The lure of helping to direct the workings in a musical theatre didn’t make itself known right away for Jodi Giambrone. But her life-choice trajectory, singing and playing piano, eventually led to it.
“I was always a musical kid,” said Giambrone, the new associate director of Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts. “I did the NYSSMA route and toured the tri-state circuit with a doo-wop group as a lead singer. I didn’t really go to the theatre, but I loved concerts.” That included Brookhaven Amphitheater, the bandshell at Heckscher State Park, the Islip Grange.
Giambrone earned an audio engineering degree at Five Towns College, figuring she’d try to break into that field. “I did get my first job in audio at Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center. And then I found my niche in marketing.”
That was in 2006 to 2015. Since then, she added The Gateway in 2015 to 2018; in 2019, she became marketing director at PTPA.
While PTPA has presented three free “Music Under the Marquee” shows this summer, The Gateway’s “Newsies” opened the theatre Aug. 25, after a hiatus since PTPA’s “Cherish the Ladies” concert last March. And on Sept. 17, Patchogue’s “Hispanic Heritage Celebration,” a free show sponsored by the Greater Patchogue Chamber’s Latino Leadership Council of Patchogue, is about to kick off.
“The Latino community wants to see salsa, flamenco, folklore dances,” she said. “Javier Kinghorn, leader of the Latino Leadership Council, was in charge of the event when it started three years ago. I helped Javier, and we birthed the show and it was packed.”
Surprise! Giambrone will be one of three honorees receiving an award from the group during the event, for her efforts in popularizing the show for the Latino community.
“Jodi has been there for us from inception and continues to be critical to this event,” said Kinghorn, who was born in Puerto Rico, raised in Patchogue and attended Patchogue-Medford High School. His business is on River Avenue. “I can honestly say to the extent that I took it, that I wouldn’t be able to do it without her passion and her help. One of the goals set for her was to reach out to the Hispanic community. But she went above and beyond and was instrumental in making it what it is today. Jodi is on the Latino Leadership Committee and she’s killing it.”
As for PTPA’s first grand reopening concert, it’s The Beatles’ “White Album” performed by The Moondogs on Sept. 24, Giambrone said.
From there, it’s a full schedule right into next year.
“A lot of the shows have been rescheduled,” she said. The brand-new ones include Toad the Wet Sprocket (Oct. 2), a 1990s platinum-selling band; “Hammer of the Gods: The Ultimate Led Zeppelin Experience” (Nov. 13); and jazz guitarist and composer “Pat Metheny: The Side Tour with James Francies and Joe Dyson” (Nov. 14).
“Pat Metheny is a Grammy Award-winning guitarist, a legend in the industry, and it’s very prestigious to have him. He usually plays Tilles Center. We’re partnering with The Bowery Presents [the East Coast partner of AEG Live that owns and operates venues in New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, New Jersey, New Orleans, Virginia and Maine] to bring this caliber here.”
“Eileen Ivers: A Joyful Christmas” (Dec. 10) is also new. “She was the fiddler in ‘Riverdance’ and also one of the founders of ‘Cherish the Ladies’,” explained Giambrone.
As for The Loading Dock events, “We’re presenting ‘Jokes on Main,’ three or four comics per show; the funding is from Legis. Rob Calarco. We’ll be using the Calarco money for emerging artists,” Giambrone said.
Last year’s COVID presented challenges no one could foresee, but PTPA improvements did take place. “We have the highest-grade air filtration system possible and that will continue to be upgraded,” Giambrone said. “It happened to coincide with the Johnson Controls project with Patchogue Village. Because the theatre is village property, we got that done along with touchless bathrooms, solar panels on the roof and other improvements.”
Giambrone said there will be no COVID restrictions for performances unless it’s by an artist’s request. “We do encourage masks, but don’t require it,” she said.
Was her recent promotion announcement by the board of directors a surprise?
There’s an easy cooperation between PTPA director Michele Rizzo-Berg and Giambrone, a prerequisite for a good working partner. “I felt Jodi would be the perfect person to work with me to bring the theatre back and beyond,” Rizzo-Berg said.
As for Giambrone, who battled breast cancer in the interim and is now doing well, “I was surprised I was given the opportunity during this uncertain time,” she said. “But I think it was the wise choice. Michele [Rizzo-Berg] and I worked on every single aspect of the theatre last year, box office, sound system, other areas. A year ago, I would never imagine being in this position.”