4/7/02
Talkin' BroadwayV.J.



The Lenape Regional
Performing Arts Center

by Pati Buehler

There's always excitement when a new theater stage opens its doors. This time the focus is on a very unique venue in the heart of South Jersey. The Lenape Regional Performing Center (Lenape RPAC) is located in Evesham Township on the grounds of Cherokee High School.

About 20 minutes over the bridge from Philly and away from the bustling city crowds is the wide-open space of rural Marlton, NJ, home of this community's newest attraction. With the mission statement aim "to provide the community with an unmatched level of performance for their entertainment dollar," the Lenape RPAC will also provide funds for the student of the Lenape Regional High School District.

Make no mistake, this is not your average high school auditorium with a few upgrades or renovations. The moment you step inside this 1500 seat "hall" you have the feeling it was designed for serious, quality entertainment. I had the pleasure of touring the facility with theater manager Vincent Marini.

The first thing I noticed is the extraordinary acoustic system. There is no problem clearly hearing the voices of people onstage from the back of the theater, even without microphones. Mr. Marini feels there will be no need to enhance the orchestra's natural sound because of the unique sound design. Architectural design firm The Gibson Tarquini Group is responsible for most of the building, including the acoustics.

There is a nine-foot deep orchestra pit that can hold 30 instrumentalists. The extensive catwalks overhead provide ample lighting - spotlight towers will be used as needed. The stage is 50 feet wide, 30 feet deep and 24 feet high, with 40 feet of wing space on either side of the stage.

The two very large dressing rooms with showers and bathroom facilities are intercom accessible to the stage. Additionally, there are two fully equipped "star" dressing rooms on the opposite side of the stage. A very large storage room sits directly behind the stage that will be opened up to enhance the stage for productions such as Jesus Christ Superstar to create a unique background for selected scenes.

A large shop room filled with equipment to build sets is right next door. There will be two concessions stands near the box office and an art gallery is in the plans as well.

The Lenape Regional Foundation, an independent, non-profit, educational and charitable foundation was created in 1997 to raise money through individual and corporate donations. Over $100,000 has been donated and support is still coming in.

When the plush curtain goes up, it will do so in style, with female pop-Broadway singer Linda Eder bringing her unique talent and glorious voice to the Lenape stage on Friday June 7th. As with many theaters, subscriptions are not only available but on sale prior to single seats.

Other notable performers on the slate are Tony Danza, who brings his one-man show, which has been entertaining crowds both in NYC and at the Jersey Casinos, to the Lenape on Sunday July 7th. Grammy and Academy Award winning songwriter Stephen Schwartz will bring a few friends to perform some of his winning songs from Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Godspell, Pippin and Rags on August 17th.

Musical composer Neil Berg will bring his outstanding cast of eight Broadway stars for an evening of 100 Years of Broadway featuring songs that everyone loves sung by the stars that do them best on Broadway. Deemed "the best ticket in town" by many, this will be a treat for all on Friday August 2nd.

The Lenape RPAC will also host two popular Broadway productions. Jesus Christ Superstar will be directed by Vincent Marini, who not only went to school in this district, but has also been involved with a production company in Haddon Heights. Superstar will play on June 21-23 and 27-29. The summer season will end with a production of 1776. This Tony Award winning show will be presented on September 20-22 and 26-28.

Plans for the upcoming fall/winter season are already in place. So, if you're looking for some summer fun and entertainment between Philadelphia and the Jersey Shore, the Lenape Regional Performance Center may be just the ticket.

For more information visit their website at www.sjsummerstage.com

For tickets call 856-983-3366


- Pati Buehler

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