Stages Festival makes for magical March in NJ theater world

Children at one of last year's Stages Festival offerings.

Children at one of last year’s Stages Festival offerings.

The New Jersey Theatre Alliance‘s Stages Festival began 18 years ago as a one-week children’s program, but is now a comparatively massive undertaking. This year’s edition of the festival, co-sponsored by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, lasts throughout the month of March, with more than 120 free or discounted performances and programs, for children and adults, in locations throughout the state.

You can get the full lineup at, but here are some highlights (most events require advance registration):

• Theatre Day. “Build Your Own Fairy Kingdom” and “Swashbuckling 101” workshops, March 14 at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s administrative offices in Florham Park.

Stoop Theatre — ‘Bobashela’:  The Stoop Theatre, made up of Trenton high school students, will perform dramatic pieces inspired by old school yearbooks and literary journals, March 27-28 at the Mill Hill Playhouse in Trenton.

• Newark Writers Festival: A play-development workshop for middle-school children at NJPAC, March 20.

• ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’: $20 student rush tickets will be available to more than 30 performances of the musical at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn.

• ‘Baskerville: Sherlock Holmes Mystery.’ The McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton will offer several events surrounding this production, including a discounted performance on March 18 for people with autism and their families. (The performance will be adapted in ways designed to be helpful for those with autism and other special needs.)

• ‘Mi Casa Tu Casa’: Free performances of the family-oriented blend of music and folk tales will be offered at Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre in Summit, March 8; Hugh J. Boyd Elementary School in Seaside Heights, March 25; and the Giggles Children’s Theater at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in Paterson, March 26.

• ‘New Plays New Jersey’: Readings of new plays by New Jerseyans, March 1-6 and 8 at the Morris Museum in Morris Township.

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