New Jersey's 10 Best Live Theater Venues!

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No matter how far technology takes us, it is unlikely that any gadget could ever capture the pure magic that is attending a live theater performance. The energy of the actors, the emotion of the story, the shared rapture of the audience, all combined to create a transformative, transfixing experience. Thankfully, residents of the Garden State can enjoy world class theater in our very backyard. From Shakespeare to Broadway, grand locations or community based gems, the theaters of New Jersey are ready and waiting to break a leg and blow you away. 

1. Paper Mill Playhouse, Milburn, NJ

Opened in 1938 in an already historic paper mill, this Milburn location has provided New Jersey with literally hundreds of world quality productions throughout the years. Playing host at various times to huge names such as Jane Fonda, Gene Wilder, Eva Gabor, Tony Danza, and Anne Hathaway, and with multiple original productions moving on to bigger stages, Paper Mill Playhouse has claimed its rightful place as King of New Jersey Theater. Visit today for old favorites, instant classics, and even select Autism-friendly performances. 

2. State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ

Attracting over 200,000 visitors annually, the State Theatre New Jersey is truly the culmination of decades of vision and dedication. Set beautifully in a converted vaudevillian and silent movie theater, this incredible organization puts forth productions for pleasure, education, and even families. Families can enjoy innovative relaxed performances, with modified lighting and the freedom to move about if necessary. More adult patrons can expect world class musicals, stand-up comedy, ballet, and riveting cultural performances.

3. Two River Theater, Red Bank, NJ

Two River Theater puts forth fabulous productions, but what really secures their spot near the top is a commitment to fostering the talent of emerging playwrights, and helping bring their stories to the world. Furthermore, this Red Bank gem works with schools to both introduce children to the theater, and assist at risk youth in communities throughout the region. Support both the arts and young people with a trip to Two River Theater. 

4. McCarter Theatre Center, Princeton, NJ

From classic favorites to daring innovation to community outreach, McCarter Theater Center brings a touch of brilliance to New Jersey. This Princeton location has seen the world premiere of works such as “Our Town,” and “You Can’t Take it With You,” and legendary stars such as Katharine Hepburn and Elaine Stritch have paced its stage. Every aspect of live entertainment approached by the McCarter Theater is carried out spectacularly, and they’ve tried their hand at just about everything. 

5. Bergen Performing Arts Center, Englewood, NJ

A not-for-profit dream of a theater. Bergen Performing Arts Center helps set the pace for quality theater in New Jersey, hosting over 200 events annually, and attracting over 150,000 patrons. Their performing arts school fosters creativity in children across the state with outreach programming, and has introduced countless young people to the joys of live theater. Consider supporting a true legacy with a visit to Bergen Performing Arts Center. 

6. Cape May Stage, Cape May, NJ

This member of the National Register of Historic Places continues to wow with sharp, quality theater and promising new talent. Be sure to check out their website before a visit, as Cape May Stage has paired with local restaurants to create discounted night-out packages, ideal for when you just have to try something new. 

7. The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Madison, NJ

A 308-seat theater, with none measuring more than 32 feet from the stage, make the Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey one of the most intimately breathtaking ways to take in live theater. As the state’s only theater dedicated to the Bar, this Madison location can claim uniqueness as well. Originally a summer stock situation in Cape May, the Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey can today safely be called a world-class option for live performances. 

8. Broadway Theater, Pitman, NJ

Diverse productions, talented cast and crew, and a commitment to quality theater makes Broadway Theater an easy add to our list. This truly gorgeous Pitman location has hosted some of entertainment’s brightest stars throughout the years, from George Burns to George Carlin. Catch tomorrow’s icons early and take in a production at Broadway Theater. 

9. George Street Playhouse, New Brunswick, NJ

Since 1974, George Street Playhouse has brought both mainstream productions and issue-oriented theater to New Jersey, transforming a former supermarket into a world class stage. Recently rehomed to the former state museum of agriculture, George Street Playhouse is dedicated to continuing both quality theater in the state of New Jersey, and a love of the stage in her residents. 

10. Plays-In-The-Park, Edison, NJ

As perhaps the most pleasant manner of enjoying live theater in New Jersey, Plays-In-The-Park hosts three full-scale musicals per annum in their incredible amphitheater in Edison. This incredible, affordable (children under 12 are free and adult tickets cost just $7) option for live theater is a great way to be thoroughly entertained, introduce children to theater, and spend some time outdoors. 

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