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The Holmdel Theatre Company at the Duncan Smith Theater

By Joanne Colella

As fans of live theater know, some of the most entertaining performances are presented not necessarily on Broadway, but on local community stages. One of the area’s most talented acting troupes – and certainly one of the most charming venues – is the Holmdel Theatre Company (HTC), based at the Duncan Smith Theater in Holmdel. Last year, HTC celebrated its 30th season with a special Cabaret Gala held at the intimate theater, a 125-year-old barn that has been lovingly transformed into a modern, air-conditioned performance space with seating for just under 100 guests. The “black box” design allows flexibility in staging for each new production and the seating to go around it.

The mission of HTC is to present fresh interpretations of classic plays and lesser-known modern dramas and comedies. For each collaborative production, professional theater artists work together with non-professionals and students, both on and behind the stage. Distinguished guest actors and directors who have lent their talents through the years have included Debbie Reynolds, John Astin, Billy Van Zandt, Brian O’Halloran, Jim Stanek, Eric Rolland, Kathy Hendrickson and other theater veterans, along with a huge cast of countless up-and-coming adult and youth performers.

On the first Monday of each month at 7 pm, HTC hosts a popular Play Reading Series, offering a forum where new works may be presented for the first time, established works are performed for fun, and consideration is given to future inclusion as main stage productions. The evenings are free and coffee is served, with each play reading followed by interactive audience discussion. Applications are accepted to participate in the Play Reading Series.

In 2018, the Holmdel Theatre Company presented titles that included “Art,” “You Can’t Take It with You,” “The Outsiders,” and “Much Ado about Nothing.” The next upcoming main stage production will be “Life is a Dream,” with performances scheduled from March 29 through April 14. The play was written in 1635 by Pedro Calderon de la Barca – regarded as one of Spain’s foremost dramatists and one of the finest playwrights of world literature – and will be directed by Laurie Devino and Chris Szczerbienski.  “Life is a Dream” tells the story of Segismundo, Prince of Poland, who has been imprisoned in a tower by his own father, King Basilio, after a dire prophecy that the prince would bring disaster to the country and death to the king. The king briefly frees his son, but when the prince goes on a rampage, he is imprisoned again and persuaded that it was all a dream. Look for information coming soon on ticket sales for this creative production.

And if you would like to have your own seat, in a manner of speaking, Holmdel Theatre Company is currently offering a unique opportunity for those who would like to support the venue and its productions. Ticket sales cover just a small portion of the costs necessary to keep HTC up and running each year. In the coming months, the theater will be undergoing some needed updates and installing all new chairs for the comfort of patrons. Through their Chair Naming Rights Fundraiser, supporters can be memorialized for years to come with a personalized name plate mounted on the arm of one of the new chairs in the theater. Gold plates are available for a $1,000 donation, silver plates are a $500 donation and bronze plates cost $350. All donations are tax deductible and may be made by check or credit card via a link on the Holmdel Theatre Company website at or by mail at Holmdel Theatre Company, P.O. Box 182, Holmdel, NJ 07733. Donors should indicate the name they’d like to appear on the chair plate.

Holmdel Theatre Company and the Duncan Smith Theatre are located at 36 Crawfords Corner Road in Holmdel. Visit, call 732-946-0427, email, sign up for the HTC newsletter or follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for all the latest news and updates.

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