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OnStage News & Notes - April 2013

MPOnStage NewsletterIn April, we are pleased to wrap-up Avenue Q, announce "Snow Day" by Dan Maurer, look forward to Legally Blonde and The 2013 Kelsey Awards, and promote April and May Alumni Happenings.


Avenue Q: That’s a Wrap!

Avenue Q was “Only for Now” – But it was Great While it Lasted

The lyrics “...only for now” were prophetic as the cast of MPO’s Avenue Q sang them for the last time while the curtain came down on the sixth and final performance of the acclaimed production March 10th at the Kelsey Theatre.

“In my mind, and in our preparation to teach ourselves how to stage the show, this production has been years in the making,” said John Maurer, the shows director and the company’s Artistic Director. “We couldn’t have asked for a better outcome,” he added, “and we have an amazing cast, crew, orchestra, and production team to thank for that."

The show, which involved 10 actors; and an army of musicians and technical staff; over 100 yards of foam; 15 custom-built stage puppets; and a lot of love, was a faithful presentation of the 2004 Tony Award-winner for Best Musical. Actors and artisans from around central New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania gathered to use puppets in providing a hilarious, irreverent and sometimes insightful look at real life in New York City.

What began with a viral video used to unveil the production in November of 2012, lead to auditions in early December and rehearsals shortly there after. Actors, most with no puppeteering skills, participated in workshops lead by Director John Maurer. By the time the show opened, the puppets were second nature, the actors knew their lines and blocking, and Music Director Laurie Gougher had the musicians and cast working in harmony.

Both audiences and reviewers alike found the results magical. Anthony Stoeckert of Time-Off said: “Director John M. Maurer and musical director Laurie Gougher have assembled a dynamite cast. This show is so funny and the puppets are so prominent that it’s easy to overlook the terrific acting and singing by the cast...”

Meanwhile, Lili Daniel of Stage Magazine wrote: “Maurer Productions OnStage took a huge risk putting this show on at the Kelsey Theatre, but with their talent and gusto, it’s a gamble that pays off in spades.”

The show included MPO Alumnae Kyrus Keenan Westcott (You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown) as Nicky; Mark Applegate (The Drowsy Chaperone) as Rod; Michael Schiumo (You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown), as Trekkie Monster; Nicole Spadifino (Hollywood Arms, Lucky Stiff) as Lucy; and Bill Mercado (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) as Mrs. T and Bad New Bear.

But while MPO enjoys working with old friends, what they love most is making new friends. The company is proud to say that it also included a lot of talent that is new to MPO including Shannan Gonzalez as Gary Coleman; Zach Mazouat as Princeton; Kyla Mostello Donnelly as Kate Monster; Michael Sundburg as Brian; and Stephanie Moon as Christmas Eve.

We would also like to acknowlege the amazing backstage crew including Scott and Rosie Karlin. They had the unenvieable task of keeping track of over 15 custom made puppets - making sure the right ones made it on stage, on time.

Maurer Productions OnStage would like to thank these new comers and the entire cast and crew of Avenue Q for delivering a stellar production.

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Maurer Offers Chills for Thriller Fans with Snow Day

eBook and Audiobook Coming April 30; Allwyn Baskin Featured as Narrator

Snow Day by Dan MaurerDan Maurer (www.danmaurer.com), MPO board member and Perry Award-winning producer and director, recently completed work on the horror novella "Snow Day," which Black Rapids Press will publish as both an ebook and audiobook on April 30 through Amazon.com, Audible.com and iTunes. In addition to authoring the story, Maurer also directed and edited the audiobook edition, which features the voice talents of Perry Award-winning actor Allwyn Baskin.

“With reading going digital, and tablets making it easy to combine different forms of media to deliver a richer experience, it made sense to launch "Snow Day" in multiple formats,” Maurer said.

"Snow Day" is a novella that blends equal parts nostalgia and nightmare as it takes readers back to 1975. It recounts the tale of ten-year-old Billy Stone, who played carefree in the snow until an adventure gone awry left him far from home, staring death in the face, and running from a killer bent on keeping a horrible secret.

“Setting things in 1975 gives the story a whole different frame of reference when it comes to children; how they were treated, and how they were supervised,” Maurer said. “It was a time before Amber Alerts and printing a missing kid’s face on a milk carton. Back in those days, you sent your kid out to play in the morning and didn’t see him again until the sun went down and he came home for dinner. You wouldn’t think of doing that today in this age of play dates and the highly scheduled lives that we create for our children. Looking at that period of time was both nostalgic and frightening for me. I hope readers will feel the same.”

Lynn Baskin reads Snow Day from Black RapidsThe story, running about 30,000 words, and about 3 hours in recorded form, is fiction written in the style of a memoir and it lends itself well to audio interpretation.

Maurer said: “I’m very fortunate that Lynn Baskin came on board for this project. He’s an accomplished actor with an engaging style and a voice that fits the material well. His reading really gave "Snow Day" a whole new dimension – very accessible, yet very creepy. Once I heard the finished recording of his reading, it gave me chills.”

The audiobook edition of "Snow Day" marks the third time Maurer and Baskin have collaborated. Most recently, Maurer directed Baskin in a 2011 production of Elton John & Tim Rice’s AIDA. Before that, they worked together in the same capacity on a production of Driving Miss Daisy, for which Baskin won the NJACT Perry Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play.

Dan Maurer is a graduate of East Carolina University and a resident of Robbinsville, NJ. He spent seven years in trade book publishing including stints in the editorial departments of both Doubleday and Houghton Mifflin. In recent years, he has divided his time as a full-time digital marketer and a part-time theater producer and director. "Snow Day" is his first published work.

Allwyn (Lynn) Baskin, an award-winning actor based in New Jersey, has appeared in a variety of musicals, comedies and dramas. He has performed voiceovers for commercials and public service announcements. In addition to his great love for the spoken word, he is also an interpreter of American Sign Language and received his theatrical interpreting training from the Julliard School.

"Snow Day" is written by Dan Maurer, narrated by Allwyn Baskin, and published in ebook and audiobook by Black Rapids Press and Black Rapids Audio. The audio engineer was Paul Maurer. The ebook edition will be available for sale from Amazon.com April 30, with copies available from BarnesAndNoble.com, Smashwords.com, and the Apple iBookstore this Fall. The audiobook edition will be available for sale April 30 from Audible.com, Amazon.com and iTunes.

 

FOLLOW THE AUTHOR...

 

Audio Sample of Snow Day

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NEWS FLASH!
THE "SNOW DAY" eBOOK IS AVAILABLE EARLY FOR FRIENDS OF MPO!
Buy Your Copy Now! Be One of the First to Review It on Amazon.com
Before the World-Wide Release!

DETAILS:

PRICE: $2.99
FORMAT: Kindle/Mobipocket
LENGTH: 30,000 wds/100+ pgs
PUBLISHER: Black Rapids Press

It happens each winter, and has for over 35 years. Every time the snow starts to fall late in the evening before a school day, the dreams begin again for Billy Stone. They are always the same — there’s a dark tunnel, and there’s blood, lots of blood, and someone is screaming... (more)


MPO’s Princess Proves Blondes Do Have More Fun

Suskind and other MPO Alumnae Featured in Playful Theater’s Legally Blonde

Kim SuskindFollowing up her Perry-nominated performance as Princess Amneris in Elton John & Tim Rice's AIDA, and her star turn as Janet van de Graaff in The Drowsy Chaperone, MPO alum Kim Suskind will slip into Reese Witherspoon’s pink pumps when she takes on the lead role of Elle Wood in Playful Theatre Productions presentation of the hit family comedy Legally Blonde – the Musical at Mercer County Community College’s Kelsey Theatre. Dates and times are Fridays, April 19 and 26 at 8 p.m.; Saturdays, April 20 and 27 at 8 p.m.; and Sundays, April 21 and 28 at 2 p.m. A reception with the cast and crew will follow the opening night performance on April 19, 2013.

Based on the 2001 MGM film starring Reese Witherspoon, Legally Blonde – The Musical tells the story of sorority queen Elle Woods, who is dumped by her boyfriend Warner Huntington III just before he leaves for law school because she is simply “too blonde.”

Princess AmnerisDetermined to find a way to win him back, Elle puts down the credit cards and hits the books, setting out to go where no Delta Nu has gone before - Harvard Law. Elle must wage the battle of her life, for her guy, for herself and for all the blondes who suffer endless indignities every day. In the end Elle proves that being true to yourself never goes out of style.

Suskind, of Lawrenceville, joins a host of other MPO alumnae in the Legally Blonde cast including Kyrus Keenan Westcott of Hamilton as Emmett (Avenue Q); and ensemble players Lynn Baskin of Lambertville (AIDA), Zach Mazouat of Bridgewater (Avenue Q), Sally Page of Princeton (Drowsy Chaperone), and Nicholas Pecht of Hamilton (Drowsy Chaperone). The Legally Blonde production team features a number of MPO alumnae as well, including Choreographer Nicole Farina-Machin (actor in Singin’ in the Rain) lighting designer Judi Parrish (Perry Award winning actor in Drowsy Chaperone), sound designer Matt Shoppas (AIDA, Drowsy Chaperone), and costume designer Ruth Rittmann (Singin’ in the Rain).

The 2007 Broadway production received seven Tony and ten Drama Desk nominations. London's West End production (2010) was nominated for five Laurence Olivier Awards and won three, including “Best New Musical.”

After touring through North America, Legally Blonde toured the United Kingdom in 2011 and Australia in 2012.

Legally BlondeOther cast members include Jaimie McMillin of Bordentown as Paulette; Frank Ferrara of West Windsor as Callahan; Peter Petrino of Pennington as Warner; Jennifer Davis of Bordentown as Vivienne; Karl Weigand of Lawrenceville as Grandmaster Chad; Chelsea Lorraine Wargo of Ewing as Brooke; Chrissy Hartzell of Lawrenceville as Enid; Jaimie Geddes of Ewing as Serena; Heather Wiese of Titusville as Margot; Maria Aromando of Neshanic Station as Pilar; and Jill Bradshaw of Audubon as Kate.

Additional ensemble players include Arnold Aromando of Neshanic Station, Rory Connolly of Lake Forest, IL, Justin Derry of Langhorne, PA, Wendy Graham-Hugo of Newtown, PA, Edgar Hidalgo of Bridgewater, Chris Kamps of Marlton, Samantha Kamen of Lawrenceville, Amanda Mancino of Bordentown, Alison McMullen of Ewing, Emily Christine O’Sullivan of Hamilton, Donna Reed of Hamilton, Rachel Tovar of Hamilton, Jeff Scharf of Yardley, PA, Joe Smith of Newtown, PA, Stephanie Venanzi of Hamilton, Danny Viola of Bogota, and Elissa Zavodnick of Newtown, PA.

The show is directed by Paula Barson, with musical direction by Thomas Buckley, and stage management by Nancy Russell and Ruth Kresge.

Tickets are $18 for adults, $16 for seniors, and $14 for students and children. For tickets, call the Kelsey Theatre Box Office at (609) 570-3333, or click here. Kelsey Theatre is wheelchair accessible, with free parking available next to the theater.

Dates:
Fridays, April 19 & 26, 2013 at 8 pm
Saturdays, April 20 & 27 at 8 pm
Sundays, April 21 & 28 at 2 pm

Go to http://www.kelseyatmccc.org/ticket_series.shtml
for information on how to purchase tickets.

Go to http://www.mccc.edu/welcome_directions_wwcampus.shtml
for directions to the theater.

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Kelsey Awards Coming in August

Kelsey Theatre Awards LogoThe 2013 Kelsey Theatre Awards to Take Stage inside The Kelsey Theatre in West Windsor, New Jersey on Saturday, August 10, 2013 – Hosted by MPO Alumnae Kyrus Keenan Westcott and Mark Applegate

West Windsor, NJ (April 2, 2013) – K2KEntertainment’s 2013 Kelsey Theatre Awards will take place on Saturday, August 10, 2013 (7:00pm), live inside The Kelsey Theatre in West Windsor, New Jersey. The Kelsey Theatre Awards, which honors community theater professionals for distinguished achievement for productions inside The Kelsey Theatre, has been a community theater event since 2009. The Kelsey Theatre Awards are presented by K2KEntertainment and The Kelsey Theatre.

The official eligibility cut-off date will be June 23, 2013, for all major Kelsey Theatre productions opening in the 2012-2013 season. Productions which meet all other eligibility requirements and open on or before the eligibility date are considered eligible for 2013 Kelsey Award nominations.

The Nominations for the 2013 Kelsey Awards will be announced at 9:00am on Tuesday, July 2 on the official Kelsey Awards website.

Tickets to the 2013 Kelsey Awards are available to the general public for $14.00. Tickets will be available at www.KelseyAwards.weebly.com and www.KelseyatMCCC.org starting on Monday, April 8.

The 2013 ceremony will be hosted by Kelsey Theatre actors’ Kyrus Keenan Westcott and Mark Applegate. Recent Kelsey Theatre credits of these performers include: Kyrus Keenan Westcott (The Leading Player – Pippin, Nicky – Avenue Q, Emmett – Legally Blonde) and Mark Applegate (Rod – Avenue Q, Man in Chair – The Drowsy Chaperone).

The show will also, once again, feature choreography by Kelsey Theatre’s up and coming dance star, Rachel Tovar. Rachel received her first Kelsey Award nomination for her Urinetown: The Musical choreography in 2012, and will next be seen choreographing Big River in August 2013 inside The Kelsey Theatre.

What sets this show apart from all the other community theater award events in New Jersey is that the general public chooses the winners of the awards in each category, including Outstanding Production of a Musical. From June 28 through July 7, the general public will have the opportunity to choose the winners via an online voting form. More detailed information of this year’s revised and overhauled voting process will be released on April 9, 2013.

For more information on The Kelsey Awards, visit www.KelseyAwards.weebly.com and www.facebook.com/#!/KelseyAwards.

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Robbinsville High School Hosts Craft Fair April 20;
Proceeds to Support Student Drama and Instrumental Music Programs

The Robbinsville High School 100% Handcrafted Craft Fair is a cutting edge event! Currently in its seventh year, the event is being chaired by Cindy Rosen and will take place on Saturday, April 20th from 10am - 3pm in the Robbinsville High School Commons (155 Robbinsville Edinburg Road, Robbinsville NJ)

On tap are almost 70 vendors with crafts ranging from wood, pottery, and glass to jewelry, scarves, candles and even Kettle Corn. Included on the vendor list is 11 year old Joseph Denisco, a student at Pond Road Middle School. Joseph has his own business called JDKnittastic which sells handmade scarves. His tag line: "Real Men Knit".

The event benefits the RHS Raven Players drama students and the Raven Regiment band students. These programs are extra curricular and sponsored by parent groups Friends of the Raven Players and Raven Regiment Booster Club. This 100% Handcrafted event usually raises over $4000 each year!

Planning for this annual event starts a year in advance with committee members planning, organizing, updating websites, compiling vendors, advertising for shoppers, recruiting volunteers, etc. Vendor applications are voted on by several members at our committee meetings. While we wish we could accept all vendors, space is limited and already full for this year.

Shoppers come from various states in the area not only to shop, but also to enter our door prize giveaway and take a chance with our crafters' raffle. Also on the list of things to enjoy is our Cafe Jacque which serves mostly homemade menu items such as soups, chilis, pulled pork sandwiches, and freshly baked goods. The event usually brings in over 500 shoppers!

While the event has no admission fee, shoppers can get a free raffle ticket for the crafters' raffle in exchange for a toiletry item which will be donated to the Robbinsville Food Pantry. Cash donations are also greatly appreciated and accepted to directly benefit the Raven Players and the Raven Regiment.

We also have the Raven Players hosting a Creative Dramatics Workshop in the Black Box (the theater room) where younger students can take the stage with the high school students and learn some theater games and improvisation techniques. This event is $10 per student. The Raven Players students also run a Kids Corner Soda Shoppe offering some old-fashioned goodness. Kids have fun while you shop!

Don't miss this annual 100% Handcrafted Craft Fair! For more information please contact Cindy Rosen at cindyrealtor@optonline.net or 609-575-2001.

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Podcasts:

Talking About Legally Blonde
Legally BlondeIn this Podcast we talk with the director and the cast of Legally Blonde being produced by Playful Theatre Productions at the Kelsey Theatre on the campus of Mercer County Community College. Our guests include Director Paula Barson, Choreographer Nicole Machin, Costumer Michelle Rittman and cast members Kimberly Suskind and Kyrus Keenan Westcott.

Listen to the Podcast.

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Alumni Happenings for April and May

 

9 to 5: the Musical

See MPO alumna Caroline Maurer (Winnie the Pooh, The Emperor's New Clothes) join the cast of Robbinsville High School's production of 9 to 5: The Musical.

Synopsis: Pushed to the boiling point at the office, three female co-workers concoct a plan to get even with the sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot they call their boss. They conspire to take control of their company and learn there's nothing they can't do -- even in a man's world. Set in the late 1970s, 9 TO 5: The Musical is a hilarious story of friendship and revenge in the Rolodex era. Outrageous, thought-provoking, and even a little romantic, this show is about teaming up and taking care of business.

Show Dates:
Friday, April 12 at 7:30 p.m.;
Saturday, April 13 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 14 at 3 p.m.

Tickets:
Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for students and seniors.
Tickets are available at the door.

Location:
Robbinsville Performing Arts Center, Robbinsville High School
155 Robbinsville Edinburg Road
Robbinsville NJ 08691
(Use the rear entrance)

 

Legally Blonde – the Musical

See alumni Kimberly Suskind, Kyrus Keenan Westcott, Lynn Baskin, Zach Mazouat, Sally Page and Nicholas Pecht when Playful Theatre Productions presents the hit family comedy Legally Blonde – the Musical at Mercer County Community College's Kelsey Theatre.

Synopsis: Based on the 2001 MGM film starring Reese Witherspoon, Legally Blonde – The Musical tells the story of sorority queen Elle Woods, who is dumped by her boyfriend Warner Huntington III just before he leaves for law school because she is simply "too blonde." Determined to find a way to win him back, Elle puts down the credit cards and hits the books, setting out to go where no Delta Nu has gone before: Harvard Law. Elle must wage the battle of her life, for her guy, for herself and for all the blondes who suffer endless indignities every day. In the end Elle proves that being true to yourself never goes out of style.

The show is directed by Paula Barson, with musical direction by Thomas Buckley, choreography by Nicole Farina-Machin, set design by Bryan Schendlinger, lighting design by Judi Parrish, sound design by Matt Shoppas, costumes by Ruth Rittmann and Michelle Rittmann, and stage management by Nancy Russell and Ruth Kresge.

Show Dates:
Fridays, April 19 and 26 at 8 p.m.;
Saturdays, April 20 and 27 at 8 p.m.
Sundays, April 21 and 28 at 2 p.m.

Tickets:
Tickets are $18 for adults, $16 for seniors, and $14 for students and children.
For tickets, call the Kelsey Theatre Box Office at (609) 570-3333 or Online

Kelsey Theatre is wheelchair accessible, with free parking available next to the theater.

Location:
The Kelsey Theatre at MCCC
1200 Old Trenton Road
West Windsor, NJ 08550 U.S.A.

 

The Sound of Music

See alumna Liz Rzasa (Man of LaMancha) as Maria in the The Yardley Players production of The Sound of Music

Synopsis: The Hills Are Alive with The Sound of Music" - whenever Maria is around. Proving too high-spirited for religious life, Maria is dispatched to serve as governess for the seven children of a widowed naval officer, Captain Von Trapp. Her growing rapport with the youngsters coupled with her generous spirit clash with the Captain, his fiancée and finally the Nazis who seize power of her Austrian homeland. The Yardley Players are proud to present this Rodgers & Hammerstein classic, one of the world's most beloved musicals.

Dates and Times:
Fri. May 3 & 10, 2013 at 8pm
Sat. May 4 & 11 at 2pm & 8pm
Sun. May 5 &12 at 2pm

Tickets:
Tickets are $18 for adults, $16 for seniors, and $14 for students and children.
For tickets, call the Kelsey Theatre Box Office at (609) 570-3333 or Online

Kelsey Theatre is wheelchair accessible, with free parking available next to the theater.

Location:
The Kelsey Theatre at MCCC
1200 Old Trenton Road
West Windsor, NJ 08550 U.S.A.

 

The 39 Steps

MPO alumnus Michael Sundburg (Avenue Q) will be performing at Circle Players in Piscataway in The 39 Steps.

Synopsis: Combining a spy thriller with farcical comedy and ingenious theatrical invention, The 39 Steps is an engaging, fast-paced whodunit that celebrates the magic of theater. Closely following the storyline of Alfred Hitchcock's 1935 film, the play features more than 150 characters brought to life by a cast of just four actors.

Dates and Times:
June 7-23 2013

Ticket Info:
call our box office at 732-968-7555 or online http://www.circleplayers.com/tickets.html

Theater Info:
416 Victoria Avenue
Piscataway, NJ
For directions, visit visit http://www.circleplayers.com/.

 

Enchanted April

See Kyla Mostello Donnelly (Avenue Q) in the Actors Net Production of Enchanted April.

Synopsis: Matthew Barber's stage adaptation of the novel by Elizabeth von Arnim. Four disillusioned Englishwomen of the 1920s rent an Italian villa and rediscover laughter and romance.

Dates and Times:
4 weekends, 12 performances
Fridays and Saturdays at 8, Sundays at 2

Ticket Info:
Reservations: 215-295-3694 or email actorsnet@aol.com
Tickets: $20 adults, $17 seniors 62 & up, $10 children 12 & under

Theater Info:
The Heritage Center Theatre
635 N. Delmorr Ave.
Morrisville, PA

 

 

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MPO Theater Quiz:

Let's Support Supporting Characters

A Salute to the Ensemble Characters! It's easy to name the leads, but what about the characters who only appear briefly, have a line or two, sing in chorus . . .that might be a little harder! Here are some the better known ensemble groups in shows and the names of the supporting character in the group. Match them up!

Try out our April edition


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