Opening night for the Mile Square Theatre

New 130-seat space has been more than a decade in the making

Sitting in the audience at the new Mile Square Theatre at the north end of Clinton Street in Hoboken, 9-year-old Maria Carla Bettocchi relishes the set before her.
She admires the furniture and paintings that make up the backdrop of the stage as the theater’s founders prepare to kick off the first musical in their new space, “Goodnight Moon” (a rendition of the classic children’s book by Margaret Wise Brown).
If the sea green walls, red floor, purple fireplace and turquoise clock weren’t enough to bolster the production’s playfulness, the musical itself incorporates madcap elements like puppets maneuvered by adult actors, moving picture frames, and screwball sound effects that whiz across the stage.

“We bring people of all walks of life into this theatre.” – Zabrina Stoffel
“I want to be a set director when I get older,” said Maria, who was coming with her Mustard Seed School classmates to a free preview of the musical last week. “At home I like to make little plays about America’s history. In one of my own stories, one minute the background would look like a kitchen and later, suddenly, like a war scene.”
The 130-seat theatre space, which began construction last fall, has been a project in the works since the theatre company’s inception in 2003.
Throughout its tenure, MST has functioned as a “floating professional theatre” in the city, with productions on the waterfront, at the Hoboken Historical Museum, City Hall, and seemingly anywhere else the company could set up a stage.
In 2008, the company settled down at the Monroe Center for the Arts on the west side of town and grew its fan base before acquiring a more intimate space across from the new theatre at the Edge Lofts (which they will continue to use as well).
“We thought this would be a really great way to start the new theatre; to take our theatre mission and our education mission and combine them to kick it off,” said Founder and Artistic Director Chris O’Connor, as he directed a reporter through the newly-renovated space.
Connors admitted he was in tears when he first saw the space.
“We are thrilled that so many in the community share our vision of a flourishing arts sector,” he said in an interview, “and stepped in to support this project.”
$500,000 of the theatre’s overall goal of raising $1 million has thus far been collected. You can donate to the theatre and/or dedicate a seat to someone through a donation by visiting

‘Goodnight Moon’ and more to come

Several showings of “Goodnight Moon” will be performed through April 24.
The plot of the play is clear-cut: As bedtime approaches for a very jumpy bunny, Old Lady tries and tries again to put him to bed but his ardent imagination, paired with a batch of best friends, won’t let him fall asleep.
At the recent showing, designer Peter Fogel’s work stood out, as he has put together a group of genial yet subtle touches for the character’s costumes. Brandon Beaver, who plays the bunny, sports childlike baby blue pajamas from head to toe with matching bunny ears. His energy, which was contagious, was enough to bring viewers back to their own childhoods.
The show had many humorous touches, such as clever lines issued by the Old Lady (played by Rachel Darby) early in the show.
Juliana Kolc-Dass, a 9-year-old student attending this past week’s show, said she wants to grow up to be a musical director.
“I have an idea for a scene…the characters are falling asleep and as they get more and more tired the music gets softer and deeper,” she said.
Zabrina Stoffel, MST Board of Trustees president, was thrilled to be able to combine education with the arts at the new theatre space.
“We bring people of all walks of life into this theatre,” she said. “Our productions are fun and thought provoking; they connect people and start conversations.”
The theater also held a meet-and-greet with city officials and the business community at the space this past Monday. At the event, Mayor Dawn Zimmer said, “I know it’s been a long trail to get to this point, and we will continue to spread the word.”
The production is directed by Mark Cirnigliaro and produced O’Connor. Sarah Weber Gallo handled choreography.
Although “Goodnight Moon” has thus far been a big hit, the theatre is just getting started. Upcoming matinees include “Circle, Mirror, Transformation” (June 15 to July 2), “Long Gone Daddy” (a one-man show to be performed July 20 to Aug. 7), “Dracula, the Journal of Jonathan Harker” (Oct. 12 to 30) and “It’s a Wonderful Life: a live radio play” (Dec. 1 to 18).

Steven Rodas can be reached at

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