Academy Of Music Theatre
The mission of the Academy of Music is to enrich greater Northampton's quality of life by offering first class performing arts and film presentations in an historic theatre of national significance, and encouraging the use of the venue for social, educational and professional events; the Academy of Music seeks a broad and diverse audience through its programming and outreach efforts.
The Academy of Music building is owned by the City of Northampton, which received the deed in 1892 from former owner and builder Edward H.R. Lyman. The Academy of Music, Inc., is the operating entity for the building, and it is an independent, private, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) charitable organization governed by a Board of Trustees. The Northampton Mayor and Smith College President serve on the board, as was Lyman's wish. The other board members are volunteers who have an interest in the performing arts, in the continued vitality of the City of Northampton, or who have special expertise related to the Academy's operations.
In the late 19th century, Edward H.R. Lyman, a philanthropist and Northampton native, had a vision for a new venue for culture and theater in his hometown. On May 23, 1891, the 800-seat Academy of Music Theatre opened its doors to the public for the first time. One year later, Lyman deeded the Academy to the City of Northampton, making it the first municipally-owned theatre in the nation.
The theatre quickly became a favorite stop on the tours of leading troupes and big-name performers: legendary French stage actress Sarah Bernhardt, film star Mae West, and illusionist Harry Houdini all performed at the Academy in the early 20th century.
The Academy has evolved over time. As Americans became less interested in live theater through the 1950s and 1960s, the theatre experienced a period of decline and was ultimately condemned. In the 1970s it was reborn with great success as a cinema for first-run films. But in the shadow of the multiplex, the Academy began to lose its vitality once more.
Today, the Academy of Music has been reclaimed as a venue for live theater, as well as for dance, film, music and arts education. The Academy is home to resident companies: the Pioneer Valley Ballet, Old Deerfield Productions, Greene Room Productions, and the Pioneer Valley Symphony. We have built relationships with our partners WGBY, the Out! For Reel film series, and the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School. The Academy continues to present major performance groups from all over the world.
I saw Amos Lee here and he was great and the sounds was near perfect. The issue I have with this place is that if you are six feet or taller, hell even near six feet tall you won't fit in the seats. The length from my hips to my knees is longer than from the back of the seat to the seats in front of me. I had to be spread eagle the whole time with the knees invading the space of the people next to me. I am six foot three and I was extremely uncomfortable. By the end of the show I was in a lot of pain from the seats. I ended up getting up and watching from the side for the last 6 or 7 songs simply because the seats caused me so much pain after trying to be seated for two hours. Another smaller issue I had is the popcorn they have. It was $4 for a large fast food style cup. Popcorn was unsalted and the "butter" they used was just hot oil. It didn't have any real flavor or anything. It was like they heated up some palm oil and called it butter.
Good place to see a live show. Seats are comfortable and roomy compared to some arena or stadium seats.
If you are looking for a place to enjoy a musical performance--stay as far way as you can. You will not hear music, you will hear noise. The acoustics are that bad. How bad? Nobody in the seats around me applauded (nor did I) when the performer finished a number. Not the singer's fault...the venue's, for not making the proper adjustments in its sound system. I asked for a refund (which was only a fraction of what I had spent to see this particular concert--Mary Black's Farewell Tour) and of course did not receive one. The technical director told me he "agreed" with me, but could offer only an explanation, not a refund. I didn't need an explanation--the sound system stunk and that pretty much explains itself. So, be forewarned: the customer does not come first at the Academy of Music. The almighty dollar does.
I have been here multiple times to see performormances like Henry Rollins and The Suitcase Junket. The seats are all good the acoustics are great and I always have a good time.
Friendly, local venue with a rich history in the early American political climate of N.E.; a place of continuing Arts in the region.