Union County Performing Arts Center

1601 Irving Street,
Rahway, NJ 7065

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Union County Performing Arts Center

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 37 comments)

DavidSimpson on October 6, 2015 at 2:10 pm

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 pm

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 pm

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.

HowardBHaas on June 13, 2018 at 9:58 am

“The Godfather” (1972) screens 3 PM Sunday June 17 in the main auditorium in 35mm!

markp on June 15, 2018 at 5:38 am

Just got back from inspecting the print. Almost new. Very good condition. Mounted so there will be 4 changeover thruout the movie.

HowardBHaas on June 18, 2018 at 11:45 pm

I went yesterday from Philadelphia & enjoyed pristine 35mm print of “The Godfather” from 2008 restoration (the box delivered had the date) projected with excellence by Mark P. The sound was nicely loud. I estimate about 150+ people attended. They enthusiastically applauded at the end & those who lingered thru the film credits applauded again! Ticket prices were super affordable at $3 each. Concession prices were reasonable & popcorn in boxes was sold. About 2 hours after the start, before the wedding scene in Italy, a short Intermissionoccurred so audience members had a restroom break & opportunity to get food or drink (including alcohol). I am very happy this historic theater honors its movie palace roots by showing a classic movie and in the format, 35mm, that was originally shown. Hurrah!

markp on June 19, 2018 at 1:41 am

It was nice to meet you yesterday Howard. I’m glad you and everyone enjoyed the show. I keep giving them ideas for movies but as always I get the feeling it falls on deaf ears. But I will keep trying.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on June 19, 2018 at 1:58 am

I’m glad the show went so well. I saw The Bridge on the River Kwai here several years ago, in 35mm CinemaScope. The movie and the theater were both very impressive.

walterk on June 26, 2018 at 1:44 am

As mentioned in the overview, the Rahway Theatre opened on October 16, 1928. The evening was a benefit with proceeds going the Rahway Hospital (now known as the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital). The hospital board made it clear this was arranged by local businessman Bernard Engelman, president of the Olt-Engel Corporation, which was formed by him and his brother-in-law (and former Rahway resident) Major David M Oltarsh to build and maintain the structure. As architect (and an engineer), Oltarsh oversaw the construction, which was carried out by various contractors.

House Organist Chet Kingsbury opened the evening’s program with a recital on the 2 manual 7 rank Style EX Wurlitzer, opus 1923. Neither Kingsbury nor opus 1923 were mentioned in the program or media accounts.

I am uploading a full-page ad of the opening night program from the neighboring Carteret Press, and a second ad from the Woodbridge Leader. It should be noted that the opening night movie was “A Grain Of Dust”, the double bill mentioned in the overview (and on the web pages of UCPAC and GSTOS) was the third program, which ran later in the week.

markp on July 17, 2018 at 9:42 pm

Upcoming 35MM films. Sept 15, Dirty Dancing. Oct 16, Phantom of the Opera. Nov 24, ET.

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