New Jersey Theatre Alliance, the service organization for the state’s professional theatres, celebrated their 30th Anniversary at the October 27 Ovation Gala at the Pleasantdale Chateau in West Orange. The event kicked off the New Jersey Theatre Alliance’s anniversary year by honoring valued community and corporate supporters – and the impact of the Alliance’s membership – with an elegant party, live auction, and a cabaret tribute to New Jersey’s own Tony Award-winning composer Jerry Herman.
Created in 1981 by thestate’s existing 5 professional theatres (McCarter Theatre Center, Paper Mill Playhouse, The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, George Street Playhouse and the late Whole Theatre), the award winning New Jersey Theatre Alliance has supported the growth and development of the current roster of 35 professional member theatres through innovative programs and services, and has been a major contributor to promoting the vibrant cultural scene in New Jersey.
The Alliance offers programs that make the arts accessible to all members of the community regardless of geographic or economic constraints including the popular month-long annual Stages Festival (formerly known as Family Week at the Theatre) as well as njArtsTix.org – a virtual ticket booth on the web. The Alliance also supports its membership as well as other arts organizations in the state – through the Cultural Access Network Project, a co-sponsored program with the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State – as they work to make their programming accessible to persons with disabilities.
The Ovation Gala celebrated the achievements of the Alliance and the impact its programs and services have had on the state.
The business community enthusiastically supported the Alliance’s once-every-five-years fund-raising gala. Robert H. Doherty, President, Bank of America New Jersey served as dinner chairman and Diane DiFrancesco and Carol H. Herbert served as Co-Chairs of the Benefit Committee.
In addition to Bank of America, other major corporate sponsors included McCarter & English, LLP, Prudential Financial. Additional corporate sponsorship was provided by Capital One, Chase, Conner Strong & Buckelew Companies, H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, PNC Wealth Management, PSEG. Foundation supporters included The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and The HMS Foundation.
“Bank of America is proud of its longstanding commitment to arts organizations in the state, including the Alliance,” said Doherty. “Theatre is important to the education of our children, local economies and the overall quality of life here in the Garden State.”
The Theatre Alliance honored McCarter & English LLC and Carolyn J. Ferolito for their devotion to the arts and community building programs. “McCarter & English has been a long-time supporter of the Alliance and many of our member theatres, and has a deep commitment to supporting arts programs that impact young people and the development of our communities,” said the Alliance’s Executive Director John McEwen.
Co-Chairs Diane DiFrancesco and Carol Herbert spoke of Carolyn Ferolito’s leadership at the event: “Carolyn Ferolito’s leadership support to the Alliance and our member theatres – including her long-time service on Paper Mill Playhouse and the New Jersey Theatre Alliance Board – has been outstanding; the time, wisdom, dedication, support and compassion she has shared is an inspiration for others to follow.”
Noted New Jersey and Broadway performers Lee Roy Reams and Karen Mason entertained the audience with selections from Jerry Herman’s songbook. The multi-award winning composer (Mame, La Cage Aux Folles and Hello Dolly! ) and New Jersey native was honored by the Alliance for his contribution to the theatre. The performance was made possible by the generous support of NJTA partner The Actors Fund, and ASCAP (The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers).
The Alliance debuted their new logo and brand for the Alliance and their programs at the Gala. “We thought it was a nice birthday gift to give ourselves,” said McEwen. The organization alsopremiered a short film at the event that focused on the impact of the Theatre Alliance and their membership on the quality of life in New Jersey. The film included the participation of Governor Thomas H. Kean and Senator Thomas H. Kean Jr.; tar-Ledger theatre critic Peter Filichia; Thomas A. Bracken, President and CEO of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce; New Jersey and Broadway theatre, film and television star Suzzanne Douglas; Danny Murphy of Danny’s Steakhouse, Seafood and Sushi Bar in Red Bank, and patrons of popular Alliance program The Stages Festival and access offerings through the Cultural Access Network Project. Participants in the film noted that a vibrant theatre community is a key ingredient to both the cultural and economic health of the neighborhoods, towns, and cities in which we live and work. “There are very definite success stories in New Jersey of towns that have turned around where theatre has been very vital to that turn-around,” says Bracken in the film. Danny Murphy, owner of Danny’s Steakhouse, Seafood and Sushi Bar concurs. “Every night there’s a show, there’s a 30% increase on that particular night.”
To learn more about the impact of the New Jersey Theatre Alliance and its membership, watch the video at www.njtheatrealliance.org or on YouTube at http://goo.gl/6W35b.
Founded in 1981, the New Jersey Theatre Alliance is the first statewide organization for professional, not-for-profit theatre companies in the United States, and is a leader in developing model programs that foster collaboration, cooperation and audience development. Currently celebrating its 30th year, the Alliance provides member theatres and arts patrons a wide range of supportive services and programs. The Alliance assists member theatres in their growth and development, as well as in the promotion of their programs, helping them reach their full potential. For arts patrons, the Alliance provides a variety of services to enhance their theatre-going experience.
Funding for the New Jersey Theatre Alliance, a not-for-profit organization, is provided in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations including the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Prudential and Bank of America. United is the official airline of the New Jersey Theatre Alliance.