Rosen Performing Arts Center in Wayne gives itself a facelift


The Voca People perform at the Rosen Performing Arts Center in Wayne, Nov. 2.

The Voca People is an Israel-based a cappella group that sings popular music with human beat-box percussion and other vocal effects, and looks something like the Blue Man Group, except they dress in white and paint their skin white. They are performing at two New Jersey venues on their current tour: the Rosen Performing Arts Center in Wayne, Nov. 2, and the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, Nov. 7.

Most regular North Jersey concert-goers probably know about the Mayo Center. But relatively few of them are probably even aware that Wayne has a performing arts center. But yes, it does: a 408-seat theater that was built in 1976, and houses youth dance and theater programs and shows films, as well as producing concerts and other events.

“Every year, we do a big summer concert series, which is eight concerts on Thursday nights in the summer,” Meryl Budnick, cultural arts director at the Wayne YMCA, which houses the theater. “We have our Backstage at the Y program, which is a series of classical performances, jazz performances and lectures: We actually just had one focusing on the work of Stephen Sondheim last weekend.”

The venue recent changed its name; it had been known as the Rosen Theater. The new name “just better reflects what we do here,” says Budnick.

After 38 years, the venue needs a “facelift,” she says. Last year’s gala, featuring a production of “Forbidden Broadway,” raised money to improve the sound and lighting. This year’s gala, which includes the Voca People show, will raise money to help replace the seats and the carpeting, and add floor lighting.

To help its ongoing renovation efforts, the venue is selling show and seat sponsorships. (If you sponsor a seat, you get a plaque with your name put on it). It’s also trying to do a better job of letting New Jerseyans know that it’s there.

“We really want to make the community know that world class performers come here,” says Budnick. “We would really like to grow our audience base, to get community support, to let them know that they have a place that they can come that’s local, where they don’t have to pay for parking, and they don’t have to go over a bridge, and they can get world class performers right here in New Jersey.”

Upcoming Rosen shows include:

Nov. 2: 2014 Gala Performance: Voca People
Nov. 14: Robin Williams Tribute: “Hook.” Free screening.
Nov. 20: Jersey Guitar Mafia, featuring Al Caiola, Bucky Pizzarelli, Lou Pallo, Frank Vignola. Preceded by “Tips and Tricks of Jazz Guitar” master class.
Nov. 21: Robin Williams Tribute: “Flubber.” Free screening.
Dec. 13: “The Snow Maiden.” Family Musical.
Feb. 7: Howdy Stranger. Improv comedy.


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