The Newton Theatre continues to entertain Sussex County

Bringing top acts to town and region since 2011


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Photos



  • The theatre's wheels Photos by laurie Gordon




  • The theatre's facade on Spring Street



By Laurie Gordon

— The (sadly) late and assuredly great Tom Petty said: “Music is probably the only real magic I have encountered in my life. There's not some trick involved with it. It's pure and it's real. It moves, it heals, it communicates and does all these incredible things.”

Those who keep The Newton Theatre going strong certainly embody this philosophy as they continue to bring in act after act week after week to entertain the residents of Sussex County.

One of those people is Ginny Smith, of Sparta who started volunteering at The Newton Theatre on opening night: September 9, 2011.

“As a music lover, I was thrilled when I heard the former movie theater was to become transformed into a live music venue,” she said. “I followed the restoration progress on social media and when the staff reached out seeking volunteers to take tickets, sell merchandise and usher people to their seats I showed up and am so glad I did. Since then, I’ve worked nearly one hundred shows spanning genres including rock, country, jazz, comedy, children’s and holiday.”

Smith added, “The beautifully restored, 1924 theatre has terrific acts, great acoustics and only 605 seats. Each time I go, I look forward to seeing friends, both attending as well as working there. Besides the warm friendships, I enjoy seeing some bands year after year, such as The Outlaws, From Good Homes, Judy Collins, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes and Blue Oyster Cult. Many of them do meet and greets in the lobby after their performances and that is always a thrill.”

Ann Marie Vitoulis is the Marketing Director at The Newton Theater and talked about how the theater goes about obtaining acts.

“Artists’ agents contact us looking to book an artist for particular dates. We have to take into consideration our availability, the draw of the artist and the fee. Other times, if we feel that there is an artist that would do well here, we will contact their agent and put in an offer,” she said. “We consider the demographic the artist would draw and if that fits the demographic of our region. We look at how the artist is selling at other venues, and how popular they are, in general. Did they have a lot of hit songs? Did this same type of act do well here in the past? How would we best promote this show? Of course, there are some artists that consistently do well here and we bring them back.”

In the summer of 2016, The Newton Theater bought an all new state-of-the-art digital cinema and surround sound system. They've now been showing movies weekly, from Oscar contendors to smaller, independent films to the Manhattan Short Festival and event films such as The Rocky Horror Picture Show., Lego Batman (which was done for an Autism Awareness fundraiser), Polar Express and the upcoming How the Grinch Stole Christmas with Jim Carrey.

Of the theater's influence on the town, Vitoulis said it's a very positive one.

“People are excited that we’re here. They get to see favorite artists in an intimate setting, right in their back yard,” she said. “Other businesses in town are seeing more traffic because of the theatre, especially the restaurants. I believe the shops, hotels and such are seeing more activity because the theatre is here.”

Vitoulis added, “The caliber of acts we’re getting is amazing. We’ve had such great artists as Todd Rundgren, The Bacon Brothers, Lyle Lovett, Judy Collins, Clint Black, Kansas, the Bangles, David Cassidy, Richard Marx, Southside Johnny, and Tommy Emmanuel.”

The theatre doesn't just provides music, it also encourages education about music.

Said Smith, “I like learning about artists and bands I’m not familiar with. Volunteering allows me to see the shows for free, so I can explore new artists and genres. On Nov. 4, I worked the Lorrie Morgan show. She’s a great country singer and I enjoyed her music and stories very much.”

Smith added, “It's nice being part of an organization that brings joy and quality entertainment to the area. I appreciate not having to drive too far and being able to park for free. Standing at the door while the concerts let out, and seeing smiles on the faces of the patrons is always a highlight for me.”

The theatre has also fostered some wonderful friendships among those who work and volunteer there such as the friendship Smith enjoyed with Louise Fiore. Like Smith, Fiore started with the Newton Theatre on opening night. Fiore was a talented musician, well versed with many an instrument, and the adjunct professor at Sussec Community College was very proud of her dedication to the Newton Theatre. On October 31st, Fiore lost a gallant battle with cancer, but her memory will live on through her theatre friends as will her love of the Newton Theatre.

The Newton Theatre embraces the town and the community. To this end, the theatre has had fundraising and awareness events for Autism, Veterans and to helps local schools. The theatre has also collected clothing and food for those in need, and pet food and supplies for local shelters.

The theatre offers a Membership Program that enables receiving some great benefits in return for helping continue to bring outstanding and affordable live performances to Sussex County. Additionally, The Newton Theatre has a student recognition program that runs throughout the year. Honoring outstanding Arts students in Sussex County, teachers may nominate students age 8-18 who excel in the performing or visual arts. Teachers may nominate a student for technical proficiency, extraordinary leadership, personal dedication and exceptional effort in their chosen field, and the students receiving the Student Artist Award will be invited, with a chaperone, to a performance at The Newton Theatre and will be honored on stage that evening.

Jonathan Peirce is the theatre's President and General Manager. Pete Larena is the General Manager and Karen Doubleday is the Box Office Manager. Together, with other staff and volunteers, the theatre continues to bring fantastic acts and movies to Sussex County.

This Saturday, catch Badfinger at The Newton Theatre. It's the 45th anniversary of the greatest album by Badfinger, 1972's Straight Up, and the band's legendary guitarist, songwriter, and vocalist Joey Molland - along with his dynamic band - brings the album to the stage in an exhilarating live show. Experience the nostalgia with hit songs like Day After Day, Come and Get It, and Baby Blue.

For further information, upcoming shows and movies and tickets visit: www.thenewtontheatre.com/

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