George Street Playhouse still strong after 40 years
When David Saint programs a main stage season, he kind of likens it to a meal. After a meaty, substantial main course, there’s a little teaser or appetizer, then an engaging second course and a light dessert.
Saint, artistic director at the George Street Playhouse, runs a similar season to Broadway, with eight shows a week from Tuesday through Sunday.
The Playhouse, a nonprofit theater located on Livingston Avenue in downtown New Brunswick, is celebrating its 40th season of productions this year.
Eric Krebs, a former University faculty member, founded the playhouse in 1974.
A season for George Street Playhouse typically runs from September through May, said Christopher Howatt, associate director of Marketing and Public Relations.
Howatt said Saint has held his position for 16 years.
“There’ll be one thing that’s really thought provoking, then there will be a light comedy, the musical that could have a heartfelt story, and then there will be something like a classic that we present in a new way,” Howatt said. “Our audiences like the variety we provide.”
The last two productions of the season are both scheduled to run this spring.
One, a play adapted from the memoir by Giulia Melucci, is titled “I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti.” The other is an edition of playwright Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town.”
Jim Jack, the playhouse’s director of education, organizes a touring educational theater that has performed for more than 40,000 students.
It consists of four actors and a stage manager, offering four different productions and visiting virtually every public school in New Brunswick, Howatt said. These productions are all original works by the touring theater.
Productions cover topics relevant to students, such as cyberbullying, as well as with themes such as history, Greek mythology or the Holocast, to pair with topics the schools are covering in class.
Although the main stage of the playhouse has hosted original productions, many established playwrights such as Arthur Laurents, author of “West Side Story,” have led productions there. His particular contribution led to the main stage being named after him, Saint said.
R. Michael Miller, head of Design and Production/Set Design for the Mason Gross School of the Arts, has also done set design for George Street Playhouse for more than 20 years. He said working in the presence of famous actors and writers is very humbling, and their productions go smoothly because at the playhouse, everyone has a love for what they do.
“I have great passion for this work,” Saint said. “I love theater, I love actors and I love the art of creating and it’s the most wonderful gift anyone can give. This is the greatest job you could possibly have.”