- North Shore Music Theatre (NSMT) was first organized in 1954 by founders Stephan Slane, Managing Director, and Ruby Newman, Musical Director. NSMT opened as a part of a national circuit of summer stock theaters designed to present (rather than produce) touring packages of Broadway successes and star-centered comedies.
- Originally designed by Boston architect Ralph LeBlanc, NSMT opened in June of 1955 with
Kiss Me, Kate, soon after the completion of Route 128 on the site of a former gravel pit resulting from the highway construction. NSMT was the first permanent stage in the country to be designed in the arena-style, with a roof supported by clear-span trusses to provide patrons with unobstructed sightlines.
- NSMT introduced theater programs for youth in 1956.
NSMT was an open, canvas-sided theater. In the early 1960’s the canvas walls were replaced with permanent walls and seating was expanded from 1,000 to 1,750. In the late 1960’s, installation of heat and air-conditioning added to the comfort of patrons and actors.
- NSMT began applying for non-profit status and assembled the first NSMT Board of Trustees. In 1967, NSMT became a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization and established North Shore Community Arts Foundation, Inc., the governing and policy-setting body for NSMT.
- Jon Kimbell, Executive Producer, and James Polese, General Manager, took over after Stephan Slane’s retirement in 1983. Polese and Kimbell dedicated their first 10 years at NSMT to upgrading all aspects of the theatre, from the quality of productions, actors, designers and directors to the building and grounds.
- The Montserrat School of Art was established as a North Shore Music Theatre initiative.
- NSMT reinvented itself, its facilities –a new lobby, box office and back stage area –and grew into an award-winning theater with a renowned Theatre Arts and Education Academy that became recognized as a leader in education programming and the production of classic, contemporary and vibrant new musical theater.
NSMT evolved from presenting musicals to producing all musical theater productions in-house. NSMT continued to concentrate on further enhancing the quality of work and developing loyal subscribers.
To fulfill its goal of granting degrees and to secure additional space, Montserrat College of Art became independent and relocated to downtown Beverly in 1994.
NSMT evolved into the largest non-profit producing theater in New England, with approximately 300,000 patrons annually. NSMT has gained a national and regional reputation for artistic achievement, specifically in the areas of developing new works and providing outstanding theater arts and education programs. NSMT has received numerous industry awards including The Elliot Norton Award (Boston’s equivalent of the Tony Awards), The Rosetta Le Noire Award from Actors’ Equity, and The Moss Hart Award. NSMT annually produces a six musical subscription series, a production of A Christmas Carol and an acclaimed concert series. With its celebrated Theatre for Young Audiences program, a school touring program, and year-round classes for children, NSMT has become one of the region’s leading providers of theater arts and education.
2009 - present
- In 2009 NSMT announced a temporary closure due to severe financial problems. Unfortunately, the Board of Directors and remaining management were unable to raise the money needed to keep NSMT in operation and announced a permanent closure in June of 2009. North Shore Community Arts Foundation went bankrupt and the theatre property was put up for auction.
- In February, 2010 it was announced that businessman Bill Hanney had purchased the property and was going to open it once more as a leading Arts venue for the community.
- In July of 2010, North Shore Music Theatre reopened and continues to be on of the largest arts venues in the region.