Hopewell’s Off-Broadstreet Theater is open again after a year of renovations by a group of owners who purchased the theater from its founders in 2013.
Producers Bob and Julie Thick, who opened the theater in 1984, will host an open house on Friday, and Saturday, March 25 and 26, to show off a $2 million remodeling of the entertainment venue, housed in a 1940s vintage building. The new owners, Jon and Robin McConaughy and partners Mitchel Skolnick and Sky and Liza Morehouse have made extensive changes, including adding handicap-accessible restrooms, a remodeled lobby, new technical abilities, balcony seating, a new heating and air conditioning system, and more.
Off-Broadstreet will continue its tradition of serving dessert during productions, including pastries, fruit, coffee, and tea. As before, the theater will hold stage productions for children and adults, and in addition, will host concerts. The revamped building also has the capability for additional events and activities with food catered by local restaurants.
The new owners have been making their mark on Hopewell Valley in other ways. The McConaughys own Double Brook Farm, Brick Farm Market, and Brick Farm Tavern. Skolnick owns Bluestone Farms, a racehorse stable, and Sky Morehouse owns Morehouse Engineering, while Liza is involved in the leadership of McCarter Theater, D&R Greenway Land Trust, and Morven Museum.
The building has a long history as an entertainment venue. The current structure was built in 1940 as a theater called the Colonial Playhouse, which replaced an even older two-story community center called Colombia Hall, which hosted film screenings, a fire house, city council meetings, a dance floor, and a motorcycle repair shop.
The building underwent more changes in the 1960s when George Gallup Jr., founder of the Gallup polling company, turned the theater into a public polling site where audiences would watch movies and be polled on the advertisements. Gallup sold it to the Thicks in 1984.
The renovations open the theater to new varieties of entertainment. Morehouse told U.S. 1 in a 2015 interview that the facility upgrades will support multi-genre performances, movies, music, and literary readings. “We want to bring enough technology so we can light it properly and have appropriate acoustics for all of those performances,” he said.
However, according to an agreement signed with the owners, the Thicks will produce at least two seasons of entertainment.
For catered events, the owners have made improvements to the lobby, including the addition of two bars. There is also a new private cigar and special event room on the second floor.
The open house will feature a cabaret and light refreshments. Friday evening, March 25, the building will be open from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon, March 26, the building will be open from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Off-Broadstreet Theater, 5 South Greenwood Avenue, Box 359, Hopewell 08525, 609-466-2766; Robert & Julie Thick, producers. www.off-broadstreet.com.