Guide to East End Performing Arts Venues

Bay Street Theater
Bay Street Theater
Barbara Lassen

Performing arts are alive and well on the East End. Take note of some key venues to see fantastic shows onstage!

Bay Street Theater & Sag Harbor Center for the Arts

Established in 1991 by Emma Walton Hamilton, Stephen Hamilton, and Sybil Christopher, famous shows such as Hedda Gabler, Swingtime Canteen, Full Gallop, and Three Hotels originated at this nonprofit playhouse. There are annual mainstage performances and other programs throughout the year such as The Comedy Club, improvisational events, and other performances. There are also workshops, classes and camps for children and teenagers. As a partner in the Hamptons Arts Network, where nonprofits work together to strengthen the arts, this Sag Harbor attraction strives to improve the community through education, unity, creativity, and art. There is an initiative to enhance their organization by developing a new performing arts location near John Steinbeck Park. It is called The Next Stage which will stabilize the future of Bay Street Theater and foster the upcoming generations. Bay Street Theater & Sag Harbor Center for the Arts, 1 Bay Street, Sag Harbor, 631-725-9500 baystreet.org

Upcoming/Current Productions:

Ragtime, through August 28
Lillias White: The Lillias White Effect, 8 p.m. August 8
An Evening with Ali Stroker, 8 p.m. August 15
The Great American Mousical Directed by Julie Andrews, 7 p.m. August 22
Indian Summer, August 25–27
Sip & Sing Live with Kyle Barisich and Special Guests 8 p.m. August 29.

Guild HallBarbara Lassen

Guild Hall

Guild Hall has a rich history in East Hampton that dates back to summer 1931. The space was created with community engagement in mind. The hall encompasses a theater, museum and learning center all in one building. In 1930, a woman named Mary Woodhouse donated money and land to the development of Guild Hall to make one of the initial multi-purpose buildings in the country. Significant artists of all types have been involved with Guild Hall such as Bob Fosse, Jerome Robbins, Jackson Pollock, Edward Albee, Roy Lichtenstein, and many more. In 1946, Thornton Wilder even performed at Guild Hall in his own play, Our Town.In addition, shows like The Fantasticks and Love, Loss, and What I Wore became successful from running in the theater and moving to Broadway or Off-Broadway later on. Guild Hall graces the East End and its visitors with countless educational, performance and artistic opportunities. Currently, the building itself is temporarily closed for renovations, but there are still Guild Hall events at different local spots. 158 Main Street, East Hampton, 631-324-0806, guildhall.org

See Love Letters at Suffolk Theater in Riverhead
Suffolk Theater in RiverheadOliver Peterson

Suffolk Theater

Suffolk Theater in Riverhead has existed on Main Street since December of 1933. The theater was designed by R. Thomas Short who also was responsible for the creation of 11 other movie theaters in New York at the time. The Suffolk acted as a community center and could be used for gatherings and different events. It was loved by the community and proved to be a very popular spot. However, the theater was put on the market due to closure in 1987 and remained empty until 1994 when Riverhead bought it. It stayed rather unused until 2005 when Dianne and Bob Castaldi took it over and remodeled it as a performing arts building. They engaged in renovations and reconstruction, including adding a fresh marquee in 2011. The theater’s ribbon ceremony was in March 2013, when it was formally reopened. The Suffolk enhances the town with a multi-purpose performing arts center. They now offer stand-up comedy, music events, tours, and more at this location which draws in all different types of community members and visitors. This venue has way more than theater, so you can check out their other events on their website. 118 E. Main Street, Riverhead, 631-727-4343, suffolktheater.com

Upcoming Productions

Girls Night: The Musical, 8 p.m. September 23
Broadway Fright Night, 8 p.m. October 7

Mary Motto Kalich shows off the new orchestra pit at North Fork Community Theater in Mattituck.

North Fork Community Theatre

North Fork Community Theatre provides Mattituck and the rest of the North Fork with dramatic arts opportunities. The idea of a theater came about in 1956 with a little ad about a meeting in the newspaper which had been placed by Jim and Doris MacCammond. There was interest in creating a theater in the area, so people showed up to the proposed spot. The group used a stage at the high school in Greenport because the teachers liked the idea of fundraisers. The first show ever put on was The Man Who Came to Dinner, and the presence of theater here attracted more visitors. After a few shows, the group moved to another stage in Orient which was much smaller. Then, a man named James Moreno attended a performance and offered his help to open a professional location in Mattituck. The theater opened in 1961, and their first show was The Glass Menagerie. In 1971, children began to have access to performances here with the new program Youth on Stage. North Fork Community Theatre has excellent performances year-round. They specialize in plays and musicals with a long history of their performances listed online which dates to when they first opened. This theater benefits the community of locals and visitors, and is worthy of audience support. 12700 Old Sound Avenue, Mattituck, 631-298-6328, nfct.com

WHBPAC
Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center (WHBPAC)Barbara Lassen

Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center

Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center has been home to a vast majority of performances since 1933. It was originally set to be a movie theater, but it was repurchased by United Artists and turned into a singular theater that showed movies. The theater was not financially successful in the ’90s, so it was set to be torn down. Residents Len Conway, Lon Sabella and some others decided they wanted to purchase and rescue the movie theater. More than 50 people donated money for their eventual success in spring 1997, when they purchased the spot for $300,000. This is when Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center Inc. was born. The group was able to raise almost $3 million to renovate the space into a fully functioning live theater. They could then hire Robert Lorelli who has worked with Carnegie Hall to create the technical design portions of the theater like the lighting and sound systems. WHBPAC was able to open in summer 1998 after a year of updates. The center continues to showcase comedy, musical, concerts and other events throughout each year to provide entertainment for a diverse demographic. 76 Main Street, Westhampton Beach, 631-288-1500, whbpac.org

Upcoming Guests

Jeremy Jordan, 8 p.m. August 20
Norm Lewis, 8 p.m. August 26

“Sherlock’s Secret Life” at Southampton Cultural Center, Photo: Dane Dupuis

Southampton Cultural Center

Southampton Cultural Center (SCC) has provided citizens and tourists with different cultural events since it was founded in 1985. There are art shows, classes and performances held at this location for people of all ages. Southampton Cultural Center includes a theater called the Levitas Center for the Arts which was made possible by Willard and Aura Levitas. SCC strives to enhance diversity within all its events and opportunities in Southampton. They focus on expanding access to the arts and providing learning opportunities for the surrounding community. There is more to SCC than live performances. They offer a variety of classes and workshops, as well as art exhibitions, and they provide a performance space for different groups such as Boots On the Ground Theater. Southampton Cultural Center offers a variety of possibilities that should be explored. 25 Pond Lane, Southampton, 631-287-4377, scc-arts.org

Upcoming/Current Productions

The Soap Myth, through August 28
Free Shakespeare in Agawam Park: The Adventures of Pericles, 7:30 p.m. August 19
Free Shakespeare in Agawam Park: Much Ado About Nothing, 7:30 p.m. August 20

Hampton Theatre Company's "Man of La Mancha," Photo: Tom Kochie
Hampton Theatre Company’s “Man of La Mancha,” Photo: Tom Kochie

Hampton Theatre Company

Hampton Theatre Company has gifted Long Island with performances since it debuted in 1984. The company was founded by James Ewing, June Ewing and James Irving, and the first ever production was The Diary of Anne Frank. Quogue gave the group a place to perform in 1987 with the Community Hall where their theater has lived ever since. Today, the company is a professional theater operating in order to make great work for audiences and the creators to enjoy. The group emphasizes telling stories that promote representation and accessibility. They also award scholarships to local high school graduates who excel in the theatrical world. Hampton Theatre Company gives people both entertainment and ideas to think about with their live theater performances. It is not a place to skip over this coming season! 125 Jessup Avenue, Quogue, 631-653-8955, hamptontheatre.org

Upcoming Productions

Over the River and Through the Woods, October 20–November 16

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