The first play I saw in New York when I came home from two combat tours in Vietnam was “Hair,” a game-changing sensation in musical theater that unlocked in me a host of complicated, bottled-up emotions familiar to soldiers coming home from war. This bold piece of theater entertained me but also helped me understand how the world — and I — had changed while I was away. It was also just plain fun, and the music was great — it still is. It was powerful theater at its very best.
As it happened, years later, the first play Dale and I and our family ever saw at Bay Street Theater was “Hair,” and it reawakened in me the same feelings and emotions I had experienced all those years before.
That is the power of the art form we call theater, which Bay Street has been contributing with taste and character to this community for over 30 years.
I understand that Bay Street wants its new theater on the last piece of prime waterfront property, because … well, because it wants its new theater on the last piece of prime waterfront property. My only disconnect with Bay Street is over the use of that real estate. They don’t really need to be on the waterfront, because a theater is a closed space, a black box, if you will, with no windows. Sure, a nice lobby along the water would be nice, but I think a bigger, more dynamic park would serve far greater numbers of people.
I prefer that the theater be located around the corner on Bridge Street, where it would fit perfectly.
Whether as a continuing trustee or as a new mayor, I will work tirelessly with them to make it happen. That is the disagreement we have — the only disagreement. It is about real estate, not theater.
The narrative that has emerged portrays me as a darkly motivated enemy of the theater. That is 100 percent, grade A, all-American BS.
In the six years I have served in the elected government of our fair village, I have labored to bring about the creation of John Steinbeck Waterfront Park. I believe saving this last remaining piece of open waterfront for our residents and visitors represents the highest and best use of this property.
So far, we have acquired over an acre of ground. If Bay Street will move around the corner, and if we work together, we can double the size of the park and develop a beautiful new theater nearby. This could be a classic win-win situation.
This is truly where our only, only disagreement lies. Let’s get to work finding a way forward that serves both agendas.
Jim Larocca is a Village of Sag Harbor trustee and a candidate for mayor — Ed.
One fine body…