Home Made Theater looking for new performance space

SARATOGA SPRINGS – The Spa Little Theater may not be hosting shows anytime soon.

Home Made Theatre, which has called Spa Little Theater home since 1986, has changed venues for its main 2021-2022 season, citing issues with the building in a letter sent to patrons on Monday.

“The decision to leave the Spa Little Theater was not easy and was not quick,” wrote general manager Eric Rudy.

As the company announced the location change with its new season in September, Rudy found that many wanted to know more about Home Made’s reasons for leaving. He also noticed rumors on social media that the theater company had been asked to leave by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, which owns the building. Rudy wrote the letter hoping to dispel that notion and provide more explanation.

“You have to understand that we weren’t asked to leave,” Rudy wrote. “We made a proactive business decision that we believe was best for the business to ensure its survival. We had to put aside our feelings, which was difficult, and look at the issues objectively. The main drivers for this decision were the ongoing issues with the Spa Little Theater itself,” Rudy wrote.

The theater has humidity issues, as well as air filtration issues and leaky toilets; there is a collapsing ceiling in the stage store and leaks have damaged some props and costumes in the theater, the letter says.

“Parks has been incredibly generous with us and has been very kind to us,” Rudy said on a call with The Gazette on Monday. “…but their hands are tied. As many businesses have faced economic hardship due to COVID, every government department has faced this as well, and Parks has certainly not been left out.

Asked about plans for the Spa Little Theatre, NYS Parks public information officer Dan Keefe said, “We are conducting a needs assessment of the building to inform future uses.”

Home Made Theater would be happy to return for a show or two in the future, Rudy said, but ultimately they are looking for a new home.

For now, the theater company’s venue for its upcoming productions of “Moonlight and Magnolias,” among other shows, is Saratoga Arts’ Dee Sarno Theater. For storage, as well as its stage shop and rehearsal space, the company rents space in the Wilton Mall.

The deals with Wilton Mall and Saratoga Arts are more profitable than the company’s previous deal with the Parks Department, according to Rudy. However, the Saratoga Arts theater is smaller than the Spa Little Theater, so Home Made revenue will also be diminished.
The company plans to find another venue that can accommodate larger productions and more viewers. According to Rudy, they’re looking for a location in Saratoga County.

“We view this as the next step in the evolution of our business,” Rudy said. “We’ve been around for 36 years… we’re not used to change and moving. We are really looking forward to this as a new opportunity and a positive opportunity. We understand and sympathize with people who have an emotional connection to Spa Little Theater and who think it is our home, but really, as I say in the letter, home is where the art is.
Home Made Theater’s next major production, “Moonlight and Magnolias,” written by Ron Hutchinson, will debut at Saratoga Arts on December 3. For more information, visit homemadetheater.org.

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