Archive for April, 2009

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The Appeal of Old Movies – Carnegie Hall

April 30, 2009

While channel surfing the other night I stumbled across an amazing 1947 film on TCM entitled Carnegie Hall. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039244/fullcredits#cast . The movie itself, largely forgettable, (clearly forgotten in fact), centers on a contrived love story set in and around the famed concert hall. I was initially drawn in by the obviously authentic location shooting, interiors and many exterior shots of that neighborhood in which I used to work. Most remarkable though were the cameo appearances of many 20th century classical music titans: Jascha Heifetz, Artur Rubinstein, Lily Pons, Leopold Stokowski, and Jan Peerce just to name a few. Some overacted in the roles of themselves as eccentric artists, but most simply performed; long, extended, non-sound bite, montage free performances. How much has changed in 60 years. That a movie like this could get made, that a small constellation of classical music stars familiar to the general public even existed, and that their simple one or two stationary camera performances could be considered visually engaging is touchstone of aesthetics long gone. I won’t lament too much though. No doubt the appeal, for better or worse, of many performers who routinely take the stage here will astound the audiences of 2069.

 

-Andrew Fishman, Director of Programming

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 http://www.statetheatrenj.org/.

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Cedar Lake Touching Performance

April 29, 2009
As a Rutgers student currently enrolled in Modern dance, it was highly recommended that I see Cedar Lake perform their contemporary Ballet pieces this past Friday at the State Theatre. Having been familar with this particular genre in dance, I was the upmost impressed and blown away after this performance. In my opinion, never has a dance company make such connections through real-life emotions and present the uncut truth of it to an audience with such grace. Completely, taken aback by a mind-blowing performance, I am proud to say I was one of the many in the audience who gave the performers a standing ovation.

The show had three seperate pieces that each symbolized human life at its most truthful element. There was the first, that dealt with issues of relationships-displaying a variety of differnent and individual dynamics each relationship had. What also was an apparent theme was the fact there were outsiders watching, passing judgements. To represent the “passing of judgments” they had the onlookers walking across the stage whispering or making gossiping-like sounds, literally “passing” by the couple that was having issues. Also, interesting to note, the only couple on stage to dance as if they were happily “dancing through life” without a care, had their gossipers walk away, because it was no longer something dramatic to talk about; two people just being happy and content with each other.

This type of truthfulness exsisted within the other two pieces, although more abrstract from the first. The second was only two women, one of which was in a trance or sleep-like state, and the other was darkness, and represented the seduction and control it has over one’s sleeping body. The dance itself was one with at times with a nightmarish feel to it, which gave an overall erie feeling. Different, this dance led into the final act with got possibly darker with emotions, and yet a sense of relief of a common feeling among us all that we share.

With the final act, there was also a feeling a eeriness and a dream like state, but what the piece seemed to represent is shared fears among the human population. The dances not only had strong movements with their bodies, but played the parts of the characters and the fears each one was facing.

All represented through movements of the body, and the old rule of Ballet with now less restrictions, Cedar Lake did a fabulous job at crafting the natural human reactions.

–Ashley Petersen, Marketing/PR Intern

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 http://www.statetheatrenj.org/.

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Follow the Bee!

April 23, 2009

Inspired by the Peeps contests from mycentraljersey.com and the Washington Post we decided here at the State Theatre to do our own twist of a Peeps scene, using The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee as our inspiration. State Theatre Marketing/PR interns worked hard on the model, only using Peeps (88 cents per box at Rite Aid!) and supplies found in the office. Now, the Spelling Bee Peeps are set up for 14 days of mischief. They have already started to hit the road, encountering various people and places like Best Buy (with the Geek Squad), the Philadelphia Orchestra (well, sort of, the orchestra was actually out to lunch while they enjoyed a seat on the podium), Officer Dave (yes a real police officer), and all around downtown New Brunswick. And just a few days after being created, the Peeps have already met their first celebrity, comedian Brian Regan!

The Peeps are looking forward to their next exciting journey, wherever it may be. They will be showing up unannounced at random locations in NJ, so keep your eye out and Follow the Bee in order for your chance to win free tickets to The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee on May 1-2, 2009 here at the State Theatre!

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 http://www.statetheatrenj.org/.

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Can You Spell R-E-L-E-V-A-N-T and I-N-T-E-R-A-C-T-I-V-E Musical?

April 15, 2009

As an avid fan of musicals I’ve seen my fair share, and I’ve come to one conclusion. Musicals have changed. A lot. The topics have changed, the music has changed, the characters have changed, the relevance of musicals has changed, and even the audience has changed. Think of all the musicals you know that have recently been produced. They don’t all fit into one category.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is by far one example of those mold breaking musicals. For starters, when was the last time you heard of a musical based on a spelling bee? Aside from the quirky topic, this musical is relevant. Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre, the youngest and most politically aware of all the spellers, wears an Obama pin on her shirt. I’m sure she was devastated when it was announced at an Illinois show that former Governor Blagojevich would not be able to attend the Spelling Bee due to his impeachment. It’s these little extra touches that make this musical so intriguing, and entertaining to watch, and prevents Spelling Bee from aging. The musical moves forward with time.

Not only is Spelling Bee relevant, but it also interactive. Each performance, a handful of audience members are selected (on a purely voluntary basis) to come up and spell in the Spelling Bee. Audience members who want to sign up are given the chance to do so 30 minutes before the performance, and spellers are selected from that group. As a student speller, you will be on stage for as long as you can spell correctly, just like in a real spelling bee! I’ve never seen a musical where audience members are asked to come on stage and interact with the cast. This concept is so unique and will be a great time, for both audience members and guest spellers.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is definitely a musical I am looking forward to seeing. It’s great to see that this musical continues the tradition of breaking out from the musical stereotype of over the top choreography and singing. Hope to see you all there, and maybe you’ll see me on stage as a guest speller!

–Jennifer Luzes, Marketing/PR Intern

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 http://www.statetheatrenj.org/.

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The Rise of the Meet & Greets

April 13, 2009

Theater perks…everyone is looking for something more than just a show these days and for us, the big one right now are “Meet & Greets” with the artists. People absolutely LOVE them and can’t seem to get enough of them. I would say that this season the number of Meet & Greets that we have held has easily doubled from last season. And it hasn’t been just one or two genre of artists…Jazz musician John Piazza, violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, dance group Pilobolus, actress Tovah Feldshuh, kid’s character Bob the Builder, the national touring cast of Hairspray, are just a few examples from this season.

Now, looking at that list, you can see that these are all very different artists with different audiences (although I do admit there is some crossover). So, what do they all have in common? I am not really sure, but I can take a guess. Today, people feel closer to their favorite artists than ever. Today, you can look up your favorite artist online and actually SEE what they are up to, maybe read about their day, and possible chat with them online. Artists have become more accessible, and have come to realize how important it is to connect with their fans and seeing them in person before or after a show is no exception. So, bottom line is, meet & greets are on the rise and the artists as well as us State Theatre folk realize just how important they have become.

Interested in a Meet & Greet with an upcoming State Theatre artist? E-mail statetheatrenj@gmail.com

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 http://www.statetheatrenj.org.

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“Backstage Access” – From The Belly of The Beast

April 8, 2009

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:

http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/ireports/2009/04/04/irpt.wheres.waldo.cnn?iref=videosearch

http://www.flickr.com/photos/emidesu/3408706534/

http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/weird/Hundreds-Dress-as-Wheres-Waldo-at-Rutgers.html

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.

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(A really proud moment Saturday night for us here at the State actually happened in Cleveland. Our head sound engineer 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 http://www.statetheatrenj.org/.

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Twitter and the Arts, perfect together

April 3, 2009

Last minute changes to the program, new discounts, added shows, these are all things that happen on a daily basis in the theater business. So, how do you go about giving people the 411 as soon as possible? Snail mail? Forget it, 2-3 days later is way too long. E-blast? What if you need to tell someone something that they need to know before the end of the day? The answer, Twitter.

Twitter is quickly becoming the best way to communicate with constant updates and instant feedback to questions. Plus it lets people know that you are around and when you are around, which makes the theater an approachable and accessible place. It’s a connection that isn’t made with an email announcement, people can’t ask an email questions, but they can ask the person tweeting. The State Theatre has only had an account for a couple of months, but it’s already proving to be worth the time and effort and it’s only going to get better. Go Twitter.

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 http://www.statetheatrenj.org/.

Check us out on Twitter, Facebook, and Myspace.