The Show Goes On at WHBPAC

The Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center
The Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center

Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center will celebrate 15 years of providing outstanding entertainment to the East End this summer. Located in the quaint village of Westhampton Beach, its big name acts have turned it into a major destination. But with close to 600,000 patrons treading its hallways through openings and intermissions, the carpet had grown a little threadbare.

“When the Board of Directors asked what I wanted to mark this seminal moment,” says Executive Director Clare Bisceglia, “I said I wanted a face lift! It was time to freshen ourselves up and get ready for our anniversary.”

In 2012 a Building and Grounds Committee was established, chaired by Dr. Stanley Zinberg. Along with board members James V. Zizzi and Anthony Bonner of Sea Level Construction, they selected Anna Zaleski of Savvy Style Interiors in Westhampton Beach as Project Manager. Having worked with her in the past, they felt her experience and knowledge about materials, construction and the entire building process made her the perfect choice.

“My philosophy throughout this project was that working together, a community can accomplish anything,” says Zaleski. “This theater of outstanding character and design will serve the local community for many years to come. I think we all succeeded!”

“Clare came up with the idea,” says Carole Garone, Finance Manager for WHBPAC, “But we are a team of people. Anna was here to supervise the entire renovation, but we physically looked at everything.” The whole process was so well organized that the theater was only closed for seven weeks. Garone laughs when she says “Anna had a whip to keep it on schedule.”

The project included repainting the interior of the theater, refinishing the stage floor and new carpet throughout the venue. A new lighting system was installed in the main hall and all equipment was updated. The ceiling medallion, a neoclassical design original to the building, was restored to its original luster. Zaleski was on-site every day. “As an interior design project manager,” she says, “my focus was to preserve the rich details of the theater.”

Anna worked closely with Eric Ince of Ince Painting in Westhampton Beach for the decorative and restoration painting as well as decorative painter Lorrie Loechner, who worked on the faux finishes. Lew Mohrmann, Jr. of Beach Electric in Quogue handled lighting and electrical work, the crew at Sea Level Construction of Westhampton made the structural changes, and Allen Hass of AIDE Interior Decorators in Bayport handled restoration of the upholstery and curtains. The beautiful carpets are from Stark Carpet of New York. Photographer Jessica Guadano documented each stage of the project.

A project like this is an expensive undertaking and Garone is grateful for a significant lead gift from summertime residents and philanthropists, particularly Don & Rose Ciampa, for the replacement of the outdated 35mm film projector with a state-of-the-art digital cinema projector.

“Our piano, a Steinway concert grand, went out to Steinway for refurbishing,” says Garone. “It has been re-stained and cleaned. It’s like brand new! That was a big part of the project.”

The fine arts will also be well-represented this season. The work of New York-based artist Caleb Nelson Carter decorates the newly faux-finished walls. Carter’s artwork is distinctive for its detail and realism, inspired by modern and ancient objects from around the world. The paintings are available for purchase and new paintings will be added regularly.

There’s a full schedule of top entertainers in place for the summer, with headliners Tracy Morgan (July 5), Liza Minnelli (July 6), and Natalie Cole (August 3) guaranteeing a full house. Also appearing are Jay Mohr, Kathy Griffin, Emmylou Harris, Tommy Tune, Huey Lewis, Michael Bolton, and Garrison Keillor Bisceglia is thrilled with the renovation. “What is most important to me is to provide a unique and extraordinary theater-going experience, and that includes having the theater in pristine condition at all times. It turned out magnificently, beyond our wildest expectations. It’s what our patrons have grown to expect from us—a world class theater-going experience.”

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