Theater students to take the stage at renowned regional theater George Street Playhouse

Longtime Hub City neighbors Mason Gross School of the Arts and George Street Playhouse have initiated a landmark theatrical partnership that will allow students to launch professional theater careers in downtown New Brunswick.

The artistic and educational collaboration will kick off with George Street’s production of Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning American classic, Our Town, scheduled to run April 22 through May 25, 2014.  

David Esbjornson, chair of the Rutgers University Mason Gross School Theater Department, as well as an award-winning theater director (Broadway’s Driving Miss Daisy and The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?), will direct the 24-member cast that includes a mix of theater students and professional actors. This Grover’s Corners will truly embody Our Town as multiple members of the university, city, and state communities make guest appearances throughout the run.  

“As the legendary actress and acting teacher Uta Hagen said to me when she performed at George Street Playhouse, ‘Get those young people here to work with us! They can learn from us, and we can be energized by them!’ ” says George Street Playhouse Artistic Director David Saint. “For 15 years now I have been working to realize this dream of a partnership between this great training ground for exceptionally talented young people at Mason Gross School of the Arts and George Street Playhouse. Our Town with our theater and our university is the perfect inauguration.” 

Graduates and undergraduates will work onstage as part of the alliance. The collaboration will pave the way for students to earn a coveted Equity card, proof of membership in the American Actors’ Equity Association, a labor union representing theater performers and stage managers.

“It makes all the sense in the world, from George Street’s standpoint and ours,” says George B. Stauffer, Dean of the Mason Gross School. “The partnership will allow George Street to present productions with a large cast that includes young, vibrant actors, and it will give our students the chance to work with George Street’s seasoned professionals. Most importantly, it will create a new Rutgers-New Brunswick alliance that will benefit the entire community.”

Esbjornson agrees.

“I am thrilled that Mason Gross and George Street Playhouse have finally found each other,” he says. “This collaboration will be a fantastic experience for our graduating students. They get the rare opportunity to transition directly into the profession.”

Stauffer says the partnership “gives students a leg up in the theater world. I hope our students will get a better grasp of what it’s like to work in a professional Equity theater, with the obligations, pressures, and rewards that come with it. It will be beneficial to be able to say, ‘I’ve acted on the stage of George Street Playhouse.’ ”

Saint added, “The symbiosis of the finest professional actors that New York has to offer and eager young actors ready to enter the professional world will spark creative energies and result in thrilling theatrical productions for our audiences.”

Our Town runs April 22 through May 25, 2014, at the George Street Playhouse, 9 Livingston Ave. in New Brunswick, N.J. More information and ticket packages are available by calling 732-246-7717 or by visiting www.georgestreetplayhouse.org.

Posted October 2013