Hamilton Stage Offers Free Open House Preview This Weekend

Artistic rendering of the completed Hamilton Stage (courtesy of Hamilton Stage)

RAHWAY–Hamilton Stage for the Performing Arts will open its doors to the public for the first time at a special Open House Preview Saturday May 19, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday, May 20, from noon to 4 p.m. Construction on Hamilton Stage is expected to be complete in early June, with the formal grand opening in September 2012.

The public is invited to enjoy a family-friendly day of activities including live theater and music rehearsals, conversations with professional performers, and a chance to look behind the scenes in this dazzling new purpose-built theater. There is no charge for admission.

At the Open House Preview you can meet the graceful Nai-Ni Chen and learn about her Signature Dance Camp for ages 8-18 at Hamilton Stage this summer. You can also take a beatboxing class with award-winning performer and founder of the World Beatbox Association, Chesney Snow; have your picture taken with children’s favorite Angelina Ballerina; watch a rehearsal from an original play by StrangeDog Theatre Company; and listen to a professional coaching of the popular barbershop chorus, the Jerseyaires. You might even end up on stage. And while you’re there, learn a few tricks from the stage and try your hand at professional stage make-up by Make-Up and Costume Design Artists.

With its intimate 199-seat Mainstage Theater and 60-seat Front Room Theater/Rehearsal Hall, Hamilton Stage is the perfect complement to the larger Union County Performing Arts Center, which contains the historic 1365-seat Vaudeville stage, the 50-seat Loft Theater, and the 60-seat LightSoundSpace concert venue (next door). When combined, these five theaters and concert spaces will make the UC PAC Campus one of the most versatile in the state.

“We are particularly excited about the impending opening of Hamilton Stage, a beautiful and intimate new theatre that will serve as home for a variety of artists and resident theatre and dance companies,” said Christopher Daggett President and CEO of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, which awarded $50,000 to support the work of Hamilton Stage and Arts Guild New Jersey. “Thanks to the inspiring work of James Kennedy, and countless others, all eyes will be on Rahway in the coming months… you are almost there!”

“Opening a new theater is a once-in-a-generation moment in the life of any community,” said Richard T. Bryant, president of Front of House Services, who is overseeing the theater’s opening. Hamilton Stage recently announced the six companies that will collectively present more than 100 performances during Hamilton Stage’s Inaugural Season, September 2012 through June 2013. These companies, known as Artistic Affiliates, were selected through a competitive RFP process that began last summer. “Our artistic affiliates will have an ongoing relationship with Hamilton Stage, so look for this theater to be lit again and again,” said Bryant.

Hamilton Stage’s Principal Artistic Affiliate (more than nine weeks per season) is the newly minted American Theater Group, founded by NJ producer James Vagias. Legendary Broadway composer Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Pippin, Godspell) is artistic advisor for ATG’s New American Musical Reading Series. The acclaimed Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company will also take a primary role as Hamilton Stage’s Artistic Engagement Partner. The company’s first offering, the Nai-Ni Chen Signature Dance Camp (beginning July 17th), will anchor Hamilton Stage’s pre-opening youth and community programs.

Artistic Affiliates (more than two weeks of performances each season) are American Repertory Ballet, one of the state’s leading ballet companies and schools; Manhattan-based Vital Theatre Company, a national touring troupe for children; StrangeDog Theatre Company, the young theater collective that specializes in new works by its playwright member Ben Clawson; and the playful, virtuosic Ballets with a Twist, which serves up glamorous evenings of original choreography, music and costumes.

Hamilton Stage is located in Union County at 360 Hamilton Street in Rahway, NJ. For more information on Hamilton Stage, updates on the Open House Preview, to become a member of Hamilton Stage, or to enroll in classes, visit www.hamiltonstage.org or ucpac.org, or call the UC PAC/Hamilton Stage Box Office at 1-732-499-8226. Tickets for Hamilton Stage events are expected to go on sale in June. Visit hamiltonstage.org for updates.

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