You are reading

The Secret Theatre to Open Space in Sunnyside for Educational Programming

The Secret Theatre is moving into the space that was previously occupied by Hugo’s Tae Kwon Do and Cote Soleili on Skillman Avenue (Google)

March 30, 2021 By Christina Santucci

A Queens-based theater company that closed its performance space in Long Island City last year is opening a location in Sunnyside to offer performing arts classes.

Richard Mazda, the owner and founder of the Secret Theater, said he has found a venue in Sunnyside for his company’s educational programming and rehearsals – nearly 11 months after the organization shuttered its Long Island City performance space.

Mazda, a Sunnyside resident, has signed leases on two locations – at 50-12 and 50-14 Skillman Avenue, which are next door to one another – and expects to be holding in-person classes before the end of April.

The properties were previously occupied by a Tae Kwon Do studio and the French restaurant, Côté Soleil.

Secret Theatre closed its performance space at 44-02 23rd St. last year (Photo; Facebook)

The Secret Theatre’s Long Island City space, at 44-02 23rd St., shut down in May due economic hardship from the pandemic. The 23rd Street space was mainly used for Off-Off-Broadway theater.

“Honestly, it was really heart wrenching to close the theater,” Mazda said.

At that time, the organization started holding classes virtually.

The Secret Theatre currently has classes for youngsters aged six to 17, who learn drama, musical theater, tap dancing and acting for film and TV performances. New offerings – like pop and hip-hop dance – may also be added to the lineup.

“We may have the ability to have two classes simultaneously and there is also a third room that would be an ideal room for self-taping, small photography projects including headshots, or even vocal and speech recording,” he wrote in an email announcing the new space.

Mazda said he intends to institute a slew of precautionary health measures – such as procedures for face masks, reduced capacity and temperature checks. He also plans to invest in air purifiers for the space.

“We will do everything in our power to make it a very safe environment,” Mazda said.

In addition to classes, Mazda plans to use the Sunnyside space to hold rehearsals for possible future performances as well as for artist studios and galleries, through a new venture called Vital Arts. “I’m creating my own little art hub,” he said.

Richard Mazda, founder of the Secret Theatre (Photo: Twitter)

Prior to the pandemic, classes were held only when the theater was not in use for rehearsals or a performance.

“In a sense we have expanded. When we did classes before we had to work around the theater schedule,” he said. “Now we can do classes all week, rehearsals all week.”

Mazda said that down the line he hopes to figure out a location to hold performances – possibly by partnering with another theater.

The origins of Secret Theatre date back to 2004, when Mazda first sought to start a theater group.

“There was no real business plan to begin with. It was like, ‘Hey kids, let’s make a show,’” he said.

He first held productions at the now-stuttered The Creek & The Cave in Long Island City, then another location, before he took over space on 23rd Street.

Over the years, the Secret Theatre has presented and produced plays, musicals, dance shows, opera, films and avant-garde performances.

“There was a special sauce about it,” Mazda said. “I’m hoping to recreate that.”

Those interested in classes can visit Secret Theatre’s website, while anyone looking for information about the artist studios can email: [email protected]

email the author: [email protected]
No comments yet

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Gunman who fired shots at the Ravenswood Houses in Long Island City remains at large: NYPD

Police from the 114th Precinct in Astoria and PSA 9 are continuing their search for a gunman who allegedly opened fire at the Ravenswood Houses in Long Island City last month.

The incident occurred during the early morning hours of Wednesday, Jan. 18, when officers responded to a 911 call and a ShotSpotter activation for multiple shots fired at 21-25 35 Ave. at the Ravenswood Houses NYCHA complex just after 2 a.m., according to authorities.

Popular places where you can watch the Super Bowl in Queens

Feb. 2, 2023 By Tammy Scileppi

Hey, football fans! Game time is fast approaching, and across the city and here in Queens, you can feel the excitement brewing as the two teams prepare to take the field on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 12. So, kick back and watch the big game, and don’t miss Rihanna’s exciting performance during halftime. 

Borough president hears from community members on budget needs throughout Queens

During a two-day public hearing on the mayor’s 2024 preliminary budget, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. listened to testimonies from 14 community board representatives, community stakeholders and members of the public on where the money should be spent in Queens. 

The public hearings were held both in-person and via Zoom on Monday, Jan. 30, and Tuesday, Jan. 31, at Queens Borough Hall. The testimonials will be used to develop the Queens Borough Board’s FY24 preliminary budget priorities in the coming weeks. 

‘He didn’t deserve to die’: Borough President Richards leads emotional candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards held a candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols outside Queens Borough Hall Monday, Jan. 30 after Nichols’ death at the hands of police officers in Memphis, Tenn., made national headlines for the brutality in which the officers beat him.

Almost immediately after news broke about Nichols’ death, the Memphis police officers who beat him to death were fired and charged with murder. The police department released the body cam footage of the fatal beating on Jan. 27, but many people, including some at the vigil, have refused to watch it due to its extremely graphic nature.

Long Island City teen sentenced in fatal shooting of ‘beloved’ school teacher at Queensbridge Houses in 2020: DA

A Long Island City man on Friday, Jan. 28, was sentenced to 19 years in prison for the 2020 fatal shooting of a public school social studies teacher who was out walking his dog when he was caught in the crossfire during a confrontation between gang rivals in broad daylight, just blocks from his home, according to Queens District Attorney’s office.

Ike Ford, 19, of 12th Street, in Long Island City, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the first degree before Queens Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Holder. The teacher, George Rosa, 53, was shot in his abdomen by a stray bullet fired by Ford, who was just 17 years old at the time of the shooting but was sentenced as an adult given the severity of the crime, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.