Anybody that knows me knows that I am a theater GEEK. Seriously. I went for a radio job at a pop station once and they asked me what I like listening to if I wasn’t listening to their radio station and I said ‘Les Miserables’. And they thought I was weird. The end.

But anyway, we are very lucky to have some awesome local theaters. And let me just say this: You HAVE to make an effort to go support these places. They won’t be there without you. So turn off Netflix. Shut down whatever YouTube star you’re watching. Quit playing that stupid Facebook game that’s sending me notifications and go see some live theater.

Here are my favorite 3 spots/groups to check out:

SRO (Standing Room Only) Productions

OK, my first love is musicals and I’m a snob. And these guys do good musicals. My first experience with them was seeing a fully immersive production of Les Miserables. It was fantastic. Javert did himself in right behind me. Nothing like it. They also do some of my favorite more obscure shows, like Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins (which is legit a play full of showtunes about presidential assassins). And perhaps my very favorite was their production of Next to Normal, a show about a woman struggling with bipolar disorder and the impact it has on her family.

This is a company which is very good at finding the very best local talent and putting them to use in shows that really highlight their skills. It’s hard to describe them as ‘community theater’ because the quality is far better than what you might expect.

Goodwill Theater

I’m a big fan of Goodwill because of how well they fill the gap in the kinds of entertainment other groups bring to town. Whether it’s their children’s theater (like Caps for Sale, a puppet show on March 24th), stand up comedy, or their jazz jams, you’ll find something truly different at the Goodwill.

The ‘Goodwill Theater’ itself is actually being renovated--it’s an ambitious, multi-year project helmed by Naimi Kradijan that’s part of a plan for a larger performing arts complex and training center. In the meantime, she opened the Schorr Family Firehouse Stage to present some pretty diverse entertainment for the community.

I highlight the Goodwill for a couple of reasons: For one, it just presents some great stuff you’re not seeing anywhere else. But it also gets props for its bold vision for the future of Greater Binghamton. If we’re going to continue to see positive change, it’ll be because of bold visions like Naima Kradijan’s.

KNOW Theatre

Musicals are great, but some of my most profound experiences in the theater have come from straight plays. KNOW presents the kind of work you’d usually only see in NYC or as part of a college theater program. Risky, bold, new works that really make you think like all great art should. And they’re committed. As many times as I’ve told my friend Tim Gleason (the Artistic Director) they could probably sell out and do Cats every couple of years or so to make some quick cash, he just gives me a look.

In particular, I love their annual playwright festival, the only opportunity I’m aware of for fresh young voices in Binghamton to see their work on its feet. I strongly recommend everyone reading this should see at least one play a year at KNOW. Or I will come and find you. And yell at you until you do.

Support great art, people! It’s one of the things that will seriously make our community grow.

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