Shakespeare troupe wants Bay Ridge to be new Stratford on the Narrows

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Something is rotten in Bay Ridge for an acclaimed Shakespearean theater troupe that is struggling to find home.

Financial woes have forced the Genesis Repertory Ensemble — a celebrated company that sets the Bard of Avon’s works in different historical eras — to give up its Manhattan digs in hopes of settling in the neighborhood near the Narrows.

“Once we have an address, we can win the support of the neighborho­od,” said Bay Ridge resident Jay Michaels, chairman of the Genesis Board of Directors. “We want to make our mark in Bay Ridge and have an audience. We want to be Bay Ridge’s company.”

Michaels envisions his Genesis Repertory Ensemble becoming Bay Ridge’s answer to the Heights Players in Brooklyn Heights, or the Gallery Players in Park Slope. But before the nine-year-old, 25-person troupe can build a Bay Ridge fan base, it needs a Bay Ridge stage.

“Ideally, we’d love to find an old theater — but we could make due with a church basement or a community center room with an elevated area, a gymnasium, or an event hall,” said Michaels, whose ensemble has adapted “Macbeth” in Peronist Argentina, “Hamlet” in Washington D.C. during the Kennedy administration, “The Merchant of Venice” in Weimar Germany, and “Romeo and Juliet” in the Gaza Strip.

But securing a permanent theater space in Bay Ridge is harder than sitting through a performance of “Cats,” according to local thespians.

“Is the Genesis Repertory Ensemble welcome in neighborhood? Of course they are — you can never have too much theater. But the fact that he’s homeless and crying about it, it’s no different than what any of the other troupes here are dealing with,” said Arlene Keating of the Narrows Community Theater, whose company might get booted from its temporary home at the Salem Lutheran Church on 67th Street this spring.

Community Board 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann is enthusiastic about the prospect of Genesis Repertory Ensemble moving to Bay Ridge — but she’s equally pessimistic about the troupe’s chances of landing a permanent home.

“I’m hopeful that they will be able to find a place to perform, but it might be hard — space is so direly needed here,” said Beckmann.

Tipsters with details about any Bay Ridge performance spaces can contact the Genesis Repertory Ensemble at (347) 492-0534 or For info, visit

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Reader Feedback

Marie Galante from Bensonhurst says:
I hope they find a nice spot. There are so many churches needing a hand. I am sure they will help them too. I don't think they were creying. I hope they stay we need more culture here.
Jan. 27, 2009, 2:32 am
Pat from Bay Ridge says:
What a coincidence. Skyrocketing rent forced me here from Manhattan too.... Fortunately it's pretty nice here.
Jan. 27, 2009, 9:51 am
Angie from Bay Ridge says:
It is nice here. What a great thing!!! I have not seen any theater here yet in the 5 years we live here now. I love classical theater and it would be great to have one here to support. I hope the local community will embrace them.
Jan. 27, 2009, 5:29 pm
Pat K. from Bay Ridge says:
What a great thing, maybe they could perform down by the water in the summer months, another Great reason to live in The Ridge with a few extra subway stops, than what I had before. Pat formally from Manhattan, - I hope it's grown on you!!!
Feb. 4, 2009, 12:18 pm
Gina from Bay Ridge says:
How silly for some one to say they are Crying....isn't that Arlene woman on the Community Board. She should be helping and not criticising. Where is Vincent Gentile in this?
Feb. 10, 2009, 7:32 pm

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