Newton Theatre celebrates anniversary


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  • Photo by Ann Marie Vitoulis Pictured from left: Karen Doubleday, Box Office Manager; Jonathan Peirce, Co-Owner; and Pete Larena, General Manager.



A slice of cake, a glass of champagne, and a night of laughs. That's how The Newton Theatre celebrated their second anniversary on Saturday, Sept. 7. Prior to a sold out show featuring Saturday Night Live comedian Jim Breuer, Newton Theatre provided sheet cakes and champagne for their loyal patrons to enjoy.

The historic theatre which was founded in 1924 has been completely renovated and restored, providing Sussex County and beyond with a diverse mix of entertainment. Musical acts have included performances by "The Gin Blossoms," "Kansas," Judy Collins and Lyle Lovett. Various comedians and family acts have graced the stage as well.

The theatre has not always been able to boast such beauty however. Two years ago when owners Jonathan Peirce and Paul Larena bought the then closed down movie theatre, the building was in disarray. Both Peirce and Larena worked in the music, sound and lighting business and were actually looking for a potential nightclub that they could open, when they came upon Newton Theatre.

"We really love old theatres, and happened to drive by this one and decided to buy it," says Peirce. "The renovation was bigger than what we planned, but worth it. We spent six months gutting the building, adding a stage and dressing rooms. The theatre is now beautiful."

The theatre, with its 1920's architect, and legendary performers, had added an exciting vitality to the Sussex County area.

"We obviously try and concentrate on Sussex County, but the theater draws in people from everywhere," says Peirce. "It's more then just because there is not really a lot of theatres close by, but because of our customer service; that's what really draws our patrons in."

Peirce says the theatre's plans for the upcoming year are big. The goal is to have 100 shows, book even bigger names and put on more theatrical events. Peirce and Larena also plan to start showing films in the theatre once again.

"We are leaning more towards the independent, classic and art style films," says Peirce. "These will be great films that you would not see in your average mall movie theatre.

Inspiration for breathing new life into The Newton Theatre came from Peirce and Larena's belief that experiencing art, in any shape or form is a basic need that everyone has.

"I have always been a big proprietor of the arts," says Peirce. "People may not always be conscious of it, but art touches you everyday, it is very important for people."

"Without it, why would we even want to be alive?"

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