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July 1st, 2003

A Hamptons Jewel of a Theater

by Betsy Craz

I admit it. Like many Long Islanders, when I want live theater, music, dance or the best indie films, I think Manhattan. But nowadays, I’m thinking Westhampton. That’s because I’ve discovered an incredible jewel of a theater that some people describe as a “mini Lincoln Center by the sea.”

Nowhere else on the East End of Long Island can you find a better venue for theater, music, dance, comedy and film than the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center. For starters, it’s located right on the village’s Main Street, surrounded by superb restaurants, shops, galleries and ?ɬ in stark contrast to the City and other towns in the Hamptons ?ɬ plenty of parking.

The Center’s incredible acoustics, the best of any theater on the East End, fill every corner of the auditorium with the highest quality sound. And its 425 roomy, comfortable seats were specially designed to give everyone a clear sight line to the stage.

Formerly a 1930 movie house, the Center’s Art Deco originals have been lovingly preserved. Its gracious d?cor, sumptuous seating and cocktail lounge and the finest sound and lighting evoke a bygone era of glamour and refinement. And yet somehow it’s also very friendly and intimate; a theater where you can practically reach out and touch performers like Ray Charles, Patti Lupone, MOMIX, and Robert Klein.

This summer, the Center is commemorating its fifth anniversary with an amazing lineup of entertainers. By now, David Brenner, Art Garfunkel, and Elayne Boosler have already made their appearances and the sold-out “Mother Lovin” Blues Concert rocked the house. Coming soon ?ɬ and soon to sell out ?ɬ are concerts by heavy-weights like Angelique Kidjo and Grammy winners Arturo Sandoval, Rita Moreno and Neil Sedaka, plus innovative dance companies like the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet and the playful Ballet Trockadero de Monte Carlo or “hairy guys in tutus,” for the uninitiated.

New hours, New Programs.

Also new this summer, the Center is open seven days a week. And its management has evidently been hard at work to keep the calendar filled. Film buffs flock to the Center’s “Finest in World Cinema” screenings every Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

On Wednesdays, you can get up close and personal with newsmakers at an all-new lecture series hosted by renowned media personalities. New York Times columnist Warren Strugatch hosts “Out of the Question” roundtable discussions between the newsmakers who spice up life in the Hamptons and the audience. And on alternating Wednesdays, WFAN sportscaster Ann Liguori hosts the lectures “Games of Summer.” A legend herself in the sports world, Liguori will prompt celebrity athlete guests for their insights on the most intriguing news in golf, tennis, and baseball.

Thursdays and Fridays are reserved for family-friendly programs like Circo Comedie, Pet Comedy and performances from the camp for budding actors, the touring Missoula Children’s Theater, while Saturday nights feature many of the aforementioned world class acts.

The Center is quickly becoming one of the summer “must do’s” in the Hamptons. Friends who’ve recently discovered the Center for themselves like to stop en route to and from the City for an early dinner and a show. And I’ll continue to eschew my forays to the “other” Lincoln Center in the summer while Westhampton’s is just around the corner, close to a parking spot with my name on it.

-Betsy Craz

Filed Under: Articles | Arts & Leisure | the Hamptons

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