Archive for February, 2010

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The Amish Project

February 24, 2010

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.
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Hub City Carnivale Experience

February 19, 2010

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 above)! 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).
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?

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A Q & A with Glen Burtnik

February 12, 2010

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 www.StateTheatreNJ.org. 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.

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

February 10, 2010

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: http://www.scrapartsmusic.com/.

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Report from the IPAY Showcase in Pittsburgh

February 5, 2010

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