Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown Celebrates Its 80th Anniversary

Mayo Performing Arts Center, 1937. (Photo courtesy of Mayo Performing Arts Center)

From Mayo Performing Arts Center:

Mayo Performing Arts Center, once called The Community Theatre, opened its doors on December 23, 1937.

We are thrilled to celebrate 80 years of this special and historic building serving as Morristown’s home for entertainment and memorable experiences. If our walls could talk, there’d be countless stories of great moments shared with family and friends!

The Community Theatre was built in 1937 and was once the crown jewel of Walter Reade’s chain of movie theatres in New Jersey. Its success mirrored the love affair between America and movies during Hollywood’s Golden Age. By the 1980s, however, the Theatre had fallen into disrepair and sat idle and hulking for nearly a decade.

Mayo Performing Arts Center, 1937. (Photo courtesy of Mayo Performing Arts Center)

Things changed in 1994 when an army of tireless volunteers, armed with a sense of civic pride and limitless elbow grease pulled together and saved the Theatre from its uncertain fate. On September 29, after months of toil, the Theatre reopened as a performing arts center with a gala performance featuring the Kirov Orchestra of Saint Petersburg and Morristown resident and renowned pianist, Alexander Slobodyanik. Many volunteers openly wept as the Theatre’s renaissance finally came to fruition.

Now in its 23rd season, the Mayo Performing Arts Center has become one of New Jersey’s preeminent arts and cultural organizations and now hosts more than 200 performances to more than 200,000 patrons every year. In 2008, the Theatre completed its four year, $7 million “Setting the Stage” capital campaign, which allowed for major renovations including an orchestra pit, a state of the art fly-rail system, new dressing rooms and central air conditioning, which allows for year-round programming.

Photo courtesy of Mayo Performing Arts Center

Additionally, the capital campaign led to the completion of the Theatre’s suite of education studios, which allows the Theatre to offer performing arts education classes to both children and adults. The upstairs balcony was renovated in 2011, with new restrooms, Art Gallery space and concessions. In 2014, renovations to the front of house were completed, which included a digital marquee, new box office, elevator to balcony level, upgraded and expanded restrooms and nor bar and concessions stands. The Starlight Room was renovated in 2016.

Browse a history slideshow of milestones from 1937-1994.