Local Theater Gains Student Involvement


Ethan Babcock, Special Assignments Reporter

A new theater in New Hartford is providing students and the community with the opportunity to experience a more modern and edgy approach to theater. 

The Wilde Rep Theater, located at 12 Genesee St., was founded by Performing and Fine Arts Chair Laura Salvaggio, her husband and Adjunct Theater Professor Nicholas Abounader.

“Nick has expertise in directing,” Salvaggio said. “I have expertise in the behind the scenes technical aspects of producing theater and my husband, Bernie, has the business expertise.”

The goal of The Wilde Rep theater was to be something a bit different than a community theater to fill a void they saw in the area. 

“We intend to put on more risky shows that not everyone is going to like but have a higher impact on those who do attend,” Salvaggio said. “The people we’re working with are hungry for exactly this kind of venue that’s willing to take exactly this kind of risk. We are some of those people ourselves.”

They are excited to have a venue that will be available when the UC stage is being used for other events. The actors will be paid and they can produce the kind of shows and art that they want. This gives students a large amount of opportunity. 

“I like doing more theater and our students like having more opportunities to build resumes,”  Salvaggio said. “Not having a home venue started to become problematic so we decided it was time to officially become a company with our own dedicated performance space.”

Theater is the most effective way to teach empathy, according to Salvaggio. She even believes that empathy is the meaning of art and teaches classes at UC devoted to such.

“The world around us could use more empathy and I have a personal mission to use my gifts to make the world a better place,” she said. 

The first performance held in Wilde Rep was a high concept version of “Macbeth” that was set in an insane asylum. This production included only five actors, one of which was UC student Hannah DeStefano.

The theater has many upcoming events and ideas in the works with plans for bigger and better in the near future. 

“Our next scheduled event is ‘A Wilde Spanksgiving,’  on Nov. 16, which is a drag show hosted by UC Communication Arts and Theater graduate ‘Bee’Uh Bombchelle’ (Jesse Haggerty),” Salvaggio said. “It’s exciting to see her performance career taking off and I’m thrilled that our venue can be part of her success as a professional performer.” 

They are hoping to have UC students audition for the soon to be production of “Puffs: The Play,” which will be at the Wilde Rep in early February. Audition dates for this production will be announced in a few weeks.