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Moorestown Theater Company

by Leslie Feldman
Getting Into the Act

At Moorestown Theater Company, families can share in the experience.

Local theater companies have worked tirelessly to keep musicals alive, and the Moorestown Theater Company (MTC) is no exception. This nonprofit community theater is a place where both children and adults can share their love of musicals by performing, volunteering behind the scenes or coming to see the productions.

“We produce family-friendly musicals, and invite anyone in the community to participate with us,” says Mark Morgan, MTC’s producing artistic director. “Our aim is to be a teaching theater company, thereby enriching lives while producing quality entertainment.”

Entertainment at its Best
The Moorestown Theater Com pany has been presenting musicals in the community for the past nine years, starting with its first production, Annie, in 2003. What makes the company so interesting is that it allows children and adults to participate in the musicals both separately and together, depending on the show.

“Not only do we present shows that are family-oriented, but for our Main Stage all-ages musical every July, our rule is that if cast members are 12 or under, they must have an adult relative be on-stage in the show with them,” adds Morgan. “The family members create memories that will last a lifetime as they dance together, sing together and take bows together. It allows parents to be peers with their children, instead of being just moms and dads, and that is really something neat. We have had aunts, uncles, and grandparents join in the fun, too.”

Morgan understands the importance of families bonding through activities. His wife, Carol Ann Murray, and mother-in-law, Beverly Bennett, are MTC’s cofounding trustees, and all three of their children, (Chaz, 22, Jack, 15, and Juliet, 8), are involved with the productions. “My parents, Joe and Laurie Morgan, also helped us get MTC started, so it really has been a family affair,” says Morgan. “And our administrative director, Annette De Rosa, and her family have been with us since day one!”

Casting Call
Whether your aim is the Broadway stage or you enjoy working behind the scenes, the company welcomes everyone who wants to volunteer with open arms. Whether an actor, costume designer, technical assistant or concessions volunteer, you can find your place at MTC.

Morgan also points out that MTC “always includes everyone in a production, including ‘special needs’ cast members. We never cut anyone. MTC is a welcoming, inclusive theater company.” He adds that onstage experience can be beneficial to children when they reach adulthood. “If you ask an adult what they are most afraid of, many will say public speaking. By being onstage, it gives children confidence and helps them get over the fear of being in front of a large group of people. That is why we try to give everyone a line, even if they are in the chorus.” Along with the productions throughout the year, the company offers studio classes for children and adults in audition coaching, dance and voice. Both private and group lessons are available. Starting this fall, Zumba and tap dance will be added for adults.

Funding for Growth
As with all nonprofits, monetary support is necessary to keep the shows coming. “Community theater only survives with support from the community,” Morgan says. The company rehearses and performs at Hope Community Church, and also performs at various schools throughout Moorestown, but it ideally would like its own space to call home.

To help meet those goals, the company hosts an annual Extrava-Gala; this year’s event will be on Oct. 15 at Laurel Creek Country Club. The fundraising dinner-dance and auction is emceed by WPVI-TV6 News Anchor Rick Williams, who also performs in the company’s productions with his wife Jocelyn and son Nicholas.

This year, the company was one of 10 local non-profit arts organizations—ranging from community theater groups to art exhibit sponsors—that were awarded $37,000 in county grants, with MTC receiving $2,000 from Burlington County’s Freeholders. The company used its grant to establish a diversity outreach program with Crossroads Programs in Willingboro, a group that works with homeless, abandoned or at-risk youth.

“This grant allowed children in the Crossroads Programs to attend our Summer Stage ’11 musical theater camp,” says Morgan, “According to the parents of these children, their performing with MTC was a life-changing experience, because they got to meet new kids their own age, be part of a ‘team sport’ and gain exposure into the world of theater.”

The Moorestown Theater Company will be performing two more musicals this fall, both classics by Rodgers and Hammerstein—South Pacific (for adults in November) and The Sound Of Music (for children in December)—and you’re invited! Registration is open now with auditions in early September.

Moorestown Theater Company
704 Kings Highway, Moorestown

Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 6 (August, 2011).
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