STS Playhouse Has New Site

For a number of years this was the official site for the The Shandaken Theatrical Society in Phoenicia, NY.
Content is from the site's 2008 - 2013 archived pages. Take a nostalgic stroll back....

The current site for the STS Playhouse is found at: where you will find the most up-to-date information.


RESERVATIONS: 845.688.2279


People outside the theatre group are amazed when they learn how much effort goes into running a community theatre organization. Putting on a show requires the coordination and cooperation of many people. Simply, it’s working together as a team for a common goal— The Show Must Go On. There are costumes, lighting, sets, publicity, ushers, to name just a few of the tasks but the list goes on and on. Most of that work is done by people you never see, and without those dedicated workers putting on a show would not be possible.

STS volunteers are very special. Finances are of great importance and so are our volunteers. STS members and volunteers do not get paid— community theatre is a labor of love. They do it for the love of theatre and to hear the applause of an appreciative audience. That is the payment for a job well done.

Our history

Since its formation in 1976, Shandaken Theatrical Society has mounted over 70 full scale productions and countless other smaller projects. Our productions are filled with performers from all walks of life, from former professional actors to local children enjoying their first on-stage experience. Every season we produce a diverse program of events including musicals, contemporary and classical plays, original works by Hudson Valley playwrights, cabaret performances, a film series, a Christmas show, and workshops for adults and children. We are committed to keeping our ticket prices and workshop fees low so our programs can remain accessible to everyone. We proudly support the village of Phoenicia as a theatrical ensemble, cultural space, and social venue.

In 1998, STS purchased its current home at 10 Church Street in Phoenicia. The building was built in 1887 by the International Order of Odd Fellows. Over the years the building has housed an auction house and a movie theatre. (We are happy to celebrate the building's past with our own 16mm film series!) In 2006, with the help of grant funds, STS renovated the second floor of the building, making repairs and improvements to the costume and prop shops and creating a versatile rehearsal/makeup space, Future plans are underway for further renovations. With your generous donations and grant funding we can follow through with plans for a new facade and refreshment area on the Main Street side of the building.


Getting There

The STS Playhouse is located at 10 Church Street in Phoenicia, NY (2.5 hours north of New York City, 25 minutes west of Kingston)

From the NY State Thruway: Take exit 19 and merge onto Rt. 28 west. Travel 22.2 miles. Exit right to Phoenicia, onto Bridge Street. Go down the hill and across the creek. Turn left on Main Street. Make your first right onto Church Street, at the gas station. The Playhouse is on your right just after the gas station.

From Shandaken or points west: Take Route 28 east to Phoenicia. Turn left onto Route 214. Stay on Main Street when 214 turns left. Church Street is your next left.

You can also reach us by bus. Adirondack Trailways (800-776-7548) stops just down the street from STS.


Board of Directors

Gordon W. Brown, President

Alisa Brown, Secretary
Michael Koegel
Emily K. Tisdale
Michael Cioffi

Artistic Director: Michael Koegel

The STS Playhouse Board is a dedicated body of volunteers working together with theatre artists, technicians and other volunteers to achieve our mission.

STS Playhouse Mission Statement

The STS Playhouse mission is three-fold: we produce our own shows, provide a venue for other events, and create educational opportunities. STS Playhouse is a performing arts organization that strengthens, invigorates and promotes the Catskills community with performances, educational programs, and strategic collaborations. We are committed to drawing residents (full-time and part-time) and travelers together through the experience of the arts. "Community" is the most important part of "Community Theatre."


New STS artistic director wants theater group to be accessible, challenging

by Violet Snow/September 7, 2012 /

Michael Koegel (photo by Violet Snow)

“STS has one of the few proscenium theaters in this area,” points out Michael Koegel, recently named artistic director of the STS Playhouse in Phoenicia. “In Woodstock, companies are doing theater in the Town Hall or in the director’s living room, and we have this underutilized proscenium theater that we own. We have dressing rooms, costume storage — a real theater that we need to be taking advantage of in a much bigger way.”

Koegel hopes to draw from the pool of New York City theater people residing in the Catskills as a new set of board members strives to revitalize the 36-year-old Shandaken Theatrical Society. He acknowledges that a balancing act will be required to attract city-educated audiences with modern, edgy works — like Craig Lucas’s Prelude to a Kiss — while satisfying long-time customers with better-known plays such as The Sunshine Boys and Grease!

Known to many residents as the proprietor of Mama’s Boy Cafe and Market in Phoenicia, Koegel has an array of theater credentials, from his Masters of Fine Arts in directing from the University of Pittsburgh to almost two decades of producing television for Nickelodeon and PBS, while directing off-Broadway on the side.

He describes going to see Ingmar Bergman’s Hamlet in Swedish at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the night before his Nickelodeon interview. “After seeing that, I didn’t want to go to the interview,” he recalls. “But I ended up getting the job. I thought I’d give myself six months to make enough money to get settled, then quit and do theater. Two months later they were flying me to L.A., and then around the world, to do casting. When I flew to London, I got picked up in a Jaguar and taken to an insanely expensive hotel. I couldn’t give that up.”

After a while, he began directing small plays in small venues, as well as writing some one-acts, but he couldn’t keep up a high-pressure job and a life in theater at the same time. In 2002, ready for a change, he tried teaching at the University of Buffalo while working in regional theater, but he didn’t like Buffalo. Back he went to TV in New York City.

“If you go to any other city for vacation or work, you end up thinking, ‘This is no New York City — I couldn’t live here,’” notes Koegel. “The only way to get out of New York with any sanity was to go to place that’s so different, I couldn’t possibly compare it to Manhattan. So I chose Phoenicia. I opened up a coffee shop. Lo and behold, there was a theater across the street.”

Amy Wallace was artistic director of the Playhouse at the time, and Koegel admired her work. When she and her family relocated last year, the position was left vacant. “There was no momentum,” says Koegel. “They only managed to put up one show in a year. It was something I always wanted to do, so I offered my services as artistic director.”

Koegel has appeared in several STS plays over the past two years, but he has always preferred directing to acting. “I have kind of a bossy personality,” he says. “Actors are very into their craft of transforming themselves into someone else. Maybe I don’t have the attention span for acting. Directors have more of an artistic vision of an entire production, putting all these aspects together and stewarding the whole thing.”

Originally created as an outlet for amateur thespians, STS is faced with an audience increasingly composed of transplants from the city, second-homeowners, and vacationers, who have more sophisticated tastes than traditional community theater attendees. Koegel wants to provide fare that will pay the bills and enhance the reputation of the Playhouse by attracting those audiences. But he doesn’t want to alienate the life-long residents who have formed the theater’s base for decades, both as actors and performers.

“We’re planning a theater season that will be accessible to people but won’t be chestnuts like Ten Little Indians or Arsenic and Old Lace,” says Koegel. “There’s nothing wrong with those shows, but there’s so much out there that can be done. We want to make sure that what we’re doing is a little bit challenging to the audience.”

Thus, Koegel will be directing Prelude to a Kiss, a play that ran in Manhattan in the 1990s with Alec Baldwin and Mary-Louise Parker. “It has a modern fantasy element, and some of the language is a little ‘adult’,” notes Koegel. The crowd-pleasing comedy The Sunshine Boys will be next, directed by Linda Burkhardt. Much as Koegel would like to do an over-the-top rocker musical like Hedwig and the Angry Inch, the show selected for next spring is the more community-oriented Grease!, with lots of parts for local teens.

With a recent turnover in membership, the board of directors has a number of people with professional theater experience, including newly elected board president Michael Mills. “He’s really gotten things organized,” says Koegel, “doling out responsibilities to board members.” Koegel hopes to leverage board skills to help bring quality and polish to the forthcoming shows.

In late August, professional guitarist and lutenist Carver Blanchard organized a variety show at the Playhouse, an event that is planned to recur every two months and eventually once a month, entitled “Phoenicia Saturday Night.” Before the performance, Koegel overheard two out-of-towners debating whether to buy tickets to what they assumed would be a joke of an event at a hick theater. They ended up staying through the whole show and applauding enthusiastically, pleasantly surprised by the talent Blanchard had assembled.

“There’s a ton of talented theater professionals in this community who don’t know about us or have dismissed us as a crazy-ass little community theater,” says Koegel. “I want to reach out to those people and let them know this is a place that wants to work with them on a lot of different levels — acting, directing, pitching a show of their own, renting our space to produce their own show.”

He adds that the theater “is currently working with a handful of Equity actors, and we’re working on establishing an ongoing relationship with Equity.”



Some observations:
Having just recently moved to Phoenicia, NY from Manhattan, we were delighted with our proximity to the STS Playhouse. The lush terrain was what first attracted us to the area. As avid nature lovers and skiers, we value the misty mountains, dense woods, and the proximity to skiing at the Hunter and Belleayre resorts. Fortunately Phoenicia has not been smothered in tourist kitsch like nearby Woodstock. There are some things I miss such as my favorite sushi restaurant, all the museums, Lincoln Center, and on a less cultural note, but still important since we have two dogs and three cats, my favorite carpet cleaners. They cover all of Manhattan and Brooklyn, but I really can't expect them to drive 2 plus hours to deal with our yearly carpet cleaning. I will have to cross my fingers when looking for a local carpet cleaning company in about 6 months. Perhaps by then I will have gotten to know our neighbors and some one will give me a recommendation. In the meanwhile we plan on becoming regulars at the Shandaken Theatrical Society's Phoenicia Playhouse.

And then Covid 19 swept across the world, the US, New York State, and even here in Phoencia. We all adapted the first scary year, sheltering/ working from home, wearing masks, washing hands incessantly along with fruits, vegetables and packaging from the grocery store. Year 2 was better with the availability of vaccines. The Phoenicia Playhouse made use of the downtime and with donations and volunteers renovated the playhouse, adding an outside front porch. They then had a wonderful storytelling programs over the end of the summer of 2021 out on that porch while we sat outside under the stars. Earlier in the summer they put on Our Town. The performance we saw was dazzling. We loved the entire experience of once again seeing theater with live people, being in a real live audience again, becoming reacquainted with this brilliant old play, and watching the show outdoors in this incredible setting.

Like a lot of my friends during the first year of Covid 19 we found our entertainment online. My brother discovered an affiliate online casino site, Online Casino Party, where he was able to indulge in his passion for online slots playing for real money. If you are into casino games, I suggest you check this out. The casinos that are feature do accept US players. However, since we live in NY which does not permit online gambling, I was blocked from signing up. I dappled a bit playing the free versions a a number of slot games. With the "play" bankroll you are given, you can get quite carried away with the bets. And if you lose all your money you can just start a new slot game. Of course if you win, you can't collect, but I found it entertaining nevertheless. I actually am amazed at the number of slot games that are available. The sound, graphics and story lines are pretty amazing. However, for my type of entertainment, nothing can beat going to the live theater. Can't wait for the next season at the Phoenicia Playhouse. Thank you Shandaken Theatrical Society for your dedication to this community theater.


Life in hindsight was a lot simpler when the 2012-2013 season was announced!

Prelude to a Kiss, by Craig Lucas

Directed by Michael Koegel
Nov. 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18
(Audition info below)


Auditions for PRELUDE TO A KISS

Auditions will be held at the theater (10 Church St, Phoenicia, NY) Tuesday, September 4 and Wednesday, September 5 at 6pm. Sides will be provided.


Peter: 25-40. Lead. Charming and charismatic everyman-type. Down to earth
and relatable, he's in every scene and narrate the story as it goes along.

Rita: 25-40. Lead. Quirky and charismatic, she and Peter fall in love,
and then her body is taken over by the soul of an old man. Must handle
the difficult task of playing an old man's attitudes and speech patterns
without falling into cartoonish portrayals.

Old Man: Supporting. 60s-80s Congenial, sweet man who somehow manages to
switch souls with Rita. For the second act, his body is inhabited by the
soul of a young woman (see above).

Dr. Doyle: Supporting. 50s-60s Rita's Dad. Fiesty and intelligent with
a sharp sense of humor and strong physical presence.

Mrs. Doyle: Supporting. Rita's Mom. 50s-60s. Sweet, compassionate and

Taylor/Ensemble. 25-40 Peter's best friend. Sardonic and friendly.
Smallish role but full of one-liners and punch lines.

Aunt Dorothy/Ensemble. 50s-60s Rita's Aunt. Sweet and a little ditzy.

Uncle Fred/Ensemble. 50s-60s Rita's Uncle.

Leah/Ensemble: 30s- 40s Old man's daughter. Worried and frantic.

Tom/Minister/Waiter/Ensemble: Supporting. African American, any age.

Ensemble roles will also play wedding guests, party guests, and will be a
larger part of the production as needed.

We are also looking for a stage manager for this production. Feel free to contact us with any questions. If you're interested in directing, designing or volunteering at STS please send an email to our Artistic Director, Michael Koegel.



The Sunshine Boys, by Neil Simon

Directed by Linda Burkhardt
March 8 ,9, 10, 15, 16, 17, and 22, 23, 24


Grease!, by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey

Director TBA
May 31, June 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16


The Spitfire Grill

By James Valcq and Fred Alley. Directed by Glenn Lazlo Weiss. Musical direction by Andrew Goodsight.

Performance Dates:
May 25, 26, 27 2012
June 1, 2, 3 
June 8, 9,10

Friday and Saturday shows at 8 pm, Sunday matinees at 4 pm. Tickets $15, $13 students / seniors / members. Special Friday night date night price: 2 tickets for $20.

"Soulful and transcendent. It is not often that material moves me to tears, but this was one of those occasions. What even in normal times would be a joy is, in these troubled ones, sheer nourishment." -John Simon, New York Magazine

"A complete work of theatrical resourcefulness. It is penetrated by honesty and it glows!" -The New York Times

Since it opened Off-Broadway in 2001 at Playwrights Horizons, The Spitfire Grillhas become one of the most often-produced new American musicals. All across the United States, from Canada to the Caribbean, from Korea to Germany, from the UK to Japan, The Spitfire Grill has had more than 350 productions. Based on the award-winning film by Lee David Zlotoff, the musical depicts the journey of a young woman just released from prison who decides to start her life anew in a rural Wisconsin town. She precipitates a journey within the town itself toward its own tenuous reawakening. The folk and bluegrass tinged score is unlike that for any other musical.

Our production is directed by Glenn Laszlo Weiss, with musical direction by Andrew Goodsight. It stars Jax Denise, Ann Davies, Sean Connelly, Deb Warren, Karen Forray, Rich Quinn and Shawn Jensen.


2011 PLAYS


Little Murders

Comeback! Dennis and Rob Return to STS This Fall

STS is very happy to welcome Dennis Metnick back as director of our Fall Show, Little Murders. When asked how it felt to be back at STS, Dennis replied "It is nice to know you can go home again, and STS feels like home for me." Rob Stanley, now Shandaken Supervisor, is returning to STS this fall as well. You won't want to miss the technical/directorial fusion Dennis and Rob will provide. Welcome home, guys!

Jules Feiffer's Little Murders will run November 4-7, 11-14, 18-20 (no matinee the final weekend). Thursday, Friday, and Saturday shows are at 8 p.m., Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Tickets $15, $13 for seniors, students, members. For reservations, call 845-688-2279.

Directed by Dennis Metnick
Set Design by Judie and Dave Appleby
Lighting Design by Rob Stanley
Starring: Ann Davies, Lissa Harris, Michael Stern, and Nat Thomas
With: Drew Dunlap, George Tsontakis, Michael Koegel, and Roger Karz



STS Annual Christmas Show

December 19, 2001
Check back for more details



"The Foreigner" by Larry Shue

Directed by Michael Koegel
March 4-7, 11-13, 18-20, 2011
What does a shy Englishman in search of rest do when he visits a fishing lodge in Georgia? In Larry Shue's hilarious farce, Charlie Baker, a proofreader by day and a boring husband by night, adopts the persona of a foreigner who doesn't understand English. When others begin to speak freely around him, he not only becomes privy to secrets both dangerous and frivolous, he also discovers an adventurous extrovert within himself.



"Into The Woods" by James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim

Directed by Amy Wallace
June 3-5, 10-12, 17-19, 2011
Fractured fairy tales of a darker hue provide the remarkablecontext for "Into the Woods," which deconstructs the Brothers Grimm by way of Rod Serling. While the faces and names are familiar, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, and company inhabit a sylvan neighborhood in which witches and bakers are next-door neighbors, handsome princes from once-parallel fables are competitive (and equally vain) brothers, and all the stories intersect through unexpected new plot twists.


This weekend brings musical fairytales to the Shandaken Theatrical Society -- but don't expect a sweet little bedtime story. Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's dark, witty remix of familiar fables, directed by STS's own Amy Wallace, opens this Friday, June 3.

Jax Denise (Cinderella), Jay Braman (Cinderella's Prince) and Lucia Legnini (Little Red Riding Hood)

Jax Denise (Cinderella), Jay Braman (Cinderella's Prince) and Lucia Legnini (Little Red Riding Hood)

Into the Woods is a show with a lot of juicy roles, and we're anticipating some larger-than-life performances from a few of the STS regulars in the cast. Starring in the show are Dorothy Penz, Rich Quinn, Ann Davies, Dennis Metnick, Neva Benton, Jay Braman, Michael Koegel, Jax Denise and Lucia Legnini.

From the STS website:

Fractured fairy tales of a darker hue provide the remarkable context for "Into the Woods," which deconstructs the Brothers Grimm by way of Rod Serling. While the faces and names are familiar, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, and company inhabit a sylvan neighborhood in which witches and bakers are next-door neighbors, handsome princes from once-parallel fables are competitive (and equally vain) brothers, and all the stories intersect through unexpected new plot twists.

Into The Woods runs June 3-19 at the Shandaken Theatrical Society, 10 Church Street, Phoenicia. Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm; Sunday matinees at 4pm. 845.688-2279


Play Fair 2011

July 21-24, 28-31, 2011
Check back for more details on our festival of original short plays




Guys and Dolls in Concert!

A Fundraiser For STS's Raise the Roof Fund

Join us Oct 8 and 9, 2010 at 7 p.m. for "Guys and Dolls" in concert, a fundraiser for the "Raise The Roof Fund," starring Dave Pillard, Robert Warren, Jessica Sherman, Amy Wallace, Brian Sherman, Ann Davies, Chuck Sokolowski, and Jay Braman.

Gamble with the Guys and Dolls at our intermission raffles and auction, sample complimentary desserts and join the Guys for a sip of sin at the cash bar. Admission is a $25 donation to the "Raise The Roof Fund." Call 845-688-2279 for reservations, or make your reservations with a secure online donation below.



Once a month, we show a classic film. Real 16mm prints, real popcorn, real candy. Real fun. $5 suggested donation.


Friday night films at STS

One Friday a month (usually but not always the last Friday), we show a classic film. Real 16mm prints, real popcorn, real candy. Real fun. $5 suggested donation.


Friday, September 24, 2010, 7 p.m.

Sixteen Candles

(1984) In this John Hughes classic, Molly Ringwald’s family forgets her sweet sixteen in the midst of her sister’s wedding. Don’t miss Anthony Michael Hall at his dorky best.

Next movie: The Wizard of Oz, October 29 at 7 p.m.




Friday, December 30, 2011, 7 p.m.

(1986) Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short star as 1920s-era unemployed studio actors. They accept an invitation to a Mexican village to replay their bandit fighter roles, unaware that it is the real thing.

This month's movie is generously sponsored by the Phoenicia Wines and Liquors.







Spring Children’s Theater Workshop- FREE!!!!!

Led by Alexandra Magnaud, a senior at Poughkeepsie Day School and an intern at STS.

  • What: Intended to introduce and   work on valuable skills for theater
  • Where: Shandaken Theatrical Society: 10 Church St., Phoenicia, NY 12464
  • When: Twice a week in May (specific dates to be determined)
  • For: Students in elementary school

Interested parties should contact Alex directly at (845) 750-3427

3rd Annual Summer Theater Camp


This exciting week-long camp builds theater skills for students of all levels of experience through improvisational games, creative movement, character-based play, story-telling, and basic text interpretation.  Camp culminates in a short theater piece that will be performed this year as an opener to STS’s 2008 Play Fair.

  • CAMP DATES: August 18th-22nd
  • MON-FRI: 10:00am -4:00pm
  • AGES: 8-14
  • CAMP FEE: $75





now in our 6th year!

SHOW DATES: August 22-24, 29-31

Fri. and Sat. shows @ 8pm, Sun. shows @ 4pm

Tickets: $10 for members/ seniors/ students, $12 for adults


  • PLAY SUBMISSIONS, up to 20 minutes in length

Deadline: >May 31st, 2008

Please email submissions to INFO@STSPLAYHOUSE.COM or send to P.O. Box 473PHOENICIA, NY 12464








book by Michael Stewart
lyrics by Lee Adams
music by Charles Strouse
Directed by Scott Patterson
Musical Direction by Deborah Ann Warren


May 23-25, 30-June1, 6-8 
Friday and Saturday shows 
Sunday shows at 
Tickets are $12 for adults and 
$10 for students, seniors, and members

RESERVATIONS: 845-688-2279,




Written by Arthur Miller

Directed by Gavin Owen


July 11-13, 18-20, 25-27 
Friday and Saturday shows 
Sunday shows at 
Tickets are $12 for adults and 
$10 for students, seniors, and members