NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – Mayor Jim Cahill and Middlesex County Freeholder Director Ron Rios will participate in a virtual groundbreaking event next month to celebrate the State Theatre’s upcoming renovations.

Other speakers scheduled to take part in the streaming event hosted on the State Theatre’s Facebook page on Dec. 2 at noon include State Theatre’s President and CEO Sarah K. Chaplin, State Theatre Board Chair Scott Fergang and Next Stage Campaign Honorary Chair and renowned musician, Michael Feinstein. 

The State Theatre will be undergoing a facelift just in time for her 100th birthday in 2021.

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State Theatre New Jersey has unveiled plans for several interior renovations, many of which are aimed at bringing the building in compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines. Others will include modernizing and upgrading the stage rigging system, dressing rooms and lobby spaces.

The improvements made critical by the COVID-19 crisis include the replacement of the HVAC system to improve air flow control and filtration, the installation of protective barriers at service areas, the installation of new modular seating to facilitate social distancing if required and the addition of touchless technology in all restroom facilities.

The State Theatre of New Jersey received bulk variances from the city’s Planning Board to allow it to install a 31-foot tall illuminated sign, which will be hanged from the top of the building and anchored on the building’s trademark panel marquee. In addition to the blade sign, the board cleared the way for a smaller canopy sign to be installed above a side entrance at the theater.

The State Theatre of New Jersey launched its Next Stage Campaign earlier this year. Officials said in August that the theater was almost 90% of the way to its goal of raising $26.5 million.

The building — owned by Middlesex County and operated by State Theatre New Jersey - was built in 1921 as a silent film and vaudeville palace. The likes of Tony Bennett and Diana Ross have graced its stage over the years, and programming offerings have included Broadway, orchestra, family, dance, comedy, rock/pop, jazz, Performances for Schools and Sensory-Friendly Performances.  

“These renovations will be transformative for the State Theatre, but more importantly, they will ensure that we preserve our rich history while continuing to serve the community as a state-of-the-art cultural venue far into the future,” Chaplin said.

“Middlesex County has a long history of investing in the arts—it is a cornerstone of our community,” Rios said. “This groundbreaking event marks the start of a new era of growth and enrichment at the State Theatre New Jersey that will continue to inspire change and provoke creative thinking as well as attract new audiences to our County. Our investment is part of a long-term strategic plan to improve the quality of life for our residents both now and in the future.” 

“Beyond just positive economic development, investing in the Arts drives vital cultural change. The Board of Chosen Freeholders is proud to be part of the modernization of this prestigious and historic institution in our County, the State Theatre—for generations to enjoy, celebrate and be inspired,” said Freeholder Deputy Director and Chair of Business Innovation, Education and Opportunity Committee, Kenneth Armwood.