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The Growing Stage Wants You To Dare To Dream This Season

By Gary Wien

originally published: 09/25/2017

The Growing Stage Wants You To Dare To Dream This Season

Introducing children to the theatre is important for many parents.  Unfortunately, some productions designed with kids in mind lead parents to steal glances at their watch as they wonder how much time is left in the show.  That’s not the case at The Growing Stage. They may be known as the Children’s Theatre of New Jersey, but their shows are not just for kids. The theatre, located in the Historic Palace Theatre in Netcong, strives to put on productions that the entire family will enjoy and the upcoming 2017-18 season continues that mission. 

The 2017-18 season not only finds Growing Stage taking on the challenge of presenting a pair of big productions (Disney's Beauty and the Beast and Dreamworks' Madagascar), but it includes a new adaptation of Cinderella and the world premiere of Boy Sees Flying Saucer.  It’s definitely not dull theatre; this is a season that will accomplish the goal of daring you to dream — a theme that was inspired by everything that is currently happening culturally and socially in the country.

“We figured we needed to do our job as artists to collectively inspire others to dream of better things as opposed to all of the negativity we’ve been forced to focus on in the last few months,” explained Stephen L. Fredericks, Executive Director of the theatre.  “So, we wanted to remind people and challenge ourselves as artists to create an environment which is positive and gives people the opportunity to dream about better things.”

In addition to dreaming, the season offers escapism for the theatre-goer as well.

“It’s kind of reestablishing ourselves as a safe haven,” continued Fredericks.  “And while we’re still encouraging folks to be able to learn and grow and experience the arts - at the same time, it’s establishing that the theatre is a place they can express creatively without any kind of concern.  To be able to experience the arts and share the moment in the theatre as a family.”



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One of the most intriguing plays on the schedule is the new adaptation of Cinderella. Taking place over the holiday season, the piece comes from Chicago’s Emerald City Theatre and this adaption of a fairy tale is a musical holiday wish come true.  It offers a significant twist on the main character - subtle hints of feminism or “realism” as Fredericks puts it.

“In this production, Cinderella is less of a victim,” said Fredericks.  “More than that, she’s in control of her own destiny.  While there’s still fairy magic mixed into the plot that everyone is used to, she’s a sword-wielding heroine that culminates with her being good friends with the prince as opposed to looking to him for all of the answers.  It’s kind of exciting to be able to bring the fairy tale genre to life, but, at the same time, send along a message that’s more positive for young women and men.  It’s a message to learn to respect one another and things of that nature.”

In the crowded field of holiday productions from annual performances of The Nutcracker to A Christmas Carol, the addition of Cinderella to the mix is welcome.  It’s a production that fits in with the holiday spirit, but is something that can be enjoyed even if you do not celebrate the holidays.

The Growing Stage Wants You To Dare To Dream This SeasonAnother production is Boy Sees Flying Saucer.  As science fiction fans, we are always interested when the genre finds its way on to the stage. Based on the true and original story by Brian Dorscht and written by Mike Czuba, the play won the annual play competition at The Growing Stage.

“We have an annual new play reading festival and each year we receive in the area of 150-175 scripts from around the world,” said Fredericks.  “They are new works and adaptations but all for our genre of theatre.  Last year we had 26 of the 50 states represented and work from six countries.  From all of the submissions we select four.  We give two readings - one in the fall and one in the spring.  And then we select one of those and give it a fully mounted Equity production; that’s the prize itself.  This winner came from Alberta, Canada.”

In Boy Sees Flying Saucer, Bobby Radcliffe is sure he has lost his brand-new bicycle. After his parents go out for the evening, he is left with his sister and instructions from his father to “make sure the bike is found and in the garage” before Bobby goes to bed. Frustrated that he can’t find his bike, he returns home and decides to tell a lie to his gullible sister; “A flying saucer came down and took my bike.” Half believing what he says, she asks him for details of how it happened – and a story starts to develop. The sister runs to the phone to tell her best friend what Bobby just told her. The best friend tells her father who is the town Sheriff and tells her he is coming over to the house. 

“The story just grows and grows,” continued Fredericks.  “The national media gets involved and he becomes very popular in school because he’s had this experience.  It’s just one turn after another as this young man goes through the journey of being the boy who cried wolf and science fiction all melded into one.”

The Growing Stage Wants You To Dare To Dream This SeasonParents may have taken a trip into New York City to see the pair of hit musicals on the schedule, but The Growing Stage offers an intriguing take on them. The theatre turns the challenge of presenting these large musicals in a smaller space as a positive.  Within the intimate confines of the Palace Theatre, the plays rely less on special effects and more on the story itself.

“The parents and families actually become part of the story!” said Fredericks.  “By making it smaller, we’re not making it less.  We focus more on the story and on the musical moments rather than the big extravaganza and spectacle.  We’re not doing movies, we’re not doing computer games, so why are we trying to replicate it? Let’s keep it to being live theatre and celebrate that in and of itself.”

Fredericks founded The Growing Stage back in 1982 and says he never expected it to still be going strong three decades later.  He is grateful for all of the people he’s had the opportunity to work alongside, noting that a theatre is never a one person show.

“I’ve had the opportunity over the past 36 years to learn and work alongside some wonderful artists in and of themselves who have only enhanced what the mission of the organization has remained to be, which is to provide professional theatre for young people and their families,” he added.  “I think the genre itself is one that perhaps deserves a little more respect and recognition - not only because of the quality we try to do in each of our productions, but the responsibility we feel as artists that we’re helping to develop a theatre audience of tomorrow.  By putting on a quality piece of theatre that a young person and a family can appreciate, we’re only encouraging those young people to become patrons of the arts as they grow up and make the arts part of their life.”





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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


MUSIC

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

THE FAB FAUX A HARD DAY'S NIGHT AND REVOLVER IN THEIR ENTIRETIES @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 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







THEATRE

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


COMEDY

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


DANCE

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


KIDS

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


LECTURE

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

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