BY GEORGE J. DACRE
Westchester Broadway Theatre producers and co-founders Robert Funking and William Stutler announced their 2015 schedule last week. Next year the theatre will present “West Side Story,” “Godspell,” “Backwards in High Heels: The Ginger Rogers Story,” “Showboat” and “Tim and Scrooge,” written by Rockland’s own Neil Berg of Nyack, and another show to be named later.
It’s now been 40 years since Westchester Broadway Theatre opened in the former Evening Dinner Theatre Building July 9, 1974 with” Kiss Me Kate” and has gone on to present 184 productions, becoming the longest running year-round professional equity theatre in New York State.
In an interview with the Rockland County Times, Funking and Stutler said there were ups and downs along the way, with 2008 and 2009’s recession one of the roughest, but, unlike many dinner theatres across the USA, they never, ever considered shutting down. This year the attendance at the theater has been up depending on what show is on. The production running currently is “Mary Poppins” to be followed on the 2014 schedule by the “Wizard of Oz,” “South Pacific” and “It Happened One Christmas Eve.”
Stutler said there is not one current Broadway musical that doesn’t have an alumnus of WBT, including John Lloyd Jones, the star of “Jersey Boys: The Franki Valli Story.” Another alumnus is Estelle Harris, who played George Costanza’s mother on “Seinfeld.” In addition to world class theatre, many big name musical stars have appeared at the theatre including Tom Jones, Wayne Newton, Mickey Rooney, Harry Belafonte and many more.
It all started at a lunch meeting in New York City when two advertising men said let’s get a building and put on some shows. Congratulations to two showmen who have built a multi-million dollar business and entertained and fed many, many theatergoers at Westchester Broadway Theatre through the years.
They did “break a leg.”
For tickets visit http://www.broadwaytheatre.com/ or call 914-592-2222.