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 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.
1970s & 1980s
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 produced 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 became one of the region’s leading providers of theater arts and education.
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, the not-for-profit organization that operated the theatre, went bankrupt and the theatre property was put up for auction.
2010 - PRESENT
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 one of the largest arts venues in the region.
2019 - Best of the Northshore - Best Live Theatre Venue (Reader's Choice)
2019- Independent Reviewers of New England Award - Best Promising Young Performer - Jake Ryan Flynn (Peter Pan)
2019- - Best of the Salem News - Best Live Theatre Venue
2018 - Best of the Northshore - Best Live Theatre Venue (Reader's Choice)
2017 - Best of the Northshore - Best Live Theatre Venue (Official Pick)
2017- 3 Independent Reviewers of New England Awards - Best Actress - Shoshana Bean (Funny Girl), Best Supporting Actress - Michelle Alves (West Side Story), Best Promising Young Performer - Jake Ryan Flynn (Mary Poppins)
2016 - Best of the Northshore - Best Live Theatre Venue (Reader's Choice)
2015 - Best of the Northshore - Best Live Theatre Venue (Reader's Choice)
2015- 2 Independent Reviewers of New England Awards - Best Ensemble, Promising Young Performer (Billy Elliot)
2014 - Best of the Northshore - Best Live Theatre Venue (Official pick and Reader's Choice)
2014- Elliot Norton Award - Best Actor in a Musical (Miss Saigon)
2013 - Independent Reviewers of New England special citation David Coffee - 20 years as Scrooge A Christmas Carol.
2013 - Best of the Northshore - Best Live Theatre Venue (Official pick and Reader's Choice)
2013 - 3 Independent Reviewers of New England Awards Guys and Dolls (Best Actor, Best Featured Actor, Best Featured Actress)
2012 - Independent Reviewer of New England Award - Best Young Performer (The King & I)
2012 - Best of the Northshore - Best Live Theatre Venue (Official pick and Reader's Choice)
2011 - Independent Reviewers of New England Award - Best Young Performer (Gypsy)
2009 - Elliot Norton Award - Best Musical Production (Show Boat)
2009 - 8 Independent Reviewers of New England Awards - Show Boat (Best Costumes, Best Sound, Best Musical Direction, Best Ensemble, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Bye Bye Birdie (Best Actress, Best Choreography shared with 42nd Street).
2008 - Elliot Norton Award - Outstanding Choreography (Seven Brides For Seven Brothers)
2008 - 4 Independent Reviewers of New England Awards - Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (Best Musical, Best Director, Best Choreographer), Crazy For You (Best Actor)
2008 - Best of the Northshore - Best Live Theatre Venue (Official pick and Reader's Choice)
2007 - Elliot Norton 25th Anniversary Award- Jon Kimbell
2007 - 4 Independent Reviewers of New England Awards- Best Musical (Hairspray), Best Sound Design (Ain't Misbehavin', Jesus Christ Superstar), Best Actress in a Musical (Hairspray), Best Supporting Actor in a Musical (Ain't Misbehavin'),
2007 - Drum Major of Justice Award- Jon Kimbell
2006 - Spirit of Broadway Lifetime Achievement Award- Jon Kimbell
2006 - Kenneth A. MacDonald Award for Theatre Excellence
2006 – 2 Independent Reviewers of New England Awards – The Full Monty (Best Musical), Camelot (Best Supporting Actor)
2006 – The Boston Parent’s Paper voted NSMT “Favorite Live Theatre for Kids”
2006 – CNC Readers Choice - “North of Boston Favorite Place to See Theatre”
2005 – New England Theatre Conference Regional Award for outstanding contribution to New England theater
2005 – Moss Hart Award for the promotion of artistic growth and the development of excellence in theater for Abyssinia
2005 – Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston’s Award for Arts Management Excellence
2005 – Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Musical Performance & Outstanding Achievement in Choreography – National Junior Theater Festival
2005 – 3 Independent Reviewers of New England Awards – Tom Jones (Best Director, Best Lighting), Aida (Best Actress)
2004 - Greater Boston Business Council’s Small Employee Award of Excellence
2004 - Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Musical Production - Pacific Overtures
2004 – 9 Independent Reviewers of New England Awards - Pacific Overtures (Best Musical Production, Best Director of a Musical, Best Musical Direction, Best Choreography, Best Lighting Design, Best Costume Design, Best Sound Design, Best Supporting Actor in a Musical, and Best Ensemble)
2004 – 1st Annual Kay Bourne Editor Bay State Banner Award – awarded for “employing artists of color on stage and off.”
2004 – The Boston Parent’s Paper Hall of Fame for “Favorite Live Theatre for Kids”
2004 – CNC Readers Choice - “North of Boston Favorite Place to See Theatre”
2003 - Rosetta LeNoire Award - awarded for “universality of the human experience in the American Musical Theatre” through non-traditional casting.
2003 - Award for Outstanding Achievement: Musical Performance – National Junior Theatre Festival
2003 – The Boston Parent’s Paper voted NSMT “Favorite Live Theatre for Kids”
2003 – CNC Readers Choice - “North of Boston Favorite Place to See Theatre”
2003 – CNC Readers Choice - “North of Boston Favorite Place for Family Entertainment”
2002 - Essex County Newspapers voted NSMT “Best Family Theatre”
2001 - Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Musical - HONK!
2001 - Independent Reviewers of New England Award for Best Scenic Design – Miss Saigon
2001 - New England Theatre Conference Major Award For Outstanding Achievement in the American Theatre awarded to Jon Kimbell, NSMT Artistic Director/Executive Producer
2001 - Salem State College's Lifetime Achievement Award awarded to Jon Kimbell, NSMT Artistic Director/Executive Producer