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Only time will tell

By Thom O'Connor
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
| 2 comments
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While waiting in my podiatrist’s office in Niskayuna, two people talk about a play they saw at Proctors: a musical ditty titled "Forever Plaid." One of them eyes the Proctors insignia on my shirtsleeve. Had I seen the show, she asks. I smile in the affirmative. do not say that I have seen it 8 times as of that day’s appointment with Dr. Krajick.

As they continue to talk, I grow acutely aware that "Plaid" will close on Sunday, Sept. 12. I feel a twinge of sadness. Over the three weeks that "Plaid" has played in the wonderful GE Theater at Proctors, I have grown to love it more with each performance.

Sitting there, I realize that the show and cast -– Chris Crouch (Frankie), Joe Domencic (Smudge), J.D. Daw (Jinx), and Marcus Stevens (Sparky) along with Mark Turner (understudy for all parts) -- and Guy Stroman (director/choreographer), Van Kaplan (executive producer), Graham Doig (musical director/pianist), Andrew David Ostrowski (lighting designer) and night-owl JR Goldberg (production stage manager), collectively have stolen my heart and imagination -- at least for a little while. I will miss them. (Pictured are Domencic, Crouch,Stevens and Daw.)

Consistently, the reviews for "Forever Plaid" have been positive. In almost direct proportion to radio, TV, newspaper and blog reports, the audience counts crept higher with each performance -- and every show has ended with a standing ovation and gee-whiz to the GE Theatre. Despite the fact that the 436-seat capacity GE was introduced at Proctors in 2007, a surprising number of people have never been in it. To them, Proctors is the 2,646- seat capacity Mainstage. They are delighted by their self-discovery of the intimacy, the sound, the all-of-it GE Theatre at Proctors.

The summer season at Proctors has taken some work. To my surprise, I’ve learned that many people fear or are uncomfortable with Schenectady downtown. I walk around each day -– including weekends when I come more relaxed -- to explore different parts of town with an eye on moving here. I stay late after shows at Proctors. After events in Albany and Troy, I return downtown after midnight. I walk from behind the new 'Y' over to Union College, to the Stockade, and up to Nott Terrace, then toward Ellis Hospital.

In truth, I encounter very few people on these ongoing nighttime walkabouts -- and those I see seem to be having fun or coming home from an outing. None is menacing or hostile. In passing, we acknowledge one another, smile -- and move on.

This reality check is important to me. Having been mugged twice while living in New York City -- and stabbed and robbed before I moved from Park Slope, Brooklyn, back into Manhattan -- I am crime wary. I would never move into an area that I believe to be dangerous or forbidding.

No. I approach my next coming of age -- this time in the soon-to-be, high-voltage Electric City -- with excitement and high expectations.

"It’s not going to be like New York City," a co-worker tells me over a morning coffee examination of my reasons for wanting to move here from my small rural, lakeside community. She is right, of course, simply because nothin’ compares to life in that 24/7 bustlin’ Big Apple.

But I intend to open new doors and explore new perspectives in a place called Schenectady, a city rich in tradition, cultural diversity, and ritual.

For now, however, I’m wondering how I can work my schedule this weekend to include the Schenectady County Pedal, Paddle, Run (Sept. 11), Stockade Villagers Art Show (Sept. 11), the Mabee Farm History Fair (Sept. 11), the Italian Festival (same day), the St. George’s Greek Festival (Sept. 10 – 12), the last performance of "Forever Plaid" on Sunday, Sept. 12, at 1:30 PM and the Stockade Soiree (Sept. 12).

Will I actually survive all there is to do in the newly emerging Downtown Schenectady. Time -- and I -- will tell all -- if you let me.

Thom O’Connor remains firm in his decision to move to Downtown Schenectady, "Plaid"-broken heart notwithstanding.

 
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comments

September 11, 2010
1:48 p.m.

[ Suggest removal ]
robbump says...

The dangers of downtown is more about perception than reality.

I am a Rotterdam resident who has been going downtown for quite some time with no bad experiences. In May I started using only the bus and my feet for transportation, instead of driving - and have probably encountered Mr. O'Connor in my travels.

My worse experiences is that an occasional panhandler asks for change, but I politely decline (no use calling them names or becoming hostile) and they go on looking for their next potential donor. And even that experience happens more often in Rotterdam and Niskayuna than downtown.

Don't be afraid to visit downtown, even at night.

September 15, 2010
6:03 a.m.

[ Suggest removal ]
thomwrite says...

Thanks robbump. Appreciate the reinforcement. Especially as Downtown offers more and more to do, day or night. Don't forget ART NIGHT Schenectady -- and Art Night at Proctors on Sept. 17. All free and family focused fun and enlightenment! An event to rally around and be proud of. More at proctors.org

 

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