Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Chuck the Writer Shoots the Madison Theater

The Madison Theater is one of Albany's last neighborhood motion picture palaces (the Spectrum on Delaware Avenue is the other). Many of the other palaces in the Capital District have long since disappeared - the Strand and the Warner and the Ritz all were destroyed when downtown Albany was plowed over to build the Empire State Plaza; the Hellman became a medical office building; the Fox Colonie and the UA Center were repurposed for other uses; the Petit Cine 1-2 became a used car dealership; the Cine 1-10 is an abandoned building behind Northway Mall; the Mohawk Drive-In is now an office park... you get the picture.

That almost became the fate of the Madison; for many years it was the last single-screen cinema in the area, which meant that if the film wasn't a blockbuster you were playing to a house of empty seats. It closed down in the mid-1990's. A few years later, someone purchased the Madison, re-opened it as the Norma Jean Theater (with the "Madison" marquee still affixed atop the sign), and carved the Madison into five mini-cinemas. The place was profitable for a time, then it was shut down again.

Around 2002, a friend of mine, Jay Pregent, and his partners, purchased the Madison and currently run it as an independent 7-screen movie theater. They show the regular classics, as well as some documentaries and other family fare. During the summer, they're even showing some Bollywood films.

So last Saturday night I took the D700 out to shoot the Madison, and even got some of those cool red trailing lights from the cars traveling along Madison Avenue. Sweet.

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