CATSKILL — Three years of restoration work and anticipation climaxed Saturday with the grand opening of the $8.2 million Lumberyard Contemporary Performing Arts on Water Street in Catskill.
The gala unveiling ushered in a new era in the fine arts for Catskill and the surrounding area and, paired with the Bridge Street Theater just a short distance away, creates a historic and formidable tandem on the local and national artistic scenes.
“We are expecting about 850 people to be in the town of Catskill this weekend,” Lumberyard Artistic and Executive Director Adrienne Willis said Saturday at a press event held prior to the performance. “Especially for Labor Day weekend, that is really great.”
The box office was scheduled to open at 4:30 p.m. to allow the audience to congregate before the doors opened at 5:30 p.m.
The evening was hosted by Scottish actor Alan Cumming. Cumming’s credits include “Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion,” “GoldenEye,” the “X-Men” movie franchise and the CBS police drama “Instinct.” He won an Emmy award for “The Good Wife” and is the recipient of numerous theater awards including one for a revival of “Cabaret.” His acting career spans nearly 30 years.
Headlining Saturday’s inaugural performance was Tony Award-winning choreographer and tap dancer Savion Glover, who was accompanied by critically acclaimed drummer Marcus Gilmore.
The 7,000-square-foot theater can accommodate 450 people seated and up to 600 standing.
The theater space has a steel frame over the top of the building that can be seen from Main Street. The theater, which can double as a soundstage for film and television productions, has no fixed seating and can conform to the performance.
“This area can really be used for any purpose,” Willis said. “We are able to move stands, chairs or anything around to fit whatever we need.”
The arts center is equipped with thick, black sound-proofing curtains, a tall ceiling and lighting fixtures, Willis said. The area can be adapted to replicate several New York City stages if need be. There are also 13 rooms and bedrooms available for artists or guests who are renting out space at the center for residencies.
Lumberyard officials plan to host several community ventures in the future. The Fresh Start Program, an initiative for the Hudson Correctional Facility, is an arts education intervention that will help youth at the correctional facility develop creative ways of self-expression.
A second program, called the Junior Crew, is a partnership with Columbia-Greene Workforce NY to enable local students and youth to earn a summer wage as ushers or box office assistants at Lumberyard. Four students from the Catskill area are enlisted in the program, and they worked the grand opening Saturday.
Lumberyard will also offer an open-air studio that can be rented for TV or film production, performances and weddings. Proceeds will be cycled back into the performing arts center, Willis said.
Performances and shows have been scheduled for this fall and winter. Tickets and information about specific shows can be found at www.lumberyard.org.
*Editor's note: This story corrects an earlier version that stated the Lumberyard Contemporary Performing Arts project is $7.2 million. The project is projected to cost $8.2 million.