The Stages Festival Returns To NJ In March

The Stages Festival Returns To NJ In MarchNew Jersey Theatre Alliance ("the Alliance") and its partners and funders are pleased to present the 21st annual Stages Festival ("Stages"), a statewide, month-long festival of theatre offering over 90 theatre performances and programs for children and adults free of charge or at significantly discounted rates. Events will take place at theatres, arts centers, libraries, schools, and other community venues throughout the state during the month of March.

"Stages is all about theatre access," said John McEwen, Executive Director of the Alliance. "For 21 years we have enjoyed bringing theatre to all pockets of the state, offering it free or at a deep discount. We're encouraged to hear that after experiencing a Stages event, the vast majority of attendees want to make theatre an ongoing part of their lives."

Since 1997, New Jersey State Council on the Arts ("NJSCA") has been partnering with the Alliance to make Stages possible. Nicholas Paleologos, Executive Director of NJSCA, remarked: "Everybody's got a cell phone. They can watch whatever they want. Yet last year Broadway had the highest attendance ever. Why? Because in 2,500 years there's never been a decent substitute for the soul-satisfying human experience of live theater. And nobody does it better than New Jersey. Which is why we are proud, enthusiastic supporters of the Stages Festival."

The following are a few 2018 Stages highlights. Most events require registration. For a full listing of events, program details, and registration information visit stagesfestival.org:

Theatre Galore for Kids: Dozens of performances specifically for kids and families, such as A Cinderella Tale, Schoolhouse Rock Live!, Ellis Island, Stone Soup, Miss Nelson is Missing!, Peter and the Wolf, and "Victorian Magic," will take place at various locations throughout the state. Centenary Stage Company in Hackettstown is offering high-schoolers an Introduction to Stage Combat workshop on March 3rd, and a Musical Theatre Workshop on March 10th (free; reservations required). Family-friendly versions of Macbeth and A Comedy of Errors will be held at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey in Madison on March 10th. The Growing Stage: The Children's Theatre of New Jersey in Netcong is offering $15 tickets to select performances of Boy Sees Flying Saucer. Cape May Stage in Cape May is offering several theatre summer camp samplers for different age ranges.

Performances: On March 2nd, at the Fair Lawn Community Center, Skyline Theatre Company will present a reading of 1,000 Faces: The Lon Chaney Musical, a new musical based on the life of silent film star Lon Chaney (Hunchback of Notre Dame in 1923 and The Phantom of the Opera in 1925). The Theater Project will stage free performances of Love Letters by A.R. Gurney in the community room of BCB Bank in Union on March 3rd and 4th. On March 12th, at McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, be part of the action at a community reading of Greensboro: A Requiem by Emily Mann, in which the audience members read selections from interviews, court transcripts, and reminiscences surrounding the killing of anti-KKK demonstrators in 1979 in Greensboro, NC. On March 19th at the Tuckerton Library, Dreamcatcher Rep will offer a free performance of At Ninety-Three, an adaptation of the work of Jan Slepian who wrote poetry until her passing at age 95.

Special Events: On March 20th at the Lewis Center for the Arts in Princeton, Bonnie Monte, Artistic Director of The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey; Todd Schmidt, Managing Director of Paper Mill Playhouse; John Dias, Artistic Director of Two River Theater; and Ryanne Domingues, Artistic Director of Passage Theatre Company, will have a public discussion on theatre and pop culture. On March 23rd at Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum in Morristown, Premiere Stages and Writers Theatre of New Jersey present a stage adaptation of original creative works by professional and family caregivers.

Ticket Deals: On select days in March, Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn is offering student rush tickets to the new musical The Sting, based on the famous film with Robert Redford and Paul Newman. Centenary Stage Company of Hackettstown is offering buy-one-get-one-free tickets to select performances of Art by Yasmina Reza.

Be Part of the Making of a New Play: There will be many opportunities for theatre lovers to hear new dramatic works read on stage by professional actors, and give their feedback to the playwrights. On March 2nd at NJPAC in Newark, there will be a reading of Darrah Cloud's play-in-progress, Turning: the story of the first U.S. women's gymnastics team that trained in Newark for the 1936 Berlin Olympics. High school playwrights will hear their work read on stage at Cranford Community Center on March 10th. On March 18th, Luna Stage Company will present a night of short plays about the Valley District in West Orange.

Writers Theatre of New Jersey will present the NJ Women Playwrights Showcase at Jersey City Theater Center March 1st through the 21st, the New Plays New Jersey series at the Bickford Theatre in Morristown March 6th through the 11th, and Mile Square PlayGround series at Mile Square Theatre in Hoboken March 13th to the 27th. Hudson Theatre Works will hold its "Readings from the Edge" series on March 12th and 13th at Good Shepherd Church in Weehawken. The Spring Reading Series takes place at Premiere Stages at Kean University in Union March 15th through 18th.

The highlights listed here are only a selection of this year's events. For details and a complete schedule, and to register for events, please visit stagesfestival.org. In keeping with its commitment to making theatre accessible, the Alliance strives to make Stages events accessible to people with disabilities.

Founded in 1981, New Jersey Theatre Alliance was the first statewide service organization for professional, not-for-profit theatre companies in the United States, and is now a leader in developing model programs that foster collaboration, cooperation, and audience development. The Stages Festival is a project of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and New Jersey Theatre Alliance. Major funding is also provided by Bank of America, The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, and PSEG Foundation. Additional support is provided by individuals, corporations, and foundations such as The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, F.M. Kirby Foundation, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Fund for the New Jersey Blind, and George A. Ohl, Jr. Trust.

Photo: The Stages Festival presents kids' classics throughout NJ in March. Photo by Jerry Dalia.

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