After eighty-six years, the Grand Theatre - home of The Road Company Theater Group, Inc. since 1976 - fell silent on May 14, 2010 when its roof collapsed, destroying the entire venue. This was a devastating tragedy for theater-goers throughout the Delaware Valley and it hit Southern New Jersey with significant impact. Now, after over two-and-a-half years of tireless hard work, fundraising, advocating, and numerous meetings with architects and contractors, the Grand has been rebuilt. A Grand Gala on February 16 will mark its official reopening. The event is being held in conjunction with the 2013 season opening production Hairspray, running February 14 - March 2. The Grand Theatre is located at 405 S. Main Street, Williamstown, NJ. For tickets and information, visit www.roadcompany.com or call 856-728-2120.
Lauri Hudson, Board President of The Road Company which owns the Grand Theatre, has led the rebuilding. "I don't think that there was ever a question that we would rebuild. The first order of business was securing the site and dealing with the insurance company," she reports. "We met with contractor after contractor to see how much it would really cost to rebuild. Needless to say our estimates and theirs were really very different. However, failing wasn't an option. The board has done a great job and the outpouring we have gotten from the community has shown that this theater has touched the lives of so many people. We couldn't let them down." $85,000 from donors and fundraisers has supplemented the insurance money in providing the $1,3 million needed to rebuild.
The new Grand has been expanded to include a large, multi-use room on the second floor, more sophisticated technology for lighting and sound, dressing rooms, a loading dock, and a Grand Galleria for showcasing the work of local visual artists, but with seating capacity at 200, it has not lost the intimacy audiences have come to appreciate when seeing shows.
On February 16, the Grand Gala begins with a 5:30pm cocktail reception and silent auction (including the G-R-A-N-D letters from the original marquee), continues with a performance of Hairspray at 7pm, and concludes with a dessert reception and dance party following the show on the Corny Collins Show set on stage. Plus, patrons will have the opportunity to sponsor a new theater seat with their names on a seat.
The Road Company is launching the inaugural season in the new Grand Theatre in a big way with Hairspray, a big family-friendly, Tony- winning musical piled high with big hair, big dance numbers, and lots of laughter and romance. Audiences will be transported to 1962 Baltimore, home of the lovable plus-size teen Tracy Turnblad whose only desire is to dance on the Corny Collins Show. On her way to realizing her dream, she wins the affections of heartthrob Link Larkin and is transformed from social outcast to sudden star. In addition to Hairspray, the 2013 season includes productions of The History Boys, The Wedding Singer, Assassins, Gypsy, and A Christmas Story. Summer Theater Camp productions, featuring young people ages 8 through 18, will be Disney's Aladdin, Jr. and Legally Blonde. And, new this year, will be a series of theatrical classes for children and adults.