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Albany Civic Theater

235 Second Avenue
Albany, NY 12209

518-462-1297


Mission

It is the intent of Albany Civic Theater to provide education and training in acting, directing, writing, speech, staging, producing, reviewing, and other aspects of the dramatic arts.

We aim to encourage and foster community interest and participation in the dramatic arts through the non-profit sponsorship of plays, lectures, publications, workshops, study groups, drama libraries and related activities.

History

Albany Civic Theater got its start in February 1955 when Marion Karczmar directed Blithe Spirit just nine months after the group's first organizational meeting. The organizers filled the void left when Malcolm Atterbury closed The Playhouse, a professional theater on Lodge Street.

The Ilium Players of Troy united with the Albany Dramatic Group to form Albany Civic Theater after a chance meeting on Lodge Street in downtown Albany of Sally Wallenstein (later Mrs. Louis Fiordilino) of the Troy group and Martha J. Downey of the Albany group.

The new group, which started with about 60 members, staged its plays at Philip Livingston Junior High, School 24 and the Albany Institute of History and Art. Rehearsals were held in such places as the Unitarian Church and the Joseph Henry Memorial building, not the city school district's headquarters.

In 1957, A.C.T. moved to 115 Beaver Street and began using the second-floor space for storage and rehearsals, thanks to Lou Urbano, who ran his Capitol Press print shop on the first floor of an old Boys Club building. After months of work, the second floor was transformed to make a theater with 125 seats.

The first shows were presented for one or two nights, with volunteers folding and stapling playbills. A.C.T. sold its first subscriptions in 1962 when the season began with The Madwoman of Chaillot.

Louis Urbano built the stage, while Maureen "Mo" Dumas had a raked concrete floor installed. The seats came from the old abandoned Paramount Theater. The upstairs became dressing rooms, makeup area, wardrobe and an area for set construction. The coal bin became the box office.

The Man Who Came to Dinner, with A.C.T. veteran Llyod Symansky directing, was the first play in our current home. It opened our 1964-65 season and ran for eight nights. The runs were later extended to three weekends. Seating was expanded to 99 and later to the current 126.


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