NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Nathaniel Stampley Jr.'s rich, booming voice bellowed across the room.
Jaevon Williams and Gwynneth Bensen acted out a scene with grace, tension and a touch of humor.
And on Wednesday afternoon, it finally felt as if the Crossroads Theatre Company had returned home.
The company, which has been operating on the road for the past two years during the construction of its home in the $215 million, 25-story New Brunswick Performing Arts Center, unveiled its upcoming season in an announcement replete with powerful performances at the Heldrich Hotel.
This conference room was just a few hundred yards away - and yet a world away - from what awaits when the curtain rises Sept. 5 on "Paul Robeson."
"We are so excited that on that day, right across the street in New Brunswick's Performing Arts Center, we will be a resident company there with George Street (Playhouse), ARB (American Repertory Ballet) and Mason Groos (School of the Arts)," said Anthony P. Carter, President of Crossroads' Board of Trustees.
"We know that collection, that entity, that gorgeous mosaic of storytelling will be there to entertain you and many others. So you can just imagine how proud I am to have this title, but on those days that we are performing, I'm just like you: in the audience, cheering on nat and others and making sure we are there to support the genius that comes these stars."
"Paul Robeson" with Stampley in the titular role and directed by Marshall Jones III, runs Sept. 5-15 at the Arthur Laurents Theatre at the NBPAC. As Mayor Jim Cahill pointed out, it will be the first performance at the new building.
"After two years of performing at various venues under the banner Crossroads on the Road, it's time for Crossroads to unpack its suitcases and settle into its new home at the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center," Cahill said.
Jones explained that "Paul Robeson" chronicles the life of the cherished native son whose life has been celebrated this past year in connection with the 100th anniversary of his graduation from Rutgers. The show traces the significant events of the world-renowned athlete/scholar/actor.
Jones said the play reveals how Robeson faces the dynamics of the prevalent presence of racism in the early part of the 20th century.
Tickets start at $25.
"A Christmas Carol" starring Broadway veteran Count Stovall as Ebenezer Scrooge comes to life in the Elizabeth Ross Johnson Theater on Dec. 5-15.
Stovall embodies the world’s most famous curmudgeon, who values his wealth above the lives of others. The three spirits who visit on Christmas Eve force Scrooge to examine his life choices which will ultimately show him the error of his ways. This holiday favorite features words and music of award-winning composer Alan Menken and Lynn Ahrens.
The Tony Award-winning Crossroads Theatre Company is also proud to welcome back The Genesis Festival of Plays in February.
The festival, which has been on hiatus, features two weeks' worth of new works in stage readings as well as highlighting the work of Chisa Hutchinson, one of America’s most gifted and versatile writers.
Then in April, "Freedom Rider," a story about black and white young people set in racially charged 1961, will make its world premiere. The show is conceived by and will be directed by Ricardo Khan.