Count Basie Theatre

Count Basie Theatre


Count Basie Theatre

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The Count Basie Theatre is an historic landmark that operates as a theatre for performing arts in Red Bank, New Jersey. It opened as the Carlton Theater in 1926 and was renamed in 1984 to honor jazz great and Red Bank native William “Count” Basie. It has seating capacity for 1,543 patrons. The Count Basie Theatre box office is the only official ticketing outlet for Count Basie Theatre presented shows.


Edward Franklin Albee II opened the Carlton on November 11, 1926 as one of a series of elaborate new Keith-Albee-Orpheum vaudeville theatres. The ill-advised investment came at a time when less expensive movies were replacing vaudeville and Albee was soon pushed out. The theatre chain was absorbed into Keith-Albee-Orpheum in 1928 and was soon controlled by Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr..

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

The theatre was one of the highlights of nightlife in downtown Red Bank for many years. Finally, in 1970, after the closing of the Strand, Palace, Empire, and Lyric Theatres, the last of the great local theatres went dark.

In 1973, a significant anonymous donation allowed the Monmouth County Arts Council to preserve and...
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