A Place to Call Home

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Shakespeare had the Globe Theatre, the Rockettes reside in Radio City Music Hall and Broadway hosts its fair share of famous productions, but after over half a century New Paltz theater company 90 Miles Off Broadway (90 Miles) still needs a home.

The non-profit organization puts on four shows per year: one in the fall, one in the spring, an annual Winter Cabaret fundraiser and a summer children’s performance. However, the all-volunteer Board of Directors and their devoted members lack a permanent rehearsal and production space. Approximately six years ago, the organization embarked on the fundraising campaign “A Home for the Arts” in search of a location to call their own.

According to co-president Kim Lupinacci, the group came to fruition in 1964 when a small conglomerate of men and women joined forces for the purpose of reading plays. The thespians debuted their first production, “George Washington Slept Here,” at Duzine Elementary School.

Since then, the company has continued to rotate from place to place. They pay to utilize the Reformed Church of Huguenot Street, New Paltz High School and the Methodist Church of Highland.

“Our mission is to provide high quality, affordable live theatrical productions for children and adults alike,” Lupinacci said.

According to Lupinacci’s partner in theater and co-president Shawn Clark, it has become more challenging for the company to find affordable locations to practice and perform at. As a result, “A Home for the Arts” emerged in partnership with another non-profit organization, The Arts Community, which offers affordable arts classes for children.

Clark said that recently The Arts Community and 90 Miles Off Broadway mutually decided to go in separate directions, but the community theater group will continue towards its goal of obtaining a home. Though no concrete timeline maps out the achievement of their objective the group decided that a $300,000 goal is a good place to start.

“We are still going to look and perform until we get the perfect place,” Clark said.

He said that once an ideal space is found the company will make theater even more accessible with services such as low cost classes in the theater arts and additional programs.

For Clark, what makes 90 Miles so special is the sense community that it creates. All three of his daughters have been involved with the company and his wife joins in occasionally as well.

“It becomes a multi-generational family affair,” he said.

According to Clark’s daughter Kymberli, 90 Miles remains a vibrant, tightknit and loving community of people. She said that its longstanding presence is a testament to how much the area loves it and longs for local theater.

Over the past 52 years, SUNY New Paltz students have participated in 90 Miles shows, too. Last spring, third-year theater major Maria Coppola acted and choreographed in the theater troupes performance of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.”

“It’s always fun to do shows at the college, but in academia, theater can be turned to work instead of fun,” she said. “90 Miles was pure fun.”

Currently, the Board of Directors are plotting new fundraising ideas and the spring production is put off to make room for this cause.