The Starlight Music Theatre

starlight theatre

People used to refer to it as "The Tent."

Sebastien's ongoing urban decay tour of the Capital Region recently made a stop at the old Starlight Music Theatre in Latham (there's a whole photoset).

To say this place has seen better days is an understatement -- Bob Hope, Sammy Davis Jr., Milton Berle and Johnny Cash all played there at one point.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Central Warehouse
+ What's left of Heritage Park

photo: Sebastien B


Thanks for the link. I've had a few people come forward and share fond memories of this place since I put those shots online. Graduation ceremonies were apparently held on this very stage; considering it was revolving, this probably made the whole hand-shaking business much more entertaining....

Great pics, Sebastien! Hard to believe it's been ten years since it was in use... I drive by the Starlite all the time and wonder what condition it's in... hard to believe what 10 years of neglect can do.

Shaker graduation used to be here. The last one was probably '99? Maybe it was '98. As for the revolving stage, though, they didn't do that for graduation ;-) Graduation was actually the last "event" here, I believe. It hadn't been used for concerts for a while but they still had graduation there before they switched to SUNY Albany.

I think the last concert that I saw here was Weird Al... great show!

My fav pic is probably the "wide" shot of the stage/seats... I love the lighting and the mood of the black and white. That L glass takes a nice picture! (in the right hands of course)

I was at that Weird Al show too! Good times.

I say the Monkeys there with Weird Al in 1980-something-or-other. Good times.

Oh, and forgive me Sebastien for forgetting to mention that these photos are amazing. Really amazing.

I saw David Brenner with Florence Henderson opening there (hey, it was the 70s!) when it was the Colonie Coliseum.

Wow, thanks for the pics...I was lucky to see James Brown and Johnny Cash in the early 90's. Those are still two of my most memorable 'musical moments'. Not a bad seat in the house!

Great pics.... I saw Bruce Cockburn and Shawn Colvin there - loved the outdoor bars and the fact that we could bring drinks inside the theater.

Unfortunately, these photos do not do justice to the massive amounts of toxic pigeon crap near the stage. I'm thinking pig flu masks.

The artists of the stage may be long gone but the artist Sebastian has done an amazing job of capturing the space.

Sebastien: After looking at your sets on flickr I assume you're a fan of electronica.

Check out Brothers Past. They're great, and just getting back around to touring again after a slight hiatus. They announced today they'll be at Camp Bisco this year.

They have some free SBD recordings on their website:

Check out Let's Start a Gang > A Wonderful Day. Or get their studio album, This Feeling's Called Goodbye. Amazing studio album.

I'm not as quick (or as skilled) as Seb, but here are a few more photos.

Oops, Sebastien, the links on that page don't work anymore. Their page is a bit out of date.

I just uploaded one of the tracks that was originally up there (Note to AOA, these were free tracks so they're legal) - LSAG > AWD I mentioned above.

@Matt: thanks, yup, I'm definitely into electronica. Thanks for the URL, but the links to the MP3 seem broken. I'll check back later. No Camp Bisco for me this year, though there are a lot of colorful people and great performances to capture.

to all: thanks for the kind words. As I've said before, I'm lucky enough to have a killer camera. I don't consider myself an artist, maybe in 15 years, and I reserve the right to completely suck by then. While I think those shots came out decent, I can highly recommend you to explore the fantastic work of great photographers on Flickr: the Last 7 days of "interestingness" is a good start (hit "reload" for more). Later this year I hope to write a few pages online showcasing the work of *professional* photographers. But for now, shooting locally is my sweet spot, and I encourage everybody to grab a camera and contribute to local photo groups like the Albany Flickr group. Once again, please be careful and considerate when exploring abandoned buildings, watch out for mutant raccoons. Special thanks to Paul and gang for the Starlite tip. Contact me directly if you have similar locations in mind. Thanks. End of PSA :)

After discussing the matter with experimented urban explorers privately, I'll just add one more thing. I'm sure everybody here has a lot of common sense but to be on the safe side: don't get the idea from our photos (B, Kim & myself) that those places are safe. They are potentially not. Legal risks are one thing, but breaking your neck is another. I'll suggest to do some research, scout from a distance, and make sure the location is environmentally safe and structurally sound. Pack water, flashlight, masks, knife, cellphone, one or two people you trust and let people know where you are. I got a painful gash on my leg the second time around at the Central Warehouse for being clumsy, it happens, but it took some time to heal (though I could blame that on being soooo athletic, and lousy French drugs).

I think all of this goes without saying, but it's better said.

Great Pics!

My wife tells me about the time she saw Ringo there with his All-Star Band. Then I reminese about Jesus Christ Superstar being there before the movie was released as well as seeing Carol Channing doing Hello Dolly.

The photos are fascinating, thanks to all for shooting and posting them.

All the reminiscing that's occurred recently regarding past great shows both at the Starlite (in its many incarnations) and Saratoga Winners has me wondering if this area was having some fabulous cultural renaissance that nobody noticed back when both these venues were thriving.

The SPAC lineup is god-awful again this year, and a smaller summer-friendly place like the Starlite that could pull in some smaller shows would provide a nice variety.

I'll second -S's sentiments about visiting these places. They're great to look at but the unexpected can -- and does -- happen. I made the mistake of wading into inch-deep pigeon residues and paid for it by having trouble breathing for three hours. And of course, this is still someone's property, trespassing is a crime. But these are local landmarks, and part of the area's growing history; think of them as the U.S. equivalent to the ancient ruins found in Europe, Asia, and South America. As -S said, the focus is on the region, and this is a way of documenting and sharing memories.

I'll also second the suggestion to join and contribute to the Albany pool on flickr! You don't need fancy equipment to take great photos. If you don't have a camera, go spend $100; photography is probably the most democratic "art" around these days. We'd love to see the city from your perspective.

Great photos Seb!

Crazy that places are allowed to stay in those conditions.....

was in there yesterday, caught some one stealing copper from the sound sad. i saw Khris Kross here in the 90's. I would suspect it would take approx. 500-750. to clean this place up and get her running again(modern). any rich trust fund nyc kids with any ideas? strange, i didn't see any for sale signs up of broker signs, who owns this rape dungeon now?
This is all.

I remember seeing Run DMC, Shannon, and Nucleus there back in the day, must have been 1985 or 86. Great times, too bad the theater can't be brought back...

It was the Colonie Tent Theater by Eddie Rich, in the mid 60's Peaches and Herb, Tom Jones, Channing, Striesand[ Funny Girl], Young Rascals- we Shaker kids of that day saw everyone. Later Sammy[ $6], Righteous Bros 25th anniversary. Bob Hope was every year and shot golf balls at Hoffmans range in Newtonville.
This was a place that you saw the most famous shows and singers of the day- who knew? We were very lucky kids- I have such great memories of the shows, never realizing how famous these people were, at the time.

Whoa. How did I miss this post? And how did I miss the Starlight turning into THIS? I had no idea! Out of sight, out of mind = urban decay a decade later. Fond memories here too of Weird Al, The Monkees, Debbie Gibson, The Beach Boys... the rotating stage was magic to a kid.

@Arielle: actually it's worse, all the chairs are gone now. That was a lot of them.

OK, does anyone remember when it was an actual tent that was set up and taken down every year? How about Columbia Bowl bowling alley that was where the parking lot is? Last one, how about "Chip and Put" golf just down the road?

@J: "does anyone remember when it was an actual tent that was set up and taken down every year?". In 1968. Eddie Rich erected that tent in 1958, and died in 1968. At this point Joseph Futia took over the theater operations. The first thing he did was to construct a more permanent building to replace the aging circus-style tent. This new structure opened in June 1969.

When the tent went up, spring was here!!

I met Don Ameche, and Alice Faye, I saw Tom Jones and Englebert Humperdink there. I saw Pia Zadora and met starslike Norm Crosby. (He thought I was Pia) I am glad he liked the show!! Others met on the back "porch" after shows. It was an era I will never forget! I had tickets for a new guy called "Jay Leno"- the show was cancelled. Not enough interest in a guy like that I guess.... (Now look at him)!

My high school graduation was held here in 1985. Sad to see it end up like this.

If anyone has the current owner's contact info, we'd like it. I'm International Media Manager for a humanitarian nonprofit; and we are opening (reopening) old "large" theatres as live stage venues. I grew up in Anaheim, CA; where they had Melodyland Theatre (also a theatre in the round, but 3500 seats). I've run live-stage venues for years now; and know what can be done with theatre's in the round. We'd like to at least see if it is feasable to reopen the Starlite. We'd also like some info on area vitals. My personal email is Feb 7, 2012

Was lucky to see Chicago there in the mid to late '90s, worked at the nearby Century House Hotel and took around Chuck Mangione's band to the Latham 76 diner and then went to the concert and had backstage passes and also got to see Air Supply there in the mid-90s. Miss the place.....only complaint is that it was SO HOT there in the summertime inside.

Why did the theatre close?

A family member who lives just down the road said that demolition is supposedly going to start tomorrow.

I worked there during the 66,67and 68 season. If any of the old crew are following this post do you remember: Mickey Rooney, The Four Seasons, The Yound Rascals, The Dave Clark Five, Joan Biaz, Johnny Mathais. I used to 1. Set scenery, 2.Park cars, and 3. Maintance. Do you remember the Burlsque shows?

It's a shame this place is going to be torn down, and turned into a gun emporium, ugh! Wish it had been opened again as a theatre venue. The Times Union Center has no parking,is UGLY, bad accoustics,and has malfunctioning air conditioning. SPAC is far to go, too annoying for bathroom access, and treking from parking lot to seatilng. Saw so many great shows there "The Man of Lamancha", "Grease", Joan Rivers, Vic Damone, Diane Carrol, Connie Francis, Barbara Eden in "The Greatest Little Whorehouse in Texas", Wayne Newton. My sister was friends wilth one of the last owners. So Wayne was one of the free shows we saw.

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