New Horizons for HMT

Change of Venue; New Offerings for 2021-22 On Tap

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Home Made Theater, the popular Saratoga Springs community theater company, announces an exciting change of venue for the 2021-2022 season. Beginning with the upcoming production of Almost, Maine (see story that follows), opening on September 24th, all performances will be held at Saratoga Arts in the Dee Sarno Theater located at 320 Broadway in Saratoga. “We are thrilled to be working with Saratoga Arts on this next step in our journey to continue our mission of creating high-quality live theater by and for our diverse community.” – Eric Rudy, General Manager, Home Made Theater.

Home Made Theater has had a long and loyal run at the Spa Little Theater in the State Park. Since the beautiful and historic landmark became its home stage in 1986, Home Made Theater has performed nearly 200 productions at Spa Little Theater. However, the age of the building presents COVID-era challenges that cannot be overcome in time to ensure that patrons, casts, crew, and volunteers are kept safe.

While many friends and fans might equate Home Made Theater with the actual physical building in the State Park, this treasured theater group’s creative energy and high-quality talent carries with it a unique identity all its own. Support for the move has been enthusiastic and heartfelt. “It’s great to see Home Made Theater assert a strong identity and product that is not wedded to one house.” – Alane Ball-Chinian, Regional Director, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

The pandemic has created many obstacles for the arts over the past eighteen months. Pivoting and innovating is critical to Home Made Theater’s commitment of continuing to bring community theater to the community. While COVID has presented hardships, it has also fostered changes that encourage collaboration and celebration.  “I am excited to see Home Made Theater on Broadway! More than ever, we need the theater. We need the arts. I believe this is a nice fit.” – Dee Sarno, Former Executive Director of Saratoga County Arts Council – Retired

Louise Kerr, Executive Director of Saratoga Arts, welcomes the spirit of change and the strengthening of relationships that nurture and sustain a healthy and progressive arts community. “After a successful summer of collaboration on our youth camps, resulting in two successful in-person productions, it seemed only natural to continue our partnership with Home Made Theatre throughout the year. It’s so important to Saratoga Arts that we support and facilitate community creativity, and Home Made Theatre is a shining example of just that. We’re excited to see how they activate the Dee Sarno Theater, which has been largely dormant for 18 months of the pandemic, and welcome audiences back to the heart of downtown Saratoga Springs this fall.”

Home Made Theater will stage five performances in the Dee Sarno Theater at Saratoga Arts between September 24th, 2021, and June 19th, 2022. An “off-Broadway” site at the Wilton Mall will provide the additional space and necessary accommodations for rehearsals, a scene workshop, and storage.  (Stay tuned for information about an Open House.)

For more details and to purchase tickets for upcoming performances visit:  https://homemadetheater.org/

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Glory Be! Local Actress Deals with Personal Loss by Performing for HMT

It is no surprise that Toni Anderson-Sommo, of Cunningham Avenue in Glens Falls, took to  performing in area theater.

A recent retiree from the Hudson Falls School District who now teaches English Literature and Creative Writing at the State University of New York – Adirondack in Queensbury, Anderson-Sommo says teaching and performing come naturally to her.

“You’d be amazed at how many teachers are actually actors and actresses,” she says in advance of the opening of the new show she’s going to appear in, Home Made Theater’s production of Almost, Maine, a play which explores love and loss in a mythical New England town. “I think that’s because we’re used to standing in front of a large group and performing to keep their attention.”

Often cast in the role of a snobby socialite – one reviewer said of her performance as Claire Ganz in the company’s 2012 version of Rumors that she brought “a delicious drollness to Claire’s comments, delivered like a Greek chorus of one, drink constantly in hand” – Anderson-Sommo has also played Kate Jerome in Brighton Beach Memoirs and Lorraine Sheldon in Home Made Theater’s 2015 revival of The Man Who Came to Dinner.

Anderson-Sommo has a long and proven record working with the well regarded, award-winning company.  She’s also directed Home Made Theater’s The Jungle Book and The Wizard of Oz, which won an Albany Times Union readers poll in 2013 for being the best local musical in the Capitol Region.

Besides her performances in local theater, area patrons of the arts may have also seen her in Forget Me Nots, a poignant, independent film about caregivers, as well as her debut play, U R Here, which was produced at the Charles R. Wood Theater in Glens Falls in February 2018.

A lighthearted comedy filled with puns, double entendres and assorted word play, Anderson-Sommo explains that she wrote U R Here “because I was acutely aware of how much society was becoming dependent on interpersonal relationships being conducted almost totally through social media.

“The sad thing,” continues Anderson-Sommo, “was that we had stopped depending on those people we knew and loved for answers to our life questions and had begun to rely on the virtual strangers that we found on social media.”

But the results, she’s quick to add, were well worth it, since the show played to sold out audiences. “Other than my two wonderful boys, this was the crowning achievement of my life, and everything and more than I’d hoped it would be.”

Up next for Anderson-Sommo is her portrayal of Glory in Almost, Maine, a role in which she plays against type. “It allows me to be a little New Age and hippie-ish,” she says. A woman whose heart broke when her husband, Wes, ran away with someone else, Glory spends most of her scene time carrying a paper bag that she claims contains an artificial heart.

But portraying the character also resonates with the local thespian on a tremendously personal level. That is because Anderson-Sommo says she and her husband went through the unthinkable and unbearable tragedy of losing their youngest son when he was diagnosed with a very rare disease at the age of eight-years-old.

“Theater became an escape for me, a chance to put aside my grief and become someone else for a short time,” she reflects.

The actress and her family suffered more grief only this past month, when their Cunningham Avenue home was damaged by a catastrophic fire. Though she briefly thought about quitting Almost, Maine to deal with her loss, Anderson-Sommo says she decided to stay with the production because the cast and company rallied around her.

“They provided not only financial support, but reminded me that home is where the heart is,” she explains. “And at Home Made Theater, I’ll always be home.”

Written by playwright and Tony-Award nominated actor John Cariani, and directed by Michael McDermott, Almost, Maine will have a limited, seven performance engagement at Saratoga Arts, 320 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866. Performances will be September 24, 25, October 1, 2 at 8:00pm and September 26, October 2 and 3 at 2:00pm.

Single tickets, plus information and subscriptions to Home Made Theater’s entire 2021-2022 season are available on their website, http://www.HomeMadeTheater.org, or by calling (518) 587-4427 during regular business hours. For more information about Home Made Theater, you can visit the group’s website, the company’s Facebook page, or contact the General Manager, Eric Rudy, at eric@homemadetheater.org.

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