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Park Theater’s new chief

By Cathy DeDe, Chronicle Managing Editor

Meet Peter Hughes — the Park Theater’s new operating director, who took the helm on January 7.

Mr. Hughes, 40, was born in Schenectady, lives in Colonie, was a theater major at SUNY Buffalo and spent more than 22 years working for Proctors theater in Schenectady, marketing Proctors’ growing stable of venues like Capital Repertory theatre in Albany, high-end touring Broadway shows and helping to develop the “It Came from Schenectady” film festival.

“The Park is a beautiful space. It’s gorgeous,” he says. “We need to be bringing the kinds of things in here that it deserves. It has a great dance floor, a four-star restaurant downstairs, great lights and sound, a top of the line, professional space that should have wonderful performances, cinema, music, comedy, theater. It’s the kind of space you don’t have to wear your nice shoes, but you want to…

Peter Hughes spent 22 1/2 years working for Proctor’s Theater in Schenectady. Chronicle photo/Cathy DeDe

“Of course, it’s also a community space that was built for Glens Falls. People need to feel welcome, and at home, not just a pricey venue but a part of the growing downtown arts and entertainment district.”

Considering the theater’s two thrusts so far — booking touring acts from outside town and focusing on locally grown talent, Mr. Hughes said, “We need to have a marriage of all these perspectives, planning them out with an eye toward growth. Theaters are a risky business. You have to invest not just the financials but also strategy, heart and risk.”

He said he and owner Elizabeth Miller “are in constant conversation, talking quite a bit about our vision for the Park.”

Mr. Hughes said in his 22-and-a-half years at Proctors, he watched it grow under entrepreneurial director Phillip Morris from a 15-person operation to a multi-theater conglomerate which now employs more than 200. “Phillip Morris is a mentor to me,” Mr. Hughes said.

‘Starting from scratch’

Mrs. Miller said of Mr. Hughes, “To have a person with that kind of experience and enthusiasm, you just can’t beat that.” She said, “As you know, the theater got a great start, but then it lost rhythm. He’ll get that rhythm back, so we will have many wonderful nights of entertainment.”

Mr. Hughes is the Park’s third director since the theater opened in April. He succeeds Bridget Dunigan, who ran the Park since August, after the departure of original director Susan Siplon.

“We’re starting from scratch,” Mr. Hughes said. He is currently the theater’s sole employee. “We are looking to hire a few people to help with the box office and event planning.” (He notes: “Doc’s Restaurant downstairs is still fully staffed.”)

He said he’s already enthusiastic about Glens Falls and the arts here.

“Every time I’m walking down the street, people ask who I am and when I tell them, they are so very welcoming, one, and two, everyone has a story about the Park. You couldn’t buy that kind of interest. It’s very encouraging.”

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