Count Basie Center for the Arts

Coordinates: 40°20′56.4″N 74°4′12.36″W / 40.349000°N 74.0701000°W / 40.349000; -74.0701000
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40°20′56.4″N 74°4′12.36″W / 40.349000°N 74.0701000°W / 40.349000; -74.0701000

Count Basie Center for the Arts
Entrance to Count Basie Theatre in 2018
Former namesCarlton Theater (1926–71)
Monmouth Arts Center (1973–84)
Count Basie Theatre (1984–2018)
Address99 Monmouth St
Red Bank, New Jersey
United States
OwnerNew Jersey State Council on the Arts
Capacity1,568 (Hackensack Meridian Health Theatre)
OpenedNovember 11, 1926 (1926-11-11)
  • 1971-73
  • 2008
  • 2017
The Basie
Carlton Theater
NRHP reference No.09001100
NJRHP No.2042[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPDecember 18, 2009
Designated NJRHPMay 20, 2009

The Count Basie Center for the Arts, originally Count Basie Theatre, is a landmarked performing arts center in Red Bank, New Jersey.

The building first opened in 1926 as the Carlton Theater and later, in 1973, became known as the Monmouth Arts Center.[2] In 1984 it was renamed the Count Basie Theatre after famed jazz musician and Red Bank native, William "Count" Basie.

In 2018, the venue changed its name to the Count Basie Center for the Arts. The name of the theater itself was purchased and renamed the Hackensack Meridian Health Theatre.

The building was designed by architect William E. Lehman and has a seating capacity of 1,568.


The theater's marquee in 2018

Edward Franklin Albee II opened the Carlton Theater on November 11, 1926 as one of a series of Keith-Albee-Orpheum vaudeville theaters.

Opening night in 1926 included vaudeville acts and the feature film The Quarterback, starring Richard Dix. Nearly 4,000 people attended the two shows that evening, with crowds gathering two hours before the first performance. The New Jersey Register called the new theatre “…a marvel of beauty, convenience and comfort. Outside and inside it is a veritable and architectural triumph.”[3]

Because of financial struggles and declining movie attendance nationally, Albee was removed from the leadership of the theater. The theater chain was acquired by Keith-Albee-Orpheum in 1928 and then led by Joseph P. Kennedy Sr, father of John F. Kennedy.

The Carlton Theater closed in 1970 after the Strand, the Palace, the Empire, and the Lyric theaters had also closed. In 1973 a significant anonymous donation allowed the Monmouth County Arts Council to preserve and reopen the theater for cultural use, and the theater was renamed the Monmouth Arts Center.

View from the balcony

In 1984 the building was renamed as the Count Basie Theatre, in memorial to William “Count” Basie who had died that year. The Monmouth County Arts Council operated the theater until June 30, 1999, when the not-for-profit corporation Count Basie Theatre, Inc. managed, program, and preserve the theater.

On May 14, 2018, the theater changed its name to Count Basie Center for the Arts as part of a $26 million expansion. Later on in the same year, Hackensack-Meridian Health bought the naming rights to the Center's historic auditorium and renamed it the Hackensack Meridian Health Theatre. In 2020, the Center's second venue, The Vogel, opened with small, 150-person capacity performances on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.[citation needed]


Besides Count Basie, musicians such as James Brown and Tony Bennett, as well as headline performers such as Al Green, George Carlin, Boz Scaggs, Counting Crows, Olivia Newton-John, Brian Wilson, "Weird Al" Yankovic, Ben E. King, Darlene Love, and Jon Stewart have performed at the theater. Bruce Springsteen made several surprise guest appearances at Count Basie Theatre, and Jon Bon Jovi has attended and organized many charity concerts there.[4]

The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and the Monmouth Symphony Orchestra are regularly scheduled at the theater.[4]

Community outreach[edit]

Fans arriving for a concert under the pre-naming rights marquee

The Count Basie Center Performing Arts Academy offers professional training courses in performance basics, audition techniques, professional development, and weekend workshops. Notable past participants include singer, songwriter, and record producer, Charlie Puth, Broadway actress, Jillian Mueller,[5] The X Factor finalist Cari Fletcher,[6] The Voice runner-up, Jacquie Lee,[7] Steve Vai, keyboardist Michael Arrom,[8] and Conan Gray bassist Christine Meisenhelter.[9]

On May 26, 2006, the organization presented its first annual Basie Awards for excellence in high school theater in Monmouth County, New Jersey. The May 2008 presentations were hosted by Joe Piscopo, while the May 2009 presentations were hosted by Siobhan Fallon Hogan. The 2010 awards were not hosted. The announced host Big Joe Henry, a disk jockey for NJ 101.5 radio, pulled out because of a threat of protests by the New Jersey Education Association, which had disagreed with the radio station for its political views and talks, urging listeners to vote against state spending for education and the arts.[10]

The building[edit]

The alternate Stillwell-Larkin Pavilion entrance, 2024

Between 1995 and 2001, the arts council/corporation conducted a series of phased projects to repair and stabilize the infrastructure of the building. Phase 1 of a new renovation series was completed in 2004,[4] replacing the seating with historically accurate seats; adding alabaster lighting fixtures to the auditorium; and restoring and painting a side-panel of plasterwork. Over $1 million has been spent on theater improvements to date, funded by donations and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts[11] in 2010. A $28 million capital campaign was started in 2016 to support an expansion that doubled the Center's footprint, adding a second venue, The Vogel, the Grunin Arts Education Building, a new member lounge, and significant increases in size to the Basie's original theater lobby.

Seating includes 1,008 orchestra, 121 loge, 402 balcony, and 12 wheelchair-accessible platforms. The Vogel holds 800 persons standing.

Basie Center Cinemas[edit]

In 2020, the center acquired a movie theater which it reopened as the Basie Center Cinemas.[12][13]

The Vogel[edit]

Exterior of The Vogel

Newly built in 2020, the Vogel is a club-sized two-story music venue at the Basie Center with 800 in standing room capacity.[14] It is named for area natives Anne and Sheldon Vogel, the latter of whom oversaw finances at Atlantic Records.[15]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places - Monmouth County" (PDF). New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection - Historic Preservation Office. March 1, 2011. p. 12. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 4, 2011. Retrieved April 26, 2011.
  2. ^ "Count Basie Center for the Arts". Fisher Dachs Associates. Retrieved 2022-12-10.
  3. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Registration Form: The Carlton Theater". National Park Service.
  4. ^ a b c tojsiab. "Count Basie Theatre इतिहास देखें अर्थ और सामग्री -". Retrieved 2022-12-10.
  5. ^ "It's 'Hello, Broadway' in 'Bye Bye Birdie' | | News Transcript". Archived from the original on 9 September 2015. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  6. ^ "Cari Fletcher Auditions for X-Factor". Rockit Live Foundation. April 8, 2016. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  7. ^ "9 amazing Count Basie Theatre facts". Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  8. ^ O'Brien, Walter (July 10, 2013). "Warren keyboardist joins rock guitar legend Steve Vai for Australia, Pacific Rim tour". Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  9. ^ "Christine Meisenhelter: Talking Music, Touring, and Taking Life Slowly".
  10. ^ "Basies Hostless After Protest Threat", RedBank, 2010-05-25. Retrieved 2010-12-17.
  11. ^ "New Jersey Department of State - NJ Cultural Trust - Count Basie Theatre, Red Bank". Retrieved 2022-12-10.
  12. ^ "May the Fizz Be With You: Basie Center Cinemas To Get Liquor License - Two River Times". July 28, 2023.
  13. ^ "Basie Center Cinemas in Red Bank, NJ - Cinema Treasures".
  14. ^
  15. ^