State Theatre New Jersey

State Theatre Next Stage Details

DESIGNS & Details

State Theatre New Jersey’s Next Stage Campaign is focused on three fundamental initiatives:

Accessibility & Safety

Artist & Audience Experience

Building Operational Effiicency

All of the projects planned touch on one or more of these major principles and are led by an internationally renowned design and construction team »


Accessibility & Safety

State Theatre’s mission centers on access to first-class arts and arts education programs, yet our building is not fully accessible. Our first and most important priority in planning upgrades is to ensure accessibility throughout the theater. Additionally, the safety of our patrons, staff, and artists is paramount, and several projects will improve or replace current systems to modern standards and will provide a safe environment to enjoy world-class performing arts.


  • Installation of an elevator
  • Additional accessible seating & companion seating
  • Modular theater seating in the main auditorium
  • Accessible restrooms
  • Touchless Technology
  • Protective barriers
  • Sanitation stations
  • New HVAC system



Audience & artist experience

The experience of a live event includes not only the performance on stage, but also the audience’s overall comfort and enjoyment from the moment they step through the front doors. As State Theatre New Jersey’s audience continues to grow, and the theatre continues to expand its outreach, it must address the expectations of today’s theater-going audiences by upgrading our lobby, bathrooms, and auditorium amenities.

The world-class artists presented at State Theatre New Jersey return time and again because of the professional environment they experience at our beautiful facility. While respecting the historic nature of our building, we must also ensure that our backstage areas are kept up to date to continue to attract the highest level of talent.


  • New seating throughout the main auditorium
  • Redesigned first floor lobby
  • Fully renovated and expanded restrooms
  • Renovated Studio space
  • New restroom for the Studio space
  • New HVAC system
  • Refurbished and modernized dressing rooms
  • New carpeting
  • Blade marquee sign





Operationally, a theater is expensive to run, with building and stage systems that are critical to our ultimate purpose of live performance. Many of State Theatre’s systems are at the end of their useful lives at best and antiquated at worst. These systems must be updated to improve the operational efficiency of the productions and the overall efficiency of the building in time, labor, and energy, thereby reducing the operational costs and, ultimately, improving our ability to fulfill our important mission of presenting extraordinary live performances.


  • Replacement of the manual rope and sandbag rigging system with a motorized stage rigging system. Read more about “hemp houses” like State Theatre »
  • Replacement of the HVAC system
  • Replacement of antiquated lightbulb marquee with a full-color, energy efficient LED marquee—completed in 2020
  • State-of-the-art LED theatrical lighting—completed in 2018
  • A new state-of-the-art sound board—completed in 2018
  • A new backstage communications system—completed in 2019


Follow the construction progress through our Online Photo Gallery »

The Team

DLR Group

DLR Group

As one of the world’s preeminent designers of performing and visual arts spaces, DLR Group is dedicated to delivering projects that set the stage for cultural and economic vitality. DLR Group’s experience in design for the Cultural and Performing Arts spans nearly five decades and encompasses work on more than 300 cultural facilities around the world. They have worked on four of the six largest performing arts centers in the U.S. as well as on arts facilities serving college campuses and smaller communities. Some example of the their Arts work are: Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, D.C.; Neil Simon Theater, NY; New York City Center, NY; Straz Center for the Performing Arts, FL; Broward Center for the Performing Arts, FL; Cleveland Public Auditorium, OH; Playhouse Square - Multiple Projects, OH; Los Angeles Theatre, CA; Caramoor Pavilion, NY; Project Niagara, National Arts Centre and Toronto Symphony Orchestras, Ontario, Canada. 

Turner Construction


Turner is an internationally renowned construction management company with offices across the United States and a local office in Somerset, NJ. The company has earned a strong reputation for undertaking large, complex projects, focusing on safety, fostering innovation, embracing emerging technologies, and making a difference in the lives of its clients, employees and the communities in which its people build. Turner has worked on many arts facility projects including: the 65th Street Development Project at Lincoln Center, NY; Jazz at Lincoln Center, NY; August Wilson Center for African American Culture, PA; Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, OH; and Princeton University, Lewis Arts complex, NJ.

Sarah K. Chaplin
Photo © Alexandra Pais

Sarah K. Chaplin

Sarah K. Chaplin is a 24-year veteran of arts administration and leadership, and has served as President and Chief Executive Officer of State Theatre New Jersey since 2018. The State Theatre renovation is Chaplin's third historic venue renovation (following Peery’s Egyptian Theatre in Ogden, UT, and The National Theatre in Washington D.C.) and her fifth theater renovation in total (including Val A. Browning Center for the Performing Arts also in Ogden, UT and Times Union Center for the Performing Arts in Jacksonville, FL).

Before joining the State Theatre, Chaplin was the Executive Director of The National Theatre Corporation in Washington, D.C. In her role at The National Theatre, Chaplin worked on the revitalization of the historic venue through strategic planning, brand identity, and capital improvements. Chaplin led capital improvement projects which included a $1.5M replacement of the theater’s rope-and-sandbag rigging system during the summer of 2017 (the replacement of the rope-and-sandbag rigging system is also a major part of STNJ's renovation).  

Prior to her time at The National Theatre Corporation, Chaplin worked for SMG, a national venue management company. At SMG, she served as General Manager for The National Theatre in Washington, D.C.; Facility Director for the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts in Jacksonville, FL; and Theater Director for Peery’s Egyptian Theater in Ogden, UT.


architectural renderings courtesy of DLR Group
and Mills + Schnoering Architects, LLC & Design Distill


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