Treasures of New Jersey
Posted on 11/04/2018
NJTV, New Jersey’s public television network, recently announced that the second episode of its documentary series, Treasures of New Jersey, will feature State Theatre New Jersey. The series pays homage to some of the Garden State’s most iconic places, from historic landmarks and cultural centers to popular destinations. The episode, Treasures of New Jersey: State Theatre New Jersey premieres Wednesday, November 14 at 8:30pm on NJTV (check local listings). There will be an encore showing on Friday, November 16 at 10:30pm.
Watch the trailer for Treasures of New Jersey: State Theatre New Jersey:
Narrated by news personality and New Jersey native Jack Ford, Treasures of New Jersey: State Theatre New Jersey spotlights the complexities of operating a modern “presenting theater” and family-friendly non-profit arts haven while telling the Theatre's history through archival photographs, film, and interviews with those who know it best. State Theatre New Jersey’s President & CEO Sarah K. Chaplin, Board Chairman Scott Fergang, and Master Electrician & Lighting Designer Craig Werner—considered the Theatre's resident historian—are among those sharing their perspectives. Also interviewed: longtime patrons Joan and Robert Campbell, who have been going to and supporting the Theatre for more than six decades; Artist-in-Residence Glenis Redmond, who extends the theatre’s mission using community outreach activities; and representatives from Johnson & Johnson and Rutgers University's Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, who add perspective to the lasting bond between the State Theatre, local businesses, and the city.
State Theatre New Jersey opened in 1921 as “Reade's State Theatre,” when New Brunswick was a thriving transportation hub and manufacturing center with a growing population, booming local businesses and several theaters. The State Theatre stood out as a grand live performance and movie palace in the heyday of silent film and vaudeville. Designed by renowned theater architect Thomas W. Lamb, it was one of the largest, most lavish modern theaters in the region. In the Golden Age of Hollywood in the 1930s, State Theatre offered top-notch entertainment, showing first-run hit movies like Giant, starring Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, and James Dean, and featuring appearances by A-list performers. These offerings helped the State Theatre prosper for decades. That success, however, would eventually wane in the 60s and 70s, with the rise of new suburban multiplex cinemas coupled with the general population moving away from New Brunswick and urban decay.
The State Theatre's decline continued until 1979, when local leaders put together the funding to purchase the theatre as part of the city’s revitalization project. Its next chapter would follow with years of renovation that restored it to the grandeur of its early days.
Since 1988, the State Theatre has welcomed more than 5.7 million people to its performances and special events. The theatre also welcomes over 30,000 local school children each year. Looking ahead, State Theatre is planning further facility expansion and increasedarts and education programs to benefit future generations of patrons and students.
“(The Theatre) is going to be a part of a great story because the city has to keep growing to stay alive and the State will be a part of that,” says Mr. Campbell in the film. “This has been, for all these decades...a great part of the past and it will be a great part of the future.”