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Mid-Hudson theaters take baby steps toward reviving live performance as pandemic wanes

Mid-Hudson theaters take baby steps toward reviving live performance as pandemic wanes

The reopening of live theater perches anxiously on the cusp of a reintroduction of in-person performances in 2021, awaiting signals that audiences can feel safe sitting in the same indoor space. Long-suppressed desire for the collective experience of art remains at war with lingering fear of contracting an illness that can turn the lining of one’s lungs to the consistency of concrete. But spring is here, summer looms nearer and presenting venues need to make decisions, pronto.

Renovated, winterized Byrdcliffe Theater set to reopen by June

Renovated, winterized Byrdcliffe Theater set to reopen by June

As with most other performing arts venues in our region, the flow of live concerts at Woodstock’s Kleinert-James Arts Center and stageworks at the Byrdcliffe Theater dried up more than a year ago, due to the pandemic. But the gradual arrival of the Covid vaccines has got hosts for such events thinking about their resumption. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on March 3 that theaters and concert halls could begin admitting audiences at 33 percent capacity effective April 2, with a limit of 100 people indoors or 200 outdoors. Not every venue will be able to break even presenting live performances under those limitations, but it’s clear that a process has begun that will make it possible for us all to see plays and hear music again, up close and personal, in the foreseeable future. Even for introverts and homebodies, that’s happy news.

Upstate Films founders Steve and DeDe Leiber step down after 48 years

Upstate Films founders Steve and DeDe Leiber step down after 48 years

The theater has been closed since the pandemic came crashing down last spring, with no plans to reopen for the foreseeable future, leaving a big hole in many a mid-Hudson film buff’s heart. That makes it an auspicious time for a changing of the guard. Steve and DeDe Leiber – who founded Upstate Films as a not-for-profit in 1972 with a third partner, Susan Goldman, and have been running the operation in a very hands-on way ever since – have decided to retire and pass the torch to a new director whose identity they say they are not yet ready to announce.

New Zappa doc in Rosendale

New Zappa doc in Rosendale

The Music Fan Film Series welcomes you warts and all to Zappa. A holiday gift if ever there was, director Alex Winter, granted unprecedented access to family history, makes Zappa a rock doc with a fun fact for any level Zappa head.

Thriller shot in Saugerties, Follow Her, seeks finishing funds

Thriller shot in Saugerties, Follow Her, seeks finishing funds

Jess Peters (Dani Barker), the female lead of Follow Her, a new independent feature film shot largely in the Hudson Valley, is one of those Millennials whose sense of worth depends on how many people watch and like her YouTube videos. Her specialty is setting up assignations for a little consensual kinkiness on Craigslist, secretly filming and livestreaming the encounters under the handle J-Peeps. The provocative footage quickly finds a growing audience.

Shot largely in Ulster County, The Undoing premieres on HBO

Shot largely in Ulster County, The Undoing premieres on HBO

The Wurts Street Bridge over the Rondout was the focal point for a dramatic sequence – including helicopter shots – in The Undoing, a miniseries starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant that has finally premiered on HBO, following extended delays on account of Covid-19. This production also involved temporary closure of Route 209, and some greenscreen scenes requiring more than 250 crew at TechCity.

Covid regulations challenge small cinemas as megaplexes reopen

Covid regulations challenge small cinemas as megaplexes reopen

Requirements include enhanced cleaning, assigned seating, touchless payment or pay-ahead options. It’s also recommended that theater staff be available to accompany patrons to their seats, in order to ensure that ample distancing between groups arriving together is maintained. These rules bring increased costs that small community cinemas and art houses are typically not in a financial position to bear.