Discussing the Montauk Playhouse’s Past, Present and Future with the Foundation’s Executive Director, Susan Henkin

Photo: Kyril Bromley

Coming off of a very successful + dance-heavy gala (as evidenced by James Katsipis’ snapchats from the event), the Montauk Playhouse looks to not only restore their current establishment and its vicinities, but also add a well-discussed, new cultural and aquatic center. We caught up with the awesome Susan Henkin, Executive Director of the Montauk Playhouse Community Center Foundation, to find out more about the Playhouse’s history, highlights from this past weekend’s Gala, and what the future has in store for the foundation.

When and how did the Montauk Playhouse come to fruition? Can you paint us a little historical picture?

The Playhouse was constructed in the 1920s as part of Carl Fisher’s original vision to create a Miami Beach of the North, where socialites could get away for sporting fun, and events. In 1999 the Foundation Board worked with local residents and village officials to restore half of the building, creating the current community spaces. The final phase of the historic building’s story will be written when the current capital campaign goals are reached and the Cultural and Aquatic Centers can be completed.

For those that didn’t get to attend the Playhouse Gala this past weekend, how’d it go? What was a highlight? I heard Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue brought the dance floor to life.

The gala was a huge success. It was a special night where the diverse Montauk community was represented. The dance floor rocked from the moment Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue took the stage, their energy was incredible. The band “hit it out of the park.” Everyone who attended agreed it was an amazing opportunity to see a national headline act in an intimate venue. The New Orleans-inspired food and drink added to the fun.

And the event was geared toward raising money for the restoration of the Playhouse, correct? Can you tell us more about that initiative, and what we can expect when completed?

The gala raises funds for the annual operating budget for the foundation. The Playhouse Foundation is raising money for the capital campaign to complete the community center. The current phase of the campaign is in the process of raising $2.5 million in new gifts which will enable the project to move forward through the permitting process this year. The Cultural and Aquatic Center will take between 12-15 months to complete from ground breaking. Our goal is to begin construction in 2017.

What’s been your favorite display of community that you’ve been able to witness/be a part of with Montauk Playhouse?

The Playhouse partners with the East Hampton Volunteer Ocean Rescue Squad to organize an ocean swim challenge. The early morning event brings local and regional swimmers together and helps raise money for the future Aquatic Center. The day is a unique combination of natural beauty, athletic competition and incredible ocean rescue volunteers who ensure the safety of our participants. The Playhouse volunteers are local residents who facilitate all of the event day logistics.

For our readers that are interested in finding more out about the Playhouse, what’s the best way to get involved, and where can they get ahold of more info?

The Playhouse website has a lot of information about the project and all that the completed Cultural and Aquatic Center will provide to the community. The Capital Campaign can be completed if the community comes together to support the current fundraising effort.

Stay in the loop with the Montauk Playhouse via their Instagram. Thanks Susan!