March 27th is World Theatre Day! Since 1962, the International Theatre Institute and theatre communities across the world have celebrated World Theatre Day to honor the value of performing arts and its ability to reach across cultures and international lines. 

To acknowledge World Theatre Day, Journey Through Jersey wishes to recognize the Growing Stage at the Historic Palace Theatre. Built in 1919, the historic Palace Theatre became the “center of entertainment in northwest New Jersey.” The Palace Theatre was home to vaudeville acts, silent movies, and local plays. In the 1930s, the Hopatcong Broadway Players used the theatre for practice performances before taking the shows to New York’s famous Broadway. The popularity of the performing arts facility continued through the 1940s to the 1970s with live and filmed events. With competition from television and multi-screened movie theatres, though, the Palace Theatre closed in the 1980s. The building was soon converted into a moving company warehouse. The historic building and its artistic legacy were threatened by this closure. 

The Growing Stage purchased the historic Palace Theatre in 1995 in order to create a regional center for the performing arts. The organization has since invested thousands of dollars into the restoration of the historic theatre. According to the website, the fully restored Palace features a 240-seat theatre and balcony/art gallery graced with hand-painted murals by company artist-in-residence Perry Arthur Kroeger, a modern concession area, rehearsal space, as well as classrooms and administrative offices. Shortly after the restoration efforts, the Palace Theatre was added to the State and National Register of Historic Places (1996) for its architecture, engineering, and social history. In 2010, official state legislation (SJR68) recognized the Growing Stage as the Children’s Theatre of New Jersey. 

The Growing Stage is an associate member of the New Jersey Theatre Group – an association of professional theatres. It is also the only theatre-for-young-audiences company in the state of New Jersey that owns its own facility. The theatre provides year-round entertainment and educational opportunities for Pre-K to high school students. Such events include school-day matinee performances, art classes, and a summer camp. In addition, the Theatre offers Master Classes that “strive to bring professional instruction from notable industry professionals to young people of all ages.” The Growing Theatre even offers Sensory-Friendly performances and scholarships for young people impacted by autism and other challenges within the spectrum. 

Celebrating its 40-year anniversary in 2022, the Growing Stage has grown into an inclusive and educational organization that continues to honor the goals of the World Theatre Day and the International Theatre Institute all while being dedicated stewards for a historic piece of New Jersey’s artistic legacy.   

For more information about upcoming performances, see On Stage at the Growing Stage

For more information about education opportunities including the Summer Arts Camp, check out Education at the Growing Stage

Want to learn more about the Palace Theatre and the International Theatre Institute? Check out these resources! 

World Theatre Day, International Theatre Institute (ITI) – World Organization for the Performing Arts 

How to Celebrate World Theatre Day: Guidelines, World Theatre Day 

Growing Stage at the Historic Palace Theatre, Journey Through Jersey 

History, The Growing Stage: The Children’s Theatre of New Jersey 

Follow the Growing Stage on social media! 

Growing Stage The Childrens Theatre of New Jersey, Facebook