Paul Allan, a third generation producer at the Gateway Playhouse, told me about the summer line-up and some major changes happening at the long-time, theatrical mainstay in Bellport.
After 62 years, under the knowledgeable and successful management of the Allan family, the Gateway Playhouse is now a nonprofit organization. The transition occurred this winter, and the managing corporation known as the Performing Arts Center of Suffolk County was created on February 8, 2011.
The Gateway Playhouse still functions under the same name, and the Allan family retains an important role in the theater’s existence. Paul Allan is the Producer, as well as holding an important seat representing the Allan family on the Board of Directors. His sister, Robin Joy Allan, is the Artistic and Casting Director, the School Director, handles acting class admissions, and teaches the advanced class.
“Going to the theater isn’t as unique as it once was. We are finding it harder and harder to fill seats…it’s the ‘chicken and the egg’ problem-it’s hard to raise the money without a full staff, but we can’t hire staff without money,” Allan said, adding, “Any additional funding will hopefully be able to help us survive.”
The Gateway Playhouse not only hosts amazing plays, but also offers very selective, professional-grade acting classes. The children’s classes accommodate ages 6-18. These classes are beneficial for children’s social and intellectual development. “Many children are contained in their shells and need to be brought out,” Allan shares. “The acting classes are taught by real acting professionals, not people who are out of touch with current theatre life.”
The children receive top-notch coaching as well as vital help with the audition process and landing a job. “We’re not a theatre factory. Our goal is to train and prepare students for a future career in the arts…Our quality is close to or surpasses New York City performances. We have Broadway actors as well as up-and-comers on our stage…Our shows are fresh and exciting since (there’s) only two weeks of rehearsal time.”
Unlike other theatres, which force students to study elsewhere after they have “ripened,” the Gateway Playhouse welcomes adults age 19 and up. A class specifically for college students is also offered.
The children’s performances offered this summer are: Cinderella, Peter Rabbit, Jack and the Beanstalk, Dinosaurs, Tales from the Forest (a combination of Goldilocks & the Three Bears and Hansel and Gretel), and Dora’s Pirate Adventure.
Allan said, “It’s important to get future patrons accustomed to coming to the theater. They need to learn what an actor and live performance is.”
“The ambitious nature of our schedule sets us apart from other theatres. It’s a pretty exciting line-up,” Allan boasts, “One big block buster after the other. There’s a new show every three weeks.” The summer shows are: West Side Story (see review on page 102), Legally Blonde: The Musical, Monty Python’s Spamalot, Sweeney Todd, Sunset Boulevard, The Who’s Tommy, and ‘S Wonderful.
The Gateway Playhouse will host a gala fundraiser on July 23 at 6 p.m. to be held in and outside the theater. It will be an elegant evening of cocktails and mingling, dinner, silent auction, raffle and wonderful memories. Guests will also enjoy an abridged presentation from The Who’s Tommy performed by the acting school. Seating is limited, so don’t wait to grab your tickets.
Show your support for the community and the arts. Classes and performances are going on all summer long. See you at the theater.
For more information about classes, shows, or donating to the Performing Arts Center of Suffolk County at the Gateway Playhouse visit gatewayplayhouse.com.