Displaying items by tag: UPH

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Opera Saratoga and Proctors Collaborative will present a free concert on New Year’s Eve at Universal Preservation Hall. 

The show features opera star Zachary James with pianist Laurie Rogers and will place at 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 31. The presentation will include a variety of popular, Broadway, and classical favorites.

Bass Baritone Zachary James recently performed in the title role in Opera Saratoga’s production of Man of La Mancha on the SPAC Amphitheater Stage.

Rogers has served as associate conductor with LA Opera and has prepared productions for San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Dallas Opera, among others.

Tickets are free, but seating is limited, and advance reservations are highly recommended.

They are available online at www.operasaratoga.org or www.universalpreservationhall.org. All attendees will be required to show proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 to enter UPH and must remain masked at all times in the venue, which is located on Washington Street, downtown Saratoga Springs.

Opera Saratoga, formerly known as Lake George Opera, began with a production of Die Fledermaus at the Diamond Point Theatre on July 5, 1962. The company now calls Saratoga Springs home and performs for more than 25,000 people annually. 

Published in Entertainment

SARATOGA SPRINGS –  Playable pinball machines celebrating Alice Cooper’s Nightmare Castle, paying tribute to the Rolling Stones, Kiss, Guns N’ Roses and others, and the acoustic guitar upon which The Who’s Pete Townshend composed “Pinball Wizard” will go on exhibit at Universal Preservation Hall this month.

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame exhibit “Part of the Machine: Rock & Pinball” opens Sunday, July 26 for a two-month run at UPH, located at 25 Washington St. in Saratoga Springs.   

The interactive exhibit showcases rock-themed, playable pinball machines and combines them with merchandise and artifacts to explore the artistic portrayal of artists and bands. 

UPH, a partner in the Proctors Collaborative, will sell tickets for 90-minute blocks throughout the run. Tickets will be available for admittance at 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. each day and hours will be extended to include 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. admittance on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The event concludes on Saturday, Sept. 26. 

Part of the Machine: Rock & Pinball is presented at UPH by Adirondack Trust Company. 

Pinball and rock became inextricably linked, with the Who and the group’s opus ’Tommy,’ which highlighted the skills of the rock opera’s lead character. Pinball was banned until the mid-1970s in most of America’s big cities because it was considered a form of gambling.

On display, along with the classic “Wizard” and “Tommy” pinball machines, is Pete Townshend’s acoustic guitar used to compose “Pinball Wizard” and several other Who songs from the album ‘Tommy.’    

Making its debut as part of the exhibit is Alice Cooper’s newest pinball machine – Alice Cooper’s Nightmare Castle. The classic horror adventure game is narrated by Alice himself and features a number of songs spanning Cooper’s career and a working guillotine set piece. An electric chair stage prop that Cooper used in his 1971 tour across North America and Europe is on display in the exhibit.    

Fans can also view pioneering pinball machines of their favorite musicians such as Captain Fantastic (1976), based on the album by Elton John and his character in Tommy, and Beat Time (1967), one of the oldest rock and roll tables, which capitalizes on Beatlemania, featuring several mop-topped musicians and a drumhead emblazoned with “The Bootles.”    

Other rare and sought-after playable machines in the exhibit pay tribute to the Rolling Stones, Dolly Parton, Guns N’ Roses, Elvis, Metallica, KISS and AC/DC. From Peter Criss of KISS’ drum set to Dolly Parton’s dress that inspired the backglass for the DollyParton pinball machine, fans will find other artifacts on display as they learn more about the popular pinball and rock subculture. 

Hosting the exhibition at UPH has been in the works more than a year as the Saratoga venue sought to develop programming that complimented - rather than competed - with Saratoga’s live entertainment scene in the summer. 

“It wasn’t clear when COVID-19 came along that we could hold the event but now that museums are reopening in the state we are proceeding with our plans,” said Teddy Foster, director at UPH.  

UPH will follow Center for Disease Control and Prevention and New York State safety guidelines in establishing safety protocol for exhibit visitors. Each visitor, staff person and volunteer will be required to bring and wear a face mask and to wear provided gloves while playing the pinball machines. All individuals will also be required to maintain proper social distancing. 

UPH staff will also take and record each individual’s temperature and procure proper tracing information, and sanitize all surfaces including handrails, light switches, elevators, exhibit pieces, restrooms and common surfaces before new groups are admitted. Capacity will be initially limited to 20 guests per time slot and will be re-evaluated regularly. 

Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students and are available now at universalpreservationhall.org.    

Published in Entertainment
Thursday, 12 March 2020 12:48

Neighbors: Chuck Vosganian AKA Rochmon

On the third Tuesday of each month, Chuck Vosganian AKA Rochmon, leads a live multi-media presentation about a classic album from rock ‘n’ roll’s heyday. There are stories. There are songs. There are trivia contests, the exploration of lyrics, and a timeline of culture in an iconic time. After relocating the monthly sessions to Caffe Lena nearly three years ago, Rochman is slated to return to the place of his origins at the newly reopened and remodeled Universal Preservation Hall.

Where did you grow up and how did you get to Saratoga?

I grew up in East Moriches, Long Island, in the middle of nowhere. Potato-and-duck country. Later, I lived in Chicago for 15 years then in Queensbury for 27 years before moving to Saratoga. Being in Saratoga, I wanted to live in a community where I could go out my door and walk around downtown.    

When was the first Rochmon show?

September 2016. The first album was actually a movie: I played the Joe Cocker “Mad Dogs and Englishmen.” We had like nine people come. It was so much fun. So, I asked Teddy (Foster, of UPH) if I could do it again. I returned the next month with David Bowie’s “Young Americans.”

What other artists’ albums had you done at UPH?

We did Queen and Led Zeppelin, we did Deep Purple; the music was a little bit of harder rock over at UPH. We got folk-i-fied when we went to Caffe Lena, haha. But Lena’s did such a great job building an audience for me. I was there since April 2017 - and our audience - we had lines around the corner. Sarah Craig at Caffe Lena was great.

I have always been surrounded by smart women. Between Teddy Foster and Mary Beth McGarrahan at UPH,  Sarah at Caffe Lena, my wife Karen, and my daughter Alyssa, they’ve really helped bring the show forward. I couldn’t have done it without any of them.  

You’re assisted during the shows by your daughter?

My daughter Alyssa, who’s 28. She’s my youngest and grew up listening to this stuff. Now, doing this with my daughter is also a reach-back to my mom, who taught me how to deeply listen to music; to see the picture that the music was trying to paint. My parents were classically trained opera singers and performers. So when we listen to an album and I do the deep dig-in, it is part of that connection.

How many Rochmon Record Club presentations have you done to date?

Forty-seven. Forty-seven different albums. And every show evolves in an unexpected direction. Like Paul Simon’s “Graceland,” which we’re doing next week. (Ed. note: this presentation, along with all other shows at UPH have been postponed until April 12).  Sound and pictures of Paul Simon - throughout his career, and people who played on the album, interesting instruments, the lyrics. We’ll talk about each song individually, the album cover, sales, and I also play some deeper audio drops; for instance, there will be a demo version of “Homeless,” and it’s nothing like the (recorded) song goes.  

The entire album is played?

I ask people: When was the last time you listened to an entire album? Ten years ago? Fifteen years ago? Today, the way we consume music is different, so you might listen to a couple of songs, but not the whole record. And the whole record is the complete work of art. It’s the Mona Lisa.  And that’s how we connect around the album. We’re listening to the whole thing. I like to say we’re listening to the album again for the first time. And it gives us an opportunity to go back.   

Now that you’re coming back to UPH, what are some future listening parties you are planning?

Later this year we’ll have “Led Zeppelin IV,” Springsteen’s “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” “Chicago II,” Elvis Costello’s “My Aim Is True.” 

How do the stories work?

A lot of it is just relating the story of the band and talking about what I loved about the music. I explain what I hear and discuss the connections. What’s really interesting is how the listening has evolved. In the beginning it was what the album meant to me, but years later, the way you hear it today changes from how you heard it as a kid. And that’s an amazing journey.

- Interview by Thomas Dimopoulos

The Rochmon Record Club presentation of Paul Simon’s “Graceland,” at UPH, on Washington Street was slated to take place March 17. All shows at the venue have been postponed, through April 12. 

Published in Entertainment
Friday, 14 February 2020 10:44

Art with Heart and Hope at UPH in May

SARATOGA SPRINGS — "Art with Heart and Hope" is an annual pop-up exhibition celebrating the healing power of art for those living with life-altering medical conditions and caregivers. This year, the show will take place on Thursday, May 21 at the Universal Preservation Hall.

If you are an artist living with or caring for someone living with a rare disease, serious illness, or disability, here is an opportunity to share your art.  Deadline is March 30

Artist must live in the Capital Region, New York and be at least 18-years-old.
Artist must either live with or care for someone living with a physical illness, disease, or disability.
Artwork must be able (and ready) to be hung on a wall.

Submit a photo of your artwork, along with a title, dimensions, medium, and a description (approx. 100 words) of how you use art to move beyond your personal battle to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Beyond My Battle (BMB) is a Saratoga-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization helping people reduce the stress of serious illness, rare disease, and disability. Through emotional support and educational resources rooted in mindfulness, awareness, and compassion, BMB works to cultivate emotional awareness and provide an engaged, resilient approach to life with health-related uncertainty. 

Visit the website beyondmybattle.org. For questions, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Published in Entertainment
Friday, 15 March 2019 11:28

A 'Game Changer' for Saratoga Springs

Photos provided.

Initially fearing the challenge of saving Universal Preservation Hall, Teddy Foster has fallen in love with what she calls "our beautiful old gal."  When the $9.4 million renovation will be completed next year, 'the opportunities will be endless,' she says. 

Originally built in 1871 as a Methodist Episcopal Church, Universal Preservation Hall (UPH) became a hub for the creative economy of Saratoga Springs and remained so for over a century.  The Church was built as not only a place of worship but also as a venue for famous speakers of that era. Presidents William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt have spoken there, as has the abolitionist Frederick Douglass. The congregation, Saratoga residents and summer visitors by the hundreds attended. Almost 100 years later (1976), the Methodists sold the building to the Universal Baptist Church. The building fell into dangerous disrepair and so the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation and the City became involved in 1999 to move the congregation to a safe venue and condemn the building.  The situation looked hopeless. 

In 2000, a group of concerned citizens led by Jeff Pfeil and Tom Lewis formed a partnership with Reverend Minnie Burns of the Universal Baptist Church to restore the building as well as create a non-profit community cultural center. With a successful $3 million fund-raising campaign to salvage and stabilize the building for seasonal use, Universal Preservation Hall was "born" in 2003. 

Teddy Foster entered the picture in 2006. Shortly after moving back to Saratoga Springs after three years in Virginia, where she had been working for Genworth Financial, she joined the UPH board at the request of a friend. 

Reluctant at first because preserving and renovating the building seemed to be an overwhelming project, Foster remembers thinking, “Dear God, please don't ask me to be on your board! Please, no. I don't have anything to offer you.” 

She tells this story with humor that's infectious. That's one of many qualities that makes her a great fundraiser. Elected president of the UPH Board in 2009, Foster led the group until 2015 when she negotiated an affiliation with Proctors Collaborative in Schenectady. At that time, she stepped down as board president to be hired as the capital campaign director. Wayne Akey followed in her footsteps as board president and in January 2019, Kathleen Fyfe, program director of Leadership Saratoga, for the Saratoga County of Chamber of Commerce, has been named to lead UPH's board.

It was anything but love at first sight for Foster, but she soon fell head over heels for this huge, crumbling structure and became a passionate preservationist. Working as a volunteer for many years driving UPH's preservation and, now, as paid staff (Campaign Director) to raise $5.5 million toward a restoration that will cost in total $9.4 million. 

“Back then, UPH had no money to pay me,” she smiles. So, Foster started a health and wellness business she called "Foster Good Health" so that she had some income while she did the important work she wanted to do for UPH.

With a background in sales training from her 12-year career with Genworth Financial, Foster has used the sales skills she used to teach others to obtain donors for UPH's Capital Campaign.

The 'Living Room' of Saratoga 

“I’ve always viewed it as a blank canvas,” says Foster, describing the vast array of events for which the new UPH can be used.  Both the 700-seat theater in the round upstairs and the 200-seat community room can be rearranged to accommodate virtually any event. 

UPH will focus on presenting more than 200 nights a year of music, live theater, Broadway cabaret, and more. The Great Hall that's the main performance space will have excellent acoustics, lighting and sight lines.  There will be comfortable seating and a movie screen that can be lowered from the ceiling. 

“I think all we are doing is very cool and makes UPH unique,” Foster says, delighted by her vision of the Great Hall. "The opportunities provided by a newly renovated UPH are endless. We'll be the 'community living room' of Saratoga the year round." 

For the last several months, Foster and her operations manager, Mary Beth McGarrahan, have been working out of temporary offices at 3 Franklin Square. They'll stay there until early spring 2020, when the building is scheduled to open if all stays on schedule. Foster is confident that will happen, given the team of contractors, and acoustic/theatrical engineers that are working on the building. 

"Saratoga does not have a downtown cultural center that's year-round,” she says. “People come here, and they say, 'There's so much culture here.’ No, not all year round. UPH will fill that gap and ensure the long term economic good health of Saratoga Springs and the surrounding region." 

”UPH is in the heart of downtown and will be open almost every day of the year," she continues. "We look forward to lots of collaboration with other arts organizations, local and regional. It's going to be a place people can walk to and share wonderful cultural and community experiences," she promises. 

A 'Game Changer' 

The road for UPH has been long and challenging but all obstacles have been overcome.  Thirteen years after her first involvement with UPH, Foster is excited to be under construction on the massive restoration.  She's just $300,000 from achieving the project's $5.5 million fund-raising goal. 

“The bulk of the financial resources for the restoration have come from generous individuals and businesses who have given their support because they believe in our vision and understand how important UPH will be to a vital and vibrant Saratoga Springs and surrounding region in the future,” Foster notes. 

"We call UPH our 'beautiful old gal' and are dedicated to its future as a thriving venue for all to enjoy.  We know that Saratogians and visitors will benefit year-round and enjoy their experiences with us for years to come. Please join us!"



A student-driven communications agency, the SMARTACUS Creative Group is dedicated to the economic and cultural development of Upstate New York. 
A senior at Saratoga Springs High School, Ben Weatherwax is president of the chamber orchestra and a member of the varsity rowing team.  Ben enjoys fishing, skiing, and spending time outdoors.

Published in Lifestyle
Thursday, 30 August 2018 16:19

New Branding for Spa City’s UPH

SCHENECTADY – When renovations are completed at Universal Preservation Hall and the 700-seat theatre-in-the-round opens its doors next year, expect to see a lot of this new Proctors Collaborative logo attached to it.

The logo depicts a new regional umbrella brand embracing Proctors and Universal Preservation Hall, as well as Capital Repertory Theatre. The brand logo was announced Aug. 28.

“Proctors Collaborative simply puts a name on what we’ve already been doing, which is bringing the arts together on a regional scale,” Proctors CEO Philip Morris said, in a statement. “Sharing resources and information, trading thoughts and ideas, is the way forward.”

UPH, a former Methodist church built in 1871 on Washington Street, is undergoing a $5.5 million renovation for its transformation into an acoustically perfect theater-in-the-round that will stage live music, Broadway cabaret and theater, among its anticipated 200 annual events. 

On Nov. 8, UPH Campaign Director Teddy Foster will deliver a presentation titled “Universal Preservation Hall:  The Road to Opening Night & Beyond,” at the Saratoga Springs Public Library.  

Published in Entertainment

SARATOGA SPRINGS – A scatter of workers amble through the vintage chambers of Universal Preservation Hall, exploring the possibilities. Design plans sprawl across tabletops beneath stained-glass windows and free-standing easels boast colorful images of what will be. Soon, the heavy lifting will begin.

When the $8.7 million restoration of UPH is complete, in late 2019, the 19th century building will provide Saratoga Springs with something it has sorely been missing: a mid-range capacity venue with state-of-the-art sound, open year-round and expected to stage more than 200 events.

“It’s going to be a huge performance venue,” says Teddy Foster, whose association with UPH goes back more than a decade - from board member to president to its current campaign director.

“We’re going to be a huge music room, that’s how it’s being designed. We anticipate doing some Broadway cabaret and some live theater; we will be a place of collaboration for SPAC, for Caffe Lena, for people from the community, you name it,” Foster says, standing in the middle of a vacant 20-foot by 24-foot space on the main floor where the staging area for the 700-seat theater-in-the round venue will be constructed.

Tiered seating will be installed at the far end of the main hall – where the current stage sits – and at the opposite end, the balcony will be extended and fitted with seats that descend to the main floor. It will be handicap accessible with an elevator that navigates between floors, and a glass atrium will serve as the new entry way, off Washington Street, in “a super cool alleyway inviting people to come in,” Foster explains.

Event booking will be handled by Proctors, with whom UPH struck an alliance in 2012, and whose event management has included staging everything from major Broadway shows and cutting-edge film festivals to snagging pop music acts on national tours. Proctors’ stated mission: To be a catalyst - through arts and community leadership - for excellence in education, sustainable economic development and rich civic engagement to enhance the quality of life in the greater Capital Region.

Approximately 100 local jobs will be employed during the construction phase, which begins in earnest sometime between May and July. After the $8.7 million project is completed – expected to be in late 2019 - and the venue re-opens for business, it is anticipated UPH will bring approximately 65,000 visitors to the Spa City each year. “We will fill the hotel rooms and the restaurants during the off-the shoulder season,” Foster says. UPH also plans to hire six full-time employees and a number more on a part-time basis.

Earlier this week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the venue will be awarded $750,000 to help redevelop the hall into a performing arts center. UPH represents Saratoga Springs’ sole recipient of the Restore New York Communities Initiative – which awards funding for projects that will reinvigorate downtowns and generate new economic opportunity in communities.  

The Washington Street venue, which is a non-profit community performing arts center, is also entering into an energized public fundraising phase. The goal is to raise $5.5 million. “We’ve raised most of it,” Foster says. There is just under $1 million to go to reach that goal.

“I’m a huge music lover and I would love to see music of all kinds in that room,” says Foster. “You know this was built as a place where people could come together for all different kinds of things. That’s how we’ve kept it alive all these years. And that’s really what I want to have here: a place that all Saratogians can experience.“  

Published in Entertainment

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Architectural renderings were released this week depicting the proposed exterior design of Universal Preservation Hall. Renovation work is expected to get underway at the historic Washington Street building in October, with a grand re-opening anticipated during the first quarter of 2019. 

Constructed in 1871, the Victorian Gothic structure has served as a staging ground for everyone from Teddy Roosevelt and Frederick Douglass to Bruce Springsteen E Street Band drummer Max Weinberg.

A century after its construction, the building began to fall into disrepair and in 2000, the city condemned the building. Members of the community rallied to save the structure from demolition. Today, the nonprofit group UPH owns the building and in 2015 got an added boost when it became an affiliate of Proctors. The Schenectady based organization will lend their expertise in securing programming and coordinating ticket sales and marketing,

When it reopens, UPH will provide an acoustically perfect theater-in-the-round experience with a capacity of 700-plus people, said UPH Campaign Director Teddy Foster. The building will feature new heating and air conditioning systems, a kitchen, an elevator and new light and sound fixtures with acoustic treatments.

New entry doors will be set on the building’s Broadway facing-side to provide theater-goers close proximity to a multi-level public parking garage on Woodlawn Avenue and the main room’s flexibility will allow for the relocation of seats as events dictate. 

Once completed, it is anticipated UPH will stage approximately 200 events annually, and fill the city’s void of a year-round, mid-sized venue that has been absent since Saratoga’s 5,000-seat Convention Hall went up in a fireball in 1966.

Published in News
Friday, 24 February 2017 11:33

750-seat Venue Targets Fall 2018 Opening

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Galleries, museums and classic architecture. A cinema. Public parks. Taverns, restaurants and cafes. Together they are the elements that contribute to community vibrancy.

But, for the past half-century, one noticeably missing piece in this walkable city has been the lack of a year-round, mid-sized venue – an unfulfilled need since Saratoga’s 5,000-seat Convention Hall was destroyed by fire in 1966.

With an extensive renovation of Universal Preservation Hall set to get underway, that cultural vacancy is set to soon be filled. “This will be an acoustically perfect theater-in-the-round and will hold about 750 people,” said Teddy Foster, campaign director at UPH. “There will be a lot of music, Broadway cabaret and live theater.”

The current schedule of events will conclude in five weeks and a $5.5 million renovation of the historic building is slated to get underway in June. When UPH re-opens in the fall of 2018, it will house new heating and air conditioning systems, a kitchen, an elevator and new light and sound fixtures with acoustic treatments.

“It will have everything,” Foster said. The main room’s flexibility will allow for the relocation of seats as events dictate and a community room located on the building’s lower level will hold another 140 people. New entry doors will be set on the building’s Broadway facing-side to provide theater-goers close proximity to a 450-vehicle public parking garage on Woodlawn Avenue.

The Victorian Gothic structure on Washington Street was built in 1871 and served as a Methodist church and a gathering place. Teddy Roosevelt, Frederick Douglass and William Howard Taft to Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band drummer Max Weinberg have each taken a turn atop the main stage during the building’s 146-year history. A century after its construction, the building began to fall into disrepair and the church sat empty for several years. In 2000, the city condemned the building and members of the community rallied to save the structure from demolition.

Today, the nonprofit group UPH owns the building and maintains a 21-person board of directors. A local Baptist congregation – which continues to host weekend services at the hall - owns the land on which the church sits. An initial wave of renovation work began in 2003 after $3 million was raised. The current Capital Campaign - The Road To Opening Night – is ongoing and has secured about 90 percent of the $5.6 million it seeks to raise, Foster says. A fundraiser will be held in May at Saratoga National.

In 2015, UPH got an added boost when it became an affiliate of Proctors. The Schenectady based organization will lend their expertise in securing programming and coordinating ticket sales and marketing, in addition to other areas. Proctors was built in 1926 in downtown Schenectady and was one of a dozen vaudeville houses along the east coast of the country. A half-century later, it was among the last standing theaters of a deserted downtown landscape. Like UPH, it also was saved from the wrecking ball.

Last week Proctors’ creative director, Richard Lovrich, and its publicist, Michael Eck, staged a slide show presentation and discussion at UPH based on the release of their new coffee-table book, “Encore: Proctors at 90,” which depicts everything from the backstage application of character makeup for a production of “The Lion King,” to images capturing gracious remembrances of a theater visit by Sophia Loren. It is a narrative of renewal and rebirth, and a tale of a city and a theater taking turns saving each other, the authors say.

After undergoing a transformative restoration of its own, the historic theater today features everything from ZZ Top, this weekend, to the staging of “Hamilton,” during its 2018-19 season. Of UPH, Proctors CEO Phillip Morris says he envisions a welcoming place to gather and a cultural heart of the city.

After the Saratoga Springs venue reopens with its 45-foot-tall ceilings, bell tower and walnut and ash staircases that feed into the main hall, it is anticipated it will stage 200 or so annual events. “I like to say I imagine the hall as Saratoga’s living room,” Foster said.

Published in News