GLOVERSVILLE – Things are changing at the Glove Theatre.
Nestled in the heart of downtown Gloversville on North Main Street, the historic theater recently welcomed new staff members, new board members and a slew of new programming.
Leaders, including General Manager Michael Maricondi, are hoping to keep the ball rolling, expand their reach and make some sorely needed repairs to the property.
The list of needed renovations is long, the interior walls are in rough shape, the balcony isn’t usable, the fly system still uses sandbags, and the light system is in need of repair. The theatre’s carriage house is also in disrepair.
However, Maricondi sees so much potential in the theatre and he hopes to have others see it as well.
A graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and the co-founder of Trust Your Gut Productions, he started as the theatre’s general manager in July, though he was involved with the theater well before that. Last year, he was the lead teaching artist for Glove Summer Academy and he’s served on the board of directors as co-chair of the production committee and inaugural chair of the education committee.
Aiming to usher in more consistent programming, Maricondi has been running a free weekly Love The Glove Film Series, as well as a monthly Whoopie Cushion series, a Vaudeville-style variety show.
All the changes are meant to honor the old and bring in the new.
“We’re trying to pay homage to the fact that the Glove was a vaudeville house and a movie house. That’s how a lot of the community members around here remember it,” Maricondi said.
The Glove Theatre opened in October 1914 and for five decades was open nearly seven days a week, hosting everything from vaudeville shows to movies to circus acts and sideshows. It also held community events; speakers including Carrie Catt Chapman made appearances there.
“As late as the early 1950s, they had a vaudeville show with five acts or more followed by a major motion picture and they did that seven days a week. They had midnight shows on Monday and Tuesday night,” said Alex Miller, vice president of the board of directors.
“This was actually one of the last theaters to uphold the tradition of doing vaudeville intros to a movie. Nationally, that died out as an art form in the mid-’40s but here it stayed,” Maricondi said.
Pieces of the theatre’s history can still be seen around the building, including the Schine name which adorns the entryway. Schine Enterprises owned and operated 185 theaters across the country at its height, the Glove among them. It used the Glove Theatre as its headquarters, with press and publicity offices upstairs.
After vaudeville shows fell out of fashion, the theatre became a movie house before closing in the 1970s. Following a similar path to Proctors in Schenectady, the building was left dormant for a time and was in disrepair when a group of volunteers stepped up in 1995 to revive it, creating a nonprofit organization and working to restore the building.
Among those volunteers was Vincent DeSantis, who is the mayor of Gloversville. At the time, he was the president of the Glove’s board of directors.
“The whole idea at the time was that to revitalize the theatre, to reopen the theatre, would be a first step in revitalizing downtown,” DeSantis said.
Volunteers met often to fix up the place.
“We fixed the roof. We did the ceiling. We did the radiant heat, radiant floors,” DeSantis said. “It was done with volunteers. We would meet here [in the] winter and summer. It was every Monday night, there would be maybe 30 of us that would just descend on the theater and do physical work.”
It’s been in operation since then though with varying degrees of programming. DeSantis still sees the Glove as a catalyst for change in downtown Gloversville.
“One of the major examples for us is Proctors Theatre in downtown Schenectady. It was really Proctors that was restored and opened with a full 12-month calendar of things even when the rest of downtown Schenectady was fairly vacant. That was the catalyst for redeveloping the downtown. It spun off from the theater,” DeSantis said.
Maricondi and members of the Glove’s board have met with and sought guidance from staff at Proctors.
While they don’t necessarily aim to present the same types of programming, they’re using the Schenectady theater’s trajectory as inspiration for revitalizing the Glove.
The board hopes the theatre will receive $1.9 million from the $10 million included in the City of Gloversville’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI). The funding would be put toward capital improvements, though much more will be needed to entirely renovate the building.
The theatre will take part in New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s Green Jobs – Green New York Energy Study to analyze opportunities in more efficient ways to lower energy costs.
They’re also working on getting a feasibility study underwritten, according to board president James Hannahs.
“One of the things that we were able to nail down with Proctors is . . . to have a feasibility study done as to what types of programming are the most feasible for the theatre in ways that make us money and make it feasible in the long term,” Hannahs said.
One challenge in introducing new programming over the last year has been the condition of the building.
“We’re trying to figure out exactly what the building is capable of doing. We know that we want to do a lot of things . . . But the building itself needs a lot of work and so in order to get people to want to go in there and want to go to shows and even support us, we need to be able to have the right tools in place,” Hannahs said.
Over the next few months, the theatre’s board and staff members will be finalizing a five-year strategic plan. They’re also continuing to do as much restoration work around the theater as they can, contracting with a local company to start work on the carriage house, which is attached to the theatre and at one time stored props and housed dressing rooms.
While working around the theatre, Miller and Maricondi have found some interesting artifacts. They came across original theater chairs, old props and a movie projector, among other items. Some are now featured in the theatre’s museum, located right next door to the theater. The museum pays homage to the performers who have made stops at the theater, and to all the changes the institution has gone through.
In the last few months, Maricondi has worked to get the word out about programming and let the community know that the Glove is open. The theater will be open and hosting events for more than half of this month, including the free movie series, a Halloween Masquerade Ball and a variety show.
“That’s unprecedented, over the past 10 years, to be that active,” Hannahs said. “We’re still having difficulty solidifying that in the community and showing that we are in fact open.”
To help with that, the theatre recently brought on Arts Administrator Jennifer Harder, who runs marketing and fundraising for the Glove.
In bolstering the theatre, the board and the staff members have their work cut out for them, but Hannahs said they’ve got the right people in place to pull it off.
“Everybody that’s either a board member or a contractor or employed by us understands the amount of work that needs to get done. But there’s not a question about if it’s going to get done, but when and how,” Hannahs said.
“We’re all dedicated to fulfilling this vision that we see for the theatre of being this thriving platform of expression that is capable of offering the community events from singing classes to full-on off-Broadway shows. We know that we’re going to get there and we have the right people who are dedicated and who want to do it, but it’s definitely more of an uphill climb.”
Events coming up at the Glove:
Love at the Glove Free film series – Every Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Halloween Masquerade Ball: Friday, Oct. 28 at 7 p.m.
Dance party with a costume contest and live performers
Whoopie Cushion Variety Show – Saturday, Oct. 29, Nov. 19 and Dec. 31 at 8 p.m.
Includes comedy, music, singing, dance and spoken word
Nosferatu w/live score by Quintocracy – Tuesday, Nov 1 at 7 p.m.
100th Anniversary of the original vampire silent movie with an original score by Sina Kiai performed by the woodwind quintet, Quintocracy.
For more information visit theglovetheatre.com.