Rumpled, loquacious and self-effacing, 66-year-old Woodstocker Steven Schragis never stops having big ideas for providing services with educational and entertainment value. His latest big idea, hatched over the past year, will begin with Schragis’ newly formed Thoughtful Productions hosting a music performance at the Woodstock Playhouse at 7 p.m. Friday evening, August 25.
A few tickets may be still available for “Rock 101, The Music and Stories of Ten Classic Songs.” Live musicians will perform tributes to the work of ten different artists. The Woodstock Playhouse event will be filmed and distributed for showing at about 120 music and film venues throughout the country.
“Thoughtful Productions was founded to create fun, entertaining events, coupled with unique opportunities to learn something new,” explained he entrepreneurially minded Schragis on his new venture’s website. “We work with remarkable storytellers, artists, musicians and thought leaders to craft experiences that will delight and inspire.”
American movie houses and concert halls are experiencing hard times these days. Internet users don’t go to the movies much. Ticket sales took a big hit during the pandemic and have been slow to recover. According to one industry insider quoted in a recent article in Vanity Fair, “The audience is just not there anymore’ for dramas aimed at adults.”
What can bring them back? Schragis hopes the kind of programming he’ll be offering will be the kind of draw that’ll strike a responsive chord in movie audiences.
This isn’t Schragis’ first time around the block. He spent a long career as an author and in book publishing. He worked for several years managing The Learning Annex, an education company that ran business classes. In 2006, he founded One Day University, offering a variety of university-level educational programming. He sold the company in 2009 and reacquired it with other investors in 2011. Just as Thoughtful Productions is now partnering with movie houses, One Day University partnered with local newspapers to attract an audience to its events, One Day University was sold two years ago to Curiosity Stream, an early subscription streaming video service.
Schragis, who had spent most of his life in New York City and had a second home in Woodstock, said he had decided he had one more major business adventure left in him. Like many other second-home owners, he and his wife Donna had decided to leave The Big Apple more often and live in Woodstock nearly full-time. Though most of his long-time friends are still headquartered in New York City, he reports that he’s been connecting to more Woodstockers.
Will the new venture be successful? Schragis shrugs. There’s only one way to find out.
Rock 101 will include “Hound Dog”, “Johnny B. Goode”, “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, “Satisfaction”, “Respect”, “Like a Rolling Stone”, “Born to Run”, “Good Vibrations”, and a few additional surprises. Schragis promises “a joyous evening where the audience learns something new while hearing something familiar.”
Next up will be “Ten Films That Changed America,” produced at the Orpheum Theater in Saugerties on Saturday, September 9 at 7 p.m. Bard professor Joseph Luzzi will provide the tools to appreciate complex films including I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang, Casablanca, Rebel Without a Cause, The Graduate, The Godfather, Jaws, The China Syndrome, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Philadelphia, and An Inconvenient Truth.
As of the most recent count, there were seven other productions in the Thoughtful pipeline. Four of those — “Rock Royalty, the Music and Stories of the Great Bands,” “Musical Masterpieces That Changed America,” “Memorable Musicals that Changed Broadway,” and “Movies 101: What Makes Great Films So Great” — seem to mine the same vaults as the two productions on the starting blocks. A fifth, “The Jewish Experience, Ten Essential Films,” takes a numerical gambol in a different direction. The remaining two, “Hamilton Versus Jefferson, The Rivalry That Shaped America” and “Beethoven and Mozart, The Stories Behind Their Masterpieces,” add politics and culture to the mix.
This list of expected 2023 productions may be sufficient to provide feedback about Schragis’ central concept and to test what works and what doesn‘t.
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