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Dreamcatcher Turns 20!

By Gary Wien

This article was originally designed to be read in the September 2014 issue of New Jersey Stage magazine. To read it in its original format, click here

Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre is a professional ensemble company in Summit, NJ that presents a mix of new plays and world/New Jersey premieres each season. The company is celebrating its 20th anniversary season this year. New Jersey Stage spoke with Laura Ekstrand, the company's Artistic Director, about the new season and the company's mission.

Dreamcatcher believes in presenting new plays. How are the productions chosen?
Throughout the year, we're always looking at what's happening around us, both in New York and around the country. I read plays all year long, with a big push in the early spring to narrow down the list. All the plays we consider have to fit our mission, our budget, and our acting ensemble. When I have a list of 5-10 pieces I'm considering, I send them out to the company and we gather to read excerpts and discuss them. From that discussion, I select the three we'll produce the following year.

How exciting is it to be able to introduce a new work?
I love it when one or more of our plays is new – we really want to contribute to the growth of our field, and this is one of the best ways to do that. Another is to write our own plays, which we've done once and are working on doing again for next season!

How does having an ensemble of actors influence and affect the work?
The single most important feature of Dreamcatcher is its ensemble. Their talents and personalities shape our work and give our productions a continuity and context that I don't think you can achieve by using strangers for every show. It's more like the model of a dance company or orchestra, where the material changes but the artists present the work together over time.

I think we all have grown because there's such a huge amount of trust and support in the group – there's nothing we won't try because there's really no fear of failure when we're together. We all have each other's backs and are all rooting for everyone to do their very best work.

What are some of your favorite memories of the 20 years?
When we all get to be onstage together (or most of us!) for group projects like The Laramie Ensemble, The Neighborhood, or many of our improv shows and gala celebrations. The love we feel for each other and the work is overpowering and tremendous.

Some of the worst memories?
There were also a lot of moments when I was ready to throw in the towel, when it seemed impossible that we could go on. I have to say it was the strength of the individuals in the group, and I would include our board, staff and families in that group, that kept us going and allowed us to find a way to continue. I can't believe it's been 20 years, mostly because I've often been frustrated and exhausted but never, never bored.

What are some of the challenges the theatre still faces each year?
No surprise – money. Over the past several years, corporate and foundation funding has dropped. Categories have gotten narrower and there just isn't a lot of money out there. So we're thinking more like a for-profit in that we need to earn more of our money the old-fashioned way. We've increased our audience, which really helps, and we've also added educational and outreach programming so we can take our work out into the community. That way we don't have to wait for the people to come to us – we go to them!

The 2011-2012 season was the first for Dreamcatcher to be able to present 3 MainStage productions. How did it feel to reach that level?
Yes – so exciting! Our audience was growing to the point where it seemed like too much time was passing between our mainstage shows, and there might be interest in seeing us do more. We put Shooting Star in the winter slot, and it outperformed every other show that season. It was a pretty resounding “yes” to the question of whether we could support a third show.

What are you most excited about the upcoming season?
I absolutely cannot wait to see The Most Deserving. Clark Carmichael is directing and the company members onstage will be Janet Sales, Scott McGowan, Jason Szamreta and Noreen Farley. Two guests will also be cast, and I just think that script is so doggone funny I can't wait to see what they do with it.

What would you like people to know about the company?
I would love for people to know that we really want to give them an experience when they come through the door. If you've thought, laughed, cried, and hugged a cast member before you left the theatre, that's a good night out in our book. We're not looking for a one-night stand. We want a long-term relationship.

For more by this author, click here

Center Players Presents "The Emperor's New Duds"
(FREEHOLD, NJ) --  Center Players Dessert Theater will present a family-friendly production of “The Emperor’s New Duds” at Center Playhouse, 35 South St, in downtown Freehold, NJ from December 7 – 16. A musical adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s the “Emperor’s New Clothes,” the play was written by Bernice Garfield-Szita, who co-directed the production with Enid Bush.
Centenary Stage’s Young Performers Workshop presents 2018 Winter Festival of Shows
(HACKETTSTOWN, NJ) -- Based on the Gospel According to St. Matthew with music and new lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, Godspell is composed of various musical parables from The Gospel. Jesus Christ recruits a group of followers and teaches them various lessons through song and dance. Toward the end of the second act, the show begins to follow a more linear narrative as Jesus is betrayed by Judas and eventually crucified. Performances are Sunday, December 9 at 5:00pm; Saturday, December 15 at 8pm and Sunday, December 16 at 7:30pm.
The Shakespeare Theatre Presents "The Winter's Tale"
(MADISON, NJ) -- The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s concludes its 56th season with its sixth and final Main Stage production, The Winter's Tale. Last seen at The Shakespeare Theatre in 2008, Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte directs this production of Shakespeare’s tragicomedic romance. Veteran company members Jacqueline Antaramian, Jon Barker, Erin Partin, John Keabler, Raphael Nash Thompson,Seamus Mulcahy, Patrick Toon, and Ames Adamson are among a cast of 20 actors. Performances run from December 5 to December 30. 
American Theater Group Announces Full Cast & Creative For "Tell Them I'm Still Young"
(SOUTH ORANGE, NJ) -- American Theater Group has announced the full cast and creative team for its World Premiere production of Tell Them I’m Still Young, a new play by Julia Doolittle, which will run at the South Orange Performing Arts Center from January 24 - February 3, 2019. Joining the previously announced Andre Braugher (Homicide: Life on the Streets, Men of a Certain Age, Brooklyn Nine-Nine) andMichele Pawk (Hollywood Arms, Hairspray, Mamma Mia) are Janice Amaya (Seen/Unseen) and Seth Clayton (The Madrid).
Holmdel Theatre Company Presents 'ART'
(HOLMDEL, NJ) – The Holmdel Theatre Company (HTC) will present 6 performances of Yasmina Reza’s ‘ART’  from December 7th through December 16th. Translated from French by Christopher Hampton, the play tells the story of what happens when Serge buys an expensive painting, and the reactions of his two closest friends, Marc and Yvan, to his purchase. As what begins as a discussion about the quality of the painting that Serge has purchased quickly devolves into petty jabs and personal attacks, the three men border on destroying their friendships.

Broadway’s Mandy Gonzalez LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
Broadway is in the house at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center for the Arts with a Fearless live concert performance by Broadway star, Mandy Gonzalez!
"The Spitfire Grill" and Caitlin Geisser Return To Their Roots
“I saw something in her that you rarely come across,” recalled Ted Wioncek III, Artistic Director at Eagle Theatre in Hammonton. “She’s more than wise beyond her years; I believe she’s going to be a game-changer and a trendsetter for this art form.”
Broadway’s Next H!T Musical LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
It’s Friday, October 26, 2018, and the Broadway’s Next H!T Musical cast is just about ready to take the stage at the Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts, located on the campus of Ocean County College in Toms River, NJ.
The Last Apple Pie: "Apples In Winter" Opens At Centenary Stage
Jennifer Fawcett’s new play centers around a mother in a kitchen, doing something countless people across America will take part in over the upcoming holiday season: making an apple pie.
See Andrea McArdle LIVE! in Annie at Deal Park’s Axelrod PAC!
Leapin’ Lizards! Annie’s finally made it to the Axelrod Performing Arts Center in Deal Park, NJ, and it stars Broadway’s original Annie, Andrea McArdle, as Miss Hannigan!

Event calendar
Saturday, Nov 17, 2018


THE GAY BLADES @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

HERMAN'S HERMITS STARRING PETER NOONE & THE BUCKINGHAMS @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 8:00pm

Nelson Riveros Trio: “The Latin Side of Wes Montgomery” @ Englewood Public Library, Englewood - 7:00pm

Hawaiian Music and Hula @ 1867 Sanctuary at Ewing, Ewing - 8:00pm

Pop 2000 Tour @ iPlay America, Freehold - 7:00pm

THE MACHINE PERFORMS PINK FLOYD @ The Strand Theater, Lakewood - 8:00pm


Todd Barry at SOPAC @ South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), South Orange - 8:00pm

Swamp Boogie Trio @ Lizzie Rose Music Room, Tuckerton - 7:30pm


Annie @ Broad Street United Methodist Church, Burlington - 8:00pm

An Actor's Carol @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 3:00pm and 7:30pm

Annie @ Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal Park - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

Apples In Winter @ Centenary Stage Company - Kutz Theater of the Lackland Center, Hackettstown - 8:00pm

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 8:00pm

Billy Bishop Goes to War @ Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum, Morristown - 2:00pm

Kiss Me Kate @ Broadway Theatre of Pitman, Pitman - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

Phoenix Productions Presents: The Hunchback of Notre Dame @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 8:00pm

Enchanted April @ The Summit Playhouse, Summit - 8:00pm

Heathers, The Musical High School Edition @ Pebble Players, Oakes Center, Summit - 7:30pm

Junie B. Jones The Musical at Black Box PAC @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 11:00am

Into the Woods @ Studio Playhouse Upper Montclair, Upper Montclair - 8:00pm

The Drowsy Chaperone @ Lauren K. Woods Theatre at Monmouth University, West Long Branch - 8:00pm


Todd Barry at SOPAC @ South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), South Orange - 8:00pm


BALLET FOLKLORICO DE MEXICO @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 8:00pm


ROALD DAHL’S WILLY WONKA JR. @ Ridgewood Ave School Theater, Glen Ridge - 1:00pm and 7:00pm


Mainebiz Health Care Forum @ Mainebiz Health Care Forum, Newyork - 8:00pm

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