Wednesday, April 8, 2009

“Backstage Access” - From The Belly of The Beast

This past Thursday the children’s character Waldo, from the Where’s Waldo book series took over the State Theatre. Rutgers University Programming Association (RUPA) held a charity event to not only collect books for the local New Brunswick school district, but attempted to break the Guinness World Record of the most amount of people dressed as Waldo in one location. Starting at 7pm students lined Livingston Avenue and around the corner to George Street to donate their books and receive a costume, provided by RUPA. As the students came into the theater various student performance organizations took the stage including the band The “N” result, The Jugglers Club, The Iota Phi Theta Step team, and the Livingston Theatre Company. In the end the students almost doubled the record with 1,052 Waldo’s and over 3,000 books for the New Brunswick Schools. Here are some great videos, pictures, and articles of the event:

Saturday night, was a totally different experience. We presented the classic Mikado, performed by G&S repertory company, Opera A La Carte. Arguably the most famous operetta ever written and obviously still wowing audiences since its debut in 1885 had our audience smiling for two and a half hours. Here’s an interesting piece of info…The idea for The Mikado first sprang into W.S. Gilbert's mind when an old Japanese sword, which had been hanging on the wall of his study for years, suddenly fell from its place. Gilbert took this as an omen and determined to leave his own country alone for a while and turn his biting satire instead towards the East. He did not have to look far to research the subject of his new play. He found all the material he wanted in Knightsbridge, a little village of Japanese immigrants within a mile of his own home in South Kensington. Hopefully, they will back to visit us soon with one of their other productions.

(A really proud moment Saturday night for us here at the State actually happened in Cleveland. Our head sound engineer, Willie Weist, who is also the keyboardist/music director for Little Anthony and The Imperials played live on the national broadcast of The Rock and Roll hall of Fame induction ceremonies!)

Sunday and Monday we were host to the National Acrobats of China. Not a lot of fun backstage for me since no one spoke English but there was certainly not a dull moment onstage. It was quite apparent that this group practices relentlessly as there were no mistakes. Some of the routines just seem impossible to do…riding on top of someone’s shoulders on a bicycle and jumping to the next person’s shoulders in front of them on another bicycle, just crazy stuff. The age ranges of the audiences were from 0 to very old and everyone loved it. I can tell you that backstage they have a book that if you make a mistake you get written up. Now judging on how serious they are about not getting written up , well I am not sure of the penalty, but their tour manager told me that at one show one acrobat went flying off the stage to catch his hat and jumped up like a center fielder yelling I got it!

Not a lot of crazy things backstage this weekend but check back later this month when I report on Willie Nelson, Joe Cocker, Brian Regan , and k.d. lang. Thanks and remember come out and see a show!

--Larry S. Dember, Director of Production

The State Theatre is located at 15 Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick, NJ. For information or to purchase tickets call 732-246-SHOW(7469) or visit

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