Nestled in the heart of the Village of Patchogue, Long Island, the historic Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts has been a cultural cornerstone for the community for a century. Originally opening its doors as Ward & Glynne’s Theater in 1923, this iconic venue has seen the evolution of entertainment, from vaudeville and silent films to Broadway productions and live music performances featuring legendary acts like Bette Davis, Eddie Foy, and the Marx Brothers.
During its early years, a ticket to Patchogue Theatre would only set you back 40 cents for adults and half that for children. It was a place where people gathered for laughter, music, and captivating performances. Glynne operated the theatre until the Great Depression, and it was later purchased by Prudential Playhouses, Inc., which kept the spirit of entertainment alive with first-run films and community activities even as vaudeville waned.
A significant moment in the theatre’s history occurred in 1958 when a fire damaged the lobby. The subsequent renovations, while covering much of the ornate decor with plywood and drywall, gave the theatre a simple and austere charm that would endure. The venue continued as a movie house, even transitioning into a “triplex” in 1982 with three screens.
However, the economic challenges of the 1980s, coupled with the opening of a nearby multiplex theatre, led to the closure of Patchogue Theatre in 1987. The building stood empty for nearly a decade until 1996 when three local businessmen stepped in, providing initial funds for its purchase. The Incorporated Village of Patchogue applied for grants to restore the theatre to its former glory.
The restoration journey was marked by phases, culminating in Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts (PTPA) reopening its doors in December 1998. The interior was meticulously restored to its 1923 grandeur, rekindling the spirit of entertainment that had once thrived within its walls.
While the Village of Patchogue owns the historic venue, PTPA, operating under the Patchogue Village Center for the Performing Arts, manages it. This community-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit arts organization, led by a dedicated volunteer board of directors, ensures that the theatre remains a vibrant hub for the arts in Patchogue. Importantly, PTPA covers all operating costs, including programming, without relying on taxpayer subsidies.
In recent years, Patchogue Theatre has continued to modernize its facilities. State-of-the-art sound systems, Broadway-quality lighting, and rigging have been installed, enhancing the audience’s experience. In 2016, McHugh Institutional Furnishings introduced more spacious seating with improved sightlines. The new seats made their debut during Patchogue Theatre’s first show of the season featuring The Chapin Family.
Today, Patchogue Theatre boasts 854 orchestra seats and 252 balcony seats, bringing its total capacity to 1,106, including accessible seating options throughout the orchestra level. This makes Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts the largest theatre in Suffolk County, reaffirming its status as a cultural gem that continues to shine brightly in the Village of Patchogue.
Located at 71 East Main St, Patchogue, NY 11772, Patchogue Theatre remains a cherished institution, preserving its rich history while embracing the vibrant arts scene of today. As it enters its second century, it remains a testament to the enduring power of live performance and community support.
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