Center Players was founded in 1996 and gained status as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The troupe set its sights on establishing a permanent presence in historic downtown Freehold Center. The local residents and businesses enthusiastically embraced the concept, and enough seed money was raised to launch a development project for converting a warehouse on Main Street into a 300-seat theater. During that time, Center Players performed at various locations around town. However, changes in property ownership and a shortfall in funding forced the group to abandon the Main Street project. Founding member David Sorin encouraged the Board to downsize its vision and lease a storefront property on South Street. The space was custom renovated with interior design by New York City designer Nelson Kuperberg into an intimate, 49-seat theater. Doors to the new Center Playhouse opened in March of 2001 with a gala opening celebration and fully sold-out run of "Crossing Delancey."