Our program featured Easton Rotarian Staci Horvath who serves as the Director of Development for the State Theatre. The primary mission of the State Theatre is to provide a stage to celebrate and explore the arts together. The entertainment provided is designed to serve the diverse cultural interests of people in the Lehigh Valley and beyond. Programming in a single month can feature country music, ballet, lectures, rock and roll, and Broadway shows.
From the mid-19th century until now there have been 49 theaters in Easton. Only one remains, and its grand façade still lights up the town on Northampton Street. The Theatre has been an integral part of the resurgence of downtown Easton. Over half of State Theatre patrons take advantage of the incredible restaurant scene and it is estimated that every dollar spent on tickets leads to approximately $12 dollars spent in town.
There is more involved than just entertainment. The Summer Acting Camp serves aspiring performers in grades 1 through 12. The two-week course features instruction in acting, music, and dance and students are taught, in many cases, by Camp alumni. The adjoining Lehigh Valley Health Network Gallery partners with the Arts Community of Easton to organize exhibitions, classes, and workshops. Featured acts including the Piano Guys and the Red Hot Chili Pipers recruit local student musicians to participate in their shows. The entire facility is available for private events such as social galas and weddings.
The highlight of the year is the FREDDY Awards show that has been broadcast live on WFMZ-TV Channel 69 for the past 20 years. The mission of the Awards is to recognize and reward exceptional achievements in the production and performance of musical theatre programs in local high schools. The show is modeled after the Tony Awards and, to date, over 60,000 students from 33 high schools have participated. There are over 150 volunteers involved with every aspect. An interview process identifies 24 evaluators who each must see and evaluate at least 16 productions. The evaluations are fed into a computer program and the nominations are announced. Four students from each school are selected to participate in the opening and closing numbers which entail two weeks of training.
The work is all worthwhile when the big night comes and the award winners are recognized. Over $2 million in college scholarships and paid internships have been awarded to participating FREDDY students. The Awards are named in honor of J. Fred Osterstock who managed the company that owned the theatre from 1936- 1965. Legend has it that he makes his presence known by leaving shiny heads-up pennies on the premises, often having the same date as the birth year of the person who finds them.
Memberships help support the Theatre and start at $75 which gives people the first chance at buying tickets. Companies who offer donations and sponsorships are included in all Theatre marketing campaigns.