During Hollywood's Golden Age, The Community Theatre was the crowning achievement of Walter Reade's chain of New Jersey movie palaces. By the 1980s, after five decades of movie screenings and catastrophic popcorn wars, the theater sat in disrepair. Concerned citizens banded together in 1994 to save the historic building from a sad end, and in May 2011, after a series of renovations, the theater officially changed its name to the Mayo Performing Arts Center. The venue currently hosts more than 200 performances a year, occasional art showings, and performance-arts education classes for adults and children.
During the past 25 years, Brian and Jenny Nash have taught all sorts of people to dance. They've coached members of the New Jersey Philharmonic Orchestra for fundraising balls and helmed the Rutgers University collegiate dance program. At Nash Dancenter, they guide students through the simple sway of foxtrot and the trumpet-backed scintillation of salsa. A team of instructors aids them, drawing upon experience in national competitions and a love of the famous dance scene in Jaws. The studio in which they teach is an airy, 8,000-square-foot ballroom with french doors, sweeping window arches, and glistening chandeliers. During dance socials, guests look into the impressive chamber from a balcony, watching twirls and tango steps below.
Arthur Murray Dance Studio has been a leading name in franchise dance since 1912, when the entrepreneur began selling mail-order dance lessons. Expanding his reach, he enlisted teachers to spread his signature dance lessons on first-class steamships and skyrocketed to fame in the '30s after introducing the public to such dances as the Lambeth Walk and the Big Apple. By the 1950s, Arthur and his wife, Kathryn, were hosting their own highly popular TV show on ABC, the Arthur Murray Dance Party, which ran for 12 years. Today, Arthur Murray's team prepares students for rug cutting at special events and weekend nightclub jaunts. Clients who arrive to lessons partnerless will be paired up with other classmates as the instructors assess their current skill level and make recommendations on the most appropriate program. Throughout lessons, instructors teach the foundations of two to four dances from a long list of styles that range from Latin to country-western, helping students to learn basic step patterns, timing, and the ability to lead or follow.
Winner of the JerseyArts.com 2009 People's Choice Award for favorite Professional Theater, Paper Mill Playhouse has been opening the curtain on top-quality musical theater and plays since its debut in 1938. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, a Tony Award-winning musical comedy, follows the travails of a group of young students participating in their countywide spell off. With hilarious tunes and frequent fourth wall demolition, the musical expertly tickles audience funny femurs while filling their ears with the harmonious euphony of the Tony-nominated score. Groupon buyers will leave the theater with a Paper Mill Playhouse cup (a $5 value), allowing patrons of the arts to signal their theater affiliation to rival gangs of symphony and museum cup holders.
The Maplewood Theatre's name hovers above the marquee in an art-deco script over a row of lights, conjuring up nostalgia of the classic cinemas of yesteryear. But the retro-style facade doesn't mean that the movies are also throwbacks. Instead, the modern movie screens flicker with first-run films. The theater's 3D capabilities allow patrons to slip on glasses that make them feel as if they're in the middle of the action or to protect their eyes when they accidentally dunk their faces into 3-D popcorns.
Before taking the reins at Broadway Performing Arts, Elisa Heinsohn appeared on the TV series Fame, and Cleve Asbury acted in the Oscar-winning film Chicago. The duo also racked up an impressive set of Broadway credits—Asbury most recently played Mr. Ovington in the hit How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying—and starred in more television commercials than a dog who can talk. Nowadays, the two continue their performing-arts work while co-owning and co-directing their studio, leading their team as they teach students from 3-year-olds to adults. The studio’s eclectic curricula hone students’ skills in disciplines such as musical theater, dance, and guitar.