Nyack to host monthlong theater, music festival


The villages of Nyack and Upper Nyack will play host to a performing arts festival this coming autumn. Photo by Ann Adelstein

For 30 days this autumn, the villages of Nyack and Upper Nyack will be transformed into a performing arts festival, with a host of theater, music and cultural events staged outdoors against a Hudson River backdrop.

The Phoenix Festival: Live Arts in Nyack runs from Sept. 16 to Oct. 16, presenting live performances by the Phoenix Theatre Ensemble and Children’s Shakespeare Theatre company, as well as Rockland Symphony Orchestra concerts and a series of related events.

Most performances will be staged at the Marydell Faith and Life Center in Upper Nyack, with the outdoor garden at the Hopper House in Nyack providing the venue for others.

The festival is being produced by the Phoenix Theatre Ensemble. Founded in New York City in 2004, Rockland County is the company’s second home.

The festival’s cornerstone is the presentation of three plays in repertory: Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth and Anton Chekov’s The Harmfulness of Tobacco – classics revisited by Phoenix in a contemporary context.

The festival also includes performances of Love's Labour's Lost by the Children's Shakespeare Theatre a Rockland County-based troupe of kids aged 8 to 18 founded in 1999 that has been staging the Bard’s plays for 23 consecutive seasons.

Providing a live soundtrack for the festival will be the Rockland Symphony Orchestra, which comprises amateur musicians, professionals and rising young soloists.

All live performances will be presented in the afternoon to allow patrons to enjoy the riverside and downtown Nyack’s shopping, dining, recreation and nightlife.

“Our vision is to create an annual outdoor festival on the Hudson at the height of the beautiful fall season that will engage local talent and attract arts enthusiasts locally and globally,” Craig Smith, the festival’s executive director, stated in a press release.

Another festival feature is a multimedia, family-friendly chronicle about Nyack, incorporating augmented reality, documentary video, and walking narratives. The program, titled Nyack Digital Dreaming-AR Adventures, is a guided journey through local history, lore and legends – from early seaport days to the Industrial Revolution, Underground Railroad, world wars, 1960s urban renewal, arriving finally in today’s local community.

Festival goers can expect to find pop-up events, such as rehearsal viewings and meet-and-greets with actors, directors, and designers, plus film screenings, jazz performances, guided nature hikes, river excursions, and art exhibits.

Most outdoor events are scheduled to go on rain or shine; details are being worked out to move performances indoors if weather is a significant problem, according to event publicist Nancy Phillips.

Tickets are on sale; visit nyackartsfestival.com for schedules and other information.

Robert Brum is a freelance journalist writing about the Hudson Valley. Read his work here. 

The Hopper House will be one of the venues for this fall's performing arts festival in Nyack. Photo courtesy of the Hopper House Museum and Study Center
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