Ribbon Cutting Ceremony


Celebration Marks Completion of the Palace Theatre’s Restoration

Under the glowing lights of the Palace Theatre’s new marquee, over 150 patrons and supporters of The Growing Stage-The Children’s Theatre of New Jersey gathered on Friday, September 21, to celebrate the completion of the front façade, the final major capital project in the historic building’s restoration. The ceremonial ribbon was cut by Kathryn and Dominick V. Romano, board chairman of RoNetco Supermarkets, Inc., and Adelaide Zagoren and her daughter, Laura Baron, president of the Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation and a Growing Stage trustee.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxDominick V. and Kathryn Romano, Steve Fredericks,
Adelaide Zagoren and Laura Baron

The Growing Stage, the only professional theatre-for-young-audiences company in the state of New Jersey that owns its own facility, purchased the historic Palace Theatre in 1995. At that time, the building, once a New Jersey entertainment landmark, was in a desperate state of disrepair. The Growing Stage has since raised more than $2 million and invested thousands of contractor and volunteer hours to restore the theatre to a regional performing arts center that is listed on the Morris County, State of New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places. The front façade restoration was underwritten by a $375,000 grant from the Morris County Historic Preservation Trust, which provided 80% of the funds needed to complete the project.

Stephen L. Fredericks, founder and executive director of The Growing Stage, expressed appreciation to the organization’s funding partners and loyal supporters as well as local, county and state officials, many of whom attended the invitation-only event. “Your generous financial commitment and your belief in our educational and artistic mission have given The Growing Stage a home where children and families can participate in the arts,” he said. “On behalf of our young patrons and our performing and teaching artists, I thank you.”

Netcong Councilman Elmer Still and
Jack Sylvester and Mayor Joseph Nametko
were on hand for the festivities.

The Palace Theatre, built in 1919, was a popular venue for silent films, vaudeville shows, pre-Broadway productions staged by the Hopatcong Broadway Players, and movies until the 1970s. Competition from multiplex cinemas then forced the Palace to close, and in 1981, it was converted into a moving-and-storage company warehouse, a purpose it served until 1994. The fully-restored, air-conditioned Palace now features a 240-seat theatre and balcony area graced with hand-painted murals by artist-in-residence Perry Arthur Kroeger, as well as office, classroom and rehearsal space.

The Growing Stage has opened its 31st season of professional family theatre with “Peter Pan.” The show runs through October 14 at the Palace Theatre, and tickets are available by calling the box office at (973)347-4946 or at www.growingstage.com.

(From Left to Right) Assemblyman Tony Bucco (R-25th district),
President of the Growing Stage Board of Trustees Bill Byrnes,
Senator Anthony Bucco (R-25th district) and Assemblyman Gary Chiusano (R-24th district)
join TGS founder Stephen L. Fredericks at the ribbon cutting.