March 30, 2021 By Christina Santucci
A Queens-based theater company that closed its performance space in Long Island City last year is opening a location in Sunnyside to offer performing arts classes.
Richard Mazda, the owner and founder of the Secret Theatre, said he has found a venue in Sunnyside for his company’s educational programming and rehearsals – nearly 11 months after the organization shuttered its Long Island City performance space.
Mazda, a Sunnyside resident, has signed leases on two locations – at 50-12 and 50-14 Skillman Avenue, which are next door to one another – and expects to be holding in-person classes before the end of April.
The properties were previously occupied by a Tae Kwon Do studio and the French restaurant, Côté Soleil.
The Secret Theatre’s Long Island City space, at 44-02 23rd St., shut down in May due economic hardship from the pandemic. The 23rd Street space was mainly used for Off-Off-Broadway theater.
“Honestly, it was really heart wrenching to close the theater,” Mazda said.
At that time, the organization started holding classes virtually.
The Secret Theatre currently has classes for youngsters aged six to 17, who learn drama, musical theater, tap dancing and acting for film and TV performances. New offerings – like pop and hip-hop dance – may also be added to the lineup.
“We may have the ability to have two classes simultaneously and there is also a third room that would be an ideal room for self-taping, small photography projects including headshots, or even vocal and speech recording,” he wrote in an email announcing the new space.
Mazda said he intends to institute a slew of precautionary health measures – such as procedures for face masks, reduced capacity and temperature checks. He also plans to invest in air purifiers for the space.
“We will do everything in our power to make it a very safe environment,” Mazda said.
In addition to classes, Mazda plans to use the Sunnyside space to hold rehearsals for possible future performances as well as for artist studios and galleries, through a new venture called Vital Arts. “I’m creating my own little art hub,” he said.
Prior to the pandemic, classes were held only when the theater was not in use for rehearsals or a performance.
“In a sense we have expanded. When we did classes before we had to work around the theater schedule,” he said. “Now we can do classes all week, rehearsals all week.”
Mazda said that down the line he hopes to figure out a location to hold performances – possibly by partnering with another theater.
The origins of Secret Theatre date back to 2004, when Mazda first sought to start a theater group.
“There was no real business plan to begin with. It was like, ‘Hey kids, let’s make a show,’” he said.
He first held productions at the now-shuttered The Creek & The Cave in Long Island City, then another location, before he took over space on 23rd Street.
Over the years, the Secret Theatre has presented and produced plays, musicals, dance shows, opera, films and avant-garde performances.
“There was a special sauce about it,” Mazda said. “I’m hoping to recreate that.”
Those interested in classes can visit Secret Theatre’s website, while anyone looking for information about the artist studios can email: [email protected]
Thanks for the article Queenspost et al. Space will also be available to rent for theatre companies who are looking for rehearsal space. Phase one is open studios and classrooms for rehearsals, workshops, and classes and Phase Two will be looking for a performance space.
Welcome and best wishes! Maybe you’ll consider adding some classes for adults also? Perhaps improv classes?
This address is not in Sunnyside. It is
In Woodside. Too many times the post reports places that are in Sunnyside but in reality they are not. This is good for Woodside.
Woodside, here, starts at 51 street off of skillman. This establishment will be on skillman in-between 51 st and 50th streets. That’s still in sunnyside.
Sorry buddy that’s Woodside. When you end up walking up to. 61st Street for your mail that will be your moment of realization.
Glad you’re Back…..
This is fantastic news. Welcome Secret Theater! Great addition to the community.
Despite the horrific incident that occurred in the taekwondo studio, I was a very active student there years before the incident. I used to stay for after hours and early to set things up. and It lowkey saddens me that it closed down for good. RIP
I understand but at least try to be happy that space will be in use for creative activities. I had to close our location because of covid so I do empathize.
The secret theater did great Shakespeare and their Macbeth was superb
I was sorry they were a victim of the pandemic
I hope they can reopen
Thanks, I am definitely getting ready to do some more productions but late 2021 or 22 is more likely the timeframe. Do you mean the Macbeth in 2009 with everyone looking like they were characters from The Warriors? [Come out to playeeayyyy]
I really miss Cote Soleil😩