Posts Tagged ‘Central New Jersey’

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Spring Awakening – One of the Best Musicals Out There

March 30, 2011

by Kelly Blithe, Director of Public Relations

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of seeing Spring Awakening on Broadway with the original cast, many of whom are now well known including Lea Michele, who is now in the TV show, Glee; and Johnny Gallagher Jr. who won a Tony® for his portrayal of Moritz, and went on to star in the Green Day musical American Idiot. Since that night, I have had nothing but admiration for this show. From its catchy tunes to the powerful messages within the storylines (some very obvious, others not as much), it has become one of my favorite musicals of the last 10 years. The story is something that many people can relate to, growing up and the pains that come with being a teenager—peer pressure, seeking your parents/friends approval, and the general feeling of just wanting to be accepted. The storylines combined with the music provide such a strong backbone for the actors that when they perform the song “The Bitch of Living,” everything just clicks right into place. And even though it has been a few years, this CD still makes regular appearances on my playlists (especially, “Don’t Do Sadness/Blue Wind” “The Song of Purple Summer,” and of course “The Bitch of Living”) and I can’t say that for every musical that comes out these days. So, I look forward to seeing the national tour performance of Spring Awakening this Saturday, April 2 because as much as I love my soundtrack, nothing beats live theater, don’t you agree? For tickets or more information on the April 2 performances of Spring Awakening, visit: http://www.statetheatrenj.org/spring_awakening

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How long have I been a Jeff Beck fan?

March 8, 2011

Contributed by Garry Owen, Group, Advertising, & Sponsorship Consultant

From the first day I picked up a guitar and began a life long journey into rock and roll music, psychedelia etc….Jeff Beck has been a part of my life. I remember well that first time I tried to play “Over Under Sideways Down,” spending countless hours trying to figure out how he made that sound. Even today, I listen to him, watch him play, and I’m still trying to figure out how he makes those Jeff Beck sounds!

Now one of my dreams is about to come true, right here in our humble theater, we welcome a true guitar god! Not just anyone that people might consider a good player or accomplished… this is Jeff Beck! But with a twist because he will be playing the hits of none other than Les Paul how exciting is that!

I had the fortune of seeing Les play at his club in New York and although he was certainly not 100% physically (92 yrs. old) he was hilarious, great stories between songs, totally a pro, one of the highlights of my guitar life. And now, I get to see Jeff Beck play his version of Les’s songs and I can hardly wait!

Us gear heads will note that Jeff is going to be playing an array of guitars, full bodied stuff, as well as his signature Strat, Les Paul’s of course, and will be using a much different amp setup than “normal.”

All in all, and this is quite evident, I am absolutely excited about Mr. Beck and the female singer Imelda May and her band joining us at that State Theatre and I have the date plastered on every calendar in our house! I just can’t wait!

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Irish Music Legends Make a Long Awaited Appearance

February 16, 2011

Originally set to perform back in March, The Chieftains are rescheduled to perform on February 18th at the State Theatre! Not even a power outage can hold these traditional Irish musicians from the stage!

Together for almost 50 years, The Chieftains are a six-time Grammy®-winning band. They have performed around the world including places such as London, in the Capitol Building in Washington D.C., on China’s Great Wall, and for the Pope in front of an audience of over ONE MILLION people.

Formed by Paddy Maloney in 1962, The Chieftains sound has become instantly recognizable.

Although their early following was purely a folk audience, the range and variation of their music has captured a much broader public, making them today the best known Irish band in the world. Beginning as a traditionally Irish band, The Chieftains have transcended music-genre barriers and their distinctive sound can be heard with some of the biggest names in rock and pop including in Paul Mc Cartney and Stevie Wonder’s “Rainclouds” and in Art Garfunkel’s “Watermark”.

The Chieftains have been able to share their love of Irish music with millions of music lovers across the world. Now it’s your turn to come share in the love of music and see Ireland’s Official Musical Ambassadors, The Chieftains, at State Theatre in New Brunswick.

The Chieftains include:

Paddy Moloney, Uilleann pipes/Tin Whistle;

Matt Molloy, Flute; Kevin Conneff, Bodhrán/Vocal;

Triona Marshall, Harp/Keyboards;

Jon Pilatzke, Fiddle/Dance;

Jeff White, Guitar/Vocals;

Alyth McCormack, Vocals;

Deanie Richardson, Fiddle/Vocals

Nathan Pilatzke, Dance

Cara Butler, Dance

For tickets and more info go to http://www.statetheatrenj.org/the_chieftains.

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The Reviews are in – 5th graders Love STREB!

February 15, 2011

Jessica Kennedy, a 5th grade teacher at New Brunswick’s Roosevelt Elementary School gives us her review of the dance group STREB’s recent school day performance on Feb. 4. Also, the kids themselves share a few words with us.

Inertia, motion, force, energy, load, effort, work…the kids are making so many connections to our just-completed science unit on levers & pulleys: today they are seeing trained artist-athletes interact with machines. And it is beautiful. I’ve never seen the excitement level so high: in the first 5 minutes, when i heard a kid behind me shout, “I LOVE THESE PEOPLE.” The loud music, the lights….as fun and unpredictable—and scary—as any rock concert i’ve ever been to. I ADORE, and so do the kids, the subversive boom of directions hurled among the performers…a vital communication missing from all the dance I’ve ever seen…Could there be a more perfect break in the tedium of almost two months of cancelled outdoor recreation at school, where the kids have to sit quietly in the auditorium during recess, because the teachers need to park their cars on the “blacktop” instead of the icy streets. Something like this gives me a much-needed referent to talk about art, commitment, passion…possibilities…wish dance were emphasized as much as sports in our schools.

Glad I was with my 10-year-olds who could explain to me exactly what was going on…they missed nothing! Evocative of Houdini, the first woman to go over Niagara Falls…How brilliant when physical and intellectual bravery are experienced hand in hand.

Reviews from Jessica Kennedy’s 5th grade class:

AJ: “That show made us excited and still. Elizabeth Streb is a genius for making Streb.”

AP: “It reminded me of Leonardo da Vinci. The part where the women spread out like a star reminded me of Leonardo da Vinci’s VITRUVIAN MAN!”

SM: “Streb is unspeakable. It took my breath away. Amazing.”

AA: “The performance was so awesome. Everyone was cheering for Streb when the performance ended.”

KB: “I thought STREB actioneers had a lot of skills. When everyone was in the box I was speechless, also when they were doing their dives. AMAZING’.”

DV: “My favorite part is when the performers climbed this ladder to get on this moving bar. Then this performer said to move the bar as up as it can so she can jump off it, then everyone was screaming then she jumped for the bar and landed on a drop bed and I was amazed. I loved it.”

MA: “My favorite part of the show is the part when you guys got on the round circle because you guys were brave and I saw your owner he was cool you guys rock!”

DS: “The polar wander was the coolest performance in the show.”

JB: “My favorite part was when all of the actors threw themselves from the high spot. It was amazing because it was a high height.”

PM: “This performance was so great!! I was scared when they threw yourselves from a high surface to a sponge all the way down to the floor!!!”

SM: “I liked the way the performers threw themselves off the poles.”

EH: “The show was amazing. They threw themselves like if they action figures. Please be careful when you perform. Have luck when you perform.”

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Dig out those platforms and thank ABBA for the music!

November 19, 2010
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: http://www.statetheatrenj.org/abba_mania

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Back on the Fringe

September 3, 2010

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.

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We’re Back & Cooler Than Ever

August 23, 2010

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: http://www.statetheatrenj.org/eventstickets/calendarevents/

See you in September!

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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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The Festival of Imagination At Play

January 26, 2010

This winter we are proud to present the 4th annual Hub City Carnivale—a winter festival for the imagination at play. It’s a non-stop schedule of events and activities for kids from 1 to 100 with 67 events packed into 30 days from January 30-February 28, beginning with One-Man Star Wars Trilogy (1/30) and ending with three magical performances of Le Grand Cirque (2/27-28).

On February 5, don’t miss the chance catch a brilliant performance by Scrap Arts Music—an adrenaline-laced power-percussion performance rooted in street performance, jazz, and world music traditions. If you like Stomp, you will love Scrap Arts Music! A one-of-a-kind blend of intricate rhythms, athletic choreography, raw energy, and theatrical flair, the group performs on more than 140 invented instruments crafted from industrial scrap.

Joining the festival line-up comic genius Tomáš Kubínek (2/19) in his State Theatre premiere! A self-proclaimed “Certified Lunatic and Master of the Impossible,” his inspired fusion of clowning, acrobatics, music, magic, and absurdity will astonish and delight people of all ages.

Other festival highlights include the Moscow State Radio Symphony Orchestra (2/14) in a special Valentine’s Day all-Tchaikovsky program; the very funny one-man stage show, My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish, and I’m in Therapy! (2/21); folk singer Ani DiFranco (2/2); a celebration of the music of THE WHO by local musician Glen Burtnik & Friends (2/13); and a special one-night only performance of the Broadway favorite, Jesus Christ Superstar (2/20).

Returning this year is State Theatre’s “Family Day on Presidents Day,” where you and your family can spend the whole day here. In addition to offering three performances of Fan Yang’s “Gazillion Bubble Show” Stage Spectacular (2/15), we invite everyone to participate in a variety of free activities, including face painting, balloon animals, and sing-a-longs, as well as a variety of workshops for kids and parents.Bring your friends and family, and join us in beating the winter blahs this February at Hub City Carnivale. For a complete Hub City Carnivale schedule including family day workshops and special happenings, visit www.StateTheatreNJ.org/HubCityCarnivale.

Hope to see you soon!

Wes Brustad
–President & CEO

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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