A once-vacant warehouse on Wheeler Avenue in Pleasantville is undergoing a transformation that just might cement the village’s reputation as a red-hot destination for cultural events. A number of local theater groups—including the 50-year-old Chappaqua Drama Group and the student-focused Little Village Playhouse—have joined forces and transformed themselves into Arc Stages. The warehouse will be its permanent home, a new theater that will include rehearsal spaces, a smaller 99-seat theater, and, eventually, a larger theater with a proscenium stage.
“We’re going to bring educational theater, community theater, and professional theater all under one roof,” says Adam Cohen, the executive director of the Little Village Playhouse. When the renovations are complete, the Main Stage will be accessible to local arts groups—such as dance schools and improv troupes—which usually have to find libraries and other non-permanent spaces to showcase their performances.
In addition, a professional theater group—the Spark Theatre—will take up residence at Arc Stages, focusing on avant-garde, edgy plays as well as new works, cabaret performances, and staged readings. And it’ll have plenty of great guidance: The board of advisors for Arc Stages includes theater veterans like Vanessa Williams, Judy Kuhn (Cosette from the original cast of Les Misérables), Jeff G. Waxman (executive producer of Mirror Mirror), and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Steve Rich.
The Little Village Playhouse will also continue to operate out of Arc Stages, offering theater classes and workshops for student actors. Its program is different from others in that, while it puts on a production every season, memorizing lines, blocking scenes, and taking direction aren’t the program’s sole focus. Students are given complementary master classes in history, culture, and production. “We did a show called Pacific Overtures and it was a kabuki show, so we had master classes about kabuki theater and the history and culture of Japan,” Cohen says. “Since we want to teach more, we end up choosing innovative, less traditional shows. Annie is done over and over again, but we’re not looking to re-paint the same fence.”
To keep up with everything going on at Arc Stages, visit arcstages.org.