Beyond The Chair with Bernie and Adrienne Adorino

January 31, 2023

Beyond The Chair with Bernie and Adrienne Adorino

Going to the theater was something special for Bernie Adorino; a yearly treat beside his parents and siblings as they dressed up, went out to dinner and escorted their mother to a show at The Stanley Theatre. Though it’s been years since he walked down the long ornate aisle behind his parents, cautious not to lose sight of them as his attention drifted toward the gold sconces and velvet wallpaper, he still recalls those moments like it was yesterday.

“Those times were special because it was something we only did once a year. Getting dressed up and going out for dinner and a show was a big deal. My mother loved the theater, so when we went with her, it felt like an important occasion; we were experiencing this moment together with her – and for her.”

As Bernie grew older, his sister Kelly became a Broadway Utica subscriber to continue that tradition. Bernie and his brother Richie quickly followed, purchasing a subscription together.

“I still remember our seats. They were way in the back, but they were great. The four of us would have a great time taking in the show, laughing with each other, and just catching up.”

Bernie holds a special attachment to The Stanley, as he spent his early years in construction, repairing seats, and starting renovations here.

“So much has changed in The Stanley. I remember back in the 80s, the dressing rooms and backstage were a mess; you couldn’t imagine larger acts wanting to book there with the deterioration and lack of space, plus the trucks lacked sufficient space to unload. When you see how much The Stanley has changed and the space it offers guests, it’s easy to understand why Broadway Utica and The Stanley can bring in these great shows. The Stanley’s renovation did more than highlight this beautiful building; it resurrected a life of arts and theater in this area that would otherwise not exist.”

Bernie’s eyes light up as he shares stories of the times he took his sons, Bernie and Nick, and their friends to Christmas specials, their friends ordering steaks and chicken riggies – without the chicken– before the show. You can see the love he holds for these moments as a broad smile spreads across his face and his infectious laughter sweeps across the room. But, then, there is a break in Bernie’s stories, his tone growing serious, as he emphasizes the importance of making reservations before a show – three weeks in advance if possible. And then there is the way Bernie’s wife, Adrienne, makes Bernie melt as she shares stories of their first date at The Stanley.

“I’d never been to a show at The Stanley, so this was new. I can’t remember the show we saw, but I can remember the dress I was wearing, the new shoes I purchased, the beautiful coat I wore, and how special I felt as I took Bernie’s arm and walked under the lights of the marquee and into this remarkable building. I felt as if we were somewhere else, somewhere outside of Utica.”

In the years following that first night, Bernie and Adrienne have continued to support the Broadway Utica subscription, which has led to additional performances at The Stanley.

“When you’re at the Stanley Theatre, mingling with others, you learn about upcoming shows and performances, whether through the Broadway Theatre League of Utica or The Stanley. These all become great opportunities to get out there and experience new things. For example, we just saw Queen, one of my favorite bands growing up, and it was amazing. People were out of their seats singing and yelling ‘Hi, Freddie!’ even though it wasn’t Freddie. It was just great energy and a night we still talk about months later.”

When it comes to Broadway, and Bernie’s favorite band has taken a backseat, the couple’s animated conversation quickly turns to their favorite Broadway show, Dirty Dancing.

“That is my favorite movie!” Adrienne exclaimed. “If Bernie’s flicking through the TV and Dirty Dancing comes on, I’ll stop whatever I’m doing to watch it. I wasn’t sure how the play would compare to the movie, but it was seamless. From the music to the dancing, I loved every second of it. We’ve seen it twice, and I’d go again tomorrow if it were here.”

While Dirty Dancing has kept Broadway out of the corner, it would become a runner-up for the Adorinos after they attended Jersey Boys in May 2022.

“There’s so much I can say about that show, yet it still wouldn’t do it justice. The music, the story of Frankie Valli, and how these boys came from a neighborhood to become these incredible artists that moved a whole nation – I was glued to my seat. The show brought me to an unexpected place; this rag-to-riches story behind the music. I’d see this show again in a heartbeat,” Bernie gleamed.

As the years passed, Bernie and Adrienne were fortunate enough to move their seats closer to the stage. Yet, even with the phenomenal view and up-close antics, the remarkable thing about this subscription is its connection to Bernie’s brother Richie, whom he lost in a car accident years ago.

“That’s something I’ll never give up. That seat is very special to me because it was mine and Richies. I never want to lose that.”

While his brother’s seat is sacred to him, the co-workers, family members, friends, employees, and clients he’s shared this seat with have found just as much sentiment and joy.

“This theater and the shows hold so much importance in my life. I want my seats to be full and my subscription used, so I’m proud to share them with others whenever I get the chance. Adrienne and I have invited several couples to see a show with us, who later became subscribers. Those things make our subscription even more enjoyable since it allows us to experience these moments with our friends.”

Despite Bernie’s love of an evening and a show, traveling to New York to see a Broadway performance isn’t on his radar.

“I would rather go to New York, experience everything Manhattan offers, and wait for Broadway to come to Utica. It’s so special to be in this town and have Broadway come to our doorstep.”

Even though Bernie enjoys taking in Broadway shows from his hometown, he does have one recommendation for a show he’d like to see adapted to stage.

Spirited! It’s a fantastic holiday movie with Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds that holds so much energy, movement, and laughter. That would be a great show to see live.”

For Bernie and Adrienne, a Broadway Utica subscription is a subscription to an evening free of meetings, work chatter, school drop-offs, and everyday stresses. Even when Adrienne sets her boundaries, reminding Bernie, “Don’t make plans for me,” and veers toward a relaxing night at home, especially when the weather becomes cold and warmer days become filled with sports activities and outside events, Bernie reminds her of the magic of the show, the importance of their seats, and the significance of a dinner out together – preferably with reservations in advance.

“You can’t recreate moments like these later on. Yes, life gets hard and hectic, but making time for things like this makes life what it can be. It brings us out for a night, fills us with great conversation, and allows us to experience a show filled with unexpected emotions and scenarios. These evenings last beyond the few hours of sleep we might lose or the practice we may have to ask someone else to bring our son to. Those moments will still be there years from now; these will not.”




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