Fashion Buying and Merchandising ’63

Coming Attraction: Richard Samrov, executive director of the Glove Performing Arts Center in Gloversville, NY, talks about the theater’s past and future.

This was quite a theater in its time. It was originally a vaudeville and movie theater, and stars flocked here. Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert came for the premiere for Drums Along the Mohawk in 1939. Long before he was in The Beverly Hillbillies, Buddy Ebsen brought five vaudeville acts. Cynthia Nickloy, one of the Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz, came to introduce the movie when it played. George Burns, Tony Randall, Jack Lemmon, Zippy the Chimp…the list goes on.

The Glove opened on October 9, 1914. It was one of 160 theaters owned by the Schine brothers. It was their headquarters, the jewel in their crown. My grandfather had given them their first lease, on another theater in Gloversville, and worked for them as a projectionist and booking agent his whole life. He died in 1965, the year they sold their theaters.
The Glove suffered because of television in the late ’60s, and it closed in 1976. When a committee of concerned citizens reopened the building in the mid-’90s, there was a 16-foot hole in the ceiling, and a piano was floating in water that came up to the stage. Animals were swimming around, and mushrooms were growing out of the seats. Gloversville used to be a performing arts hub, with four theaters, and this was all that remained. I was so saddened, I left and didn’t want to come back.

But I had fond memories of the Glove—I was an usher for ten years; it was a connection to my grandfather—so I came back to volunteer. In 2009, when I suggested going to an all-volunteer staff to save money for the restoration, the board made me executive director. I feel I’m carrying on the legacy of my grandfather and the Schines.

We need between two and three million dollars to complete the restoration. We installed an energy-efficient heating system, we’re working on the marquee, and we’re hoping to put in new permanent seats. We bring in monthly productions—this year we’ll have had Next to Normal, Avenue Q, and Gypsy—but ticket sales only keep the productions coming in. We raise money from the community, and get matching donations from Renee Schine Crown, daughter of J. Myer Schine.

We know we can make a successful theater in this depressed area. We just keep plugging away, waiting for the big donations to come in.