(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- On May 7, 2022, State Theatre New Jersey hosted Fête at the Farm, a Benefit Gala event to celebrate State Theatre New Jersey’s Centennial Anniversary. The State Theatre Benefit Gala—which was the theater’s first Gala in three years—took place at the historic Suydam Farms in Somerset, NJ. Proceeds from the State Theatre New Jersey Gala help provide education and community engagement programs for children, families, and underserved residents and support the continued excellence of its world-class mainstage performances.
The special anniversary event included a delicious farm-to-table menu by Fritz’s in New Brunswick and beer specially brewed for State Theatre’s centennial by Suydam Farms’ master brewers. The evening also included an intimate performance by Tony® Award-winner Brian Stokes Mitchell, who shared stories of his life and career and sang songs from Broadway and beyond including Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” and a powerful rendition of “The Impossible Dream (The Quest)” from Man of La Mancha.
“Celebrating our 100th anniversary with an amazing performance by Brian Stokes Mitchell at the beautiful 300-year-old Suydam Farms, was absolutely wonderful,” added Sarah K. Chaplin, State Theatre’s President & CEO. “This was our first Gala since 2019 and a major step forward in our recovery since the pandemic. We are very thankful for the support of our donors.”
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience celebrating State Theatre’s 100th anniversary and we are so grateful to the Suydam Family who opened their historic farm to help us celebrate the occasion,” commented State Theatre New Jersey Gala Co-Chairs Hiam Boraie and Wendy Wiebalk. “This year’s Gala went beyond our expectations, and we applaud the combined efforts of an incredible Gala Committee and State Theatre staff,”
This year’s Fête at the Farm Gala brought together several historic Central New Jersey institutions for the 100th Anniversary Gala to celebrate a shared history and honor those who made the return to the stage possible. These institutions included: Suydam Farms, a 300-year-old farm founded by some of the first settlers to our area; Magyar Bank, a steadfast supporter of the State Theatre who recently celebrated its centennial anniversary; and our healthcare heroes, on behalf of Johnson & Johnson, whose commitment to caring for our community throughout this pandemic has made it possible for us to welcome the public back to the theater once again.
The State Theatre 2022 Benefit Gala committee included (Gala Co-Chair) Hiam Boraie, Boraie Development; (Vice-Chair of the State Theatre New Jersey Board of Trustees, Gala Co-Chair) Wendy Wiebalk, Cahn & Parra, LLC.; Diana Braga, Magyar Bank; Christine Bucca; Saul Curtis, Retired, PricewaterhouseCoopers; (State Theatre New Jersey Board of Trustee) Craig Guiffre, American Benefits Consulting; Eileen Harkins, Retired, Johnson & Johnson; Marylu Korkuch; Jean McDonnell, Magyar Bank; (State Theatre New Jersey Board of Trustee) Farryn Melton, Bristol-Myers Squibb; Linda Piscadlo, Retired, Johnson & Johnson; John Reissner, Magyar Bank; and (State Theatre New Jersey Board of Trustee) Robin Suydam, Franklin Mutual Insurance Companies.
After major renovations, State Theatre New Jersey has reopened and celebrated its 100th Anniversary in December 2021 in a fully renovated theater including newly renovated lobbies, all new restrooms, upgraded HVAC systems, a new elevator for access to all levels, and brand-new theater seats. Originally built as a silent film and vaudeville palace, State Theatre’s historic significance was honored by PBS by featuring it in its documentary series, Treasures of New Jersey, in the fall of 2018. “Treasures of New Jersey: State Theatre New Jersey” can be streamed online.
Today, State Theatre is the largest performing arts center in Central New Jersey and has welcomed more than six million people through its doors since reopening as a non-profit performing arts center in 1988. State Theatre New Jersey is a cornerstone of the cultural vitality of Middlesex County and averages a total economic impact on New Brunswick and the surrounding area of more than $18 million a year. The mainstage programs have featured high-caliber artists such as Diana Ross, Tony Bennett, Kevin Hart, Ringo Starr, Melissa Etheridge, John Leguizamo, Harry Connick, Jr., Diana Krall, and Crosby, Stills & Nash. Program offerings include Broadway, orchestra, family, dance, comedy, rock/pop, jazz, Performances for Schools, and Sensory-Friendly Performances.
State Theatre New Jersey’s programs are made possible by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. Grant funding has been provided by the Middlesex County Board of County Commissioners through a grant award from the Middlesex County Cultural and Arts Trust Fund.