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The best New Jersey theatres to visit

See hit musicals, plays, and more while you take a getaway out of the city.

Gillian Russo
Gillian Russo

New York has more theatre and activity than one person could ever hope to experience, but sometimes, we all need a break from the city. You might find yourself as one of the many people who hop on NJ Transit for a quick city getaway — and if you haven't yet, it's a great option. The state boasts quaint towns, bustling boardwalks and beaches, and everything in between with a different vibe from the concrete jungle.

But even on vacation, you might still want to get your theatre fix, and New Jersey has you covered there, too. We've rounded up some of the top venues to check out all over the state, so you can find something nearby no matter where in New Jersey you go. Together, their offerings are as diverse as the city's, whether you're looking to see a splashy hit musical, a bold new play, or a show the whole family will love.

East Lynne Theater Company: Cape May, NJ

East Lynne Theater Company presents everything from classic plays to world premieres, but since its classic repertoire often includes forgotten gems, any showgoing experience there is likely to introduce you to something new. There's programming year-round, but East Lynne is known for its summer season, having been named one of the 75 best American destinations for summer theatre by The New York Times. Through September 2022, the theatre is presenting Aaron Posner's Who Am I This Time (& Other Conundrums About Love).

Cape May Stage: Cape May, NJ

Also in Cape May is Cape May Stage, which has been a staple of the community since 1988. Many New York hits later go up at Cape May Stage; the fall/winter 2022 season includes shows like The Lifespan of a Fact (which played Broadway in 2018) and One Christmas Carol, a one-man adaptation of the classic holiday tale that recently played off Broadway. Cape May is at the southernmost point of New Jersey, but it's worth the trip to see its repertoire and spend some time by the coastline while you're at it.

The Growing Stage: Netcong, NJ

The Growing Stage is also called the Children's Theatre of New Jersey, so this is the perfect place to go if you're looking for a family-friendly outing. Its programming includes many shows based on popular children's media, and those shows often feature child actors, too, so your kids will love seeing others their age on stage. This is a great theatre to go to if you're looking to introduce your youngest family members to the theatre for the first time.

Centenary Stage Company: Hackettstown, NJ

Located in northern New Jersey, Centenary Stage Company is just a quick train ride from the city. This nonprofit theatre company presents plenty of contemporary hit shows, with its 2022 summer season including the rock musical Rent and the Off-Broadway hit The Marvelous Wonderettes, featuring 1950s hit songs. The company also hosts concerts, dance performances, and shows aimed at young audiences, so there's something for everyone.

Premiere Stages at Kean University: Union, NJ

Premiere Stages is the in-house professional theatre company at Kean University. The organization is focused on developing, producing, and premiering new plays, so this is the place to go if you want to be the first to see new work by established and emerging playwrights alike. The company's July 2022 production is the new play Mud Row by Tony Award nominee Dominique Morisseau, whose plays Skeleton Crew and Confederates just ran to acclaim in New York.

Surflight Theatre: Beach Haven, NJ

Get some theatre in during your beach getaway! Long Beach Island is a go-to vacation spot, but it's also a great summer theatre spot thanks to Surflight Theatre. If you can't get enough of the ocean and sand during the day, spend your night taking in a production right by the beach. Surflight puts on energetic, feel-good musicals — its 2022 season includes Legally Blonde and Escape to Margaritaville — to keep the fun coming during your vacation.

Epic Actors' Workshop: Old Bridge, NJ

Support the work of underrepresented artists by seeing a production at Epic Actors' Workshop, which focuses on work written and performed by South Asian artists. The company finds South Asian plays performed all over the US and brings them all together in New Jersey for one annual theatre festival, running from August 6-7 in 2022. Epic Actors' Workshop is located a short drive away from multiple national parks and the coastline, so you can make a chock-full itinerary out of a trip to see a show by this innovative company.

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