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The OnStage Newsletter - March, 2009

MPOnStage NewsletterIn the March edition of the OnStage Update, we say our final goodbye's to our production of Man of La Mancha; tell you which Kelsey Theatre veterans are now on the NJACT Board; speak to the team that is producing the Wiz; see what our Alumni are up to; add a little tap to our steps & much more:

La Mancha Success Leads to New Facebook Group for MPO

LamanchaThe curtain recently fell on the MP OnStage production of Man of La Mancha, leaving behind many wonderful memories and many amazed theater-goers talking about the high caliber of work turned in by the show's talented cast. The production opened strong, and by the time it closed, performances were selling out. Just moments before the curtain rose on the last performance, the line at the box office was still growing instead of shrinking, and a few last minute ticket-buyers had to be turned away.

Man of La Mancha broke new ground for MP OnStage, when producer Dan Maurer decided to provide real-time updates on Facebook during each performance. At the start of the run, while working in the booth calling tech cues, Maurer started using his iPhone to post status messages on Facebook describing what was happening. Thinking he was funny, he called the postings his "play-by-play." By the final performance of the run, he had set up a laptop with an open high-speed connection to his Facebook account. Hundreds of Facebook readers (some sitting at home, some backstage at the Kelsey Theatre, others stuck in airports and other places) could follow along with the production.

Maurer's Facebook play-by-play became so popular that Maurer Productions OnStage created a new Facebook group for the company where photos of the production can be found and people can comment on their favorite Man of La Mancha moment. Be sure to check out The Maurer Productions OnStage Facebook Group for information about the company, upcoming productions and photos from past productions. If you find a photo containing yourself, or a person you know, be sure to tag that person in the photo.


Kelsey Theatre Veterans Appointed to the NJACT Board

Jane CoultTwo Kelsey Theatre veterans -- Jane Coult of Maurer Productions OnStage, and Pete LaBriola of Pierrot Productions -- were both named to the board of directors for the New Jersey Association of Commmunity Theaters (NJACT).

NJACT is a volunteer-based organization with the mission to celebrate outstanding achievements in commmunity theater throughout the state of New Jersey. NJACT members review theater productions around the state and once a year the organization hosts the NJACT Perry Awards Ceremony.

The appointments were made official in an NJACT meeting held February 11 in Linden, NJ. Jane will assume the duties of Recording Secretary, while Pete will assume the duties of Vice President of Fundraising and Corporate Sponsorship. Jane will continue in her role on the board of Maurer Productions OnStage and Pete will continue as Artistic Director of Pierrot Productions. Marie Fiorello of Villagers Theatre was also appointed to the NJACT board in the same meeting. She will serve as the North Jersey Reviewer Liaison.Peter Labriola

These appointments are part of moves NJACT has taken lately as part of its standard annual reorganization process. It has also been seen as an opportunity to inject the organization with new blood, align its leadership, and position the organization for continued success in 2009.

NJACT has made several other moves lately including conducting an online survey to take the pulse of the New Jersey theater community regarding the job the organization is doing. The survey also solicited suggestions on how NJACT can improve its service to the theater community. The survey results help give voice to people working in community theater and will help guide NJACT in the coming year.

The survey results will also help drive a complete redesign of the NJACT website in an effort improve its communication with, and support of, the theater community.


NJACT To Hold New Reviewer Training Session

NJACT Reviewer TrainingThe New Jersey Association of Community Theaters (NJACT), state-wide organization that celebrates outstanding achievement in community theater through the Perry Awards, has scheduled a New Reviewer Training Session on March 10 at the Kelsey Theatre in West Windsor, NJ.

If you would like to attend this training session and become a NJACT Perry Award reviewer please contact:

Gina Lupi
South Jersey Reviewer Liaison

To be accepted as an NJACT reviewer, candidates must have experience and knowledge in various areas of theatrical production (e.g. performance, stage management, props, lighting, sound, directing, producing, costuming, backstage crew, front of house, etc.) Experience in all these areas is not expected, but the broader and deeper your experience, the better your chances of being accepted as a reviewer.


As an NJACT Reviewer, you will be expected to travel around the state to review community theater productions in communities other than your own. Each reviewer must review a minimum of 4 shows per year. Reviewers are provided with two free tickets for each show they review. Reviews are conducted using a number scoring system and must be submitted to NJACT within two weeks of the performance reviewed. More details will be provided if your application is accepted.


Send a letter to Gina Lupi ( at NJACT asking to become an NJACT Perry Award reviewer. You must include a copy of your theater resume with contact information. Be sure to include as much information about your theater experience as possible. Please also include a list of the theater companies you are associated with. Your application will be reviewed by NJACT and if your theater experience is found sufficient, you will be invited to become a reviewer. Please note that not all applications are accepted.


If you are accepted as an NJACT Perry Award Reviewer, you will be invited to the training session on Tuesday, March 10th at 7:30 pm at the Kelsey Theater located on the West Windsor campus of Mercer County Community College (1200 Old Trenton Road, West Windsor, NJ). Training should last about an hour.

If you have any questions about becoming an NJACT Perry Award reviewer, please contact Gina Lupi (


Backstage pass visits with the Wiz

Wiz LogoThis podcast features a talk about the Pennington Players Productions of The Wiz being produced at the Kelsey Theatre on the West Windsor Campus of Mercer County Community College. Our guests include the Pennington Players President and Producer of the Wiz Judi Parrish, director Kyrus Westcott and Sasha Alexandria who plays Dorothy. These podcasts in the Backstage Pass series offer a behind-the-scenes look at community theatre in Central New Jersey.

You can listen to Backstage Pass right from the MPOnStage website, or subscribe to our free podcast through iTunes.

backstage pass Episode 17:
Talking About the Wiz


Alumni happenings for March

As the OnStage family grows with the closing of each show, we have more and more alumni doing other shows in the area.  So many, in fact, that we have started a calendar where you can go to see where your friends are performing when you find yourself with a night when you just want to see a show.  To access the calendar, go to the MP OnStage Alumni Happenings Calendar.  To return to it quickly in the future, be sure to bookmark the page.  Help us keep the calendar up to date by telling us when and where you are performing. This month, there are several choices for The Wizshows in which to see fellow alumni strut their stuff:

At Kelsey, The Wiz is opening this weekend courtesy of Pennington Players.  Kyrus (You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown) is directing this soulful retelling of The Wizard of Oz.  Perry Award winner Lynn Baskin (Driving Miss Daisy) will be playing the Scarecrow.  On the production staff is John Boccanfuso (You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown) as Stage Manager, Chris Gaffoor (Singin’ in the Rain) for Lighting Design, and Dottie Farina (Singin’ in the Rain) for Props.  So ease on down the road to Kelsey Theatre to see The Wiz on Friday, March 6 and 13, 2009, at 8 pm; Saturday, March 7 and 14, 2009, at 8 pm; or Sunday, March 8 and 15, 2009, at 2 pm.  Tickets are $16 for adults, $14 for seniors, and $12 for students and children.  For tickets, go to Kelsey Theatre website.  For information on how to purchase tickets, go to the bottom of the page.

GodspellAlso coming to Kelsey later this month is Playful Theatre Productions’ Godspell.  Based on The Gospel According to St. Matthew and featuring a sparkling score by Stephen Schwartz, Godspell boasts a string of well-loved songs: (led by the international hit) “Day By Day,” “Prepare Ye The Way Of The Lord,” “Learn Your Lessons Well,” “All For The Best,” “All Good Gifts,” “Turn Back, O Man,” and “By My Side.”  Several alumni will be gracing the stage for this production, including Liz Rzasa (Man of La Mancha), Melissa Rittman (Man of La Mancha), Mike Schiumo (You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown).  Providing vocals from the pit will be John Bergeron (Man of La Mancha) and Jim Petro (Singin’ in the Rain and Man of La Mancha).  Performances are Friday,  March 27 and April 3, 2009, at 8 pm; Saturday, March 28 and April 4, 2009, at 8 pm; and Sunday March 29 and April 5, 2009, at 2 pm.  Tickets are $16 for adults, $14 for seniors, and $12 for students and children.  For tickets, go to Kelsey Theatre website.  For information on how to purchase tickets, go to the bottom of the page.

shook upAt the Media Theatre, in Philadelphia, John Shanken-Kaye (Lucky Stiff) is playing Sheriff Earl in All Shook Up!, a  love story that is set to the music of Elvis, the King.  It's the summer of 1955, and Natalie is a young woman in a small town in the American Midwest with dreams of hitting the road. Chad, a black-jacketed, rock and roll loving motorcyclist stops at the town's garage because his bike needs repair.  Chad is a charismatic rebel, and Natalie, the mechanic, immediately falls for him. She overhears him saying that he's had "a lot" of women but only travels with men. So Natalie covers her hair with a hat and puts motor oil on her face to approximate a beard, becoming "Ed", Chad's sidekick. Eventually Chad falls in love with "Ed"/Natalie, and during a 24 hour period, brings rock and roll to the town and changes it forever.  Performances start on Wednesday, March 11 and run through Sunday April 5, running  Wednesday through Sunday each week.  Check out the Media Theatre website for information on dates and times of performances and ticket prices.

MollyAt West Windsor/Plainsboro High School, Molly Karlin (A Winnie-the-Pooh Birthday Tail) is playing the sorceress Morgan le Fey in the beloved musical tale, Camelot, based on the legend of King Arthur.  Performances have already started, but there’s still one weekend left to see the show.  Days and times are Friday, March 6, at 8:00 pm; Saturday, March 7, at 8:00 pm; and Sunday, March 8, at 3:00 pm.  Tickets are $10 for adults and children.  Tickets will be on sale at WW-P High School North from 11 am-1 pm on March 2-6. Tickets (for any performance) may also be purchased at the door beginning 90 minutes before each scheduled performance.  The address is WW-P High School North, 90 Grovers Mill Road, Plainsboro, New Jersey.

rent logo
Alumni Nicole Farina-Machin (Singin’ in the Rain) directs and Dottie Farina (Singin’ in the Rain) does props and set for Rent, Jonathan Larson's Pulitzer-prize winning Broadway musical based loosely on Puccini's opera La Bohème. It follows a year in the lives of seven friends living the disappearing Bohemian lifestyle in New York's East Village. Performance dates are March 6, 7 and 8 at 7:30 pm, at Allentown High School, 27 High Street Allentown, New Jersey 08501.  Tickets are $10 at the door.

a&e CabaretOn Sunday, March 8,  from 7:30 pm to 9:30 pm at the Stockton Inn, One Main Street, Stockton, NJ 08559, Keith Neilson (Lucky Stiff and Man of La Mancha) will be singing in the Agony/Ecstasy Cabaret, where they will explore the "ups and downs (and in-betweens)" of life, touching on those funny (and not-so-funny) moments in life through song and stories.  There is a $15 entertainment charge and a $10 food/drink minimum.  Reservations are required:  (609) 397-1250. 

tessHeading north to the Villagers Theatre, Tess Ammerman (Man of La Mancha) is playing Jane in Pride and Prejudice,   The story's heroine is Elizabeth Bennet, a 20-year-old who realizes how pride can stop people seeing the truth of a situation, and get in the way of their achieving happiness. Jane Austen, who was only 21 when she started writing the book, was critical of the gender injustices present in 19th-century English society. Dubbed as the first psychological novel by some for its depth of characterization, Pride And Prejudice has it all – love triangles, class divide, vanity, snobbery. And the dashing Mr. Darcy!  Pride and Prejudice runs from March 2 through March 22, 2009, Fridays and Saturday at 8:00 pm and Sundays at 2:00 pm.  Ticket prices are $16 for adult and $14 for seniors and students.   Reservations can be made through  The Villagers Theatre website,  by e-mail at, This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or by calling 732-873-2710.


Tap Class to resume in the Spring

tap class
Photo from past Class.

Once again Kelsey Theatre is going to offer a beginner tap class workshop will be led by OnStage board member and choreographer Jane Coult. The beginning tap class for adults is designed to teach the basic steps and many common intermediate steps, arming the students with a sufficient tap foundation to perform in musical theater. All actors and non-actors are welcome. The class is highly recommended for those who plan to audition for any dance shows in the future, or as a fun way to keep in shape! The beginner workshop will be on Tuesday evenings at 6:00 to 7:00 starting March 10 and will run until May 19 (There will be no class on April 28.). The cost for either workshop is $100. You can print, complete, and mail the registration form or give the theatre a call at 609-570-3566.


scripts MPOnStage Theatre Quiz - Broadway Pop

Pop goes the show tune as we feature questions about those famous Broadway tunes that made the pop charts. You get 10 questions to test your theatre knowledge. Good luck!

Try out our March edition


Case Study - Making a Pot Belly Stove

case study pot belly stoveOnce again we look back to the early days of MPOnStage. For this month we have a new "Case Studies" from a past production. John Maurer takes you through making a pot belly stove that is both light weight and easy to store.

More case studies will be added in time, so check the site whenever you have a prop need or if you love checking out how things are made. And if you have any prop solutions, tips or tricks you have used and would like to share, contact John at

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