Algonquin Arts Theatre (AAT) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1992 with the mission to provide cultural enhancement and arts education to all audiences at the Jersey Shore through high-quality performances and programs in theatre, music, film and dance. The end goal is to foster appreciation of the arts and promote lifelong learning, particularly among underserved audiences including the economically disadvantaged, senior citizens and individuals with disabilities. Algonquin Arts Theatre engages local and regional audiences in the performing arts through our on-stage programming and Performing Arts Academy.
The organization’s programming and operations are centered in Manasquan’s business district, a Rockwellian Main Street that's character has remained the same since the 1930s when the Algonquin movie house opened its doors. After closing as a movie theatre in the early 1980s, in 1994 the theatre reopened as a performing arts space; still showing first-run movies when the stage was dark. In 2011, the theatre stopped showing first-run movies to present and produce more performing arts programs in a shift aligning closer with the mission statement.
With ticket revenues only covering a portion of operating and production costs, Algonquin Arts Theatre relies on the generosity of sponsors and individual donors to continue providing high-quality programming to the community.
The Algonquin Timeline
1938: Manasquan native Lee Newbury, who owns the Arcadia Theatre on South Street, completes construction of the Algonquin movie house and opens the theatre. The first film: Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farms starring Shirley Temple.
1973: Hard times darken the theatre. Lee Newbury sells it to a theatre chain that shows second run movies until the theater closes in 1981.
1992: Fran & Jack Drew and Sal & Joyce Maraziti purchase the derelict building, and a year later, cofound the Algonquin Arts non-profit corporation. Renovations begin to restore the property.
1994: The facility re-opens to the public, transformed into a 540-seat performing arts venue. The stage, fly tower, orchestra pit and lighting system are all added. The building's footprint expands into the area that currently houses the Victoria J. Mastrobuono Studio, the Rita Cuddy & Grace Terracciano Music Room and offices on the upper level and dressing rooms in the basement.
1994: Red Oak Music Theatre's production of "Mack and Mable" marked opening of the Algonquin as a venue for live theatre.
2009: The independent Algonquin Arts Theatre non-profit organization purchases the theatre and adjoining studios from the founders, Fran and Jack Drew.
2011: In an effort to expand educational opportunities and on-stage offerings to the community, Algonquin Arts Theatre founds Algonquin Youth Ensemble and produces in-house shows for the first time. The first in-house production was "Tuesdays With Morrie" and the first AYE production involving Algonquin students and an adult cast was "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat".
2013: Sally Struthers joins Broadway's Carter Calvert to star in "Always Patsy Cline".