All Photos Courtesy of The Capitol Theatre.
Concerts aren’t the only thing Port Chester’s Capitol Theatre offers. The woman behind the events at the iconic music venue shares an inside look.
Additional reporting by Jessie Jafet
How many people have the opportunity to recite their vows at the same venue where Janis Joplin debuted the song “Mercedes Benz” and where the Grateful Dead, Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Pink Floyd, and BB King all performed?
At Port Chester’s iconic Capitol Theatre, guests can attend a sold-out show one week and get married under dreamlike projections the next. Emily Schmalholz, Head of Special Events at The Capitol Theatre, along with the crew, can execute an impressive range of events including birthday parties, weddings, and fundraisers, among other happenings.
The theater, designed by architect Thomas W. Lamb in 1926, holds unforgettable events thanks to its expansive rooms, vintage charm, and state-of-the-art production equipment. The Cap, as the Port Chester music venue is commonly known, covers all the bases, offering private concerts, educational workshops, and holiday parties.
“One of the most special things about the theater is, while our capacity is 2000, everything feels very intimate in the space,” says Schmalholz.
Prior to joining the Cap, Schmalholz previously worked in the music industry at VH1. Eventually she and her husband, Jay, found themselves in Armonk, where she shifted her career. She and her friend started an event-planning company where, for a decade, they coordinated creative celebrations.
She then went on to do special events work at Grand Prix in Mount Kisco and arranged winter events at New York Botanical Garden before ultimately bringing her production skills to the Cap. For Schmalholz, the Cap represents the perfect intersection of her expertise and passion, designing and executing tailor-made events for clients of various stripes.
“The Cap is where my worlds come together,” she declares. “This is where my music world and my events world all of a sudden combine.”
This role has allowed her to work on private concerts featuring performances by Eddie Vedder, ’80s prom-themed birthday parties, and benefit concerts for various charities. “One of the things that makes my job so fun is that each event is different,” notes Schmalholz.
Copious amounts of themed parties have made their way through the Cap. But one thing that ties them together is the principal role music plays in each event. Holding an event in The Capitol Theatre is unique within itself, but having access to professional lighting and sound engineers is bound to bring your party to another level. Guests will have the same production crew, lighting engineer, and sound engineer that conducted Neil Young’s concert working their 50th birthday party.
Schmalholz encourages the guests to include a live music element into their special evening. If you’re in a renowned live music venue, you don’t want to let that opportunity slip by.
Another design element the theatre offers are high-tech projections. This is a live design element that can transform throughout the event. You can have your wedding ceremony under the stars and, once the reception kicks off, you’re under the ocean with waves crashing around you. Or, project a winter wonderland onto the 65-foot domed ceilings and onto the enchanting balcony to help create the evening you’ve dreamed of.
“I love the final product of an event. It’s so satisfying for me to see details come together into one big production,” Schmalholz enthuses.
The Capitol Theatre
149 Westchester Ave, Port Chester; 914.937.4126