After 20 years of working at Bay Street Theater, most recently as its producing director, Gary Hygom left his post in Sag Harbor to become executive director of the Patchogue Theatre in June.
In his previous position, Hygom was responsible for managing the budgets of main stage shows, overseeing production elements and coordinating with Bay Street’s artistic director, Scott Schwartz. Now, Hygom has taken the reins in Patchogue and will oversee all aspects of the 1,104-seat theater, which was renovated last year and is the largest in Suffolk County. Hygom was chosen to take the theater in a new direction.
“I’ve been charged by the Board of Directors to take the theater to the next level, if you will,” Hygom says. “Some of the things I’m looking to do are to move away from so much rental business and begin to start producing and booking more of our own programming.”
With a beautiful state-of-the-art theater and an energetic community, Patchogue can become a tremendous destination for performing arts, Hygom says.
He envisions a theater that has “a more cohesive program with a direction and purpose in mind and that behaves more like a great regional performing arts center.”
One of the ways he plans to accomplish this is by creating series of performances. He mentioned conversations about the arts and politics, as well as an American music series to incorporate the roots of rock, jazz and the blues. Of course, Hygom plans to create more rock-and-roll performances, similar to those at Bay Street, since there is a demonstrated following for rock music on the East End. He also discussed creating a series for dance and classical music.
While Hygom is eager to leave his mark on the theater, he acknowledged that most of the performances through the end of the year have already been booked. A clearer picture of the theater’s new direction under Hygom will emerge in 2018.
Coming from a scenic design background, Hygom hopes to give each show its own unique feel. “One of the things I did at Bay Street was give each show a style, a look. It will not be just a performance on a black stage, it will have some kind of look to it so that it reflects the music or the comedy.”
As Hygom looks ahead to his new challenge, he remains fond of his time at Bay Street.
“A big part of my heart is still in Sag Harbor and with Bay Street Theater and it always will be.” However, he sees an opportunity in Patchogue to attract a new audience and make the theater a focal point of the community.
“It’s the most diverse area I’ve been in,” he says. “The population numbers are significantly larger than they are in the Hamptons. That opens many doors and opportunities to bring people in for certain acts that you may not have out East. The sheer numbers in population make it feasible to do different things here.”
Hygom has lived most of life in the Hamptons—his parents owned a shop in Westhampton Beach and he worked at Guild Hall in East Hampton before moving over to Bay Street—but after taking the reins of the Patchogue Theatre, he has tried to get a feel for the community he’ll be serving by exploring Patchogue.
One can hear the excitement in Hygom’s voice when he speaks of the Patchogue community.
“I was familiar with it,” Hygom says, “but until I got here and experienced it…the streets on a Friday and Saturday night from January on are pumping, they are thriving with action. All of the restaurants are open, there’s live music through town and it’s all a younger crowd. It’s a really vibrant village and I love the fact that it’s a year-round village as well.”
Something Hygom says Patchogue has in common with other towns on the East End is an affinity for fine art.
“There’s a sophistication and desire for great art on the East End that is rare,” he says. “I think that mostly comes from the sheer number of artists and entertainment professionals that have always been drawn to the East End. It’s always been a home for artists and the area just naturally attracts that kind of personality.”
Hygom hopes to capitalize on that sophistication and is betting on the attractiveness of Patchogue to lure larger audiences to the theater.
“One of the things that I’m really trying to do,” Hygom says, “is bridge that gap between Patchogue and the Hamptons and start to give us a bigger presence out East and expose people to what’s happening here because it’s a vibrant, happening place.”
Patchogue Theatre is located at 71 East Main Street in Patchogue, For more information about upcoming shows call the box office at 631-207-1313 or visit patchoguetheatre.org.
Upcoming shows include the 4th Annual Farewell to Summer Concert presented by Steve Bellone on Thursday, September 14 at 7 p.m.; What’s Going On: The Marvin Gay Experience on Friday, September 15 at 8 p.m.; comdian Bobby Collins on Saturday, September 16 at 8 p.m.; Clint Black on Saturday, September 23 at 8 p.m.; a Billy Joel Tribute Concert Commemorating the Last Play at Shea on Sunday, September 24 at 7 p.m. and many more.