Posts Tagged ‘movies’

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A Few Minutes with John Waters

December 2, 2009
Every holiday season we present a lot of the normal family fare such as The Nutcracker, musical acts that play Christmas songs, a feel good musical like Annie or Scrooge in Concert (a musical version of A Christmas Carol), but rarely do we present something well, you know, NOT for the kids. Well, this year, I am happy to announce we have broken that tradition. And with who/what you ask? With none other than cult filmmaker John Waters! His movies including Hairspray, Cry-Baby, and Pink Flamingos, his wacky sense of humor, and his campy personality, have cemented his staying power in Hollywood and helped earn him legions of fans across the globe. Now, I can go on and on about what he’s actually “doing” at the State Theatre, but really wouldn’t you like to hear it from the man himself? So, go ahead and take a few minutes to listen to this podcast (for Jersey Arts by NJN) with John Waters, the man with the pencil-thin mustache.

Click below for the John Waters Podcast: http://www.jerseyarts.com/podcast.asp

Kelly Skinner

–Director of Public Relations
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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/

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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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