Archive for October, 2009

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The Challenge We All Face in Today’s Economy

October 22, 2009

I was particularly struck by Thomas Friedman’s column in The New York Times this morning that I want to share with you. We are in a different and changed economy that has seriously changed our business. The challenge for us is to rise above just processing work as in the past and to fire up our imaginations to re-gain our market. Here’s part of what he wrote:

“A Washington lawyer friend recently told me about layoffs at his firm. I asked him who was getting axed. He said it was interesting: lawyers who were used to just showing up and having work handed to them were the first to go because with the bursting of the credit bubble, that flow of work just isn’t there. But those who have the ability to imagine new services, new opportunities and new ways to recruit work were being retained. They are the new untouchables.

That is the key to understanding our full education challenge today. Those who are waiting for this recession to end so someone can again hand them work could have a long wait. Those with the imagination to make themselves untouchables—to invent smarter ways to do old jobs, energy-saving ways to provide new services, new ways to attract old customers or new ways to combine existing technologies—will thrive.” (Thomas Friedman)

I’d like to think we are a theatre of the new untouchables.

–Wes Brustad, State Theatre President and CEO

Click here to read the complete column by Thomas Friedman.

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The World’s Greatest Artists Visit Central New Jersey

October 13, 2009

Theaters are magical places; they can take you on a journey around the world and back without even leaving your seat! And right here at the State Theatre, we are very fortunate to present some of the world’s greatest artists that can take you on that journey. The best of the best! From the classical musicians of China to the folk dancers of the Ukraine to the passionate flamenco of Spain, the world is at our doorstep here in central New Jersey! And this year is no exception, as over 12 countries are represented in our upcoming 2009-2010 performance schedule!

In addition to the upcoming Shanghai Symphony Orchestra (11/12/09); the Virksy Ukrainian National Dance Company (11/14/09); and Spain’s Soledad Barrio and Noche Flamenco (11/18/09); other 2009-2010 performances from around the world include…

  • Vienna’s famous New Year’s Eve celebration takes the form of a stage show with an orchestra, dancing, and more in Salute to Vienna on December 31, 2009
  • Both Ireland and Scotland are represented with the pipes and drums of the Band of the Irish Guards and the Royal Regiment of Scotland on January 23, 2010
  • A one-of-a-kind spectacle of driving rhythm, athletic choreography, raw energy, and theatrical flair, Canada’s drum group Scrap Arts Music will open our winter festival, Hub City Carnivale on February 5, 2010
  • Russia is well represented with the Moscow State Radio Symphony Orchestra and a special Valentine’s Day matinee on February 14; followed one month later by the fantastic Moscow Festival Ballet in Swan Lake on March 12, 2010
  • In addition to the Irish Guards, Ireland is also represented by The Chieftains, March 14, 2010.
  • Japanese drum group TAO, who made their U.S. debut here in 2007, will return on March 27-28, 2010 with a new show, The Martial Art of Drumming
  • Nalmes Folk Dance Spectacular, a 70-member dance ensemble from the North Caucasus in Russia, will make its U.S. premiere on May 7-8, 2010.

For a complete line-up of events and upcoming additions to the schedule, please visit our website at http://www.statetheatrenj.org/.

–Wes Brustad, State Theatre President and CEO

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The History of the State Theatre – Since 1921

October 1, 2009

As an establishment that has been open since 1921, patrons are enough curious of the history of the State Theatre. As someone who has worked here for 5 years I can very easily rattle off a long detailed (sometimes too many details ) history from 1921 until today because I truly do find it quite interesting. But rather than take my word for it, I have posted the story of the State Theatre below. Happy reading!
–Kelly Skinner, Director of Public Relations

Opening on December 26, 1921 and designed by noted theater architect Thomas W. Lamb to offer both movies and live entertainment, “Reade’s State Theatre” was one of the biggest, most lavish and modern theaters in the region. 

The opening matinee audience, who willingly paid the 20-, 30-, and 50-cent admission, was treated to a live orchestra concert and a tenor rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner.” The first feature presentation was the silent film White Oak, a western melodrama starring stone-faced cowboy hero William S. Hart. Also on the bill were five vaudeville acts, a newsreel, and a nature film. The State was the “class act in town,” with its opulent decor, splendid acoustics, and delightful mix of cinematic and live attractions.

A few years into its operation, the theater’s management was transferred to the B.F. Keith theater chain. Benjamin Franklin Keith and his partner, Edward Franklin Albee, operated the largest string of vaudeville theaters and the largest booking agency for vaudeville acts in the east. Eventually, the business merged with the largest western booking agency, Orpheum, to form Keith-Albee-Orpheum (KAO). The Radio Corporation of America (RCA), which entered the motion picture business after the advent of sound, acquired KAO in 1928. RCA renamed its new subsidiary Radio-Keith-Orpheum, RKO.

The State Theatre continued to thrive well into the 60s; until eventually audiences started flocking to new multiplex cinemas. In the face of this decline, RKO sold the building to a concern that converted the once-proud State Theatre into a road house that occasionally showed adult movies. It persisted in this state until 1979, when it was purchased by the New Brunswick Development Corporation (DevCo) as part of New Brunswick’s revitalization project. By this time, the State Theatre had suffered a sorry decline, both in appearance and reputation.

In 1986, the New Brunswick Cultural Center acquired the State Theatre from DevCo, and by fall 1987 work was underway to reclaim the building from the ravages of time. Miraculously transformed back into a state-of-the-art showplace for live performances, the State Theatre reopened on April 24, 1988 and set the press and public raving about the hall’s visual and acoustical splendors.

In December of 2003, the theater began an extensive, $3 million restoration/renovation to return the theater as closely as possible to its original appearance while updating its sound and lighting systems to state-of-the-art. Experts from the architectural firm of Ford, Farewell, Mills, and Gatch oversaw the cleaning and repair of the handsome terra cotta exterior. On the inside, artists from Conrad Schmitt of Milwaukee, a century-old firm specializing in historic restorations, researched and physically examined several areas of the theater’s interior to determine the original paint colors, decorative trim style, and other signature details of the Thomas W. Lamb theater. The theater underwent ornamental plaster repair, decorative painting, replacement of house and lobby lighting, and installation of high tech sound and lighting systems. 

For more information on the State Theatre visit http://www.statetheatrenj.org/