
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