When Mary Crescenzo moved to Peekskill five years ago, she saw the city as a “growing Mecca for the arts,” and feels the city is still growing into its potential today.
A professional playwright, Crescenzo found a way to share her talent with the community and expose Peekskillians to theater in a way that had not been done before. She and her partner Richard Manichello, also a professional New York City playwright living in Peekskill, started the Peekskill Playhouse in 2009 and currently use the as their performance space. Their shows have been a hit, selling out the approximately 100 person capacity Bean Runner for their series which runs every last Sunday of the month for ten months.
“I wanted to provide a space where the community can come to see theater, so they don’t have to travel downtown. It is an alternative, and also it opens up theater to people who may be not likely attend,” Crescenzo said.
While she loves working with Bean Runner owners and performing there, Crescenzo is seeking a more appropriate space for the kinds of small theater shows she and Manichello perform.
“It is called the 99-seat theater, a black box theater. We feel we can fill it because we sold out the bean Runner,” Crescenzo said.
Finding the appropriate space would better allow the pair to more fully realize their shared vision.
“We want to create quality live theater of original works here in Peekskill,” Cresenzo said.
She also hopes for a greater level of coordination between all artists in the city. She envisions an art center that provides one central location and a cultural director to coordinate events and inform the public. “Like a flagship place. To have all artists and disciplines join together. To help each other and cross promote…that is my hope for the future.”
Crescenzo is not sure where this might happen but sees possibilities for theater space with the owned by developer Gabriel Arango. He is renovating the 19th Century theater on the third floor to its original condition. Arango plans to have retail on the bottom floor and office space on the second.
But even without an ideal artist space, Crescenzo tries to bring artists together whenever she can and incorporates cross promoting into her shows. The Playhouse’s live theater is usually followed by wine and cheese and a musical performance. Last month she had local high school students perform at the end. This past summer she also collaborated with Peekskill spoken word artist Noodle on a show about the Hudson River and nuclear energy, which was a fable. She connected with because it was a rhyming piece and then he got other spoken word artists to also collaborate.
While Crescenzo continues to look for her black box theater, she will continue her the last Sunday of the month series and performances with the Mary Crescenzo Band. The Band consists of her and her husband Paul Mesches, a Lakeland High School music director and musician. They play mostly jazz music at venues and restaurants in the area.
The Peekskill Playhouse’s next show will be on March 25 at the Bean Runner to celebrate Women's History Month. The show involves theatrical excerpts from a social drama entitled, 'Planet A,' written by Crescenzo. Crescenzo describes it as, “a journey into a world of mind, memory, and unintentional masquerade with a collection of woman from another world.”
Curtains at 4:30 p.m., $12. The event includes wine and cheese and live music by singer/songerwriter Ryan O’Connor and Mesches. Reservations are strongly suggested. Call 914-737-1701
Other Upcoming Crescenzo/Mesches Performances:
Mary Crescenzo Band:
Sunday, March 18, Matters of the HeART: Supporting Creative Aging Through the Arts,
opening reception, Mary Crescenzo Trio,
177 Hillside Ave. Greenburgh, NY, 2 - 4PM, Free to public
Wed. April 18: The Winery at St. George,
Broadway Swings! Cabaret Night with The Mary Crescenzo Band
1715 E. Main Street, Mohegan Lake, NY
Doors Open 7pm
Showtimes: 8:30 and 10pm
$10 Music Charge
Reservations suggested, call 914-455-4272
Friday, April 27: A Musical Tribute to the Music & Life of singer/songwriter Phoebe Snow
with the Mary Crescenzo Band
Bean Runner Cafe, 201 S. Division St. Peekskill, NY
$10 at the door, 8PM, 914 737 1701, reservations strongly suggested