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2022 Season in Review: New Places, New Faces

The curtain has fallen on our 2022 season, and we’d like to extend our sincerest gratitude to our champions, donors, and all who came out to support us in our first season in our new home. Thanks to you, 2022 was an inspiring success: we delivered 66 performances for more than 13,500 guests, deepened our commitment to the community through local partnerships, and welcomed an incredible new leader to our team. Perhaps most importantly, we fostered the magical joy and connection that only live theater can cultivate, and we did it right here in the heart of our very own Hudson Valley.

Stellar reviews, both of performances and operations

This season featured performances of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet (starring HVSF’s beloved long-time players, Kurt Rhoads and Nance Williamson), Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play by Anne Washburn, and Where We Belong by Madeline Sayet. Our shows had a profound effect on our guests, as 96% of audience members surveyed said they would be likely to recommend our performances to a friend. Guests said:

The production, from start to finish, blew me away! Every aspect was stellar! Thank you for that challenging theater experience.

Beautiful setting, evocative and skillful singing and dancing. Confident staging and direction of a company with different levels of stage training and performance experience. A delightful and friendly staff from parking attendants to house manager.

Thank you for bringing first-class summer theater to Putnam County.

HVSF’s new venue is enchanting. Of course, the performance was magical.

But it was not just our theatrical performances that garnered the support of our guests this summer. As we continue planning for our future in our new home, the 2022 season served as a critical “test run” of a variety of operational factors. We’re thrilled to now have hard data supporting our claims that light pollution, sound pollution and traffic will not pose an issue for the local community. With 66 performances and 13,500 guests, we’re proud to report that we received zero noise, light or traffic complaints throughout the season. After careful planning to ensure efficient and orderly on-site operations, we are so pleased with this result, and will continue in our commitments to being courteous and collaborative neighbors in the Philipstown community. 

Sean McNall, Merritt Janson, Luis Quintero, Lauren Karaman, Emily Ota, and Zack Fine in our production of MR. BURNS, A POST-ELECTRIC PLAY. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

New community partnerships forged

Together with Processional Arts Workshop, The Garrison, and several other community partners, HVSF helped host the first-ever Highland Lights, a celebration of art and nature. Highland Lights invited neighbors to create collaborative works during free public workshops and culminated in a spectacular outdoor procession of lights and lanterns through The Garrison paths.

HVSF worked in partnership with several local not-for-profits including the Garrison Art Center, Haldane Arts Alliance, Hudson Highlands Land Trust, and the Hudson Valley Performing Arts Laboratory to host workshops in which participants worked collaboratively to create lanterns, incorporating techniques for wire-forming, decoupage, and LED lighting. The 2022 theme was “A Reawakened Landscape,” which celebrated the Garrison’s return to a natural landscape from its previous existence as a golf course. 

The inaugural Highland Lights was such a success that HVSF is already collaborating with its community partners on the 2023 event.

“Community-based events like this are what I imagined could be possible with the repurposing of the Garrison property in its next chapter,” said Chris Davis, whose visionary gift of 98 acres ushered in HVSF’s new chapter. “A space for celebrations of art and nature, for community connection, for environmental protection–all in one.”

Highland Lights community processional. Photo by Ashley Garrett.

Welcoming our new Managing Director, Kendra Ekelund

After saying farewell to our former Managing Director Katie Liberman in August, we embarked on a national search for Katie’s successor. During this time, we were incredibly fortunate to welcome David Roberts, a 20-year veteran of the performing arts industry, to guide us through our period of transition as interim managing director.

We concluded our national search at our annual gala in October, where we proudly introduced Kendra Ekelund, a seasoned leader and performing arts aficionado, as our new Managing Director. Ekelund joined the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival following her most recent post as General Manager of the Jacob Burns Film Center (JBFC) in Pleasantville, NY. A community-focused arts leader, Ekelund’s nonprofit management work centers around inclusion, accessibility, antiracism, and financial sustainability, with a deep commitment to empowering and uplifting artists. She is a lower Hudson Valley native and lives in Mohegan Lake with her husband Bryan and their son, Alexander.

“It is an absolute privilege to partner with Davis McCallum to build a strong foundation for HVSF to thrive in its new home,” said Ekelund. “There’s so much to look forward to in this new season of growth, and I can’t wait to roll up my sleeves and get to work with their incredible community of staff, board members, artists, and supporters.”

Davis McCallum, Artistic Director at HVSF, may have put it best as he reflected on the unforgettable 2022 season: “Our first season in our new home has invigorated our hopes for HVSF’s future. We shared the experience of professional theater and continued our contribution to the rich cultural life of the Hudson Valley. We forged new community partnerships. And most recently, we had the great fortune of welcoming Kendra as our new managing director. The future is bright for HVSF, and as we look ahead to 2023, we do so with a renewed sense of excitement.”

2023 Season Announcement

Photo Credit: T Charles Erickson © T Charles Erickson Photography tcepix@comcast.net
ROMEO & JULIET | By William Shakespeare | Directed by Gaye Taylor Upchurch. Photo by T Charles Erickson