The New Jersey Theatre Alliance Presents THE STAGES FESTIVAL in March

The New Jersey Theatre Alliance Presents THE STAGES FESTIVAL in March

New Jersey Theatre Alliance, its 31 professional member theatres and partner organizations are happy to offer the sixteenth annual Stages Festival throughout the month of March 2013.

"New Jersey's professional theatres have so much to offer," says Nick Paleologos, Executive Director of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts - a leading sponsor of the program. "The Stages Festival serves as a month-long open-house to the state's residents - giving them a chance to see the wide variety of programming that exists right in their own back yard - with shows, classes and play-development events at little to no cost."

The Stages Festival began 16 years ago as a one-week program for young people and their families (originally called Family Week at the Theatre), but the program was so popular, and member theatres kept offering new events for people of all ages, that the Theatre Alliance - with the help of their funding partners - expanded it beyond the original week. The organization and its member theatres now provide a full month of performances, workshops and programs for theatre lovers in all the stages of their lives.

Events are held at member theatres and partner performing arts centers, as well as in local libraries, schools, hospitals and senior centers.

Special events and bonuses

· For the first time, the Alliance and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) are working together to create a "festival-within-the-festival" at NJPAC on Friday, March 8th and Saturday, March 9th. The event includes readings from Playwrights Theatre's Newark Young Writers Festival; performances of Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey's Shakespeare Live, and East Lynne Theater Company's Paul Robeson - Through His Words and Music at the Newark-based performing arts center. Additional funding support for the events at NJPAC are provided by Bank of America, Prudential Foundation and The Victoria Foundation.

· Horizon Foundation for New Jersey is sponsoring events in Burlington and Ocean counties, and their 'Blue to You' van will be stopping at several locations to help Medicare Advantage customers and Medicare-eligible customers get better access to one-on-one care and information before going to see one of the free Stages Festival events.

· Pushcart Players and Paper Mill Playhouse are offering one of their popular Sensory-Friendly performances of Let Freedom Ring for children with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disabilities.

· For the sixth year in a row, the Theatre Alliance is sponsoring a private event for service men and women and their families on McGuire Air Force Base in Burlington County.

· Springpoint Senior Living Foundation has made additional events possible for seniors at several of their communities state-wide, while also sponsoring an Audio Described performance for patrons with vision loss, and Sign Language Interpreted performance.

The mission of The Stages Festival is to give families the opportunity to experience the diversity of New Jersey's professional theatres by offering affordable, exciting and educational programming at member theatres and in non-traditional venues throughout the state.

"The Stages Festival highlights the state's vast cultural resources and provides important access to the theater for New Jersey residents and visitors alike," said Bob Doherty, New Jersey president, Bank of America. "We're committed to supporting local arts and cultural institutions as they create vibrant communities and act as economic drivers."

Ocean County teacher Joanne Betancourt has been hosting a Stages Festival event in her district for many years. "Though all the years that I've worked with this wonderful program, I've seen how families share the bonding experience and how kids light up watching characters they've read about come to life. If the Theatre Alliance didn't bring this program to our school, there are many children who wouldn't have the chance to go to the theatre with their families."

Performances aren't the only part of the program; classes and workshops have always been a popular aspect The Stages Festival and this year over 20 offerings give theatre lovers a chance to participate in a variety of workshops under the guidance of professional artists ... a great way to unleash creativity.

Examples of workshops from north to south include: The Growing Stage (Morris County) will be offering a theatre dance workshop for ages 10 and up; Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre (Essex County) - is offering an all-in-one theatre workshop for middle and high school students; East Lynne Theater Company (Cape May County) - is offering a performance juggling class for all ages. Other member theatres will be offering acting workshops, pre- and post- show discussions, and more for all ages.

Older children and adults will appreciate the dynamic programming provided by some of the most exciting companies in the region, while younger children will delight in the experience of seeing many familiar fairy tales and fables enacted live.

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