New Brunswick Opens Its $172 Million Performing Arts Center

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New Brunswick Performing Arts Center
The $172 million New Brunswick Performing Arts Center, at 11 Livingston Avenue in the heart of downtown, hosted its first performance on Sept. 5. Photo courtesy New Brunswick Performing Arts Center.

The 23-story New Brunswick Performing Arts Center (NBPAC) complex opened on September 4 with an event drawing 450 guests to celebrate the long-awaited $172 million project, which includes two theaters, office space, and 207 apartments for artists and performers.

The building at 11 Livingston Avenue, adjacent to the 98-year-old State Theater and massive Heldrich Hotel, is expected to “transform New Brunswick’s downtown cultural arts district, setting a new standard for performing arts excellence throughout the Northeast,” said a spokeswoman.

NBPAC features two proscenium-style theaters, five rehearsal studios, and 30,000 square feet of office space.

The Elizabeth Ross Johnson Theater, which seats 463, has an 86-foot stage, a 75-foot fly tower and a trap system, and an orchestra pit that accommodates 60 to 70 musicians.

The Arthur Laurents Theater, designed primarily for theatrical performances and smaller dance performances, seats 252 and features a 60-foot stage and contemporary grid system for lighting and sound.

The NBPAC began its inaugural season the night after the event, Thursday, September 5, with Crossroads Theatre Company’s Paul Robeson. The CN Philharmonic and Rutgers Symphony Orchestra will be featured later in September, as well as performances of Sense and Sensibility. The complete lineup can be found here.

The theater’s member companies include the George Street Playhouse, Crossroads Theatre Company, American Repertory Ballet, and Mason Gross School of Arts at Rutgers University.

For artists, actors, and dancers who need a place to live, the building offers both market-rate and affordable luxury apartment units. It also boasts a 344-space public parking garage for staff and theater patrons.

“The New Brunswick Performing Arts Center will bring even more patrons to the city to enjoy our cultural and entertainment offerings, dine at our top-rated restaurants, and enjoy our hospitality and nightlife,” said New Brunswick Mayor Jim Cahill.

“The opening of NBPAC is the culmination of a phenomenal partnership with the City of New Brunswick and the arts community,” said Rutgers University president Robert Barchi.

The complex is a public-private partnership among Devco, the City of New Brunswick, Rutgers University, Middlesex County, New Jersey Economic Development Authority, New Brunswick Cultural Center, Pennrose, LLC, New Brunswick Parking Authority, and 11 other groups.

“This new performing arts center is a long-awaited dream come true!” said David Saint, the artistic director of the George Street Playhouse.

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