A short history of 4th Wall Theatre, Inc.
Eight friends, who all worked as performers or artistic staff members at the Montclair Operetta Club in Montclair, NJ, conceived the idea of the non-profit 4th Wall Musical Theatre in 1996.
The original founding members included Mark Frawley and Deborah Martin (Artistic Directors) with Trustees Richard Colonna, Lisa Hughes, Kathi Iannacone, Ed Kamholz, Nancy Marino and Gwen Ricks-Spencer. Joining them in forming the group were Beth Vecchio and Charles Alexander Hay. The group wanted to do smaller, lesser known musicals which focused more on ensemble work, rather than serving as a “star” vehicle for a performer. 4th Wall was incorporated in 1997. The group's first production was a fundraising concert: Star Dust: A Tribute to the Music of the 1940’s. This was followed by a production of the group's first full length show, the musical Working, based on Studs Turkel’s book of the same name with music by a variety of artists including Stephen Schwartz, James Taylor and Mikki Grant, to name a few. During 4th Wall’s early years, the group continued to fine tune its mission and saw both audience growth and critical recognition for its presentations of musicals such as Godspell, Falsettos, Violet and A New Brain in addition to many others. The group produced for a loyal and growing audience at the prestigious Morristown-Beard School in Morristown, NJ.
In 2002, with its reputation for producing challenging and interesting musicals, 4th Wall was asked by the Bickford Theatre, located in the Morris Museum, to begin producing in its state-of-the-art theatre space. 4th Wall moved and presented musicals such as Songs for a New World, Hair, Dames at Sea and La Cage aux Folles, which broke attendance and box office records.
In 2004, 4th Wall was forced to exit the Bickford, due to scheduling conflicts and the Bickford’s decision to add musicals to their season. 4th Wall moved to the campus of Kean University in Union, NJ. While at Kean, 4th Wall produced Bat Boy: the Musical and Big River.
In 2005, 4th Wall was approached by 12 Miles West, one of the state's premier professional theatre companies, about producing musicals in its space in Bloomfield. Excited at the prospect of moving back to its home county, 4th Wall eagerly moved to Bloomfield and mounted Ain’t Misbehavin’, Kiss of the Spider Woman and Assassins at 12 Miles West. Each show drew more audience and critical acclaim for the group. In the winter of 2006, the group made its current move to be the theatre company in residence at the Westminster Arts Center on the campus of Bloomfield College. Since moving to Westminster, 4th Wall has expanded with the addition of a "Musicals in Development" Series to present the works of new composers and writers and an "Off the Wall" Series, which allows the group to present both plays and musicals which are artistically interesting, but not right for mainstage production.
Ever striving to continue to develop and grow as an organization, both in structure and in offerings, 4th Wall added plays to the performance mix beginning in 2008 with the presentation of Bill C. Davis' AVOW. With the addition of plays to the group's offerings, the name was changed to 4th Wall Theatre, Inc.
The company now has a paid Artistic Director, continues to work with a variety of professional directors from the New York metropolitan area.