Union County Performing Arts Center

1601 Irving Street,
Rahway, NJ 7065

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Union County Performing Arts Center

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The Rahway Theatre opened on October 16, 1928 with a seating capacity of 1,449. The opening movies were “Tenderloin” starring Dolores Costello and “Ham and Egg at the Front” with Myrna Loy. Organist Chet Kingsbury opened the Wurlitzer organ.

This former movie and vaudeville house in Rahway, New Jersey has been reborn as a performing arts and concert venue that still shows classic films from time to time. The main original auditorium now seats 1,334. There is also the Loft studio space which seats 60. The Union County Performing Arts Center also includes a separate building housing the Hamilton Stage for the Performing Arts which has a main stage seating 199 and another studio space seating 60.

Recent comments (view all 30 comments)

teecee on September 28, 2014 at 9:03 am


HarryGribbon on September 28, 2014 at 12:29 pm

Classic films are never shown in the “video” format. Some current short film festivals are, since they were shot and distributed on video. The theater is outfited with “reel” movie projectors. There will be another tour this October 18 & 19 showing the Classic Silent Picture/Vaudeville theater in its 86th year. for information see ucpac.org

HarryGribbon on September 28, 2014 at 12:34 pm

This October 25th at 8PM will feature the original Lon Chaney “Phantom of the Opera” by film on our big screen. Admission is $7.00. Come in costume and be entered in our prize drawing. At the “Biggest Little Wurlitzer” is Bernie Andersen, using the organ for its first feature performance since the $270,000 restoration. It’s a night not to be missed. From NYC, the theater is 4 minutes walk from the NJ Transit Train Station in Rahway. For more info on the theater or organ, see UCPAC.ORG or http://www.nj.com/union/index.ssf/2014/09/1928_wurlitzer_that_saved_union_county_arts_ to see the organ in action!

markp on September 28, 2014 at 9:14 pm

They need a projectionist?? Im available

markp on May 31, 2015 at 8:05 am

Was there as the projectionist last night to run 1927’s Wings on the updated projection equipment. Nice to be back there after 15 years.

DavidSimpson on October 4, 2015 at 5:13 pm

In September 2012 Union County Performing Arts Center opened its additional venue, the Hamilton Stage for the Performing Arts, at 360 Hamilton Street (just a short distance from the Rahway). This comprises a 199-seat main theatre and a 60-seat Fazioli Room studio/rehearsal space. In September 2015, when I visited, the Mainstage (the former Rahway cinema auditorium) seated 1,334, while The Loft, a studio/rehearsal space upstairs in the former Rahway, seats 60. So the total seating capacity, across these four spaces, was 1,653.

The Mainstage is used for occasional film events and classic film shows. During my visit I saw “Sing-a-long Grease” in the company of dozens of ‘Pink Ladies’! In a more serious vein (no pun intended!) the classic silent horror film “Nosferatu” was due to be screened, with live organ accompaniment, on 14th November 2015.

markp on October 4, 2015 at 6:18 pm

Dave, Im guessing Grease was a blu ray? And Im hoping to be the projectionist in Nov. Just waiting for the call.

DavidSimpson on October 6, 2015 at 2:10 am

Hi Mark. It was certainly digital. From what I recall being said I think it was DVD, but I could be mistaken. I hope you get the show in November. I would love to be there, but I’m now back in England! I was staying for a week with Irv Hyatt, who is on the board of governors at the Rahway. He took me round many current and former cinemas in the area. When I came to post my photos, I saw how many of these you have worked at and enjoyed reading your contributions.

markp on October 6, 2015 at 7:12 am

Yes Dave, I met Irv last year. He interviewed me for his new book. Yes Ive had a nice run at many different theatres. I miss it a lot. Digital is just not projection in my humble opinion. The only 2 theatres I have a chance to run film at is here in Rahway and the Count Basie in Red Bank, and they do mostly digital. Im glad you enjoy my posts about the past. I enjoy sharing them.

HarryGribbon on October 6, 2015 at 8:54 am

For those interested, Nosferatu (the classic German version of Dracula from 1922) will be shown ON FILM at the Union County Performing Arts Center on Saturday, November 14th at 8:00 pm. Bernie Anderson will be at the Mighty Wurlitzer doing live accompaniment to this tale of horror. The film will be proceeded by a classic comedy silent short. Worth the trip out, just a 20 minute trip on train from Penn Central, or a short drive from Parkway exit 136.

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