NYACK, NY – You may be thinking spring, but creative folks in Nyack are already busy organizing a fall festival to celebrate the performing arts, which they hope to make an annual event.
Produced by the New York City-based Phoenix Theater Ensemble, the Phoenix Festival is an annual Nyack celebration of the performing arts – live theater, concerts and more – all performed outdoors against a backdrop of Hudson River views, a world different from traditional performing arts venues.
“This exciting festival makes Nyack a destination that art enthusiasts, foodies and tourists can return to again and again to enjoy all that Nyack has to offer,” said Roger Cohen, President of the Nyack Chamber of Commerce.
Find out what’s on in Nyack-Piermontwith free real-time patch updates.
This year’s program begins September 16 and runs for five weekends through October 16.
Programs include live performances by the Phoenix Theater Ensemble and the Children’s Shakespeare Theater Company, as well as concerts by the Rockland Symphony Orchestra and a number of related special events.
Find out what’s on in Nyack-Piermontwith free real-time patch updates.
The festival is produced by PTE, an internationally recognized leader in the world of creative contemporary theater and winner of several prestigious awards for excellence in theatrical arts. Formed in New York City in 2004, the ensemble makes Rockland County its second home.
As a cornerstone of the festival, the ensemble will present three iconic pieces in their repertoire: 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 performed by Phoenix in the were reissued in the context of our contemporary world.
The festival’s programming also includes performances of Love’s Labour’s Lost by the Children’s Shakespeare Theater – a Rockland County-based group of children ages 8 to 18 who have been performing the bard’s plays since 1999.
Also present and providing a live soundtrack for the festival is the Rockland Symphony Orchestra – a classical music institution that has provided a haven for amateur musicians, professionals and aspiring young soloists for over 65 years to the delight of local audiences.
All live performances are presented in the afternoon so guests can enjoy the riverfront and Nyack’s great shopping, dining, recreation and nightlife. Outdoor areas include idyllic Marydell at the foot of Hook Mountain and the gardens of the Edward Hopper House Museum & Study Center in the heart of Nyack.
“Our vision is to host an annual outdoor festival on the Hudson at the height of the beautiful fall season that engages local talent and attracts arts enthusiasts locally and globally,” said Craig Smith, executive director of the Phoenix Festival.
Nyack is the stage.
The “close-to-town” village of Nyack — with its world-class restaurants, shops, hotels, lively nightlife, and proximity to downtown New York — is ideally positioned to support the annual Phoenix arts event, especially during the fall season when the leaves are turning and the river’s beauty is at its peak, organizers said.
Festival-goers celebrate the “power of place” and have access to an exciting, family-friendly multimedia timeline about Nyack that includes augmented reality, documentary videos and walker narration. Titled Nyack Digital Dreaming-AR Adventures, the program takes a journey through local history, lore and legend – from the early seaport days to the Industrial Revolution, the subway, the world wars, urban renewal of the 1960s and beyond.
The Adventures program is created and directed by Clara Francesca, member of the Phoenix Theater Ensemble and founder of XRE Extended Reality.
“Nyack is a treasure – the perfect anchor for this unique festival that blends classical theater and music with stunning natural beauty in a jazzy, upbeat river town setting,” said Smith.
About the plays.
The theater productions of the festival are family-friendly, exuberant – and simply funny.
The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde – Considered by many to be the greatest comedy of all time for over 125 years. A formidable lady presides over her family, avoiding scandals and arranging the courtship of her renegade nephew. A frothy farce with famously witty dialogue fueled by copious amounts of cucumber sandwiches. Directed by critically acclaimed director, playwright and actor Jason O’Connell. (17, 23, 24, 25 September at 2pm) The Skin of Our Teeth by Thornton Wilder – A timeless, uplifting and visionary masterpiece chronicling one family’s triumph against millennia of natural disasters and other monumental challenges . As up-to-date and humorous today as it was when it premiered. Directed by Robert Hupp, artistic director of New York’s Syracuse Stage. (1st, 2nd, 8th, 9th, 15th, 16th October at 14:00) The Harmfulness of Tobacco by Anton Chekov – A classic and hilarious prequel to Chekov’s Uncle Vanya. A nervous, middle-aged man tries to placate his demanding wife with a lecture on the harmful effects of tobacco, but in the course of his speech his mind wanders about the ridiculousness of life. Directed by Phoenix Associate Artistic Director Leo Lion. (16 Sep, 30 Sep; 7 Oct at 5:30pm) Love’s Labour’s Lost – One of the Bard’s early comedies, presented by the Children’s Shakespeare Theatre. The plot follows a king and his companions as they attempt to forswear the company of women in order to focus on study and fasting. Falling in love with French ladies spectacularly ruins her plans. With the longest scene in all the bard’s works and his longest single word – honorificabilitudinitatibus. Directed by Brady Amoonclark. (8, 15 Oct at 11:30 am)
Festival-goers have direct access and connections to pop-up events, like auditions and up-close encounters with actors, directors and designers, plus festival-related film screenings, jazz performances, guided nature walks, river excursions, art exhibitions and more.
As one of many contributors, community leader ArtsRock will play a role in supporting the festival.
“Our mission is to provide a diverse and underserved audience in and around Rockland County with increased access to professional performing arts and multicultural programming,” said Elliott Forrest, Executive Artistic Director of ArtsRock. “This amazing festival is a great opportunity and we plan to attend.”
“A big bonus for festival goers is the village of Nyack itself,” added Smith. “In an area of just a little over a square mile, Nyack offers an amazing array of arts organizations, restaurants, pubs, unique shops, spas and salons — plus access to the Mario Cuomo Bridge Path, which offers majestic views of the Hudson River. Combined with the festival programme, it’s a great place to spend a weekend – or several.”
Tours combining theater performances, special arts programs, hotel stays, dining and shopping will be available through the festival website. (Details to be announced.)
blessing to the community.
As well as entertaining audiences, the festival is expected to bring positive outcomes to the local community in important ways – including jobs for local sound engineers, carpenters, caterers, backstage crews, graphic artists and a variety of craftsmen.
Local businesses are also expected to see significant sales increases over the five festival weekends. Overall, the festival could generate well over half a million dollars in net cash for local businesses, according to market intelligence gathered by the Brockport Research Institute.
“The vast majority of Nyack’s businesses are small sole proprietorships or family businesses,” said Cohen. “After tough times during the pandemic, the festival promises a welcome wave of relief.”
The future: youth participation.
There’s no better way to shape the future of arts than to get kids involved – in the thinking, the creativity, the hard work and the excitement of live performance. The festival will offer just that – learning through hands-on experience working with professionals and peers on key aspects of the festival programme, organizers say.
“We are partnering with BOCES of Rockland County on a unique internship program,” said Smith. “Headed by festival set designer Chen-Wei Liao, a highly respected set designer and recent graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, students will assist in the construction of sets for the Phoenix Ensemble’s productions at BOCES’ state-of-the-art facilities in West Nyack. ”
In addition, BOCES students are offered paid internships in festival administration, audience services, hospitality, parking, and other activities.
The event promises significant and lasting value to the Rockland community, organizers say.
The box office is now open at NyackArtsFestival.com. Early bird ticket buyers receive special discounts. Ticket buyers should use code BIRD when ordering. Visit the website for more details about the festival.
About the Phoenix Theater Ensemble. Founded in New York City in 2004, the Phoenix Theater Ensemble is dedicated to performing the classical theater canon and developing and nurturing classically trained, highly skilled theater artists. The company has its second home in Rockland County, where its artists have been creating and performing both classic and original works since 2018.
sponsors. The festival organizers and the villages of Nyack and Upper Nyack gratefully acknowledge the generous contributions of the many individuals and supporting sponsors who make this event possible, including: The National Endowment for the Arts, Humanities New York, New York State Council on the Arts, the Rockland Office of Economic Development and Tourism, the Zisson Foundation, Weld Realty and Orange and Rockland Utilities.