What is now Bristol Valley Theater (BVT) was originally founded in 1964 as Bristol Valley Playhouse on Seman Road, north of Naples, New York, by George and Mary Sherwood. After twenty-two years, stewardship of the theater was taken over by a not-for-profit foundation, The Friends of Bristol Valley Playhouse.
In 1991, the original playhouse “on the hill” closed its doors and the Friends purchased the vacated Trinity Federated Church on Main Street. BVT played one season at the Canandaigua Academy as supporters and volunteers donated $40,000 and countless hours of labor to transform the church into the theater space, which opened for the 1992 summer season and is still our home today.
Under the leadership of Artistic Director Karin Bowersock, Managing Director Barbara Allen and Office Manager Kathleen Goyette, Bristol Valley Theater’s current mission is: to produce life-affirming theater for a diverse rural and regional audience, to present a variety of performing arts, and to provide training to young actors and offer scholarships for that training based on need and merit.
As the only venue of its kind in a 50-mile radius, Bristol Valley Theater serves an audience that would not otherwise have ready access to professional theater productions. With a subscriber base of over 500, the theater entertains well over 10,000 patrons each year.
Bristol Valley Theater draws its actors, directors, designers musicians and production teams from around the country, most particularly from New York City. A summer company of nearly 50 artists is assembled each season.
Bristol Valley Theater produces and presents performances from May through October. In addition to our summer season, we offer spring and fall performance series featuring a variety of disciplines: theater, music of many genres, movement and dance, and improv comedy.
Our BVT for Kids! programming features Acting for Kids classes in the spring and fall, an intensive summer Apprentice Program for ages 11-17, Camp Drama-palooza, a theater day camp for younger children, and performances throughout the year geared toward young audiences and families.
A 2005 Economic Impact study conducted by Keuka College revealed that Bristol Valley Theater, its employees and patrons bring nearly $1,000,000 in economic activity to area restaurants, inns and other businesses.