Tri-Town Theatre History

The Tri-Town Theatre took shape 54 years ago when the Chamber of Commerce of Bainbridge, Sidney and Unadilla, united in an effort to encourage cultural activity in the area.  Representatives from each Chamber met tin the first months of 1963 to discuss various forms of cultural activity it should foster. When the panel learned that Jack Deuel was returning to live in Sidney, they wrote him about starting a community theatre and working as its director.  Jack, who had had considerable experience directing both professional and amateurs, agreed to head the enterprise when he arrived in August.

To reinforce the fact that it was an area enterprise it was named the Tri-Town Theatre.  Its rules required representation from all three communities on its board of directors.  Also, each of the three annual productions was to be performed at least once in Bainbridge, once in Sidney, and once in Unadilla!!  This staggeringly impractical plan was actually followed until midway through the third season.  After that, performances were given only at the Sidney High School, which happened to have the best equipped theatre facility.

The first season was the only season without a musical, and for that reason it was nearly the last.  The first play was appropriately a satire on community theatre called “The Torch-Bearers”, and it was scheduled to open Friday, November 22, 1963, with a professional actress in the lead.  She had been hired through the New York State Council of the Arts.  There was, of course, no opening night that night; President Kennedy was assassinated that afternoon, and the show, for once, didn’t go on.  Nor did anyone want it to.

“The Torch-Bearers” finally opened in December; it was followed by two Bernard Shaw comedies and “Harvey”.  Then, in their second season, the Tri-Town Theatre produced a smash hit which launched it for sure.  It was “Finian’s Rainbow” and, while no one than was counting heads; the estimated attendance approached, or perhaps exceeded, 3,000.

Board of Directors

Dan Spencer - President

Pam Wheaton - Vice-President

Mary Hiller - Treasurer

Sheli O'Keeffe Hasselbarth - Secretary

Jack Deuel - In Memoriam

Cameron Kinnear

Peter Okoniewski

Scott Hasselbarth

Ellen Pringle

Sheila Ayers

Janine Iversen