At the eastern tip of Coney Island, the Marine and Academic Center (MAC) at Kingsborough Community College (KBCC) sits by the water, framed by a promenade. Its most outstanding feature is a lighthouse, previously known as the MAC Rotunda, which boasts ceiling to floor windows and decorative scaffolding, rigged together to form a standing space on top of the roof. It does not look like a typical lighthouse – not white, nor cylindrical. Yet, it functions like one and doubles as a 12,000-square-foot event facility, where classes, conferences and concerts are held. This year, it will also be the site of several intimate jazz performances, as part of the 2016-2017 season of On Stage at Kingsborough.
On Stage at Kingsborough strives to make the arts accessible to communities in and around KBCC by bringing world-class performances to Brooklyn, New York. Alongside the Jazz At The Lighthouse Series, culturally diverse and multi-disciplinary shows in dance, cabaret, theater and music will be presented in the Leon M. Goldstein Performing Arts Center from September to May. Hot Summer Nights!, a free outdoor concert series, is also held on campus, at the Kingsborough’s bandshell every July.
The Kingsborough Bandshell transforms into a venue for the On Stage at Kingsborough‘s July outdoor concert series
The Leon M. Goldstein Performing Arts Center
A main mission of the program is to create a “community gathering place” that nurtures an environment for conversation and inspiration. Unlike events at Carnegie Hall or Broadway theatre, which are costly, and oftentimes, inaccessible to outer boroughs residents, the performances presented by On Stage at Kingsborough are uniquely intimate and accommodating. This season’s Family Series, for instance, will feature performances like Twinkle Tames A Dragon by the Vital Theatre Company that are recommended for ages four and up. The audience is also frequently given the opportunity to meet cast members, who share behind-the-scenes stories about their experiences.
“We pride ourselves in bringing the artists off of the stage to interact with the audience in ways that are not always possible at other venues,” states Anna Becker the Executive Director of On Stage at Kingsborough. “We open the door to the creative process through open rehearsals, pre-show workshops, post-show discussions and meet and greets with the artists. All of our venues; the main stage, the lighthouse, and the band shell, allow audiences to get up close to the performers and to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the work. There is no such thing as a bad view at our performances.”
Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in historic Sheepshead Bay, the event space on the 2nd floor of the lighthouse is a surprisingly appropriate venue for a jazz performance. Built in 1990, the Coast Guard certified structure rises 114 feet above sea level and has a range of 11 miles when it flashes its white light. Although it is a registered point of navigation, the 12,000-square-foot space can also accommodate as many as 1,000 people for a conference or seminar. For smaller gatherings, partitions allow the Rotunda to be divided into five rooms.
When the Jazz At The Lighthouse series kicks off, these walls will come together to form the intimate, “living-room” like atmosphere so characteristic of the On Stage at Kingsborough experience. In direct contrast to the theatrical effects used in Broadway theaters and other similar venues, the curtains of the lighthouse will be drawn back to provide a breathtaking, natural backdrop to the performances. Paired with wine and cheese, it’s the ideal place to sway to smooth, world-class music.
Inside the lighthouse. Image via On Stage at Kingsborough
For a full schedule of events, including performances by Tony Award winner Chita Rivera, the Godlight Theatre Company and master drummer Winard Harper with his band Jeli Posse, visit the On Stage at Kingsborough website.