2019 was Chenango River Theatre’s 13th season. We are committed to fully professional theatre - casting our shows with professional actors drawn from anywhere in the country. It’s a rarity to find a theatre like ours in a rural market - we are the only theatre in the greater Binghamton area under annual contract with Actors’ Equity Association (AEA), the union for professional actors and stage managers in the U.S. Every production features professional actors and a professional stage manager - people devoted to making their living at theatre. Why does it matter if you have a contract with AEA? Basically, every actor who makes a living at theatre, is in the actors' union (AEA). When you see Broadway productions, or a show at any of the regional theatres around the country, you’re seeing productions using members of AEA. So if you’re a theatre company, and you want access to casting the best actors from around the country, you have to have an agreement with AEA to allow professional actors to work with your theatre company.
Our commitment is to give our audience the best overall quality production that our budget allows. As part of that commitment, we believe we have to be able to use professional actors on our stage. We’re proud to be the greater Binghamton area’s professional
Artistic & Managing Director
After an in-depth, 9 month national search for a replacement for CRT’s founding Artistic & Managing Director Bill Lelbach, the Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Zach Curtis will come on board in 2021 to take over the lead position at the theatre. For the 2021 season, Zach will work in overlap with Bill in a carefully planned transition to ensure that the greater Binghamton area’s only fully professional theatre company is best positioned for continued growth in the coming years.
Zach has directed over 100 professional productions across the Midwest, appeared in over 125+ shows (most as a member of Actors’ Equity Association), and has over 100 producing credits to his name.
In announcing the hiring, Laura Knochen-Davis, Board President, stated, “The Board is excited and honored that Zach has accept the challenge to lead CRT into a new era with his extensive professional experience at multiple theatres around the country. Zach will be a tremendous asset and will have a major impact on the arts in the area as he continues CRT’s legacy of production excellence and strong fiscal management.”
Zach hails from Minneapolis, MN, where he spent 20+ years as a freelance director and actor. For 9 seasons, he served as the Producing Artistic Director of the Paul Bunyan Playhouse in Bemidji, MN (the oldest professional summer theater in the state), making him the longest tenured Artistic Director in their history. Prior to that, he spent 10 seasons as Artistic Director of the critically acclaimed Fifty Foot Penguin Theater in Minneapolis, named “Best Independent Theatre in the Twin Cities” by City Pages. He is currently in his fourth season at Black Hills Community Theater (Rapid City), one of the largest non-profit arts organizations in South Dakota.
His work has garnered frequent praise: “A force in the Twin Cities” (Minneapolis Star Tribune), “Perhaps the best comedic director in town.” (minnpost.com), “One of local theater’s most inexhaustibly inventive talents” (City Pages), “One of the area’s most talented directors” (KFAI Radio), and “Artists like Zach Curtis are churning out top-flight work that is as good or better than what you would find in any city in the United States”(mnartists.org).
As an actor, Zach’s regional work includes the Springer Opera House (Columbus, GA), Virginia Stage (Norfolk ,VA), and two seasons in the Acting Company at the Great River Shakespeare Festival (Winona, MN). He appeared in over 100 shows in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area at theaters including The Guthrie, Park Square, Theatre Latte Da, Mixed Blood, 10000 Things, Children’s Theatre and the Old Log. In 2015, he was named “Best Actor in the Twin Cities” by City Pages for his turn as Charlie in Walking Shadow’s production of The Whale. He is a twenty year member of Actors’ Equity Association.
CRT’s current and founding Artistic Director Bill Lelbach informed the Board a year ago of his plan to leave his position, and the Board has actively worked to implement a smooth transition period to new leadership.
Plans for CRT’s 2021 season are still being developed as the company monitors the ongoing impact of Covid 19 to ensure that when the company does re-open, it can do so in a manner that is safe for both our audience and our actors. Despite the impact of the current health crisis, CRT has been fortunate to continue to receive local and regional support from a long list of businesses and individuals who have been critical to the company’s growth into becoming the premiere theatre company in our area.
Those interested in receiving a season brochure, or being on the company’s mail/email lists, should email and leave their contact information.
New Producing Artistic Director Hired To Lead CRT
Bill Lelbach, Artistic & Managing Director
Zach Curtis, Producing Artistic Director (2022 & beyond)
Nathan Elsener, Technical Director
Julie Duro, Lighting Design
Barbara Kahl, Costume Design
Box Office Intern: on hold
Technical Theatre Intern: on hold
Volunteers of Note
Board of Directors
Dori May Ganisin
Cooper Klumpp (student representative)
Mailing address: PO Box 584 Greene, NY 13778 Physical address: 991 State Highway 12, Greene, NY 13778
Chenango River Theatre’s season is made possible in part by the New York State Council on the Arts
with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.