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OnStage News & Notes - October 2011

MPOnStage NewsletterIn October, we're pleased to offer the Kelsey Theatre Patron Survey; introduce the cast of "AIDA"; Director John Maurer talks about Laughter on the 23rd Floor auditions; Seussical wins two 2011 Perry Awards; and in the latest episodes of BackStage Pass we talk with the casts of "And Then There Were None" and "13".

Elton John & Tim Rice's AIDA
Call or Click for Tickets: 609-570-3333

Fri. Nov. 18 & 25, 2011 at 8pm
Sat. Nov. 19 & 26 at 2pm & 8pm
Sun. Nov. 20 & 27 at 2pm

All Tickets $20

Featuring music and lyrics from the Tony and Oscar-winning team that gave you Disney's The Lion King, this is the story of an enslaved Nubian princess, her conflicted Egyptian captor, and a forbidden love that rocks the ancient world to its core.

Kelsey TheatreTake the Kelsey Theatre Survey - Tell Us What You think!

We are conducting a simple survey of the patrons who frequent Kelsey Theatre, Central New Jersey's premiere family entertainment venue. If you have attended a show at Kelsey Theatre on the West Windsor Campus of Mercer County Community College, please tell us what you think. This is your opportuntity to help us improve the Kelsey Theatre experience. Participation is free and appreciated.

Click Here to Take the Survey

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MPO Introduces the Cast of Elton John & Tim Rice’s AIDA

AIDA Music Director, Tony Didia, works with Kim Suskind (Left) as Princess Amneris and Meera Mohan (Right) as Aida.

Maurer Productions OnStage is pleased to announce the cast for their production of Elton John & Tim Rice's AIDA, opening at Kelsey Theatre on November 18.

The production team, led by producer/director Dan Maurer, and producers John and Diana Maurer, is thrilled to see so many new faces.

"We're one of those companies that loves to find new talent and turn them into new friends," said the show's director, Dan Maurer. "So we couldn't be more thrilled with the cast of AIDA. Out of the 25 actors we are now working with, over twenty of them are working with Maurer Productions for the first time. And they bring with them just the kind of talent we need to pull off this amazing show."

This high energy, romantic, pop/rock epic won four Tony Awards when Walt Disney’s Hyperion Theatrical Group first brought it to Broadway in 2000. The show features music by pop legend Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice, who penned the words to such Broadway blockbusters

A few cast members of AIDA at music rehearsal. Front row, from left to right, Beverly Kuo-Hamilton, Sheilla Teio, Yakenya Moise. Second row, left to right, Ben Menehem, De Haven Rogers. Back row, Thomas Coppolecchia

as Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita. After their successful partnership creating the music for Disney’s The Lion King, the mouse house tapped them to create a Broadway musical for grown-ups, and Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida was born. Set in ancient Egypt, Aida is the story of an enslaved Nubian princess, her conflicted Egyptian captor, and a forbidden love that rocks the ancient world to its core.

Joining the cast is a tapestry of familiar faces and new friends. Rehearsals are underway and going very well. Performances are scheduled for November 18-27, 2011. Tickets are on sale now at the Kelsey Box Office. To order, call 609-570-3333, or order online.


We are pleased to introduce the cast and production team of AIDA.


Meera Mohan as Aida
Tom Coppolecchia as Radames
Kimberly Suskind as Amneris
Jahmir Scott as Mereb
Brian Meltzer* as Zoser
Scott Karlin as Pharaoh
Yakenya Moise as Nehebka
Alwynn Baskin* as Amonasro


Jen Baranowski*
William Burke
Steven Dunagan
Melissa Geerlof
John Glace
Cheryl King
Beverly Kuo-Hamilton*
Alexa Lupinacci
Brian Maguire
Ben Menahem
Abby Oliver
Julia Procaccino
Arielle Rabano
Leia Rochester
De Haven Rogers
Mollie Rubinstein
Sheilla Telo


Director -- Dan Maurer*
Producer -- John Maurer*
Producer -- Diana Maurer*
Producer -- Dan Maurer*
Music Director -- Tony Di Dia*
Choreographer -- Jane Coult*
Stage Manager -- Jeff Cantor*
Asst. Stage Manager -- Kelly Branin
Property Manager -- Alycia Bauch*
Costume Design -- John Maurer*, Diana Maurer*, Tina Heinze

(* NJACT Perry Award Nominee or Winner for past productions)

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MPO is taking audition appointments for its production of Laughter on the 23rd Floor. All roles are open. All actors are welcome. Laughter will audition October 22 from 9am to 5pm and October 23 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 what MPO is looking for.

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

John: My motto is this: when in doubt, try out. Auditioning is difficult for actors because there is so much that is beyond their control. It’s not always just about having the best read, it’s more than that. It also has to do with how well you fit the role compared to the next actor, how you fit with the rest of the cast, etc. Things you just can’t control. With so many obstacles between you and a role, you don’t want your own self doubt, or false assumptions about what the director wants, to be the reason you weren’t considered. Like the Lotto guy says, you gotta be in it to win it.

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

John: Laughter features lots of rapid fire dialog within a group of comedy writers. We are looking to cast a group of actors that are able to riff with each other quickly and capture the energy of these critical scenes.

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

John: No. Neil Simon is a wonderfully talented writer and has crafted this show to give you an inside look at the people and personalities of the period. These are men and women who struggled to pull together 90 minutes of comedy gold every week, It would be ridiculous to have them say "Gosh Darn" when things go wrong.

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

John: No, We don't believe in pre-casting. Having all the roles available means you get a wider talent pool trying out for the show. We are proud of the fact that we have helped to introduce some new talent to the Kelsey Theatre. It is a great feeling when you see someone new at auditions and they just blow you away. In our November production, Elton John & Tim Rice’s Aida, (click here to order tickets), roughly half the cast was madeup of people we’d never worked with before and some of those have never performed at the Kelsey before.

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2011 Perry Honors for Seussical, Kelsey and MPO Alums

Last month, NJACT (New Jersey Association of Community Theatres) honored Pennington Players with two Perry Awards for its production of Seussical the Musical. Eight additional nominations were given to shows from the 2010-2011 Kelsey season, and four additional nominations to MPO alums in central New Jersey. The September 18 ceremony was hosted by NJACT at the Doubletree Hotel in Somerset.

Liz Blazejewski, Laurie Gougher, John MaurerThe Perry for Best Properties in a Musical went to MPO Co-Founder John Maurer, Elizabeth Blazejewski, and Beverly Kuo Hamilton for their outstanding work in Seussical. Pictured to the right are Liz, Laurie Gougher (Director and Music Director of Seussical) and John Maurer. William Mercado was honored with the Best Featured Actor in a Musical award for his portrayal of Seussical's Genghis Kahn Schmidt, for which he designed and created his Perry award nominated costume. Bill is pictured with Judi Parrish, Seussical producer and fellow Perry nominee.
Judi Parrish, William MercadoSeveral other Kelsey Theatre productions also received Perry Nominations for their outstanding work:Seussical received a nomination for Kathy Slothower, Jyll Purdy and William Mercado for Outstanding Costume Design of a Musical. PinnWorth Production's Amadeus received nominations for Kate Pinner, pictured with Amadeus director Lou Stalsworth for Outstanding Costume Design of a Play and Judi Parrish for Outstanding Sound Design of a Play.

MPO's A Few Good Men was honored with three noms, Jyll Purdy, Dan Slothower, Kathy Slothower, Laurie Gougher, Rob Gougher, Liz Blazejewskifor John Maurer for Outstanding Costume Design of a Play, Jesse Dubin for Outstanding Youth Actor in a Play and Jeff Cantor for Outstanding Stage Manager.

MPO's Dirty Rotten Scoundrels was honored with two noms, including William Mercado for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical and Alycia Bauch for Outstanding Stage Manager.

MPO Alums receiving nominations included Faith Dowgin for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Lou Stalsworth, Kate PinnerPlay in East Brunswick Community Player’s production of The Crucible, E. Nicole Spadafino for Outstanding Choreography for Hexagon Player’s production of Annie, Laurie Hardy for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play in Somerset Valley Players' The Constant Wife, Zach Levine for Outstanding Youth Actor in a Musical in Marlboro Community Player’s production of Oliver and Jack Bathke won for Outstanding Featured actor in a play for the East Brunswick Community Players productions of Merchant of Venice

A good time was had by all at the 2011 Perry awards. We hope that next year will be just as great!

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Fall Quiz: Elton or Tim?

Test your knowledge of the award winning team behind MPOnstage’s next production, Elton John & Tim Rice’s AIDA. Each of the facts below refer to Elton John, Tim Rice or both of them. How well do you know these two British superstars?

Try out our October edition

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Podcasts: Talking About And Then There Were None and 13

Two new Backstage Pass Podcasts are now available.

Talking About And Then There Were NonwFirst we talk with some of the cast and crew of And Then There Were None. Our Guests included Director Michael DiIorio and actors Diana Cooper, Mark Swift and Theo Varga.

Listen to And Then There Were None Podcast.

Talking About And Then There Were Nonw We also talk with some of the cast and crew of 13. Our guests for this podcast included Director Laurie Gougher, Musical Director Peter de Mets, Choreographer John Boccanfuso and actors Tanner Mead, Matthew Blazejewski and Meredith Brandt.

Listen to 13 Podcast.

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