The Cultural Arts Playhouse – known as CAP – has a long history of producing theatre across Nassau County. This month the theatre group debuted its newest location in Merrick, which will serve as headquarters for CAP’s musical theatre and acting academy.
Founded by Bruce Grossman, the Cultural Arts Playhouse has produced over 500 productions since its inception in 1995. According to CAP’s website, the theater serves more than 20,000 people each year between its professional adult productions, children’s theatre performances, and theatre education classes. While the theater has moved to a few different locations over the years, it’s found a permanent residence in Syosset.
Speaking to Mr. Grossman at the Merrick location, he explained his vision for the space while touring the theatre. The lobby is reminiscent of the Syosset location with photos of past productions covering the freshly painted walls and a full-fledged box office space. As you enter the theater, the stage is to the left with stadium-style seating on the right featuring comfy, plush newly-installed seats (with cup holders!) Mr. Grossman explained that the wide space allows for optimal viewing.
“When you walk in it’s going to be a very positive first impression for an audience member,” he said.
At the weekday open house a series of projections displays reviews of the programs, production photos, and more. Those who attend CAP productions at the Syosset location know projections are a staple at the theater. A recent production of “Bring it On” featured FaceTime calls and other technological integrations, bringing community theatre into a new era. Mr. Grossman said they intend to keep utilizing projections at Merrick as well.
The community CAP has formed over the years is equally excited about the new space. The open houses have had a strong turn-out with 50 plus people – new students/parents and old – in attendance on one date. Mr. Grossman said it’s been an even split of half former students and half new students.
However, the theatre won’t just be a youth theatre space. Mr. Grossman said he and his team plan on producing theatre not typically performed on Long Island for adults as well.
“We want this theatre to be known for off-beat theatre, alternative theatre,” he explained, throwing out some titles including “Tick, Tick Boom,” “The Last Five Years,” “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” – all ideal for the intimate, but comfortable space.
He spoke about the prevalence of seeing the same shows done across Long Island. Mr. Grossman hopes the shows produced at the Merrick location can offer Long Island audiences something different.
“I understand why the producers are not doing those types of titles – you can’t sustain enough sales to pay your rent and expenses. It’s a very expensive business,” he said.
But with a smaller over-head in this space, he said they will be able to produce shows that are great, respected works within the theatre community, but don’t necessarily bring in audiences like a “Mamma Mia” does.
Still, the space will provide ample opportunity for children and teens in the various classes to flex their performing muscles in a professional setting.
“We’re excited as artists, but also as educators,” said Mr. Grossman.
Be sure to follow the Cultural Arts Playhouse on Facebook for the latest updates about the Merrick location and their upcoming new season in Syosset!