Arts & Entertainment

Summer Break? Not Here. George Street Playhouse Preps Its Temporary Home for Fall Theater

324a8d2650a9b28e0856_george_street_playhouse_college_farm_road.jpg
George Street Playhouse at 103 College Farm Rd. Credits: George Street Playhouse
324a8d2650a9b28e0856_george_street_playhouse_college_farm_road.jpg

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — You might think life moves slower on College Farm Road, at the edge of the city and the Rutgers University campus.

And if you were talking about the livestock, you'd be right. But for employees of George Street Playhouse, which recently transferred here from the heart of New Brunswick, this summer has moved faster than fire.

The day after the curtains closed on its final spring show, “Curvy Widow,” the theater company left its home of 32 years on Livingston Avenue and headed for College Farm Road, to set up shop in the former Agricultural Museum of New Jersey. Ever since—and, really, even before then—it's been a whirlwind, George Street Playhouse's artistic director, David Saint, told TAPinto New Brunswick.

Sign Up for E-News

“We had to work round the clock,” he said, “but we were prepared and had a game plan. Within a week, we had unpacked all our office supplies and set up the computers and phones.”

George Street Playhouse left its longtime home, a 100-year-old YMCA building, for good reason. It was about to be knocked down, along with the neighboring Crossroads Theatre.

From the rubble of those storied buildings will rise a sort of phoenix: the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center.

The 22-story tower is slated to stand above every other high-rise in the city, officials have said. Inside its sweeping glass facade will be two “state-of-the-art” theaters, a posh lobby, several rehearsal spaces, offices for Rutgers and Middlesex County and more than 200 luxury apartments. In its rear, off Bayard Street, a connected 344-space parking garage promises to provide patrons a landing pad.

The arts mecca will house the Playhouse, the Crossroads Theatre, the American Repertory Ballet and any number of other institutions and performances.

City leaders expect that building to open for the fall 2019 theater season. But until then, the country road is home for the George Street Playhouse.

In this photo, almost all that remained of the George Street Playhouse was its front face and marquee. That's since been demolished. Photo: New Brunswick Development Corporation (Devco)

Saint caught wind of the old museum space upon the recommendation of Greg Ritter, who owns George Street Camera.

“The minute I walked into that place, I thought, 'Oh, this is it,'” Saint said. “It really was the perfect solution to us.”

The building's tall cathedral ceilings, abundant parking and room design charmed him. He had spent almost a year searching for a temporary home, preferably in New Brunswick, and he finally found it.

George Street Playhouse moved to its new spot before Memorial Day, in May, he said.

Moving vans trucked over the company's office supplies and theater equipment. Costumes and props left storage for the new building. And the staff got to work.

They began to outfit the theater. The designs for the rest of the space are ready to go, Saint said. Construction of the stage should come to a close in a couple of weeks.

Then, the artistic director said, George Street Playhouse will pull its theater seats out of storage—yes, the same ones from the old joint—and install them.

After a few cosmetic upgrades and a month or so of rehearsals, theatergoers will then reclaim those seats in October, for the fall season.

The first show, “I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change,” is scheduled to begin on Oct. 10 and run for about a month, according to the Playhouse.

Joe DiPietro, a theater company “favorite,” has agreed to tweak his acclaimed off-Broadway musical for the upcoming season. The work focuses on dating—from the first meeting to marriage's twilight—and DiPietro intends to update the script for a new, swipe-obsessed generation, Saint said.

“The world has changed so much in 22 years,” Saint, the production's director, said.

And the world of the George Street Playhouse has changed so much in just a few months.

Of course, plans for the coming New Brunswick Performing Arts Center have been in the works for more than 10 years. It's been a steadily moving train, and now that it's pulling into the station, stakeholders like Saint, who's led the Playhouse for 21 years, are more excited than ever to reach their destination.

Big-time theater figures—including Jeffrey Seller, the producer of the bit Broadway show “Hamilton”—have told Saint that designs of the fledgling performing arts center on Livingston Avenue suggest that the facility could put the George Street Playhouse and New Brunswick's arts scene on the map, he said. Its proximity to New York City helps, too.

“I get goosebumps,” he added. “I think it's going to change New Brunswick immensely.”

That's a far cry from his old theater, which was just recently demolished. There, Saint said, mildew haunted the basement and asbestos filled the ceiling. The restrooms were too small, and patrons complained about the ineffective air-conditioning unit, jerry-rigged and bandaged beyond belief. Buckets sometimes collected water that dripped through the roof during shows.

“If you say 'bittersweet,'” he said of this transition, “I'm much more sweet about this than I am bitter.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

New Brunswick

The Jaffe Briefing - June 22, 2018

TRENTON - Well, the state Legislature passed a budget yesterday. But that matters little in the overall drama, as it now goes to Gov. Phil Murphy and his sharp red pen. The governor still remains as odds with his Democratic counterparts who left a meeting with him yesterday claiming no progress. He's "completely dishonest with us," charges Senate President Steve Sweeney.

The Jaffe Briefing - June 21, 2018

TRENTON - No one questions that the state pension system is a mess. And that's why some proposed legislation is getting a critical eye. Politico says the Assembly is set to vote on a bill today that it claims is "expressly written" to fatten the pensions of Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D-Essex) and state Sen. James Beach (D-Camden) without them having to ...

The Jaffe Briefing - June 20, 2018

STATEWIDE - What? So you are saying the state's pawn shops, second-hand stores and scrap metal yards are mob-infested? How could that possibly be? Well, just ask the scrappy State Commission of Investigation, which issued the 100-page report yesterday detailing how the mob is encouraging drug addicts to steal items to fuel this in-the-dark industry. Not only are these ...

The Jaffe Briefing - June 19, 2018

TRENTON - It is June. That must mean our state lawmakers are yelling at each other over the proposed state budget, which must be adopted by the end of the month or government shuts down. Some media is refraining from coverage of the daily blow-by-blow, as the typical resident just assumes taxes will go up, no matter what. But, here is the latest. Gov. Phil Murphy has his proposed ...

The Jaffe Briefing - June 18, 2018

DOWN THE SHORE - If you see all those mega-mansions on the beach, and admit to being just a wee bit jealous, here's something to quietly smile about: All of those glorious homes will likely be underwater.  NJ Spotlight reports rising sea levels make the New Jersey coast particularly vulnerable, with the Garden State ranking second to Florida with the biggest chronic risk ...

The Jaffe Briefing - June 15, 2018

JERSEY CITY - Should topless women be allowed in the city?  That's the big issue consuming the City Council these days, as members continue to debate 1980s-era obscenity laws. There was supposed to be a vote at the council meeting on Wednesday, but it didn't happen. Before there is a vote, it appears the goal is to wrangle support of all nine members of the City Council. The nagging ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_ba23f8d0d41677854e89_spb-4937_newsletter_june_26

Tue, June 26, 7:00 PM

TD Bank Ballpark, Bridgewater

Somerset Patriots vs. New Britain Bees Baseball ...

Carousel_image_5b249c4a7e6808d9d7bb_spb-4937_newsletter_june_27

Wed, June 27, 7:00 PM

TD Bank Ballpark, Bridgewater

Somerset Patriots vs. New Britain Bees Baseball ...

Wed, June 27, 7:30 PM

Chatham United Methodist Church, Chatham

Masterwork’s Summer Sing Two to Feature Vivaldi ...

Arts & Entertainment

Rutgers-led “Tick Blitz” finds exotic Longhorned Ticks statewide

June 5, 2018

New Brunswick, N.J. - Researchers at  University–New Brunswick’s Rutgers Center for Vector Biology have found exotic longhorned ticks in four New Jersey counties – and confirmed that these northeast Asian ticks have been present in the Garden State since at least 2013.

The new detection of these ticks in Mercer County was made through the first-ever statewide ...

Rutgers football stadium has a new name

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Many still call it Rutgers Stadium.

But for seven years, the university's football stadium has been known as High Point Solutions Stadium, thanks to a $600,000 annual agreement with a Sparta-based company. But, as the company has shifted its marketing, so has the stadium's name.

So, now, Rutgers is officially home to "HighPoint.com Stadium" for the 2018 ...

Composer lyrisicist Sondheim at Rutgers, tells would-be writers ‘it’s hard work’

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Acclaimed Broadway composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim says his work is less about talent and more about the labor and drudgery of “hard work.”

“It’s not about waiting for inspiration. It’s not about talent,” Sondheim said Friday while speaking before an audience at Rutgers University’s Nicholas Music Center.

“You ...

City recognizes New Brunswick ball player inducted into women’s Hall of Fame

June 22, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ  - Chris Dailey grew up in the city, and played basketball for St. Peter's High School and  Rutgers University, and was on the team that won a national AIAW championship her senior year in college.

She became an assistant coach at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., then was an assistant to Rutgers coach Theresa Grentz before becoming an assistant coach on ...

OPINION

New Brunswick journalism teacher offers thanks

June 22, 2018

Dear TAPInto New Brunswick,

As the year comes to a close, I want to offer you my sincere thanks for how you positively impacted my students this year.

In their end of year reflections, the students recounted what it meant for them to get their stories published.  Assignments were no longer something just connected to a grade, it was also connected to their passion.

The positive ...

Promise Culinary School Slates Open Houses June 21 and 22 In New Brunswick with Tours, Tastings, Prizes

June 20, 2018

Promise Culinary School will host open houses for the community and prospective students on Thursday, June 21, from noon to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., and on Friday, June 22, from noon to 4 p.m. at 211 Livingston Ave., New Brunswick. The events are free and open to the public.

The events will include kitchen tours, demonstrations, tastings, raffles and prizes. Tours and activities will be ...

Ensure Safe Sleep While Traveling with Baby

June 6, 2018

As we approach the summer, there will be plenty of expected travel for families, from visiting grandma at the beach to heading out on a long, well-deserved vacation. 

When staying overnight at a friend’s or family’s place, it is important to maintain the same sleep practices as you do at home. Your baby should be sleeping in a safe, modern crib that meets the latest ...