THE STRAND is a Jersey Shore entertainment venue that offers a wide variety of live entertainment in New Jersey. Based in Lakewood, the venue features activities for senior citizens, theater camps for children and teens, and is well-known for its intimate BACKSTAGE PASS series which offers a unique, personal entertainment experience.
THE STRAND has brought cultural arts to the Jersey Shore since its inception in 1922, and our theater has remained a staple for Jersey Shore entertainment. Nationally renowned acts including Milton Berle, Loudon Wainwright, George Burns, Don McLean, Louie CK, Taylor Swift, Charlie Daniels, George Carlin and many more have all taken the stage here. Learn more about THE STRAND and all that it has to offer.
The famous theater architect, Thomas Lamb,
was commissioned in the early 1900s by the Ferber Amusement Company to
design a theater in Lakewood, New Jersey. The vision for the theater was
not only to provide an aesthetically appealing venue, but also one that
would encourage Broadway producers to utilize it as a tryout theater
before moving their shows to Broadway.
In 1922, THE STRAND opened in a time when
Lakewood was a popular playground for the rich and famous, including big
names such as President Grover Cleveland and John D. Rockefeller.
Architecturally, THE STRAND has exemplary sight lines, with no
obstructing pillars or uprights. The acoustics are notably effective
since it was built at a time when performers relied mainly on their own
voices. Today, THE STRAND is known as one of the best acoustical
theaters in the nation and is a top live entertainment venue.
The first event at THE STRAND was a film
that featured Mae Murray, then a sensuous siren of the silent screen, in
the epic film, “Peacock Alley.” This picture was followed by five acts
of vaudeville. Within a week of its opening, the venue fulfilled its
original intended purpose when it presented a pre-Broadway run of “The
Devine Crook,” starring Florence Reed. Reed, a leading star of the
times, was then held in the same esteem as her more famous contemporary,
THE STRAND continued with the highly
popular combination of vaudeville and films interspersed with
pre-performance bookings of Broadway shows. Among the luminaries of
musical shows, radio, and television who had appeared at the theater as
virtual unknowns were Ray Bolger, Milton Berle, Ruby Keeler, and a
comedy team listed as Burns and Allen and billed as “A Dumb-Belle and a
When sound came to the movie industry, the
“talkies” hit the theater and the variety acts faded away. THE STRAND
became exclusively a motion picture theater except for the occasional
appearances by Hollywood starlets promoting World War II bonds. Later,
as suburban movie complexes proliferated, and as competition from
television increased and costs soared, the venue was struggling to find a
As THE STRAND edged perilously close to
extinction, a coalition of individuals, business interests, and
government officials recognized the opportunity to preserve such an
architectural treasure as a means to provide comedy shows and musicals
in New Jersey. In 1981, THE STRAND was conveyed to the Ocean County
Center for the Arts. In March of the same year, the theater was added to
the New Jersey Register of Historical Places, and in May of 1982 it was
signed into the National Register of Historical Places. THE STRAND was
reopened with a gala performance by Pearl Bailey in 1984.
In 1992, the theater received a $2.5
million grant to complete the interior restoration, and the theater was
gloriously restored. THE STRAND has been undergoing several years of
renovations with the support of Ocean County, the Township of Lakewood,
the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the New Jersey Economic
Development Authority and many other businesses, organizations, and
individuals. Recent renovations include a new reception gallery, box
office, and facade.
In March of 1999, the Lakewood Development
Corporation acquired THE STRAND. In June of 2000, Strand Ventures, Inc.
hired a new management team who were committed to the task of restoring
THE STRAND theater back to its rightful place as the cultural hub of
Ocean County. Realizing the overwhelming benefits of being a
presentation organization, THE STRAND now produces its own events and
presents shows that reflect the cultural, ethnic, and intergenerational
tastes of an ever-growing population. Today, the theater offers holiday
concerts, musical concerts, plays, dinner shows, senior activities, and
The Strand School of the Arts.