Darress Theatre

615 Main Street,
Boonton, NJ 07005

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DavidZornig on March 4, 2018 at 4:30 pm

1952 photo as the State Theatre added via Dave Wardamasky.

jayessar on September 25, 2012 at 12:19 am

I visited this several times decades ago, but always knew it as the State Theater. It would be hard to enter this place without being noticed, since the audience is looking you in the face as you enter. Both sides had several opera boxes. A Kodak film shop rented some space to the right in the lobby.

vexoergosum on January 5, 2012 at 1:39 pm

i think i remember this as the State in the 70’s and 80’s. you would enter from beneath the screen. it was confusing because you could hear the movie, but you didn’t see it until you realized where you were.

teecee on March 19, 2010 at 3:28 pm

1941 program (as the State):

View link

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 6, 2009 at 7:16 pm

There are some interesting discrepancies among various sources of information about the theater and about Mr. Darress. The theater web site has a picture of Charles Darress. Boxoffice Magazine’s issue of May 14, 1979, has an article about recent two theater closings, the State being one of them, and it says that the theater was opened in 1922 by Clare Darress.

Then there’s this page about a landmarked house for sale in Boonton, which says the house was designed by “…Clair Darress, a famous architect of many homes in the area, and creator of the Darress theatre on Main Street.”

Whether Charles, Clare, or Clair, it seems reasonable that, being an architect, Mr. Darress would have designed his theater himself.

moviebuff82 on October 12, 2008 at 2:15 pm

I would love to check this theater out sometime, but don’t have enough money to go see a show or a movie there.

filmfanz on March 19, 2008 at 8:10 am

Hey, we just got a new review of CONFERENCE ROOM C and figured we’d share it.

(As is mentioned in the review, don’t forget that CONFERENCE ROOM C will be screening at the historic DARRESS THEATRE on March 22, 2008 at 8pm. Seeing as this will be a Saturday night, why not make plans to spend the evening with us and have a different kind of night out?

There will be a Q&A session following the film, as well as refreshments.

For anyone who has already seen CONFERENCE ROOM C, why not bring a friend out to see what all the buzz is about…and for those who haven’t seen it yet…what are you waiting for? This screening will be the perfect time to catch the wave!

Tickets for this event are $10…with 100% of the proceeds going towards the upkeep and restoration of the historic DARRESS THEATRE, which is a very special venue. The DARRESS is one of the only surviving ’reverse’ theatres that is still in operation. ’Reverse’ theatres were a architectural rarity back in the heyday of movie palaces…and there are only about 3 left standing in the world…and very few of them still operate as working theatres. We working hard to ensure that our screening lives up to these special surroundings.

We look forward to seeing you at this fabulous event.)

Now, onto the review…

This review comes from the MYSPACE FILM COMMUNITY, and was written by the director of that site, Anthony Thurber.

The original review can be found at http://www.myspace.com/filmindex

However, for those of you who are link challenged, the full text of the review has been pasted below:


Conference Room C

Year: 2007
Director: Rob Buck
Stars: Dawn Harvey, Matt McCarthy, Pete Smith
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Howard Roark Productions
Running Time: 93 Mins
Review Rating: 5 Stars
Official Website: http://www.myspace.com/conferenceroomc

Conference Room C has won awards at the Pocono Mountains and Wildwood by the Sea film festivals. The film is about the pressures of business wherein five people are in an ordinary business meeting, until tempers begin to flare and they are forced by their board of directors to come up with a decision that going to make them feel horrible about themselves. This turns this business meeting into a debate about various controversial issues regarding class, race, and sex.

Conference Room C is 12 Angry Men for the corporate world. Director Rob Buck does a great job creating a voyeuristic eye in the world of corporate business. I like how he and screenwriter Wayne Thorpe portray corporate America as a kill or be killed environment, as they take aim at the soul of corporate culture. Buck’s direction of the actors was good as their performances were dramatically intense. He uses the digital video format for this film, to give the film a realistic tone. The screenplay, written by Thorpe, was very intense and does a very good job exploring various issues like race, gender and ethnicity and the frightening aspects of each that exist today. Both Buck and Thorpe did a good job focusing on the character’s dilemma, which makes the elevated tensions even higher.

The acting in the film was very good. The actors really sink their teeth into their roles, and the chemistry with each other helps increase the film’s tension. Two particularly good performances come from Pete Smith and Tremayne Pinckney. Their portrayals were very intense, especially with each other, as their characters had to be very authentic for the film to work.

Conference Room is a heated movie that explores the behind the scenes of corporate America. You can catch a screening of this film at Darress Theater in Boonton, NJ on March 22nd at 8pm. Tickets are $10 dollars each.


filmfanz on February 29, 2008 at 9:34 am

Anyone looking to experience the best of both worlds might want to checkout the Darress Theatre on March 22nd, 2008.

The historic ‘reverse’ Darress Theatre will be hosting a screening of the Indie film CONFERENCE ROOM C, which was shot (and will be projected) digitally.

The Darress is a fabulous space, and provides a truly unique viewing experience…you truly do feel transported in time when you enter the auditorium. The producers of CONFERENCE ROOM C are honoured to offer their film in this cinematic landmark.

See either the Darress website (http://darresstheatre.com)or the CONFERENCE ROOM C site (http://www.myspace.com/conferenceroomc) for details.

jventor on October 30, 2006 at 3:32 am

If you are ever considering selling the theatre; please let me know!

teecee on March 2, 2006 at 4:06 am

Listed, as the State, as part of the Snaper Circuit in the 1961 Film Daily Yearbook.

rollinglenn on January 2, 2006 at 6:17 am

Greetings Tom,

When my wife and two kids and I lived in Boonton we tried to get there as often as we could. You were always so helpful in proving an old theatre with a steep ramp instead of stairs was accessible to a guy in a wheelchair.

We loved Lillian Gish, the restored “Gone with the Wind” shown by means of the original projectors, and the silent films, like “Nosferatu”, which Ralph Ringstad accompanied so magnificently.

One highlight I must again thank you for was when we rented the theatre for our daughter’s “Sweet 16” birthday — everyone was so happy and enjoyed the novelty of a “party and a private movie showing”.

Keep up the good work, hope to see you again soon, Glenn T.

teecee on August 3, 2005 at 7:54 am

Good article regarding the recent history of this theater:

By BOB DECKER , Contributing Writer
Recorder Newspapers

From Harry Houdini to amateur boxing

BOONTON – For more than 21 years Tom Timbrook has been repairing, upgrading, renovating and generally making nice the Darress Theatre located on Main Street here in town.

At first, it was fixing the holes in the roof and upgrading the heating, plumbing, electrical, sprinkler and emergency light systems in the building … after, of course, he got rid of the toadstools growing in the seat cushions.

“It took us four months to open … and then we closed down and didn’t open for another eight months,” Timbrook recalled the other day while taking care of customers in the Boonton Photo shop, the camera store he also owns and moved into the lobby of the theatre in 1988 so he could save a little rent and also be close to the constant theater renovations taking place.

Summer Stock

“We did summer stock with a very good group that called itself ‘Goodtime Summer Theatre’ for the first two years,” Timbrook added. “Then we did opera with a company out of New York and then we started mixing in some movies – we got some stuff that was just coming out but we were never really considered a first-run theater.”

The building was erected in 1919 as a vaudeville theater and changed its name to “State Theater” in 1934 when it served as a movie theater. Timbrook changed the name back to “Darress Theatre” when he bought it in 1980 not only because he loved the theater, but because he “ … liked the the abience and the feel of the building.”

When the video craze hit in the mid to late ‘80s, Timbrook cut back on movies and concentrated more on live presentations – plays, musicals, dramatic readings, poetry readings.

“Video rentals hurt all the little theaters – some even went by the wayside,” Timbrook said. “We still ran some movies but tried to spice things up … like the time we tried ‘Date Night’ and let couples bring in their own wine.”

That was back in the time when the patched-up heating system still wasn’t good enough to endure the Morris County winters and Timbrook would shut down shortly after Thanksgiving and reopen in March of the following year.

“The heating is fine now,” Timbrook said. “In fact, I would have to say the theater is in good shape although we are constantly doing a lot of little things to improve and upgrade the facility.”

One upgrade is the cafe located inside the building, offering theater goers a chance to “… stay and discuss the performance or just relax over some wine and cheese,” according to Timbrook, who more often than not gets into these post-performance discussions. “When the show ends, it’s not as if you have to leave right away.”

All of the money that comes through the ticket windows goes right back into the theatre for its maintenance and to keep the best of the area’s alternative cinema and talent coming into the building.

“It’s a total investment on our part … I wish I could say we turn a profit but we don’t,” Timbrook said. “When we first bought into the theater, the building itself was in jeopardy … now, we’re on solid footing.”

The “we” includes Helene, Timbrook’s wife of more than 30 years who works in the graphic arts industry but gives Timbrook a hand when he needs it.

‘The Penthouse’

The Timbrooks live in Hackettstown but keep an apartment (“… the penthouse,” he calls it) at the theater that is used when performances run late and the cafe crowd may linger longer than usual.

The building that featured Abbott ‘n Costello, Harry Houdini and Burns and Allen in the days of vaudeville now presents children’s plays and musicals, performances by the Boonton Baroque Orchestra and movies such as “Atlantis” and “Shrek” as well as some new ventures he has planned for upcoming weeks.

Standup Comedy

Timbrook tried standup comedy for the first time this past Saturday and this Friday will present the 1928 silent film “Steamboat Bill, Jr.” with organ accompaniment by Ralph Ringstad.

On Saturday, Sept. 1, Timbrook will have a boxing show put on by the Rivera Boxing School, also located on Main Street in town.

“Heidi” will be presented three full weekends starting Friday, Oct. 5; a dramatic Dracula reading will take place on Saturday, Oct. 13, and run for two weekends; “Weird New Jersey” magazine will put on a slide show presentation on Saturday, Nov. 24, featuring all the “weird stuff” that goes on in the area.

“We usually get 500 to 600 people in the place when they are here,” Timbrook says of his 700-seat capacity theater. “They have some good stuff.

“Our contacts include many talented filmmakers, artists, writers, musicians and actors. Our goal is to provide a comfortable entertainment experience.”

…with no toadstools in the next seat.

teecee on May 4, 2005 at 5:28 am

They are showing the Phantom of the Opera (2004 version) this weekend. Hope some of the NY/NJ area CT members can make it.

teecee on January 21, 2005 at 1:45 pm

Does anyone know where to get the Thursday night movie schedule online? The link on the theater’s homepage is never updated. Emails to the theater are undeliverable. Seems like the only method is to call them and hope for an answer.

JimRankin on July 8, 2004 at 6:32 am

This is one of the few “Reverse” or ‘backwards’ theatres in the world, of which 9 were in the USA and 2 in England, of those that are known. This unusual format had the audience entering the front as usual, but the screen was at their backs as they entered, and the projection room/booth faced them! In some cases it was a construction demanded by the topography, as when the land at the rear sloped up sharply at the rear of the building (as with the DARRESS ( /theaters/1645/ ) and the little LINCOLN in Limon Colorado), but for others as with the WHITEHOUSE in Milwaukee ( /theaters/2642/ ), it was purely a gimmick to make the place memorable in competition with the dozens of other show houses in most communities in the ‘golden days!’ The known Reverse Theatres are:

Existing in the USA, if not also operating:
1) The SEBASTIAN, Ft. Smith, AR ( /theaters/257/ )
2) The DARRESS, Boonton, NJ ( /theaters/1645/ )
3) The LINCOLN, Limon, CO ( /theaters/7595/ )

No longer existing as a theatre, if still standing at all (USA):
4) The PHIEL, St. Petersburg, FL
5) The METROPOLITAN, 3308 W. Lawrence, Chicago, IL (later TERMINAL, METRO)
6) The E.A.R. (for Earl A. Reisden), Chicago, IL ( /theaters/7597/ )
7) The FAMILY, Quincy, IL
8) The HAPPY HOUR, New Orleans, LA
9) The WHITEHOUSE, Milwaukee, WI ( /theaters/2642/ )

These two are known of in England, but status unknown (courtesy of Louis Barfe):
10) The CINEMA ROYAL, Epsom, Surrey (1910—1938)
11) The CINEMA LUXE, Lake, Isle of Wight (1989—?)

And then there is the FOX Theatre, Taft, CA, ( /theaters/7564/ )where one “entered on the side, the back corner, actually,” to round out our little list of eccentric theatres.

JimRankin on July 7, 2004 at 11:11 am

The Darress Theatre enjoyed a full page write-up in “AMC” (American Movie Classics) magazine of March 1999 on page 22 as part of its Movie Palace Memories series. They have a web site at: www.amctv.com

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on July 7, 2004 at 7:52 am

In 2000, I saw The Day the Earth Stood Still here, and Patricia Neal made a personal appearance. Her opening line was a classic: “Where the hell am I?” I guess Boonton is kind of off the beaten track even for New Jersey.

William on December 9, 2003 at 10:11 am

This theatre was also known as the State Theatre and it seated 1020 people.