GLENS FALLS — With double standing ovations, “Beau,” the final show of the Adirondack Theatre Festival’s 25th summer season, stunned audiences at the Charles R. Wood Theatre in Glens Falls on opening night Saturday.

“Beau” closes a robust summer season of diverse main stage and special event shows, many of which sold out and some that had added performances. It was a season that Chad Rabinovitz, producing artistic director, says can easily be called a “smash hit season,” pointing to industry guidelines.

“On average, theaters expect 65 percent (attendance). A good season is 75 percent, and 80 percent is a smash hit. On average, we were at 95 percent,” he said. “Every single special event sold out and Jonathan Burns (“Flexible Comedy”) was extended twice. If you don’t count the matinees, we sold out. And ‘Beau’ is almost sold out. There are very few tickets left.”

“Beau” is the intimately poignant tale of young musician Ace Baker’s journey to Nashville and the sometimes confusing and painful relationships imprinting his path.

With book written by Douglas Lyons (Broadway, “Beautiful: The Carol King Story”), lyrics and music by the duo of Lyons and Ethan Pakchar and the discerning direction of Tony-nominated Michael Wilson, “Beau” may be destined for more.

On opening night, the pre-show buzz was elevated as several Broadway producers were seated in the audience, assessing the show for a possible investment.

“They are coming all week,” said Rabinovitz. “With two standing ovations at the shows on Saturday and Monday, it’s one of our bigger hits ever.”

This year’s season opened with the quirky romantic comedy musical, “Calling All Kates,” which was actually part of last season’s reading series. Several changes were made to the script following audience feedback.

Several of this summer’s playwrights and directors said that what they really like about the ATF summer season is the opportunity to perform new work and to get the audience reaction to their evolving works.

Rabinovitz said theater-goers are not shy about letting him know what they like and what they think needs improvement, often taking the time to write him long letters about performances.

Additionally, after each show, ATF emails an audience survey seeking feedback, often finding its way into rewritten scripts.

Rabinovitz said each summer’s list of main stage productions and special events is geared toward appealing to diverse tastes.

“After ‘Beau,’ I asked people, as they were leaving, what their favorite show was. They all liked something different,” he said.”We try to have something for everyone.”

The other main stage productions this summer included the Monty Python-esque “The Enlightenment of Percival von Schmootz,” and the science thriller “Sequence.”

“Percival” co-creators Michael Kooman and Chris Dimond said that ATF is like an incubator for new plays and they are able to learn from audiences, refining the play to take it to the next level.

“We need the audience for feedback. Glens Falls is a smart audience, and it is great to have an audience that is used to new work,” Kooman said.

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Kathleen Phalen-Tomaselli covers Washington County government and other county news and events.


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