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Lonely Seats At The Restored Park Theatre

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Lonely Seats At The Restored Park Theatre

The Park Theatre in Union City, a 1300+ seat house owned by the Archdiocese of Newark, was built in 1931 and had for many years been an active performing arts venue, made famous by the Passion Play. In recent years it had fallen into disuse and in need of restoration.

Over the past year, a group of passionate volunteers/donors and art professionals have worked tirelessly, turning the Park back again into a viable arts venue. Cleaning, repairing, repainting, replacing carpeting, upgrading lighting . . . and restoring the Park, while lining up many performances and events to make the Park a financially self-sustaining venue, looking towards the future, and honoring its past.

On March 7, a ribbon cutting was addressed by Union City commissioners and blessed by Rev. John Docherty of the Holy Family Parish. There was grand opening of the refurbished art gallery (Gallery at the Park), tours of the theatre and musical performances in the majestic mezzanine lobby which has been turned into a lounge and second performance space. The main theatre was scheduled to have opened a month later and exciting performances were slated through the spring,

But everyone knows what happened a few days later.... The pandemic put a hold on everything. However, once it was feasible, the volunteers returned. Working now with masks and distancing, they continue preparing and improving the theatre for eventual re-opening, while lining up many productions, performances and events.

The Passion Play's costumes and props were preserved and organized with plans to resume its annual performance. Go, My Child, a new large cast biblical musical will be a new addition to the Park. The Park Theatre will be the home of the new annual New Jersey Independent Film Festival. Frankenstein, a long running Off-Broadway musical, is scheduled to play regular school matinees at the Park. Many other performances, acts and events are lined up, to have a great season and make it a self-sustaining arts venue, once it is safe to do so for the performers and audience.

While theatre will have to wait, the Gallery at the Park, finally re-opened in October, with COVID guidelines being followed. The gallery features the exhibition which opened in March, of paintings by new Jersey artist Cara London who is known for her painterly representational work. Over 88 of London's paintings are on display in the gallery's 5 rooms, including the theatre's majestic lobby. In addition to the work present at the opening, some of recent paintings have been added. London was among the team who helped restore the Park Theatre and turned the space into a viable gallery. Future exhibitions are planned, including work from artists from the local community.

The gallery's hours are listed on the website: https://ParkTheatreNJ.org/gallery (or by special appointment). Dates are often Thurs. & Fridays (3-8 PM) and Sat. & Sun. (12-5), but please check the website. For everyone's protection, visitors must call ahead (201) 565-3630, or email gallery@ParkTheatreNJ.org. Masks must be worn, and social distancing guidelines will be followed. The Gallery at the Park is located at the Park Theatre, 560 32nd Street, Union City, NJ 07087.

For more information about the gallery, please contact gallery@ParkTheatreNJ.org
For the theatre, please contact John Lant at info@ParkTheatreNJ.org

In the photo is a painting by Cara London, done recently from the empty stage of the Park Theatre. It is entitled Lonely Seats (30x30", oil on canvas). We look forward to the day when these seats, and seats in all theatres, will be filled again.



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