Local/State

3 years after collapse, NJ theater reopens

Saturday, February 16, 2013

After a nearly three year hiatus, the show went on Saturday night.

The historic Grand Theater, built in the 1920's, has recovered from a 2010 incident where the roof caved in after a snow heavy winter. Now the theater has a fresh new look.

"At first it was devastating and it didn't seem like we'd have the wherewithal or the funds to rebuild," said Lauri Hudson.

Eventually the funds came through and now it's finally show time.

The cast of "Hairspray" christened this beloved community theater before a crowd of more than 200.

"Some people cried, some laughed for joy, so excited to be the first cast on this new stage in the Grand Theater," said Hudson.

However for Barbara Smeresky and her sister Jan it was more.

"I haven't seen it since it collapsed," said Jan Miller.

The new beginning means a final curtain call of childhood memories.

"Running up and down the aisles playing on stage," said Smeresky.

Their family built the Grand Theater back in 1924 and they lived upstairs.

The large channel letters that topped the theater's original marquee for decades are now up for auction, replaced with a digital marquee.

"Thinking of my grandparents and what they'd think of now," said Smeresky.

The new and modern construction is a lot to take in but these sisters understand that the show must go on.

"It's nothing like the original but they did a beautiful job," said Smeresky.

Although it's emotional, the sisters along with everyone else are thrilled see that the theater was saved and enhanced for this local community to enjoy for years to come.

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Tags:
new jersey, gloucester county, collapse, local/state, jennifer joyce
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