Monday, December 13, 2010

Trenton's Emily Fisher Charter School Flies High with Innovative Dance Company, STREB

On Saturday, December 4, a group of high school students from Trenton’s Emily Fisher Charter School made simultaneous debuts with the State Theatre and the Brooklyn-based STREB company as part of an innovative new project known as SLAM Remote. SLAM Remote used interactive video technology to connect performers and audiences in two different venues: in this case, Crossroads Theatre and the STREB Lab for Action Mechanics (SLAM) in Brooklyn. Audiences in both locations saw part of the show performed right in front of them, and part of the show onscreen via live-time streaming. In Brooklyn, the STREB ensemble launched into their high-flying, death-defying routines. Midway through the show, the action switched to Crossroads and the students from Emily Fisher. In preparation for the big event, instructors from STREB traveled to Trenton in November for a series of five workshops. The students learned the basics of STREB’s “Pop Action” technique, then created their performance piece.
In preparation for the big event, instructors from STREB traveled to Trenton in November for a series of five workshops. The Emily Fisher students learned the basics of STREB’s “Pop Action” technique, then created their performance piece.

A longtime State Theatre favorite, STREB is famous for their “extreme action” performances—a unique fusion of cutting-edge technology, dance, sports, gymnastics, and the American circus. Their performances are equally famous for creating a dynamic interaction between the audience and performers. SLAM Remote is their latest experiment in creating an artist-audience interface for this age of technology.

Below some of the students share their thoughts on the whole experience...

“I love STREB! It was so much fun I never tried anything to do with gymnastics so at first I didn’t really know what to expect…but once I got the hang of it, it was really fun. I was sore but it was so awesome I moved like never before. I hope I can do it again, the show was sooo fun! I loved to show everybody what we learned. I got so close to the teachers I didn’t want to see them go! I cried, lol, but I really am going to miss them! Love you guys :)
-Vicki, 11th Grade

“My experience with STREB was good, I really enjoyed it. Even though practice was hard and I even got hurt, it was worth it all. I'm thankful the STREB company took out time and came and showed us all we know. Thank you Sam, Cresslyn, and John. And to Ms. Miller.”
-Marelly, 11th Grade

“Well what can I say, I had soo much fun and I learned soo many things I never knew I could do, at first I was like I’m not doing that but I ended up loving it. It was an experience of a life time for me and once again thank you for this opportunity!”
-Carla, 11th Grade

“I liked it very much. It taught me a lot about myself, and what I thought I would never do. The rehearsals were hard and tiring, but through it all, it was fun. I’m very happy that I was able to be in the show, let alone to be picked as one of the students thanks to Ms. Miller. It was a good experience and it’s something I will never forget.”
-Asia, 10th Grade

“This was a once in a life time experience. I enjoyed it so much, the teaching artist's were great. They were friendly and very kind. I want to thanks them so much for teaching me stuff I never thought I would do. Now with this experience I want to keep on doing STREB. Take care Cresslyn, Sam, and John, I love you. Hopefully, I will get to see you soon and wish you the best luck on your performances. Don’t forget me!”
-Jesenia V

“Dec 4th, I thought it went excellent! My experience during the slam remote with STREB, was interesting at first. I didn’t think I was going to push myself as the way I did after the show. As myself just realizing, that anything is possible if you just try, you can conquer anything.”
-Sydnie, 10th Grade

“Well, after the great time I had in the Residency Program, it made me feel as though I should be more into theater! I loved all the attention, thanks to Ms. Miller and the staff of STREB (John, Cresslyn, Sam)”
-Katherine, 11th Grade

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Hectic Fall Season Rewards the Education Department

By Jennifer Cunha, Education Assistant

The beginning of November was a busy time for the State Theatre’s Education Department. From school shows to the Free Milk & Cookies events, we had every age group attending one of our events. It started with two school day performances of Leo Lionni’s Swimmy, Frederick, and Inch by Inch on Monday, November 1st. Over 2,000 preK-3rd graders attended the performances and teachers and students alike had a blast. We even got a chance to take some new pictures of the students in the audience! That Monday also marked the beginning of the STREB residency with the high school students at Emily Fisher Charter School in Trenton. Each Monday in November, three teaching artists from the company will visit the high school. I got to watch as they used the 90 minute workshop to introduce the students to Pop Action and begin choreographing the piece that the students will be performing at Crossroads Theatre on December 4th. This was also my third annual visit to the NJEA teacher’s convention – held every year in Atlantic City. Together with representatives from American Repertory Ballet, Crossroads Theatre, George Street Playhouse, and the Zimmerli Art Museum, I was able to talk to teachers at the convention about all the different programs each of our organizations has. It’s always a fun trip (and shopping in the outlet stores isn’t bad either!). Over the weekend, the Education Department also had some of our free Milk & Cookies events for children ages 3 to 8. Cookies were donated by the sisters of the Rutgers University chapter of Kappa Phi Lambda and some sisters from Sigma Lambda Upsilon were in attendance to help run the event. There’s nothing cuter than little kids lining up for their milk and cookies after listening to stories and songs by our storyteller, Ken Galipeau. On Sunday, we were treated to a performance by the BBC Concert Orchestra. Before the performance, we held a Scientists Exploring the Arts event in the Heldrich Room of the State Theatre and welcomed back Pre-Performance Insights. The Education Department rounded out our busy week with three performances of Jason and the Argonauts in Crossroads Theatre, brought to us by Visible Fictions out of Scotland.

It was a hectic week, but I think it’s safe to say that each of these events was enjoyed by everyone who attended, and by myself most of all! As you can see, the Education Department always has something going on!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Dig out those platforms and thank ABBA for the music!

By Semira Woldmichael, Marketing & PR Intern

Mamma Mia, how could we resist you? ABBA MANIA, international tribute band is coming to the State Theatre! The music of ABBA has been enjoyed by fans of all ages for almost 40 years and their hits have flawlessly transitioned from records to iPods. Their music has hit almost every medium successfully, whether it be Broadway (Mamma Mia is celebrating their 10th year on Broadway), or the big screen starring actors like Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, and Meryl Streep. It’s no wonder their songs are kept alive and on the charts with no regard for age (I remember calling Radio Disney when I was nine and winning a Super Soaker water gun for correctly completing the lyrics of "Dancing Queen").

If you’ve been looking for a trip down memory lane with classic ABBA hits and family fun, look no further. With songs like “Waterloo,” “Winner Takes It All,” “Fernando,” and “Voulez Vous,” why wouldn’t you take a chance on ABBA MANIA? They have toured the world in their quest to bring the the music of the Swedish super group to their millions of fans and now for the first time, they’ve finally arrived in the U.S. Since the super troupe formed in 1999, ABBA MANIA has been selling out shows all over the world with two hours of uplifting, dance inducing and sometimes heart-breaking songs that will leave you dancing in your seats.

Thinking of going with your friends? If you buy 4 or more tickets and mention promotional code BFF4, take $10 off the price of each ticket!

Reviewers of the show have said “…If you close your eyes, it seemed like you were listening to the real thing,” but I guarantee you won’t want to look away! For more information call 732-246-7469 or order your tickets online at:

Monday, November 1, 2010

In the Mood - A 1940s Musical Revue!

By Kelly Blithe, Director of Public Relations

In the Mood, now in its 17th year, began as a celebration of American music from the 1940’s a time when big bands were drawing record crowds, and when the music of the time, swing music, played a pivotal role in maintaining American morale through WWII. Now, it makes it's way to the State Theatre for a return engagement on Sunday, November 14th.

In the Mood has played a number of sellout concerts for the National Archives in Washington, DC, including the 50th Anniversary of WWII, as well as a series of USO tours. Since then, In the Mood has visited Europe and in 1997, the band and singers were selected to be part of the entertainment for the 53rd Presidential Inauguration Ball for President and Mrs. Bill Clinton.

More than a concert, In the Mood is a Big Band theatrical swing revue, featuring a company of 19 on stage including the In the Mood singers and dancers with the sensational String of Pearls Big Band Orchestra, performing the music of Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, Harry James, Erskine Hawkins, The Andrews Sisters, Frank Sinatra, and other greats of the 1940’s.

So, come on down and swing with us on November 14th, as we celebrate the big band era of the 1940s!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Kappa Phi Lambda Sorority lends a hand and bakes cookies!

Guest Blog by Rutgers, Kappa Phi Lambda Sorority Treasurer Angelica Poon

On the weekend of October 2nd, the Sisters of Kappa Phi Lambda Sorority from Rutgers University were most pleased to volunteer at Milk & Cookies- an event held in the State Theatre to encourage appreciation of the art of theatre in young children. It was the first time we were exposed to this event, which was eye-opening. We felt it was a great education outreach program to encourage learning beyond school. Many of us enjoyed the storytelling ourselves, even though it was aimed at a much younger audience! Our contribution was to usher and sign in guests, and most importantly donate fresh homemade cookies to the program, which were then distributed (free of charge) to the children who attended the event. (Milk was also generously sponsored by another party to complement the delicious cookies!)

We were delighted to see the joy in the young children as they collected their cookies and milk, as we reminisced to our own childhood where milk and cookies were a divine combination and treat to always look forward to. Our Sisters also prepared a milk-free and egg-free batch of cookies and lo and behold, there was a young boy who had egg allergies. Being able to help a child who was originally excluded from the joy of cookies, was extremely rewarding. The Kappa Sisters were more than happy to put in our time to bake and volunteer at the event, as it was fun, eye-opening, and we love to help our community! We would gladly and enthusiastically do this again.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Living like a Celebrity: State Theatre Date Night Packages

By Brigitte Bastaldo, Marketing & PR intern

Fine decadent chocolates, VIP seats to phenomenal theater, palette blinding dining and luxurious hotel accommodations... After a tiresome week of work, noisy kids, and towering piles of household chores, the lifestyle of the glamorous is, without doubt, an experience worth drooling over. As a New Jersey professional, wife and mom the thought of living like a celebrity—for even just one evening—is often far from fathomable. But something has changed recently that brings more glee to my soul than a random impulse purchase of a designer purse. You see, my husband and I just learned about the exciting Date Night packages offered by the prestigious State Theatre. Since then we have had the opportunity to not only see top-notch performances by international artists but we have had the opportunity to mingle backstage, sip wine, dine gloriously and more upon our recent trips to the State Theatre. Truly, State Theatre’s Date Night packages have brought a sense of exhilaration back into our lives—something well overdue.

Most who haven’t tried it yet just don’t understand my enthusiasm and loyalty to State Theatre as well as their Date Night packages. It is true that some other venues, commonly in NYC, occasionally offer some of the same perks I mentioned earlier. But it must be known that there is a distinct difference between State Theatre and these other venues that makes me favor the State Theatre without a blink.

I like the State Theatre and especially these packages because they are customizable; such that the package options are available on countless shows—not just a handful of specific shows throughout the year. I prefer them because, as a New Jersey professional, wife and mom, I don’t have to commute all the way to NYC to enjoy a wondrous night out. I like the State Theatre because I’m feel good about supporting my own community and a New Jersey based not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting the arts.

Thank you State Theatre for the glamour and romance.

Listed below are some the packages offered now:

VIP Tickets

  • Two Seats in VIP Box Right or VIP Box Left

  • Backstage Pass Access

  • Boraie Donor Lounge Access for Complimentary Drinks and Snacks

Tickets Plus

  • Two Mid-orchestra Tickets

  • Two Glasses of Wine

  • One Box of Chocolate


  • Two Mid-orchestra Tickets

  • Hotel Accommodations

  • and sometimes Parking & Dining Credits


  • Two Mid-orchestra Tickets

  • $100 Dining Gift Certificate from Your Choice one of the Featured Restaurants Below

  • One Rose at Your Seat Before the Show

To learn more, visit:

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Bad Boys of Magic Return to the State Theatre

By Semira Woldmichael, Marketing & PR Intern

Even before I knew Penn & Teller, I KNEW Penn & Teller: They have always kind of just been there, floating around somewhere in the entertainment and pop culture world. Instantly, upon finding out about who they actually are, a liking occurs. Everyone needs a little magic in their lives and theirs is best suited for those of us in suits. An escape from the 9-5? Maybe. An entertaining show that you won’t take your eyes off? Always.

If you don’t know who Penn & Teller are, chances are, you’ve seen then around just like me. In the last 30 years, they’ve performed their provocative combination of comedy and magic at numerous venues since the late 1970s (including the State Theatre in 2001) They have made dozens of television appearances including The Drew Carey Show, Hollywood Squares, Muppets Tonight, The Bernie Mac Show, Fear Factor, The West Wing, Home Improvement, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Las Vegas, and The Simpsons. They’ve also appeared in music videos for Run-DMC in "It's Tricky" and just recently in Katy Perry’s “Waking Up in Vegas.”

Don’t know what to expect: knife flinging, bullet catching, and trapeze swinging fun! Penn & Teller do not really follow the same routine to say the least. Don’t miss your chance to see their return to the State Theatre on November 4th! For ticketing information call 732-246-7469 or go to

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Smooth Sailing for the Blues and Jazz Festival

By Kelly Blithe, Director of Public Relations

Did anyone catch a performance from this year's New Jersey Blues and Jazz Festival?! Well, if you didn't, you missed out. The festival is the one time of year that we turn our venue inside out like nothing you have ever seen before. Everything is on stage, and I mean everything...the artist, the audience, the crew, the bar, the brooms, the lights...the works. It is all out there for everyone to see, plus you get an amazing view of the inside of the theater (the view of where you would normally sit). It's so up close and personal that sometimes it feels a little surreal and to top it off when setting up for the actual festival, the mood is so relaxed and laid back (like the shows) that setting up is effortless. Every year I anticipate something will go wrong and every year I am surprised to find out that the festival goes on without any crazy unexpected shenanigans (yeah I said shenanigans). So, if you missed it, then you missed an amazing time, but I guess there is always next year. Here are some great photos of Regina Carter's performance by photographer Mary A. Brown.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Rola-bola of death! Tell me more!

By Kelly Blithe, Director of Public Relations

You may or may not have seen, but recently we posted The Passing Zone's (a juggling duo here on 11/21/10) "Top 5 Dangerous Tricks" ...which are...

5. The Chainsaw Ballet
4. The Rola-bola... of death!
3. Wearing white after Labor Day
2. Rat Traps, Leapfrog, Volunteer, need we say more?
1. Hurling dangerous objects so close to the audience, without properly warming up!

Now, I don't know about you but I want to know what the "Rola-bola of death" is!! And that's what these guys are all about, keeping us on our toes, in fact they literally keep audiences on their toes since many of their tricks include volunteer participation. I know volunteer participation is not for everyone, but isn't it funny when your Dad, husband, wife, or crazy Uncle get dragged into it? I think so. Any way, I'll let you decide for yourself, enjoy the clip below...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

State Theatre Marketing and PR Internship Reflection

By State Theatre Marketing and PR intern, Matt Lipsky

Every summer thousands of college students from around the country emerge from the safety of their dorm rooms and lecture halls and return home. They trade their cargo shorts and hoodies for slacks and ties and for some inexplicable reason, subject themselves to the internship process. As a student, especially a business student, this tradition of unpaid employment is inescapable. “If you want to get a job when you graduate,” we are told, “you have to have a strong resume of internships first.” Moreover, as useful as a college degree is, much of what one needs to know to work in an office is overlooked by professors and theory textbooks. As a student looking for an internship, it is difficult to know what to expect. Every employer says the same thing—something along the lines of, “you will have to do some filing or data entry, but I promise you will learn a lot here too.” It is hard to know when selecting an internship where on the continuum it falls – will this one be more filing and less learning, or more learning and less filing?

In the case of the State Theatre Marketing and PR internship, the scale is tipped heavily towards the learning end. Although not every task was exciting work, I was never asked to do anything that is not marketing related. Admittedly, many of the projects I worked on earlier in the summer were centered around the slow process of posting State Theatre events all over the internet, even this task was fundamentally the leg work of the theater’s online marketing strategy. As the summer progressed, my list of tasks quickly shifted away from mind-numbing website postings toward the writing of press releases, researching and contacting organizations with which to cross-promote and planning the promotion of the NJ Blues & Jazz Festival featuring Sugar Blue, Eddie Palmieri, Maria Muldaur, and Regina Carter (hey, I’m in marketing). Working in a theater, especially one with such a diverse season, proved to be a great experience. Instead of spending all day, every day promoting the same product to the same potential clients, this venue offers an opportunity to experience the promotion of very different events to very different groups. Marketing strategies for such exciting upcoming shows as Michael Feinsten: Sinatra Project and Leo Lionni’s Swimmy, Frederick and Inch by Inch (what, did you think the shameless marketing would stop?) differ immensely.

Of course, as anyone who works in an office knows, much of what makes a job enjoyable or not is the people you work with. In that respect, the State Theatre certainly has not disappointed. The staff is fun, extremely good at what they do, and most of all dedicated. The fact that everyone here likes what they do is certainly reflected in the quality of the product they provide – excellent shows year after year. As an intern, I have learned as much about what it takes to enjoy office life as I have about marketing and PR.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Back on the Fringe

By Lian Farrer, Vice President for Education

Your intrepid Vice President for Education has been running herself ragged scouting out fabulous new shows for the State Theatre. There are all kinds of showcases and conventions where performing artists display their wares, but for sheer density, none can compare with the New York Fringe Festival. Close to 650 performances in just 17 days, at 18 tiny venues scattered across Greenwich Village, Soho, the East Village, and the Lower East Side. Despite my best efforts, I was not able to see all 197 productions. I did manage to pack in 21 shows in 6 days, which you must admit is pretty impressive.

So, how did it go? Pretty much what I’ve come to expect from my annual Fringe Binge. About 90 percent of the shows fell into one of two categories: just plain awful (no, I’m not going to name names, so don’t bother to ask), or not quite good enough/not a good fit for the State Theatre. The remaining 10 percent passed both the “great theater” and “right for us” tests. I’ll talk about those.

Of my three winners, two of them were companies I saw at last year’s Fringe and booked at the State Theatre this season. Run, do not walk, to BAMA Theatre’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, playing here April 1-2. These nimble actors speak “Shakespearian” so naturally and fluently that you’ll forget the lines were written in the 16th-century. I’ve seen a lot of productions of this play—but none that makes the complicated plot so crystal clear, and none with such a sense of fun. Think I’m exaggerating? Read the Wall Street Journal’s review of BAMA’s latest production, As You Like It. I rest my case.

My other discovery from last year’s Fringe is the Project Girl Performance Collective in a show called Voices of Our Generation. The ensemble, made up of 16 girls ranging in age from 13 to about 20, is smart, outspoken, and immensely talented. In 40+ short pieces—spoken word poetry, songs, monologues, and ensemble scenes—they explore issues important to young women today. Some of the material is pretty heavy, but the overarching message is one of strength and empowerment. You’d be smart to skip out of class or work to catch the State Theatre’s school-day performance (Monday, April 4 at 10:30am). Bring your teenage daughters—sons, too.

New to me at this year’s Fringe was a solo play, For Kingdom and Fatherland. In one of those truth-is stranger-than-fiction stories, Shabana Rehman recounts her autobiographical tale of being a Pakistani Muslim female standup comic in Norway. A survivor of childhood abuse, death threats, and other ordeals too numerous to mention, Shabana speaks out against Islamist fundamentalism, government bureaucracy, and the oppression of women. The show is by turns provocative, inspiring, and really, really funny. I’m keeping my eye on this one.

My assistant Jenn (like me, a real theater junkie) scouted some additional shows that simply wouldn’t fit into my schedule. She’s pretty excited about a show called Hamlettes. According to the description, “Three pre-pubescent girls decide to stage a production of Hamlet. When, as an exercise, they decide to never drop character, the dramas of their middle-school quibbles magnify, resulting in a very real tween tragedy.” Shakespeare meets Mean Girls? Gotta check this show out for myself.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

My First Radio Experience

A guest blog by Marketing & PR Intern Whitney Zrebiec

It’s simple, every college student has to start at the bottom and work their way up. I am just getting my feet wet in the world or PR and Marketing, and it is safe to say it is a very tough industry. Over the past few months I have been interning for the State Theatre in PR and marketing and also at a radio station in their promotions department; these are both unpaid internships, and for the radio station it requires a good amount of traveling up and down the Garden State Parkway on a weekly basis. However, despite all of that I can say it is one of the best experiences I have ever had.

I have seen the ins and outs of how promoting a radio station really works, we are given responsibilities to make sure everything goes smoothly, and it really makes you feel like you are making a difference. From live broadcasts, to appearances at carnivals, baseball games, and fairs, the detail that goes into every event is extraordinary.

Many people are very skeptical when I discuss all of my unpaid jobs for the summer, but they simply just don’t understand. I mean what type of job allows you to spend the day at the Jersey shore, interacting and playing games with everyone on the boardwalk? What type of job allows you to spend the day at Six Flags: Great Adventure to see well known radio hosts broadcast their show? I think it’s safe to say there aren’t many, I’ve found something worth trying to persue in the future.

Monday, August 23, 2010

We're Back & Cooler Than Ever

In less than one month, the State Theatre re-opens its doors to audiences for the first time since late July. After a summer of renovations for our new heating/air conditioning system, we will be back and better than ever! And for those of you who have been away, we have added a whole bunch of shows to our 2010-11 line-up, including comedians Ron White (3/3/11) and Gabriel Iglesias (1/20/11); contemporary Christian group, MercyMe (10/14/10); and former Styx front man Dennis DeYoung with a concert featuring the music of Styx (3/5/10).

Our latest brochure hits mailboxes right after labor day and will include a complete list of shows up until this point. To make sure you get one, give us a call, we’ll mail you a copy (732-246-7469). Until then, check us out online:

See you in September!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Crossing - A Concert Choir with a Twist

A guest blog by Marketing & PR Intern Joanna

For many people, listening to a choir concert might not sound like a fun way to spend an afternoon. However, The Crossing is attempting to change the way people think about choirs. Founded in 2005, the choir is unique because they sing newly composed and modern music. The Philadelphia Inquirer has called them “Philadelphia’s Best Chorus”, and said “most of the music presented by Donald Nally’s choir, The Crossing, lies outside describable musical contexts”. This is what makes the choir so exciting.

This summer, during their “Month of Moderns” concert series, the choir presented three premieres on words of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Phillip Levine: Statement to the Court by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang; The Memory of Rain by Lansing McLoskey; and Breath by Paul Fowler. I was struck by how well The Crossing crafted a start to finish experience for the audience member. The concert program included some of the most unique program notes I have encountered, and I enjoyed being guided by them. I especially liked the special note for each piece, explaining how the choir came to find it. Following the concert, the entire audience was invited to an elegant, free reception that featured the opportunity to mingle with the choir members and fellow concert goers. This provided a lovely bookend to the beautiful music that came before.

Surprisingly, The Crossing’s administration, marketing, and outreach services are entirely donated. This allows them to focus all of their funds on creating and maintaining an excellent artistic product. However, as you can imagine, it provides unique challenges to the organization and requires innovation and creativity in order to succeed. It was inspiring to see how much they have already been able accomplish. One of their marketing tactics that impressed me was being given a free CD of tracks and clips from previous concerts as a gesture of goodwill for joining the choir’s mailing list. They simply asked that after listening (or importing the tracks into iTunes!) I pass the CD onto someone who is unfamiliar with The Crossing.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tessitura Conference Blog = Day 4

By Dan Grossman, Vice President of Marketing

Day 4 (Wednesday 8/11/10 - 8am): WOW! The past day and a half have been a whirlwind. Sessions have been VERY informative. The trends in mobile and social networking are eye opening to say the least. POP put out a mobile ticketing platform that delivers tickets as a barcode to mobile iPhones. Also, folks are now implementing text to donate campaigns, which are pretty successful. Selling tickets on Facebook is not far off (Disney is already doing it) and businesses are now allowing customers to log into their site via Facebook through Open Graph (FB CONNECT) which opens up a ton of connectivity and communication on the host website using Facebook technology. I also learned a lot about TravelZoo, dynamic pricing models, real-time data initiatives, shared services, tracking marketing efforts, and ROI in fundraising to name a few. We have also been having lots of social activities. We went to the Kennedy Center, the largest Performing Arts Center in the world under one roof (AMAZING) and a Nationals baseball game. Both events were loads of fun. Well, I am off to more sessions and networking. Bye for now…

Monday, August 9, 2010

Tessitura Conference Blog = Day 1 and 2

By Dan Grossman, Vice President of Marketing
(background note: Tessitura is the State Theatre's Ticketing Software, there are 324 other organizations who also use Tessitura, including Carnegie Hall, Kimmel Center, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Day 1 (Sunday 8/8/10 - 2pm): I woke up at 6am to the wonderful sounds of my 2 year-old daughter saying, “Daddy, I feel sick.” This actually means, “I’m ready to play.” I had a nice morning with my wife and two kids, who kindly dropped me off at the Trenton, NJ, train station. I got on the train and I joined Leah Anglum (Development Associate) and Don McKim (Ticket Office Manager) on our journey to DC. We went through Philadelphia, PA; Wilmington, DE; Baltimore, MD; and finally Washington DC. We hopped in a cab and feared for our lives for about 15 minutes until we arrived safely at the Gaylord National Hotel. As I was in line to check in, I saw a nice gentleman who works at the hotel. We got to chatting and it turns out that we went to the same high school and I graduated with his sister. Well, lucky me. I got upgraded to a three room corner suite on the 19th floor. AWESOME. We went over to the conference area to check in and bumped into Joe Rodriguez (Staff Accountant) and a few people from the Network that we see every year. Now I am going to unpack, unwind and get ready for a night of networking with fellow Tessiturians. This is going to be one great conference!

Day 2 (Monday 8/9/10 - 8am): Let the networking begin! Last night we gathered together as a large group to kick off the conference at the NEIGHBORHOOD NETWORKING AT THE POTOMAC. We represent groups from all of the world—Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Canada, Great Britain, and U.S.A. Don Youngberg, the VP and MC of Tessitura calls it the United Nations of Tessitura. We kicked the event off in one big room and then we split into Block Parties. Block Party 1 was by organization type (performing arts centers) and Block Party 2 was by job type (Marketing). So, we ate and got to meet some cool people who all share similar trials and tribulations. Then, we all got back together at the end to wrap up and hear the Tessitura Chorus unveil the new network mission. After the dinner it was off to the huge atrium at the Gaylord Hotel for drinks and more networking. I conversed with my co-workers and Claire from Tampa Bay Florida (who uses Tessitura as a registrar software for a conservatory), Jeremy from San Francisco (who is a union Box Office Manager with the Symphony out there), and a half dozen other people from around the Globe. Well, today should be great! I’m off to two sessions about social media and Tessitura 360 in the morning and then will hit a reporting class in the afternoon. Finally, we will have a big dinner at the Kennedy Center – I am really looking forward to visiting that venue for the first time.

Monday, August 2, 2010

My Day at NJN

One of the huge perks of my job as VP of Marketing at the State Theatre is live TV appearances. As someone who once aspired to be an actor (until I realized I did not have the guts to go through with it), I sincerely love appearing on pledge drives at NJN. So far, I have worked on pledge drives for Carol Burnett, Richard Nader’s Doo Wop, Anuna, Loretta Laroche, Benise, and most recently Ethan Bortnick. This not only gives me the opportunity to re-live my childhood fantasy of being on television, but, more importantly, NJN provides a platform for me to boast about the State Theatre and our programs. I talk about the history of the building, the excitement in the City of New Brunswick, and the fantastic programs we host for our audiences.

Additionally, I get to work directly with some really great people, both famous and not so famous. The staff at NJN, and my point person Donna Richards, are so professional and slick—from the production team to the membership team and everyone in between. Just yesterday I met a 9-year-old piano prodigy, Ethan Bortnick, and his father Gene. Ethan is incredibly humble, likable, and talented. He’s so well-spoken and is truly a 9-year-old. He is an inspiration to all young children that you are never too young to throw yourself into your passion. All-in-all, the State Theatre / NJN partnership is a win-win for us all. They raise money and we sell tickets! I hope that we continue working together for many years to come.

—Daniel Grossman, Vice President for Marketing

Monday, July 26, 2010

Postcard from Tampa

Who’d believe that June in Tampa, Florida would be about 20 degrees cooler than in New Jersey? It was still plenty hot and humid at the International Performing Arts for Youth (IPAY) meetings I attended there last month. I serve on both the Board and Selection Committee of IPAY, which is quite an honor for me and for the State Theatre. Well shielded from the Florida sunshine, I spent most of my four-day junket holed up in a conference room with about a dozen of my colleagues and associates.

IPAY is made up of education directors of performing arts centers, along with performers and artist managers dedicated to programs for young audiences. Our big event is an annual juried Showcase, where about 20 companies from around the world are chosen to perform for an audience of about 250 presenters who book shows for young people and families. I can’t reveal yet which shows earned a performance slot at the 2011 Showcase; the official selections will be posted on the IPAY website in the coming months.

The IPAY Showcase takes place every January, in a different North American location each year. The 2011 Showcase in Tampa is being hosted by the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. So I’ll be back in Florida this winter—when I expect I’ll be better able to appreciate the climate!

I’ve learned the hard way that it’s extremely risky to make programming decisions based on word-of-mouth or even video. Therefore, I almost never book a company I’ve never seen perform live. Showcase gives me the opportunity to attend full-length performances of phenomenal shows from all over North America, Europe, and Australia—shows I’d otherwise never get to see on my tiny travel budget! One of my all-time favorite Showcase discoveries is coming to the State Theatre in November: Jason and the Argonauts, a brilliant production from a truly amazing Scottish theater company called Visible Fictions. Who’d have thought Greek mythology could be so hilarious—while staying completely true to the story? If you’re a theater fan and can get an hour off from work (the performances are during the school day), don’t miss this one!

Lian Farrer, Vice President for Education
State Theatre

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


We recently announced a new Executive Committee, two new Trustees, as well as the appointment of an Interim Chief Operating Officer.

The new Executive Committee elected at the June annual meeting of the Board of Trustees includes Warren R. Zimmerman, Chairman; Efrem B. Dlugacz, Vice Chairman; Douglas M. Garback, Secretary; and Frederick P. Pierce, Treasurer.

We are also happy to announce the addition of two new Trustees, Susan Podlogar, Worldwide VP Compensation Resources & Productivity at Johnson & Johnson, and a resident of New Brunswick; and Raj Singh, Managing Director and Head of the Recapitalization & Restructuring Investment Banking Group for Raymond James and Associates from New York City.

“It is truly my pleasure to serve as the new Chairman of this great historic State Theatre,” recently stated Zimmerman. “I am committed to the patrons, staff, and the Board of Trustees in providing the leadership and support to continue to build the best theatre we can. With our strong capable staff and committed Board of Trustees, I have no doubt we will continue to maintain and improve the level of quality and service our patrons deserve. I am excited about the future of the State Theatre and I look forward to seeing everyone there!”

As our search for a new State Theatre President & CEO continues, following the June retirement of former President & CEO Wes Brustad, we have announced that Marion Combs, Senior Vice President for Development, will assume responsibility as Interim Chief Operating Officer. Combs will act as Interim COO until a successor for Brustad is hired later in the fall.

“The State Theatre staff is really excited about our upcoming 2010-2011 lineup of performances and festivals! We’ve got something for everybody, including great performing arts experiences for school children. Working with the Board of Trustees and its dynamic leadership team, we will continue to focus on artistic excellence and financial stability,” commented Marion Combs.

Chairman Warren R. Zimmerman, a resident of Piscataway, is an AVP in Information Technology at Chubb & Son. Vice Chairman Efrem B. Dlugacz of Princeton is Vice President of Worldwide Benefits for Johnson & Johnson; Secretary Douglas M. Garback, a resident of North Brunswick, is the owner/premiere agent of The Garback Agency; and Treasurer Frederick P. Pierce, a resident of Basking Ridge, is a Senior Vice President of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney.

The continuing Board members are Ann H. Asbaty of Randolph; Sam Boraie of New Brunswick; Elizabeth Hance of New Brunswick; Bill Herman of Clifton; Patricia Howard of Manalapan; Joe Light of Somerset; Andrew J. Markey of Basking Ridge; Sherard Murphy of Piscataway; and Robin Suydam of Somerset.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Q & A with Runt of the Litter star Bo Eason

Bo Eason, a former NFL player turned actor/writer performs his one-man play Runt of the Litter at the State Theatre March 2011. Recently, Bo took some time to talk to us about his upcoming show, how he made the move from the NFL to theater, and his big plans for bringing Runt of the Litter to the silver screen.

Q: How were you received by your fans, as well as your peers, when you made the transition from the NFL to acting/writing?
A: What’s funny about this, is that I’ve always kept one eye on drama. When I was in high school, I was taking acting classes and none of my football teammates ever knew. Then, in college I minored in drama, and still none of my teammates knew. So, in 1989 when I retired from the NFL, I moved to New York City and I did play after play. I was afraid they would make fun. I remember my first play was a children’s play in which I was the mayor of this elf town and my brother (Tony Eason) who was the quarterback of the New England Patriots at the time and my friend Kenny O’Brien who was the quarterback of the Jets, came to see me. After the play, they came up to me and said “six months ago, you were playing football and signing autographs for fans and now you’re in a top hat and performing in front of a bunch of kids who aren’t paying attention.” From that point on I knew I had to start from the bottom. So, when Runt premiered in Houston, where I used to play, it was great to hear my former teammates say “that’s so cool Bo,” or “Bo, I didn’t know you liked that, man, I wish I would have done that.” So, acting was a secret all my life but now everyone was rallying around it and it was a great feeling.

Q: How much of the show is autobiographical?
A: Most of it is based on the truth, and the story of my brother and I. However, there is a segment in the play that is not true but I thought it would be an interesting concept to explore and it has to do with two brothers meeting face to face.

Q: What would you say is more challenging, football or acting? Do you find they have similar challenges or are they complete opposites?
A: A lot, a lot of training for both. Twenty years of training for football and 20 years of training for acting. And in stage acting, the preparation is the same as football, you have to learn all the elements to do it well and it takes years and years. The training for being a safety in football is so specific, running forward and sideways and backwards, and the same goes for acting but they both involve body, movement, and structure.

Q: In terms of preparation, rehearsing, practicing, etc, what goes into preparing for a game versus preparing for a show?
A: There was this one sensation that happened to me before a game, where I would be in tunnel, in the dark and I would hear the music and the announcer start introducing the players and I would just think, ‘what if I just turned around and ran out of the stadium and drove off in my car.’ And the same happens before a show, I am sitting backstage, in the dark, and I think ‘what if I just turned around and ran out the back door.’ But there is something that always makes me take that step. And I love overcoming it, I love overcoming my fears, whether it is playing an NFL game or performing on Broadway.

Q: We hear that you have written a screen play based on the show and that it will soon be a major motion picture. Can you tell us a little about that and how far along that is? Is there a director or have any actors been cast yet?
A: A couple of years ago, Frank Darabont (the director of the Shawshank Redemption and Green Mile) came to see Runt in Santa Monica in a little theater with about 30 people. And after the show, he came up to me and said ‘Bo, I think this would be a great movie, and I think you should be the one to write the screenplay.’ And I thought, I don’t know the first thing about writing a screenplay. So, together Frank and I pitched Castlerock and they bought the rights and I went on to write the screenplay with Frank kind of looking over my shoulder. Frank is a multi-Academy Award nominated writer, so it was like I was in Grad school and Frank was the teacher. And after a few years, I ended up taking the movie rights back and I just finished rewriting the screenplay. We are hoping to start filming next year, late spring or early summer. There have been a few directors who have show interest including Rob Reiner, DJ Caruso (Eagle Eye), and John Lee Hancock (The Blindside). The actors interested have ranged from Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, and James Franco to Nicholas Cage, Ryan Phillipe, and Orlando Bloom. All of whom have either asked to be in the movie or if I could write them a movie with roles like that. So, a lot of people have circled around the movie because of the play.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Ringo Starr in New Brunswick

By Larry Dember - Director of Production

I was lucky to grow up a drummer in the late 60s and early 70s with such great music. Even luckier to have great drum teachers like Pete Bross (Gary U.S. Bonds, Hermans Hermits), Mickey Sheen , John Macaluso (Yngwie Malmsteen, James Labrie of Dream Theater, TNT, Riot, Starbreaker, and ARK) and Bobby Rondinelli (Black Sabbath, Rainbow), but there was always one drummer that stood out to me…Ringo Starr of The Beatles.

March 17th, 3:00pm: I spoke with my old friend Tommy O, Bass player from Candy and Fortress, and asked him who he would like to see at the State Theatre. Tommy said Ringo. Ironically, the next day we booked Ringo. I was a hero.

Day of Show…
6:30am: My five year old son wakes me up with “good morning Daddy, Ringo needs you,” which I am sure was a prompting from my wife. (Since I produce concerts my work schedule can be erratic and have extremely long days. Some people would not comprehend that for an 8pm show time a Production Directors day starts at 7am.)

7:30am: Meet my Live Nation co-promoter at venue and let caterer in to set up hot breakfast. (No Ringo is not here yet, this is a crew breakfast, about 25 people.)

9:00am: Meet Ringo’s production manager to tour the venue and assign dressing rooms, introduce the heads of each department (sound, lights, deck, fly and steward), plus the runner and the caterer for the day. Once settled in I ask if I could get a drum head signed for the theater and perhaps a picture. The response was “zero chance, I guess you didn’t see Larry King live where Ringo declared he loved the fans but would not be signing anything for anyone anymore. Apparently, someone had Ringo sign a Make a Wish Foundation Beatle Memorabilia and it ended up on EBAY soon afterward and that was the final straw”. I am still staying hopeful I can catch him in the wings and grab a photo.

12:00pm: Crew is still setting up risers, sound, lights, and hanging backdrops. No Ringo yet but I am told he will be arriving from NY via private car around 6pm to sound check and have a bite. Just maybe we will bump into each other in the green room.

1:00pm: Lunch for the crew and most loaders go home till load out, just heard Bon Jovi, Sean Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, and McCartney are coming tonight!

2:00pm: Ringo is turning 70 on Wednesday and after his show at Radio City his sister-in-law and her husband (Joe Cocker) are throwing him a birthday party for 400 of his closest friends. Stage is dark till 6pm sound check. A lot of waiting.

3:00pm: 1500th email from long lost friends, “Hey any chance of meeting Ringo tonight?”

4:00pm: State Theatre Vice President of Development, “Can I bring some donors backstage tonight?” I told him “Ringo is old but I don’t think it looks that serious”.

6:00pm: Ringo enters the building and slips on stage for a sound check with the band. There is truly a magical feeling in the building.

7:00pm: Ringo slips off stage and into his dressing room.

7:15pm: Dave Hartkern, Director of Operations and I meet and talk with Gregg Bissonette, great drummer and guy.

7:30pm: I bring back Warren Zimmerman, Chairman of the State Theatre Board of Trustees to meet Ringo. Instead, get a humble meet and greet with his tour manager.

7:45pm: I return backstage and find……RINGO! in the hallway and I say, “Hey Man” to which he replies something inaudible and walks into his dressing room.

7:50pm: Greg comes out of his dressing room and says “hey Larry I can’t go on, you drum tonight” and hands me his sticks. That was a cool moment for me. I handed back his sticks and asked him if he could teach me to close up my paradiddles.

8:05pm: Ringo and the all stars, Rick Derringer, Richard Page (Mr. Mister), Wally Palmar (The Romantics), Edgar Winter, Gary Wright, and drummer Gregg Bissonette, take the stage with “It Don’t Come Easy”. Two hours of good old rock and roll tunes from all of the band mate’s solo projects and bands.

10:00pm: (on the dot) Ringo comes off stage and is escorted to his car. Dave and I greet him as he leaves, enters his car, and I say “Thanks for coming” and Ringo responds, “No, thank you, good night”. It was over and done. A long awaited brush with greatness is now one for the record. A full capacity house and very satisfied audience, and another great show for the State Theatre and Live Nation.

2:00am: Last truck is loaded and the crew busses roll out to Radio City Music Hall.

3:30am: Bed.

I am still trying to comprehend the no signing and no photograph policy Ringo has. I was forced to actually live the moment so much that you can taste the adrenalin, and you know I really loved it. The most satisfying feeling being in the entertainment industry for me is to see and hear the glow of the audience as they walk out of exhilarating live performance, especially of such iconic proportions. Next up, Melissa Etheridge July 16th and Cheap Trick/Squeeze July 18th.

Come out and see a show.

Larry Dember - Director of Production

Here's the set list for the State Theatre show:
1. It Don't Come Easy
2. Honey Don't
3. Choose Love
4. Hang on Sloopy (Rick Derringer)
5. Free Ride (Edgar Winter)
6. Talking in your sleep (Wally Palmer)
7. I Wanna be your man
8. Dream Weaver (Gary Wright)
9. Kyrie (Richard Page)
10. The Other Side of Liverpool
11. Yellow Submarine
12. Frankenstein (Edgar Winter)
13. Peace Dream
14. Back off Boogaloo
15. What I Like About You (Wally Palmer)
16. Rock & Roll Hoochie Koo (Rick Derringer)
17. Boys
18. Love is Alive (Gary Wright)
19. Broken Wings (Richard Page)
20. Photograph
21. Act Naturally
22. With a Little Help From My Friends/ Give Peace a Chance (reprise)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Experiencing the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

As someone who works for a live performing arts and entertainment venue, I sometimes find myself looking past the "magic" of an entertainment experience and directly to the "yeah, I know how they did that." I don't do it on purpose, but when you are "behind the scenes" a lot, you sometimes forget how to just become the spectator.

I recently spent my vacation in sunny Florida in which I was lucky enough to visit the brand-new section of Universal Studios - Islands of Adventure, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

It was insane. Insane crowds, insane lines, but more importanly it was insane just how much effort was put into every little detail of this imaginary world. And for the first time, in a long time, I didn't know what to say....and the best part is, I didn't want to know the secrets of how they "did this" or "created that." (And I couldn't even begin to guess on some things.) I walked through Hogwarts Castle in line for the "Forbidden Journey" ride and I didn't want to move forward because I wanted to soak up every inch of every room that we passed by (Dumbledore's office, the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom). Not to mention, the ride itself, is truly something that other rides should aspire to be.

Now, don't get me wrong, after I left the park I had plenty to say (just as we all do, after we see a great movie or show). But, while I was there, I was in sort of a Harry-Potter-coma. I wanted to live in Hogwarts, eat nothing but chocolate frogs from Honey Dukes, and drink endless cups of butter beer. But alas, I am back in New Jersey and back to reality. And I can't wait for my next dose of Harry Potter magic (bring on Deathly Hallows!).

-Kelly Skinner, Director of Public Relations

If you are thinking about visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and have a few questions, I would be happy to answer whatever I can. Please email

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

This Summer - Music and Air Conditioning!

Summer is here! And for us, summer means music! And this year we have 3 big music concerts: Ringo Starr (7/5/10), Melissa Etheridge (7/16/10), and Squeeze and Cheap Trick (7/18/10). We are super excited and ready to rock! So, now you know what we have this summer, but what you don't know is why only 3? That my friends, is because we are gearing up for an installation of a new HVAC system! I know, not as exciting as our 3 star concerts, but important nevertheless. For years, as an older venue, we have had on again, off again issues with our air conditioning and heat (as some of you may recall). So, finally after years of "temporary fixes," this summer Middlesex County has decided to invest a million dollars into a new HVAC system for the theater. And because we are an older building (est. 1921) the process will take much longer than most. This the reason why we must temporarily close down the building for the summer following our 3 music concerts.

In fact, preliminary work has already begun. We are in the first stage, which is the "foundations for steel" stage (not quite sure what that exactly means just yet). So, we have a long way to go, but I will definitely keep everyone posted on the project. For now, stay cool and don't forget to buy your summer concert tickets before they sell out (because they will)!

—Kelly Skinner, Director of Public Relations

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


On May 22, the State Theatre Benefit Gala 2010, That’s Entertainment! A Las Vegas Experience featuring Lynda Carter honored Dr. Norman Reitman and raised $520,000 for the nonprofit performing arts center. Additionally, the State Theatre distributed its first “Leadership in the Arts Award” to retiring president Wesley Brustad. The Gala festivities, which included dinner and dancing at The Heldrich hotel, also included an authentic casino experience with a variety of gaming tables, raffles, and opportunities to win prizes.

The Gala Chairs were Ann. H. Asbaty, Senior Vice President, National Accounts, CIGNA, and Efrem B. Dlugacz, Vice President, Total Rewards and Health Resources, Johnson & Johnson.

“An incredible Gala Committee and Theatre staff with the support of our individual patrons and corporate sponsors created the magic again. The beneficiaries, of course, are the arts in Central New Jersey and the educations programs sponsored by the State Theatre,” commented Gala co-chairs Efrem Dlugacz and Ann Asbaty.

“In a time when special event attendance and funding seem to be waning, we were thrilled to be busting at the seams in The Heldrich hotel. The State Theatre grossed over half a million dollars with this event, allowing the Theatre to finish its fiscal year solidly in the black. This was in no small part due to Dr. Norman Reitman, our honoree of the evening. If ever there was a man who symbolizes all that is good about New Brunswick and its environs, it is Dr. Reitman. We were proud to stand with him in service to our community,” added Wes Brustad, State Theatre President & CEO.

Brustad, who is retiring this year, was also presented with an award at this year’s Gala. The State Theatre Board of Trustees awarded Brustad with a “Leadership Award in the Arts” award for his years of service to the arts community in New Jersey and around the country.

More than 550 patrons attended the Black-Tie Dinner Dance at New Brunswick’s The Heldrich hotel. Among the attendees were community, arts, business and civic leaders from central New Jersey and around the state.

The State Theatre Benefit Gala 2010 committee included (Trustee Vice Chairman/Gala Co-chair) Ann H. Asbaty of Randolph; (Trustee/Gala Co-chair) Efrem B. Dlugacz of Princeton; Madiha Boraie and Karla Brustad of Milltown; Diane Garback of North Brunswick; Cathy Gombas of East Brunswick; (Trustee) Bill Herman of Clifton; Carolyn and Dave Horn of Hillsborough; (Trustee)Patricia Howard of Manalapan; (Trustee Chairman) Andrew J. Markey of Basking Ridge; Hon. Cathy Nicola of North Brunswick; (Trustee Treasurer) Morton Plawner of Monroe Twp; and Lisa Rapolas of Somerset.

The State Theatre Benefit Gala 2010 Honoree was Dr. Norman Reitman. Dr. Reitman, an alumnus of both Rutgers College and NYU Medical School, has been a patron of the State Theatre since its doors opened in 1921. After starting his medical practice in 1938, Reitman developed a solo practice into Cardiology Associates of New Brunswick, a partnership of 11 physicians.

Thank you to all the sponsors that made this happen, including ACS, a Xerox Company; BNY Mellon; CIGNA; Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey; Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies; PSE&G, Russell and Stephanie Deyo; Mercer; and Towers Watson; to name a few.

Photo by Kyle D. Barker.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Two Sold Out Shows = One Busy Weekend

We are happy to say that more than 3,700 people attended the State Theatre this past weekend. On Saturday, May 15 people filled the hall for comedian Joel McHale (star of NBC's Community and E!'s The Soup) as he performed his live stand-up (complete with Ryan Seacrest and Kim Kardashian jokes, and a very funny Hugh Hefner impression). It was an awesome night and I have to say that I have not heard applause and cheers THAT loud from an audience in a while (in fact I am pretty sure the building shook). So, needless to say, we found out that people LOVE Joel McHale and with good reason. Which brings me to our Sunday May 16 matinee, an appearance by someone else who people love and adore, Carol Burnett.

The comedian/actress took the stage for an intimate Q&A with the audience, appropriately entitled "Laughter & Reflection." Carol, who is still quick on her feet, fielded every kind of question, from the obvious "did you enjoy working with Tim Conway" to the off-the-wall, "who knows where that came from" kind of question. But no matter what the question, Carol (see to the left with the State Theatre stage crew) answered them all with such sincerity that you couldn't help but to feel just how special this experience was.
It was a wonderful weekend with 2 amazing people that we won't soon forget here at the State Theatre (And it's probably the only time that their names will appear in the same story...).
—Kelly Skinner, Director of Public Relations

Monday, May 10, 2010

Performance Poet Glenis Redmond returns to State Theatre

We at the State Theatre are happy to announce the return of performance poet Glenis Redmond as this year’s Artist-in Residence. The North Carolina poet (who is back by popular demand after last year's residency) will appear in a variety of settings during her three-week residency, May 11-28. During her stay, she will be the State Theatre’s artistic ambassador, offering free poetry performances and writing workshops throughout New Jersey. Her busy schedule takes her to 13 different host sites—encompassing public schools, social service organizations, corporate headquarters, residential treatment centers, transitional housing facilities, and senior communities from Princeton to Newark, Whitehouse Station to Trenton. The three-week residency will culminate in a free public performance at Crossroads Theatre on Friday, May 28 at 7pm. All residency activities are offered to the public free of charge. To reserve tickets for the May 28 public performance at Crossroads Theatre call 732-246-7469, ext. 545. (Look below for a video featuring Glenis.)

For more information on the residency program or on Glenis Redmond’s visit :

And a big thank you to The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey and The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation for their support of this wonderful program.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

U.S. Premiere Performance!

I love it when I can say "U.S. Premiere at the State Theatre"! It feels really good to know that we are presenting new stuff to a new audience. And our upcoming show NALMES is no exception. NALMES, a Circassion dance group from the North Caucasus has been around since 1936. Their dances tell the stories of everyday Circassion life and it is our privilage to be bringing them here to the U.S. for the first time on May 8. Featuring live music, skillful swordplay, and of course, an amazing dance performance. Catch a sneak peek of NALMES with the video clip below.

—Kelly Skinner, Director of Public Relations

Friday, April 9, 2010

"It's My Party" at the Theatre

A guest blog by Marketing & PR Intern Alex Smith

Young girls across America belted out the words “it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to” at some point in their lives. Whether it was with girlfriends, or alone singing into their hairbrushes, something about the song sympathizes with the angst of young love. In my experience, “It’s My Party” played a large part during my 16th birthday party. After all, “Johnny” leaving hand-in-hand with “Judy” is devastating at that age. Lesley Gore recorded “It’s My Party” in 1963, but every girl to sing it since continues to prove that the song is timeless.

“It’s My Party” was nominated for a Grammy Award for rock and roll recording. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. Other Lesley Gore hits include “Judy’s Turn to Cry” (the sequel to “It’s My Party”), “You Don’t Own Me,” “She’s A Fool,” and “Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows.” These and other singles made it to the top of the charts in the mid 1960s.

Besides chart-topping hits, what does Lesley Gore have in common with Michael Jackson? Well, no, there is no punch line. The answer is a fact: Quincy Jones. That’s right, one of the most famous producers in American music. Thriller may be the source of much of his fame now, but Quincy Jones worked with Lesley Gore first. He helped discover the 16-year old and produced “It’s My Party.”

On Saturday, May 1, those who used to sing the relatable song in their bedroom mirrors will have the chance to sing along once more, this time with Lesley Gore when she performs as part of Richard Nader’s Sold Gold Rock and Roll Show.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Q&A with Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet dancer Ana-Maria Lucaciu

Q: How long have you been dancing with Cedar Lake?
A: This is my 4th season.

Q: Where were you dancing before this? What company and/or school?
A: I graduated from the National Ballet School of Canada and then danced with the National Ballet of Canada, the Royal Danish Ballet, Augsburg Ballet in Germany and the Portuguese Contemporary Dance Company in Portugal.

Q: Which dance piece out of the 3 being performed at the State Theatre is your favorite and why?
A: I would say it's between Ten Duets and Decadance. They are on the complete opposite side of the spectrum as far as the movement quality is concerned, but they each offer me new possibilities every time I dance.

Q: What’s your preshow ritual like?
A: I eat, do my hair and make up and the do a thorough warm up. Eventually I go over some steps, but normally I use the time to just get focused and warm, and to connect individually to each piece that I'm performing that night.

Q: What do you do when you’re not dancing?
A: I'm going to school, studying to obtain my BA on the side. When I'm not doing that, I love going out to discover more hidden corners of this fantastic city. I read, eat all that I can. Photography is also a secret hobby.

Q: Who or what inspired you to become a dancer?
A: Well it wasn't my first passion as a kid, but when I got accepted at the National Ballet School every teacher there made me realize that this what I love doing.

Q: Who inspires you now? What dancers/choreographers and/or companies?
A: My colleagues, the many choreographers I've worked with everywhere in the world, younger dancers who are so eager to arrive in the dance world and just absorb everything around them.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet - The Group to Watch

In the entertainment business, you see this tag line very enough: "A don't-miss event" or "an event not to be missed," etc. And since we see it so often, we become numb to it. Now, I'll admit, we still use the line from time to time but only when WE (as in the staff) feel strongly about it. For example, in the case of Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet. We have had Cedar Lake here every year for 5 years and WE (the staff) just can't seem to get enough of them (and neither can many of our patrons). Each year, they come with a new piece or program that just wows us. The dancers for Cedar Lake are amazing. They can handle both the choreographed pieces and the pieces that involve some improv with the same ease. And there is something about these dancers that sticks into your brain. I have seen hundreds of dancers come through this theater and yet, I could spot a Cedar Lake dancer out of a crowd if you asked me to. I don't know what it is, I guess they have that "Je ne sais quoi" thing going for them. But, really, if you love dance, you HAVE to them. And if you have never seen a dance performance, this is the group to see. Check them out online at:

—Kelly Skinner, Director of Public Relations

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet at State Theatre
Friday, April 9, 2010 at 8pm

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Man Who Planted Trees - An Inspiration to Us All

There were four school performances of The Man Who Planted Trees at the Crossroads Theatre over March 16th and 17th. There were approximately 940 people there over the two days in grades 1 through 6 and every single person that walked out of the theater loved the show. Anybody who has seen the show is quick to tell you that the dog, who is one of the best puppets I’ve ever seen in theater, is their favorite part. The play follows the narrator, Jean, through France in the early to mid-1900s and through both World Wars, but he always manages to return to visit Elzéard Bouffier and his little dog. We watch as Elzéard plants hundreds of thousands of trees of all types all over southern France and turns a dry, barren expanse into a lush green area. To help us experience the change, the actors waft lavender throughout the auditorium and explain that in the original climate, the only thing that can grow is lavender, a durable plant that doesn’t need much water. Later, we are shown the new forest when we are misted with “rain” and get to experience a truly woodsy scent as it’s dispersed throughout the audience by one of the actors.

The adults and the children in the audience laughed at the dog’s comedic relief and watched in awe as the simple set, originally covered in brown fabrics, is transformed into bright green trees and landscape. While a very simple show, The Man Who Planted Trees showed that you don’t need special effects to connect with an audience and get them to enjoy the show.

—Jennifer Cunha, Education Assistant

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Technology Continues to Pave the Way for New Means of Listening to Live Music

A guest blog by Marketing & PR Intern Nicole Connelly

Anyone who knows me, knows, it is no secret that One Tree Hill is one of my all time favorite shows. I have been watching it since it aired in 2003 (the show is currently in its seventh season). Not only is it a TV show, but it is also an outlet to discover new music. One Tree Hill has introduced me to a multitude of uber-talented musicians that I would never have heard of if it wasn’t for their music being featured on the show; and now this music has pioneered its way into my home in a different capacity.

We are all well aware that today’s technology has jumped leaps and bounds over the past decade. If you thought viewing concertgoers’ video clips the next day on YouTube of a prior night’s concert was out of this world, you haven’t seen anything yet. What if I told you that a certain Brooklyn based band that has been featured on One Tree Hill did free live music stream’s weekly through the use of Facebook? It’s true! The band is called Wakey!Wakey! fronted by the talented musician Michael Grubbs (also known as the bartender “Grubbs” on the show). Every Monday at 8pm from now up until April 19th you can catch the live music stream via Wakey!Wakey!’s Facebook page. If you have a Facebook account, it’s very easy to set up. All you have to do is search on Facebook for the Wakey!Wakey! page, once on the page click on the music stream tab, then click on the play button, and you are set to go! The live stream will start at approximately 8pm (or a little after) and there you can enjoy musical bliss as well as chat with fellow people who are watching the live stream. I love this because not only do you have a live performance streaming in the convenience of your own home, but you can chat live with Wakey!Wakey!’s manager Wes who answers all of your Wakey!Wakey! questions and takes song requests to pass onto Mr. Grubbs. Additionally, if you can’t catch the live stream on Monday nights the next day the previous night’s music stream is posted for you to watch at your earliest convenience. Thus, every Monday at 8pm until One Tree Hill comes back from hiatus, you will find me watching the Wakey!Wakey! live music stream while chatting amongst other fans and music enthusiasts.

Let it be known that this amazingly talented band is a breath of fresh air! No matter what kind of music you listen to, I truly believe that everyone can appreciate the raw talent that exudes Wakey!Wakey!. You can find their latest full length album Almost Everything I Wish I’d Said the Last Time I Saw You, as well as other songs, on their MySpace page, iTunes, and their record label’s website

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Porgy and Bess - It's Finally Here

The 1935 opera The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess is an opera that is considered part of standard operatic repertoire. And it has also eluded us here at the State Theatre for a couple of years now. It seems like forever that we have been trying to book this show, because no matter what we did, inevitably something always went wrong -- we didn't have an available date, the timing was just off, etc, etc. And now after years of follow-up and determination, we are finally presenting Porgy and Bess on March 25. And, even better, it is the full-scale production of the opera. You may know Porgy and Bess from all of the iconic Gershwin songs including “Summertime,” “I Got Plenty O’ Nuttin’,” and “It Ain’t Necessarily So." And now, you can see it brought to life, right here in central Jersey.

I hope to see you there. I know I certainly can't wait (anymore).
—Kelly Skinner, Director of Public Relations

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Amish Project

From March 2-6, we are presenting 6 public performances of a dramatic one-woman play called The Amish Project. One of the most intense plays that we have ever presented, this work explores a very recent event in our history. A fictional exploration of true events, The Amish Project centers on the 2006 Amish school house shootings of five girls in Lancaster, PA. The play focuses on the tragedy that took place and on the path of forgiveness and compassion forged in its wake.

Writer and performer Jessica Dickey does a tremendous job as she portrays the play’s seven different characters (including the gunman and his wife). It is a performance that challenges us to think deeply about anger, violence, and forgiveness. I encourage everyone to see this fantastic piece of theater.

—Wes Brustad, President & CEO
Photo by Todd Mountain.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hub City Carnivale Experience

A guest blog by Marketing & PR Intern Alex Smith

Presidents Day was Family Day here at the State Theatre, and part of our 4th Annual Hub City Carnivale. This season was my first as an intern with the theater, but it won’t be soon forgotten.

I never thought I’d have the chance to wear Gucci in my life, let alone as an intern (that's me on the left)! Thanks to the "Flash Fashion" contest at the East Brunswick Library, teens from our area made that possible. The dress I’m wearing is made from recycled materials, including accessories like the tin foil necklace. Pictures of me modeling the outfits were for the Recycling Arts Exhibit, held in the theater lobby before the ScrapArtsMusic performance on Feb. 5. Also part of this exhibit was a mobile made from old CDs and DVDs, made by Rutgers University students (below right).

On Family Day here at the State Theatre, (Presidents Day), the excitement buzzed as we busily got ready for hundreds of families to come take part in over 29 events. I was helping out with the face painting table, which was a popular activity. The most often requested designs were Spiderman and Hello Kitty, but I painted everything from colorful rainbows and butterflies to creepy spiders. It was great to see how much fun the kids were having. One brave mom even asked me to paint a heart on her cheek!

Overall, my Hub City Carnivale experience as an intern was a positive one. Is work always going to be this much fun?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Q & A with Glen Burtnik

Q: Why did you decide to put together a show to celebrate the music of The Who?
A: In addition to my career as a singer/songwriter, I've become somewhat of an expert in performing the music of the Beatles. But I admire the music of The Who so much, I figured it would be a good challenge. I was right.

Q: How did you go about selecting the band members for this performance?
A: I listened to the Who's Next album and considered it's elements. Who could best recreate the synthesizer parts? Who could play Keith Moon's amazing drum fills? Who can play bass like John Entwhistle? I then reached for my cell phone...

Q: What “Who” song are you most looking forward to performing on the 13th?
A: I may be most looking forward to performing GOIN' MOBILE.

Q: How have the rehearsals for this show gone in comparison to your rehearsals for the Beatles Bash performances?
A: The rehearsals for this show have been harrowing. This is high-risk music. A person could get hurt...

Q: What are some of the highlights of the night that we should look out for?
A: Steve Augeri (Journey, Tall Stories) is singing BEHIND BLUE EYES. Backing him will be a chorus of a dozen singers. Also, there will be a number of other guest artists, taking turns singing these great Pete Townsend songs.

For more information on Glen Burtnik & Friends Celebrate the Music of The Who, call the State Theatre ticket office at 732-246-SHOW (7469), or visit us online at The State Theatre ticket office, located at 15 Livingston Ave, New Brunswick NJ, is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday 10am to 6pm; Wednesday 11am to 7pm and at least one hour prior to curtain on performance dates. For information on group outings and discounts, call 732-247-7200, ext. 517.

Monday, February 8, 2010

ScrapArtsMusic stops in New Brunswick before their performance at the 2010 Olympics

On February 5, just one week before their 2010 winter Olympics debut, ScrapArtsMusic—an innovative percussion music group—gave an amazing, high-energy performance to an ecstatic State Theatre audience. More than 600 people braved the coming snow storm on Friday to watch the group perform on more than 140 different instruments (altogether weighing about two tons!) crafted from salvaged and recycled junk, including discarded artillery shells, plumbing fixtures, exhaust hose, steel oil cans, and accordion parts. Talking to attendees after the performance, the reviews were "couldn't wait to see what they would do next," and "the performance was terrific."

So, in short, it was really a great night and we hope to have them back soon. In the meantime, we can't wait to watch them at the 2010 Olympics on Sun, February 14th. And we hope you watch too. For more on ScrapArtsMusic visit:

—Kelly Skinner, Director of Public Relations

(Pictured above: ScrapArtsMusic members with State Theatre staff members Katie Pyott, Jenn Cunha, and Kelly Skinner)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Report from the IPAY Showcase in Pittsburgh

Just got back from the annual Showcase sponsored by IPAY (International Performing Arts for Youth). IPAY is made up of arts presenters, artists, and artist managers, all on a mission to bring high-quality performing arts to young audiences. I love being involved with this group because I meet all kinds of people from around the world who share my passion for getting kids hooked on drama, music, dance, storytelling, and other live theater. During Showcase I was voted onto the IPAY Board of Directors. It’s a tremendous honor to receive this recognition from my peers. I’m totally psyched about taking on a leadership role in the organization.

About 300 people attend the IPAY Showcase each year. We see shows—a LOT of shows—from companies around the world. This year there were 20 full-length showcases, as well as “spotlights”—10-minute excerpts—of an additional 23 shows. The companies were from the U.S., Canada, the U.K., the Netherlands, Spain, Australia, and even Iceland. I’ve discovered some of my favorite shows and companies through Showcase and brought them here to the State Theatre. Among them are Det Lille Turneteater’s astonishing Hamlet and the playful, touching Snowflake. This week is the State Theatre’s residency with ScrapArtsMusic, an ensemble I first saw at the Montreal Showcase in 2003. I’ve been waiting seven years to get them here!

Showcase is held in a different place each year; this time it was in Pittsburgh. Our host was the Pittsburgh International Children's Theater, which is part of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. The Trust has transformed downtown Pittsburgh by restoring the city’s grand theaters, building new facilities, commissioning public art projects, and developing urban parks and riverfront recreation spaces. I have to say… the vast array of Pittsburgh’s arts resources made me more than a little envious! We saw Showcases at nine different venues, including the brand-new and totally cool August Wilson Center. Loved the sail-like exterior and rich purple interior.

When I wasn’t watching showcases, I was in the exhibit hall talking to artists and artists managers, participating in professional development sessions, and of course, partying with friends and colleagues! With so many activities packed into four days, the conference kept me hopping from 8am until as late as 11pm. By the way, the Director of Marketing at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is none other than Marc Fleming, who used to be Marking Director at the State Theatre. Marc and I had a chance to catch up a little over lunch at a fantastic restaurant called Nine on Nine. If you’re ever in Pittsburgh, give it a try.

Pittsburgh was my 16th Showcase, but my first time as a member of the Selection Committee. Our group met back in June to review the submissions and choose which ones would be awarded a showcase slot. I felt both excited and a little scared; conference attendees can be absolutely brutal if they don’t like the showcase selections. I can tell you, the screening process is difficult! The committee makes its selections based on videos—always a risky proposition when it comes to assessing live theater. A couple of shows didn’t quite live up to their videos. The opposite happens, too. There was a one-woman show called Nearly Lear, an ingenious retelling of Shakespeare’s play. Based on the video, we awarded it only a ten-minute spotlight. Seeing it live, we all wished we’d given it a full showcase. Still, the feedback was that the Selection Committee did a great job overall.

Two of my favorite productions presented at Showcase were Australian imports. Plop! is a quirky, imaginative show for very young children. We Built This City, a “public construction extravaganza,” is an installation piece in which kids and families build and then destroy an entire city made out of thousands of empty cardboard boxes. I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun! With any luck, you’ll get to see these shows someday at the State Theatre.

—Lian Farrer, Vice President for Education, State Theatre