For as long as U.S. 1 has been around, Off-Broadstreet Theater in Hopewell has been around. Bob and Julie Thick met at a fundraising show. “I was playing the role of Professor Harold Hill in ‘The Music Man.’ I had to dance a soft shoe for the role, and Julie had the unenviable task of teaching me the dance,” he says.
They became theater friends, their friendship grew over time, and they were married on April 14, 1984, the same year they founded Off-Broadstreet Theater. The community-supported theater took over an old movie theater that once housed focus groups for the Gallup Poll. Over the years the Thicks have staged 242 productions and introduced more than 500 actors to their stage.
You could buy your ticket at the window from Bob Thick, see him a few minutes later onstage introducing the show, and then watch him hit the boards shortly after, totally in character. Julie might have led you to your table or directed you to the pre-show dessert offerings.
The current show, “Altar Boyz,” is choreographed by Julie Thick and runs through Saturday, December 31, New Year’s Eve. After that the house will go dark, and the curtain will come down on a true central New Jersey arts institution. The following appears on the Off-Broadstreet website:
"To paraphrase Groucho, ‘Hello, we must be going.’ Bob and I are truly fortunate to have enjoyed 32+ years providing musicals, dramas, comedies, and desserts for our audience. We thank you, our loyal patrons and friends, for making all of this possible. The final performance by Off-Broadstreet in the Hopewell facility will be December 31, 2016.
"We applaud the wonderful changes the new owners have made to the building. However, with the renovations come escalations in the rent that would force steep increases in the ticket price. When we opened in 1984, we wanted to offer entertainment that was affordable, encouraging our audience to enjoy an entire series of theater with all its diversity, not just one or two shows a year. Given the new reality, this is no longer feasible.
"We are unable to imagine life without theater so we are taking it on the road. Bob and I will continue to run the Off-Broadstreet Production Company in a limited capacity, offering a traveling troupe presenting shows like the popular ‘Marvelous Wonderettes.’ If your housing community, church, synagogue, or social group is interested in some entertainment, let us know.
"After December 31 we can still be reached at 609-466-2766 or Box 359, Hopewell 08525, firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit us at www.Off-Broadstreet.com .
"You really are our family and we will miss you. Thanks again for making our lives so special.
"Love, Julie & Bob Thick"