Newark's Downtown Theatres

by Ron Pasquale


The rich theatre history of Newark! Ok. Here it is. My Dad was the General manager of both the Adams Theatre on Branford Place, and the Paramount Theatre on Market Street for 40 years. Both these theatres are rich in history and were a major part of the entertainment (downtown) since the 20's! The Adams featured the "Big Bands" of Dorsey & Miller as they tuned up before going to the NY Paramount. If you speak to anyone who grew up in the 30's and 40's they can tell you stories of cutting school, going to the Adams Theatre to catch the stage show. Sitting as far front, while ducking their heads so the truant officer wouldn't see them! Wow! Miller, Goodman, Skelton, Berle, and so many more! All in Newark, NJ.

From the stage shows of the big bands, to burlesque, to not one , but two motion pictures for the price of a hot dog today. All the great entertainment my family, and others all had a chance to be a part of. Epics like "Kings Of Kings", "Ben Hur" and "In The Heat Of The Night" played to packed houses! No, these were not your cement block 200-300 seat acoustic tunnels of today. These theatres had over 2,000 seats! two patrons out...two went in! Lines down Branford Place, around the corner on to Broad Street. A heavy velvet curtain which would open and close in the beginning and end of each feature. (Intermissions) The architecture of cathedrals with opera boxes, brass railings, and a super high lighted dome ceilings! Finally, the huge, dark, balconies which sparked many a romance through the years. (and what a place to hide if you just snuck in the upper fire escape doors!) I know this because my brothers and me ushered for some years and had to give chase a few times.

I am very lucky to have worked in the 70's at the theatres for Dad. The epics fore mentioned gave way to karate movies...but the theatre business (as my Dad said) never died in favor of VCRs the way so many predicted! get the idea. Oh...I guess it would only be fair to mention the competition. Let's see. There was the Branford, The Loews and The RKO Proctors. (The RKO Proctors, the reason I'm hear today! See my Mom worked as an usherette at the Proctors, while Dad was managing the Adams and Paramount. Yep, you guessed it. Love at first feature!"

Thanks for listening.



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