Why We Do What We Do
The Mission of The Off Broad Street Players:
The Off Broad Street Players are dedicated to promoting the study of Musical Theatre and plays. The organization also serves to promote and provide the public with an opportunity to have a quality, community theatre at affordable prices through the efforts of individuals in Southern New Jersey and the surrounding area who display an interest in theatre productions.
In 1998, Walter A. Webster and a group of ten dedicated supporters of the arts set out to form a community theatre. With support from the Trinity United Methodist church, located on Fayette Street, just off of Broad Street in Bridgeton, New Jersey, The Off Broad Street Players were born. During the first two years, OBSP auditioned, rehearsed, and performed at the church. Some of the highlights from those years include, “The Sound of Music,” “Nunsense,” and “Nunsense II.” The spirit of fellowship was strong and the group bonded and grew. The summer of 1999 brought the addition of a Theatre in the Park production which continued several years thereafter.
By 2000, OBSP had found a new venue for our performances, the banquet hall at the Seabrook Volunteer Fire Company in Upper Deerfield, New Jersey. For five years we amused audiences with hilarious comedies, touched hearts and souls with insightful dramas, and delighted both ears and toes with musicals at this location. During this time in Seabrook, many of the plays were presented as a Dinner Theatre. Many remember these popular plays and musicals, “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Steel Magnolias,” “Crazy for You,” “On Golden Pond,” “Mousetrap,” and “My Fair Lady,” to mention a few. Audiences still talk about our wildly popular production of “The King and I.”
In the summer of 2002 due to a need for increased seating, we moved our summer musicals from Seabrook to larger venue. The first of these was “State Fair,” held at the Frank Guaracini Fine and Performing Arts Center at Cumberland County College in Vineland, New Jersey. We continued with our other performances in Seabrook; and as always the Trinity United Methodist church in Bridgeton served as our audition and rehearsal space. That summer also brought the formation of our summer theater camp for children, New Voices of the American Musical Theatre.
OBSP continued to grow and met the next milestone in 2003 with welcoming arms, the addition of a full professional orchestra to accompany our musicals. This addition created the need for an orchestra pit and the summer venue moved to Cumberland Regional High School in Upper Deerfield, New Jersey, to accommodate this expansion. The summer show that year, “The Music Man” was successful beyond our dreams. Critically acclaimed “Gypsy” was the highlight of the 2004 summer. We continued to use live musicians, even for the musical shows still performed in the Seabrook banquet hall; “Annie,” “Cabaret,” and the third installment of the series, “Nuncrackers.” We wowed audiences with our incredible dramas: “The Diary of Anne Frank,” and “A Raisin in the Sun,” but it was becoming obvious that a larger home was needed, both for our wonderful sounding, well-received pit orchestras and our increasingly elaborate and detailed stage sets.
The group had always dreamed of one day having their own theater building and during that time period the dream remained; but the desire to provide an affordable, quality theatre experience to the community was and still is our ultimate goal. Consequently, our dreams of having a building of our own simmered for the next few years and grew slowly as we worked to achieve their mission of theatrical professionalism and excellence.
In 2005, OBSP formed a partnership with the Bridgeton School District, and the Robert L. Sharp Auditorium became our new performance venue, opening with “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” Due to renovations in the auditorium, the summer show that year, “Anything Goes” remained at CRHS. That year also saw the first recipients of the OBSP Scholarship which was renamed the Matthew J. Mixner Scholarship in memory of the inspirational young member of OBSP, tragically lost during the fall production of Mame.
In the spring of 2008, OBSP joined forces with the Levoy Preservation Society to renovate the historic Levoy Theatre in Millville, New Jersey. After over four years over trials and tribulations OBSP and the Levoy were able to finally complete renovation of the historic theatre.
In fall of 2012, OBSP joined the Levoy in reopening its doors with a grand opening gala. OBSP then went on two months later to sell out three performances of its first musical in the Levoy Theatre, Annie under the direction of Beverly Beardsley. As we enter our 16th season and our first full season as the resident theatre company of The Levoy Theatre we welcome both our supporters of years gone by and our new patrons yet to come. We are excited and proud to be able to provide the South Jersey community with premier regional community theatre.
Over time, OBSP membership has grown from the original ten in 1998 to include over one hundred from not only Cumberland County, but from Salem, Gloucester, Atlantic, and Cape May counties in New Jersey, as well as members from Deleware, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. Throughout this time of growth and expansion, improvements have been made behind the scenes in sound and lighting, set design and costuming. The venues have changed, but the talented acting, the directorial excellence, and the unique family atmosphere that has made the organization so successful has remained constant. Based on the achievements made in the last fifteen years, one can only imagine what the next fifteen years will bring!