2012 was a year of milestones for the Moorestown Theater Company (MTC).
First and foremost, last year was MTC’s 10th anniversary. The company also added two new productions, including an extra summer camp program. And the troupe hit its 300th show at the end of the year with its final performance of Annie Warbucks.
But perhaps the most exciting accomplishment of all won’t come until after the New Year.
For the first time, MTC will perform alongside dozens of other theater groups from across the country at the iTheatrics Junior Theater Festival. The event, held this weekend in Atlanta, GA, is a showcase for young performers.
“It’s a wonderful, amazing venue for kids to perform at,” said MTC producing artistic director Mark Morgan.
MTC will be one of roughly 90 theater groups at the iTheatrics festival this weekend—up from 60 in 2012. Morgan said when he attended the festival in January 2012, New Jersey wasn’t represented at all. At the 2013 festival, MTC will be one of two theater companies from the Garden State performing.
Morgan and his cast and crew will put on their production of The Little Mermaid, albeit a slightly different version from the one audiences saw this summer. Morgan has had to find a way to crunch the 90-minute show down to one-sixth of its original size, since participants in the iTheatrics festival are only given 15 minutes to perform.
He’s spent the last several weeks “chopping” the show down to size, and said it’s still very much a work-in-progress, with several rehearsals scheduled before they head to Atlanta on Jan. 18.
Morgan chose Little Mermaid because out of the 12 shows MTC put on last year, it was one of the most noteworthy. When the rights to the classic Disney tale first became available in 2011, MTC was the first group east of the Mississippi to apply and the first (outside of Broadway) to stage the show.
“There was nothing to draw on,” said Morgan. “That’s kind of scary, and exhilarating at the same time. So we got to create that … We were first.”
If MTC wows the judges in Atlanta, they could walk away with an award. But for Morgan, the potential for accolades is secondary to the real reason they’re going: the chance to interact with and get feedback from industry experts, ranging from Broadway directors to Disney screenwriters.
Still Moorestown’s Best-Kept Secret?
Looking back over the last decade, and particularly 2012, Morgan said the theater company’s progression has been “remarkable”—and they continue to grow.
MTC will add two more productions in 2013—a Second Stage performance of The Odd Couple in April (the first straight comedy MTC’s ever done) and an “Alternative Stage” production in September, featuring a medley of numbers from various shows—for a total of 14, a new high.
Morgan said 2012 was probably the company’s best year ever, and with the iTheatrics festival just over the horizon, 2013 could be even better.
“(The festival) is a way to further establish Moorestown Theater Company out there for people who may not be familiar with us,” he said, adding that, even after 10 years and 300 performances, “I sometimes feel like we’re (still) Moorestown’s best-kept secret. That would be our wish for 2013—that more people would come to see our shows.”
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