About The Meadowbrook
Copyright 2011 - 2015 John H. Beaumont - All Rights Reserved
ABOUT THE MEADOWBROOK It’s   impossible   to   go   into   detail   about   the   long   and   varied   history   of   Meadowbrook   but   a   brief   overview   will   give your some insight. The   Meadowbrook   opened   in   1923. The   Meadowbrook   hosted   all   of   the   famous   ‘Big   Bands’.   It’s   even   purported   to have   featured,   as   one   of   the   band   singers,   Frank   Sinatra.   Frank   Dailey’s   Meadowbrook   became   a   household name    as    a    dance    hall    in    1936    for    it’s    radio    broadcasts    that    announced    “And    now    from    Frank    Dailey’s Meadowbrook,   on   the   Newark-Pompton   Turnpike,   in   the   heart   of   Cedar   Grove,   New   Jersey   comes   the   music   of   .   . .   .”   .   When   the   big   band   era   ended   the   Meadowbrook   became   a   banquet   hall,   run   after   the   death   of   Frank,   by   his brother Cliff. It had become the property of the bank and Cliff would run it for them for the occasional event. There   seems   to   be   some   discussion   as   to   who   opened   the   first   dinner   theatre.   Wikipedia   states   that   the   Barksdale Theatre   in   Virginia   was   the   first.   I   believe   this   to   be   incorrect,   Barksdale   had   a   separate   facility   for   the   theatre   and dinner   (buffet)   service.   The   Meadowbrook   was   all   in   one   room   with   tables   surrounding   the   ‘in-the-round’   stage.   In my   opinion   the   Meadowbrook   was   the   first   dinner   theatre   of   its   kind   where   the   patrons   never   left   their   seats   and dinner   and   theatre   was   brought   to   them.   After   the   theatrical   performance   the   stage   was   removed   so   that   the patrons had the use of the dance floor to a live orchestra until closing, all in one room. In   1959   Gary    and   Helga   McHugh   came   up   with   the   idea   of   the   Dinner   Theatre.   Gary   was   a   great   salesman   and was   able   to   convince   the   bank   to   allow   him   to   rent   the   old   hall   and   operate   it   as   the   world’s   first   dinner   theatre.   It opened   as   the   Meadowbrook   Dinner   Theatre   in   the   fall   of   1959.   The   Meadowbrook   was   a   full   union   operation; Actor’s   Equity,   union   stage   hands,   union   musicians   and   kitchen,   bartender   and   wait   staff.   Early   into   its   operation the   property   was   purchased   from   the   bank   by   John   Thumann.   It   would   be   best   to   explain   here   that   the   Thumann corporation   owned   the   liquor   license   and   derived   revenue   from   liquor   sales   which   were   not   shared   with   the   theatre operation   which   derived   its   revenue   from   food   service   and   show   only   ticket   sales.   On   the   other   hand   that   was   to be considered rent. It   would   only   be   fair   to   give   credit   where   credit   is   due.   The   concept   was   well   accepted   and   business   flourished. Gary   was   joined   by   Carl   Sawyer   as   co-producer;   Richard   Scanga   joined   as   Production   Stage   Manager   and   hired me   as   his   assistant.   Soon   I   moved   to   Production   Stage   Manager   and   Mr.   Scanga   moved   to   co-Producer. Sometime   later   Mr.   Scanga   became   general   manager   of   the   Vogue   Terrace   Dinner   Theatre   in   Pittsburg,   PA ,    and was   replaced   by   John   Wingate.   As   time   went   by   I   moved   up   to   Associate   Producer   above   title.   John   Wingate moved   on   to   manage   the   Wedgewood   Dinner   Theatre   in   Glen   Cove,   LI,   NY ,      I   now   had   single   billing   as Associate Producer,   followed   by   co-Producer   with   Gary   McHugh .   The   Wedgewood   and   Vogue   Terrace    were   both   operated by   Dinner   Theatre,   Inc. ,   part   of   the   Meadowbrook   operation.   Gary,   as   it   turned   out,   was   not   a   great   business   man and   began   to   spend   more   money   that   he   was   taking   in.   Not   on   himself,   but   in   an   attempt   to   expand   other   dinner theatre   operations.   Finally   unable   to   talk   his   way   out   of   government   owed   taxes   he   was   forced   to   shutter   the operation. Business   was   good   and   there   was   no   reason   the   Meadowbrook   should   have   closed.   Marvin   Sprague ,   Len Leonards   and   Eddie   Lutzkow   contacted   me   and   together   with   some   of   the   former   employees   and   some   outside investors   were   able   to   reopen.   We   changed   the   name   to   Meadowbrook Theatre/Restaurant   to   avoid   any   confusion with the old operation that owed lots of money to lots of people. Meadowbrook   reopened   with   the   public   not   knowing   that   anything   had   changed.   I   became   Producer   and   Marvin Sprague   Associate   Producer. The   1973   recession,   as   well   as   a   strike   by   the   wait   staff,   forced   the   decision   to   close the   operation   before   we   met   the   same   fate   as   our   predecessor.   We   shuttered   the   doors   in   the   black.   For   some press about the closing click here. Another   producer   attempted   to   reopen   the   old   girl,   but   after   two   shows   it   was   shuttered   again   only   to   reopen   as   a Disco. After   some   trouble   with   the   police   and   town   hall   the   venue   was   shuttered   for   good.   The   Meadowbrook   was sold   to   a   developer   who   had   nothing   but   trouble   with   the   town   to   do   anything   with   the   property.   He   finally   sold   it   to Sts.   Kiril   and   Metodij   Macedynian   Orthodox   Church   that   now   owns   it.   They   did   a   wonderful   job   of   bringing   it   back to   its   original   grandeur   and   it’s   used   for   church   functions   for   its   parishioners.   The   old   dance   floor   still   feels   the touch of happy feet.   I hope I’ve not left out anything that’s important – if I have, I’m sure someone will let me know. John
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