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New Jersey Theatre Alliance's Stages Festival Offers Free Online Events For All Ages

The 40 member theatres of the Alliance will collectively produce over 60 events, made available at no cost or at deeply discounted ticket prices.

New Jersey Theatre Alliance's Stages Festival Offers Free Online Events For All Ages

For 24 years, New Jersey Theatre Alliance has offered a spring festival of performances, workshops, and readings throughout the state. This year's festival will be held primarily online, due to the ongoing pandemic. The 40 member theatres of the Alliance will collectively produce over 60 events, made available at no cost or at deeply discounted ticket prices throughout March, April, and May, 2021.

"The Stages Festival has always been designed to enable all New Jersey residents, regardless of economic background or geographic location, to experience the joy and wonder of theatre. This year, we are proud that the festival can showcase the incredible innovation and creativity our member theatres have brought to digital programming, as well as a few outdoor events later in the spring," said John McEwen, Executive Director of the Alliance. "We thank our many supporters whose investment in this program has made it possible to offer a source of connection and joy at a time when so many people feel isolated."

The program's Spotlight Sponsors are The New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Bank of America, and The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey. Additional supporters include OceanFirst Foundation, the George A. Ohl, Jr Trust, New Jersey Historical Commission, and Fund for the New Jersey Blind.

The following are a few highlights of the 2021 Stages Festival. Most events are free but require registration. For a full listing of events, program details, and registration information visit

Pushcart Players, New Jersey's professional touring children's theatre, has teamed up with community partners to offer online events including Tales from Around The World, a storytelling event on March 13 and April 6. Vanguard Theater in Montclair will offer a streamed presentation of Songs for a New World featuring a cast of professionals and young performers, filmed in various locations, in April (date TBD). Progressive Theater in Maplewood will offer a virtual production of Musetta's Stories and Melodies from Around the World. This "snug-able listening and visual experience" combines classical vocalist Dr. Lori Brown Mirabal's enjoyment of teaching music to children with her imaginative stories and lovingly sung performances of original and global songs. Passage Theatre in Trenton, will offer an online presentation of the middle-grade play Surely Goodness and Mercy, which follows an odd, but bright little boy who befriends the lunch lady at his school, leading them to learn about the strength hiding within themselves and what it means to truly care for another. The theatre has created a free study guide to go with the play. The performance can be viewed from March 16-18. Paper Mill Playhouse's annual Rising Star Awards, a celebration of excellence in high school musical theatre, will close out the Stages Festival on June 7.

April 1-4, Hudson Theatre Works in Weehawken will present a digital production of a new musical comedy, Elliot & Me, based on the lives of songwriter Elliot Willensky and his younger brother Steven. Skyline Theatre Company in Fair Lawn, presents a world premiere reading of an original musical, Saving Spencer, about a young man's memories on a quest to save his creativity. Luna Stage in West Orange will present We The People: Songs of Civics, an online project composed of original songs, accompanying Schoolhouse Rock-esque music videos, and a built-in educational curriculum. Atlantic City Theatre Company will pair theatre professionals with Stockton University students to create Project Bifrost, an evening of singing, dancing and acting to raise awareness and funds for social causes on May 29.

New and innovative work abounds in this year's festival! Epic Actors Workshop in Old Bridge will produce two new play readings highlighting Southasian-American artists. Our Voices, presented on March 27, focuses on youth caught between cultures and their parents, attempting to define their own place and space in a multiracial, multicultural society as immigrants. The Waiting Room, presented on May 22 explores the idea of waiting rooms as temporary spaces, both internal and external. Premiere Stages in Union, will present a reading of Year One, a finalist for their annual playwriting prize on March 21. Paterson Performing Arts Development Council will offer a reading and discussion of For Colored Boyz On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown/When Freedom Ain't Enuf, a choreopoem inspired by the work of Ntozake Shange, on May 31. Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre in Summit will offer weekly "Meet the Artist" readings and discussions with playwrights on Wednesdays between May 5 and May 26. Jersey City Theatre Center will host weekly readings of new plays by emerging writers on Thursdays between May 6 and May 27, all with a theme of Healing. Art House Productions will showcase work from their INKUBATOR cohort of emerging playwrights on May 1. New Brunswick's Crossroads Theatre Company, as part of their mission to support the work of new and emerging Black and Brown voices as they create new work for the American theatre, will offer the The Genesis Play Festival, from April 14-17, presented in partnership with Hi-Arts.

Luna Stage will offer a "play via text message" delivered directly to audience members' phones. #Rift: A Play Over text Message explores the ideological divide in America through a story of two brothers. Mile Square Theatre in Hoboken will debut the premiere of its first Podcast play - The Playbill Gallery (a love story) - written and performed by playwright-in-residence Joseph Gallo, and featuring a sound score by resident designer Michael Blaskewicz. Available for listening beginning March 5, this bittersweet homage to a lifetime of theatre-going taps into the current longing that every theatre-goer and every theatre-maker is experiencing.

Elizabeth Youth Theatre Ensemble will present "Walking the Beat: An Emergency Convening", a screening and community discussion of a theatre piece collaboratively created by teenagers and police officers on May 1. McCarter Theatre Center will offer weekly Fireside Chats during the month of May. Keeping social distance, Artistic Director Sarah Rasmussen invites guests from the McCarter community to join her on the front lawn for discussion about meeting this moment.

McCarter Theatre Center and Two River Theater will offer performances in the Stages Festival as part of the Alliance's program Healing Voices: Caregivers Stories on Stage. Weaving together stories of both professional and family caregivers as part of an original professional theatre performance about the caregiving experience. Each theatre will create a professional presentation of the selected works, chosen from over 120 submissions. McCarter Theatre Center's presentation will take place on May 7. Two River Theater's presentation will take place on a date to be determined.

In keeping with its commitment to making theatre accessible, the Alliance strives to make Stages events accessible to all people with disabilities. If you require a specific accommodation for a Stages Festival event, including ASL interpretation, open captioning, and audio description please contact Deonté Griffin-Quick at (973) 250-6661 ext. 3 or at least two weeks before the event.

For more information and a current listing of Stages Festival events, please visit

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