By: Gregory G. Allen
BroadwayWorld.com, the largest theatre site on the Internet, is excited to announce a new feature to its comprehensive regional coverage - the Featured Regional Theater of the Week! Each week, BWW will introduce its readers to a regional theater located in one of our (over 130!) coverage cities. By exploring these different venues, their history and showcasing the production seasons, BWW continues its commitment to expand our presence in communities and cities across the United States.
This Week's Featured Regional Theater: Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum in Morris County, New Jersey.
Located in Morristown, NJ as part of the Morris Museum, the Bickford Theatre first opened in 1986 as a lecture hall with occasional concerts and poetry readings. By 1994, the Board of Trustees of the Morris Museum made the decision to become a self-producing theatre for its membership. Walker Joyce was hired as the Producing Artistic Director in 1993 and he featured five plays in his 1994 season. In its first six seasons, Bickford Theatre was nominated for 32 awards, won 6, and placed a show in the Star-Ledger’s annual Top Ten Plays list for three consecutive years. A subscriber base was established in Season Two. In 2001, Eric Hafen was hired as the Artistic Director and has grown the theatre to include year-round entertainment with Main Stage Shows, a Children’s Theatre series, and a Jazz Showcase. In 2005, he was named the Outstanding Professional in the Arts from the Arts Council of the Morris Area. Hafen told BWW that he is thrilled how he has doubled his subscribers during his last ten years, steadily grown his audiences, and made the Bickford a positive and nurturing environment where actors and designers want to work.
The Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum is a 312-seat house with a proscenium stage. It is a professional theatre that works in conjunction with Actors' Equity Association and the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers and is a senior member of the New Jersey Theatre Alliance, a not-for-profit organization of 30 professional theatres throughout the state of New Jersey.
Through the years, the space has seen many performers grace the stage such as Robert Cuccioli, Ron Bohmer, J. Mark McVey, William Schallert, Jason Robards III, SuzzAnne Douglas, and Gary Willis.
The Upcoming season includes:
“You're Gonna Love Tomorrow” A Stephen Sondheim review Sept 20-Oct 14
“The Last Romance” – The NJ Premiere of the Joe DiPietro play Nov 15-Dec 2
“A Tuna Christmas” Dec 13-30
“Murder at Green Meadows” – The East Coast Premiere of the Douglas Post play Jan 31-Feb 10
“Plaza Suite” by Neil Simon celebrating the 40th anniversary since it was on Broadway April/May
When asked how Mr. Hafen chooses his season he said it is 100% about his audience. “Our audiences enjoy musicals, comedies and mysteries so I always think in those terms when choosing a season,” he said. “I want to make sure it hasn’t been produced in a while and the language of the playwright is also very important to me.” Hafen went on to say he loves to introduce his audience to new works and was excited when the play “Almost Maine” by John Cariani left Broadway and he grabbed it up for a NJ Premiere. Though his audiences had never heard of it, they were delighted he shared it with them and exposed them to something new. And that is exactly what he plans to continue doing at the Bickford.