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OnStage News & Notes - November 2012

MPOnStage NewsletterIn November, we are pleased to announce open auditions for MPO's spring musical - Avenue Q; look back at our October produciton of A Little Murder Never Hurt Anybody; welcome Rob Gougher to the MPO board; and promote November and December Alumni Happenings.

Avenue Q
Call or Click for Tickets: 609-570-3333

Fri. March 1 & 8, 2013 at 8pm
Sat. March 2 & 9 at 8pm
Sun. March 3 & 10 at 2pm

$18 adults, $16 seniors, $14 students & children

AVENUE Q is the Tony Award winning musical focusing on a group of unique 20-somethings making their way in the big city, seeking their purpose in life. Although the show addresses humorous adult issues, it is similar to a beloved children's show; a place where puppets are friends, Monsters are good and life lessons are learned.

(Rated Shocking Pink for Adult content!)

The Secret Is Revealed.
Maurer Productions OnStage is finally permitted to announce the name of our Spring Musical and does so in a live (not really) international (sort of) video press conference.

Artistic Director John Maurer Plays host to the Avenue Q announement VideoOne of the downsides to licensing a show under amatuer rights is that you may be subject to restrictions. In the case of our Spring Musical, we were not allowed to advertise it by name until November 15th 2012. This was a problem because that only leaves us 2 weeks before we need to have auditions in order to get the show on it's feet in time.

Early in 2012, the MPO Marketing team gathered to develop their publicity plan for the new season. They knew that they would have to step up their game to overcome the limitation of asking people to buy tickets for a show without knowing it's name. To raise interest and try Scott Karlin  plays a reporter in  the Avenue Q announement Videoto sell tickets, all of the initial publicity was created with a "Shhh - it's a secret" theme and provided all the basic information patrons would need to make an informed purchase. (The show was a Tony award winning musical comedy with an adult theme.)

In order to make a big splash and get the name and audition announcment out to as large an audience as possible in a shortest amount of time, the Rosie Karlin  plays a reporter in  the Avenue Q announement Video team decided to create a video press conference in the style of a big product release. Starting in early summer, board members started collecting video footage to use in the presentation. As production moved into final development we decided to mimic the latest big budget marketing efforts by a well known manufacturer. With the help of actors from past MPO Productions, a day was spent shooting video around the Kelsey theater and on a green screen. This was combined with footage shot around the state and aquired through stock libraries to produce the final product.

MPO would like to thank all those who came out that day to lend their talents and help shoot the video.

See the MPO Press Release video here.

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Open Auditions for Avenue Q, Dec 1-2
A Talk with Director John Maurer About the Auditions and the Show

Avenue QMPO is taking audition appointments for its production of the musical Avenue Q. All roles are open. All actors over 18 are welcome. Avenue Q will audition December 1 from 9am to 5pm and December 2 from 12pm to 5pm on the West Windsor, NJ campus of Mercer County Community College.

Actors may click here to book audition appointments online.

Ahead of the auditions, the show’s director, John Maurer, sat down to talk about the show and what MP OnStage is looking for.

Q: For actors unfamiliar with the show, how would you describe Avenue Q?

John: Avenue Q is a gut-bustingly hilarious modern musical focusing on a group of unique 20-somethings making their way in the big city, seeking their purpose in life. Although the show addresses humorous adult issues, it is similar to a beloved children's show; a place where puppets are friends, Monsters are good and life lessons are learned. Winner of the Tony "Triple Crown" for Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book, Avenue Q is part flesh, part felt, and packed with heart. Avenue Q is a laugh-out-loud musical that tells the timeless story of a recent college grad named Princeton who moves into a shabby New York apartment all the way out on Avenue Q. He soon discovers that although the residents seem nice, it's clear that this is not your ordinary neighborhood. Together, Princeton and his new-found friends struggle to find jobs, dates, and the ever-elusive purpose in life.

Q: What advice do you have for people who aren’t sure if they should audition for Avenue Q?

John: The show promises to be a fun evening of adult comedy. If you are looking for a fun musical that also gives you the opportunity to learn a new skill (puppeteering) then come out and give is a try.

Q: What are you looking for in the actors who audition?

John: We are looking for talented people who are not afraid to be crazy on stage and have some fun. They will get the opportunity to play some broad but interesting characters on stage in this sendup to childrens television.

Q: Are there parts for non-puppeteers?

John: Yes. There are three human charactors in the show. Brian, Christmas Eve, and Gary Coleman. But if you are interested in learning puppetry this is your chance.

Q: The show contains a lot of adult dialogue, will you be softening any of that for this production?

John: This is the full Broadway version of the show and we plan to produce it as written, which includes all of the adult language and situations.

Q: Who is on the production team for Avenue Q?

John: I will be directing the show as well as designing the sets and puppets. Perry nominated Choreographer Jane Coult will be handle stage movement. Perry award winner Alyica Bauch will be Stage Manager and Prop Mistress and Kelsey award winner Laurie Gougher is serving as the Music Director for Avenue Q. She recently MD'd our production of The Drowsy Chaperone and before that the acclaimed Pinnworth Production of Pirates of Penzance and our production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. She’s a delight to work with, actors love and respect her work.

Q: Are any of the roles in your production of Avenue Q pre-cast?

John: No, we don't believe in pre-casting. All roles are open and gender is not important in puppeteering. Even if the character is male or female the puppeteer does not need to match. If you can create a voice and sing the songs you will be considered for both, male and female puppet roles.

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A Little Murder, Great Fun and a Great Success at the Kelsey Theatre

by Director Diana Maurer

As A Little Murder Never Hurt Anybody came to a close, I was very pleased with the wonderful reactions from the audience. Over 1500 people came to the Kelsey and enjoyed a fun night out. Bob Brown of Central called it “a supremely silly comedy” and the performances by Peter Bisgaier and John Pinto were a “delicious helping of slapstick and visual comedy.” It turned out to be the what people needed after the craziness of Hurricane Sandy; an evening out of lighthearted fun.

How does one put into words what the end of a show feels like? After a year of planning, three months of rehearsals, a week of tech – well, not quite a week for us, thanks to Sandy – and two short weekends, you have to ask yourself, is it worth it? I say, without hesitation, absolutely yes. I had an amazing adventure directing this show. I worked with old friends and made some new ones. We took a script that was just words on a page and breathed life into it. We created a beautiful set, lit it up and the actors got to pretend they were someone else. A married couple looking trying to find the lost spark; young lovers just beginning; a butler with a secret and a crazy detective.

I loved every minute of working with Jennifer Barron, Peter Bisgaier, Fred Bartlett, John Pinto, Megan Sherrow and Justin Mancini. I hope the fun we had translated onto the stage for the audience they performed for. And I can’t wait to do it again!

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Rob Gougher Joins MPO Board

Avenue Q Maurer Productions OnStage is thrilled to announce Rob Gougher as the newest member of the MPO Board of Directors, serving as Member at Large. In addition to his many years of theater experience, he brings incredibly valuable skills to the team including photography, videography and website development, just to name a few. In addition to appearing on stage in MPO’s productions of Hollywood Arms, Tom Sawyer and The Drowsy Chaperone, for which he received an Kelsey Theatre Award, Rob has also volunteered countless hours helping the team in various roles behind the scenes.

“Rob is a natural fit for the MPO board,” said John Maurer, the company’s President and Artistic Director. “We’re a very technically proficient company that likes to use multimedia to stage and promote our shows and Rob has those skills in spades. More importantly, he’s a selfless, collaborative person who’s goes above and beyond for the team. We’re lucky to have him,” Maurer concluded.

Rob is expected to play a significant role in promotional photography, videography and helping to manage the company’s acclaimed website and newsletter. As one of eight board members, Rob will have a voice in the direction of the company, how the group manages its productions, and will play an integral role in show selection.

“I'm very fortunate to have this opportunity to work with so many talented and supportive people creating great theatre,” Rob said after being appointed.

Over the years, Rob has studied Computer Science, Political Economics, Mass Communications, Theatre and Film Production. A graduate of Penn State University with Bachelors Degrees in both Computer Science and Mass Communications, Rob holds a Masters Degree in Computer Science from Rochester Institute of Technology. Rob’s passion (after his wife and two daughters) is theater and film. He is an award- winning filmmaker and an active performer in both film and on stage. In addition to his appearances in MPO productions and in the recent the indie film Demon Hunters, Rob has also been seen on the Kelsey Theatre stage in Pinnworth’s Pirates of Penzance and Amadeus, Pennington’s Suessical, and Yardley Players’ Clue, to name a few.

Rob joins a very talented and dedicated board that includes NJACT Perry Award winners and nominees such as Choreographer and Director Jane Coult; Stage Manager, Prop Mistress and Director Alycia Bauch; Stage Manager and Master Carpenter Jeff Cantor; Director and Music Director Laurie Gougher; Producer, Director and Sound Designer Dan Maurer; Director, Producer and Costume Designer Diana Gilman Maurer, and the company’s Artistic Director and Executive Producer John Maurer.

Alumni Happenings for November and December

Kim Sings at New Voices Cabaret

Kim Suskind (Drowsy Chaperone and Aida) will be singing at the New Voices Cabaret in Philadelphia. She is one of three performers for the night (each singing five songs), and it's bound to be a good time!

When:Tuesday, November 20, 2012, at 7:30 pm
Where:  Society Hill Playhouse, 507 South 8th Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania  19147
Tickets:  It's only $15 at the door for a ticket and it includes one drink! (Make sure you mention Kim’s name when purchasing your ticket) 

To make a reservation (don’t forget to mention Kim’s name) or get more information about the cabaret, visit

For information about the venue, including directions and parking, go to

'Twas the Night Before Christmas'Twas The Night Before Christmas at Kelsey Theatre

Sally Page (Drowsy Chaperone) will be playing Eliza Moore in Kelsey’s annual Christmas production of ‘Twas. Tom Bessellieu (Drowsy Chaperone) is directing, and Jane Coult (MPO Board Member) is choreographing.

Synopsis: The excitement and wonder of the long-awaited midnight visit by Santa Claus, made famous in Clement Moore’s beloved poem, is brought to life by The Kelsey Players in this enchanting musical. The whole family will enjoy this annual Kelsey Theatre holiday tradition.

Friday, November 30, at 7 pm
Saturday, December 1, at 11 am, 2 pm and 4 pm
Sunday, December 2, at 2 pm and 4 pm

Tickets:  $10 for all (Everyone pays the kid's price!), plus a ticketing fee for each ticket.

Go to
for information on how to purchase tickets.

MPO Theater Quiz:

This Quiz Is Brought To You By The Letter Q

How much do you know about the groundbreaking musical Avenue Q? From its off-Broadway run to it's Tony "Triple Crown" for Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book, Avenue Q is part flesh, part felt, and packed with heart. See what you are made of and take our November trivia quiz ... If you think you've got the right stuffing for it.

Try out our November edition

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