ALBANY, NY (February 21, 2013) -- Park Playhouse today launched its 2013 season of free theater in Albany's Washington Park with the announcement by Albany Mayor Gerald D. Jennings that Albany Medical Center is the first member of the "Quarter-Century Sponsorship Program," established to honor the 25th anniversary of Park Playhouse.

Park Playhouse Albany Medical Center is the first to promise $25,000 for this newly created sponsorship program seeking $25,000 pledges from corporations and institutions to support Park Playhouse's outdoor summer theater and youth arts training programs that entertain and benefit thousands of people in the region every summer; it also supports Park Playhouse's year-round arts in education program that in 2013 will, for the first time, involve every elementary school in the City of Albany.

"In the last three years, Park Playhouse, one of the most exciting performing arts programs in the City of Albany, has enjoyed unprecedented popularity, attracting an amazing-sized average audience of 1,600 people a night during its summer run at the Lakehouse. In addition, its education program touches thousands of children throughout the City," said Mayor Jennings at a press conference today at Albany Med. "But free theater, free youth programming and free educational programs come with a price tag, so I applaud Albany Medical Center for its significant support - and urge other corporations and institutions in the City and region to follow suit. My goal is to celebrate this milestone anniversary with at least four pledges of $25,000."

For Albany Med, the decision to back the 25th anniversary initiative syncs well with its "good neighbor" philosophy.

"Albany Medical Center's support underscores our commitment to our neighborhood, to the City of Albany and to our region. Park Playhouse in Washington Park is our neighbor, and neighbors work with one another to improve neighborhoods," said James J. Barba, president and CEO of Albany Medical Center, pointing to the revitalization of lower New Scotland Avenue and Park South, the result of Albany Med's more than a half-billion-dollar investment over the last six years. "We not only see our commitment to Park Playhouse as strengthening the quality of life in our neighborhood, but also as important to economic development in the City - and beyond."

In acknowledging Albany Med's support Kathleen Lasch McNamee, chair of the board of directors of Park Playhouse, said, "I speak for the entire Board of Directors of Park Playhouse in thanking the Mayor and Jim Barba for their leadership and their commitment to our program which touches so many lives in our community each year."

According to Owen Smith, Park Playhouse's producing artistic director since 2010, the Playhouse's partnership with Albany Medical Center has had tremendous impact on its recent seasons.
Shrek: The Musical "2012 marked a record year for us in terms of both annual attendance and average nightly attendance. The growth we have enjoyed simply would not have been possible without the support of Albany Medical Center," Smith said. "Albany Med's pledge to the ‘Quarter-Century Sponsorship Program' is an incredible start to 2013, but we are a long way from the finish line. We are counting on many more sponsors to renew their support or step up for the first time to help us realize our potential during this anniversary season. I am grateful to the Mayor for his outreach to the corporate community on our behalf, and to Mr. Barba for kicking this program off with a generous gift."
Park Playhouse, which opened in 1989, will present two evening features in 2013: Monty Python's Spamalot in July and Shrek: The Musical in August. Spamalot will feature a professional cast, including Park Playhouse favorites Steven Earl Edwards (Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, Camelot) as King Arthur and Molly Rose McGrath (Annie Get Your Gun) as The Lady of the Lake. Shrek will feature a cast of students from both the Park Playhouse II and Park Playhouse Kids education programs.

For more information, please contact Owen M. Smith at (518) 434-2035, or by email at