In my humble opinion

Collabonation Productions

Living the dream at Nutshell Hall

Posted 3/1/23

For those who are unaware, the Delaware Valley Opera recently found a new permanent home, set up housekeeping in Lake Huntington, NY and rebranded as the Delaware Valley Opera Center (DVOC).

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In my humble opinion

Collabonation Productions

Living the dream at Nutshell Hall


For those who are unaware, the Delaware Valley Opera recently found a new permanent home, set up housekeeping in Lake Huntington, NY and rebranded as the Delaware Valley Opera Center (DVOC).

Rich in history and loaded with charm, the old Nutshell Hall has been reborn and refurbished. The DVOC has got plans aplenty and promises to continue its beloved legacy of providing quality entertainment to future generations under the guidance of executive director Carol Castel and an eminent board of directors.

Aside from all that the DVOC has in development, the company decided to bring in some roommates, in the form of we-just-call-him-Zoot and Joe Murray—aka Collabonation Productions.

Both men have longstanding relationships with Castel and company, and when I heard that Nutshell Hall was going to also house Collabonation, I called the guys for clarification.

JCF: It seems that congrats are in order. I see you’ve got big plans and have announced a spring concert series, but I don’t really know what Collabonation is.

Zoot: It’s Joe and myself—we’re a production company. We’re working like crazy already, and have got a dozen shows lined up. Now there’s nothing to it, but to do it.

JCF: How did you guys get together?

JM: I was a local musician, and Zoot was the sound guy at all the shows. Eventually, we did some productions together and hit it off.

Zoot: That was a long time ago, and a lot of work under our belts, individually and collectively.

JCF: So, what is the connection to the DVOC?

Zoot: Twenty-five years ago, I was up on a ladder hanging lights for Carol Castel during a wonderful opera season, so my connection to her and the DVO goes way, way back. I still have the T-shirts. I was involved in their productions for about 10 years. Joe and I also worked together at the Tusten Theatre in Narrowsburg.  

JM: Collabonation was actually formed 10 years ago through the Nutshell. At that time, I was working with a couple of other guys as well. I think we produced about 15 shows, starting in 2012.

Zoot: Carol, Joe and I have all worked together before. Once the DVO purchased the Nutshell, she reached out for help with lighting, and we instantly saw the potential for Collabonation sharing the space.

Joe and I had been actively looking for a new home to produce our shows in, and we all agreed that Nutshell Hall would be perfect. We were looking for our “forever home,” the DVO found their “forever home,” and in turn opened their new home to us.

JCF: Between the timing, the relationships, and the DVO purchase—everything seems to have just fallen into place. It’s like Kismet.

JM: We definitely believe that all of this was meant to be.

Zoot: Absolutely. It feels like the planets are aligned for all of this to be happening as it should be right now,

JCF: So Collabonation in residence at the DVOC—sounds like you two and the opera company are a marriage made in heaven!

Zoot: We are all committed to revitalizing this space. We are totally supportive of their plans and they are of ours.

JCF: I see your posts on social media and it’s clear that you both have great passion for this new venture and the physical space itself.

Zoot: We want everyone to feel the vibe of Nutshell Hall. Words alone can’t do it justice. The spirit precedes us and will live on long after we’re gone.

JCF:  Is it fair to say that, through the efforts of both the DVOC and Collabonation Productions, the Nutshell is experiencing a renaissance of sorts?

Zoot: Not only is that safe to say, that could probably be our motto! Live music has existed here from the very first day that Nutshell Hall opened. It was always meant to be a home for the community, which is experiencing a revitalization as well.

JM: Zoot and I have been doing research in our spare time. So far, we’ve found evidence that the hall dates back to 1908, and it looks like the hotel itself pre-dates that—probably sometime in the 1890s.

Zoot: I’ve been using the internet to learn more, and have found some old Lake Huntington postcards on eBay, which are amazing. We recently reached out to Sullivan County Historian John Conway for help, and he’s agreed to delve even deeper for us.

JCF: With all of your experience, both individually and as partners, to have gotten to this point… it must be like a dream come true.

Zoot: Yes, all of it has led us here. Opportunity came knocking on our door and we’re kicking it in! We’re very blessed. While we will always support local artists, we also have the opportunity to attract and host national bands as well. Our vision is to become a destination for amazing performers and for the audience.

JM: We’ll be producing all genres, from tribute bands to country-western and everything in between.

Zoot: I like to say you’ll get to experience all kinds of music—from Opera to Opry—because our focus is musical performance. And we get to produce these shows on a large scale in an amazing venue. Production value is our highest touchstone.

JCF: And the community gets to reap the rewards of all of your hard work… It looks like the sky’s the limit for Collabonation Productions.

Zoot: It really is.

JM: Agreed. And it is like a dream. Sometimes I have to pinch myself!

For a complete schedule of events, call 845/701-1681, like ‘em on Facebook and go to

For more on all things DVOC, visit

Delaware Valley Opera, Delaware Valley Opera Center, Nutshell Hall, Collabonation Productions


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