ONEONTA – If we want to save the Oneonta Theatre, Patrice Macaluso says, we cannot just look to the past.
“It has always changed with the times,” she said. “We can’t get wedded to what it was.”
The changing face of the Oneonta Theatre is the subject of the Greater Oneonta Historical Society’s newest exhibit, “The Oneonta Theatre: Reflecting Popular Culture Since 1897,” curated by Macaluso.
The exhibit traces the whole history of the venue, from the very first show in 1898 – “The Sporting Dutchess” starring Madame Modjeska, the most famous actress of the day – up to the present, where a recent marketing study and feasibility study hold the key to whether the downtown institution can be saved – or not.
ONEONTA – The consultants at Webb Management will give their final recommendations for a five-year business plan for the Oneonta Theatre at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19 at Foothills.
The performing arts management consultants, who shared their initial findings in December, will report on their study of the local demographics and tourism data for our area and region, and give an overview of their recommendations for a five-year business plan for a revived Oneonta Theatre.
Duncan Webb, found of Webb Management Services, the premier consultant on revitalizing and managing historic theaters, told a gathered audience at Foothills that the 121 year old theater, now owned by Tom Cormier, was viable, and recommended that it be renovated and “aligned with the downtown” in helping to attract visitors who shop and stay in hotels in Oneonta.
But most notably, he said that the theater, once restored, should partner with the Foothills Performing Arts Center, rather than be in competition with it, and that Foothills should manage the theater’s operations. Additionally, he recommended that SUNY Oneonta partner with the theater to develop programs based around the college’s theater and music departments.
It looked like it was all over for Alex Cross, The Oneonta Outlaw.
His opponent, Eric Corvis had him on all fours, sitting on him like a bench, reading aloud from the book he brought into the ring. “It’s storytime!” he announced to the booing crowd. “But I’m afraid there’s no happy ending for you.”
Corvis blew a kiss to Cross’ girlfriend, Rachel, in the front row. She booed him and cheered louder for her boyfriend. Perhaps her faith was what gave him the strength to rise, throwing Corvis against the ropes, body slamming him down with a thunderous clang, and finally holding him to the mat.
One! the ref counted off next to Corvis’ still body.
Alex Cross was the winner, and the crowd went wild.
“It’s exciting to give these people a show,” said Warren Edson, now out of his Outlaw wrestling gear. “That’s enough to get me in the ring.”
Edson, a 2005 Milford graduate, was one the semi-final headliners of the East Coast Pro Wrestling show Saturday, Sept. 13, at the Oneonta Theater, getting in the ring alongside friend and fellow MCS graduate Steve Meade, who wrestled as Chris “The Crucible” Ambrose, winning his match against Kyle the Beast.
“We’ve been friends since we were three,” said Edson. “We loved watching wrestling on TV, and we used to throw matches out in the backyard.”
And though there was no wrestling team at Milford, the two were active in sports, with Edson playing basketball and Meade running track.
But after graduation, they saw a chance to make their childhood games a reality. “We went to a school in Rhode Island and trained with Chris Frank and Ricky Page,” he said.
The two then joined with East Coast Professional Wrestling on the local legs of their tour. “We loved Pennsylvania,” said Edson. “They are so wrestling oriented. They live and breathe it.”
But their big break came when Edson was bouncing at Legends Bar and Grill the weekend of the Rumble on the Mound. “Kimchee didn’t show up, and they needed someone to wrestle The Patriot,” he said. “My boss told them that I wrestled, and I brought Steve along. It was our first chance to wrestle in front our family and our hometown.”
“I’d never done a show in front of that many people,” said Meade. “I was really excited to be able to give them that show.”
Indeed, they wrestled in front of 1,200 screaming fans – even if they were booing him. “I like playing the bad guy,” said Edson. “The Patriot wooped me, and all these kids had their flags, booing me.”
On the road, he plays “the cocky kid from New York,” but at home, he’s a softy. “As the Oneonta Outlaw, I have to defend our great city,” he said. “I’m protecting these kids.”
“This kid’s reaction is outstanding,” agreed Meade. “We are comic book characters come to life.”
But, like all superheroes, the next day, they went back to their regular lives. The show continued on in East Stroudsburg, Pa., but Edson hopes that the crowd’s good reaction will keep bringing wrestling back to Oneonta.
“The question I get most is, ‘Is it fake’?” said Edson. “If you’re good, people will forget that it’s not real.”