When Mark Morgan, his wife and mother-in-law established the (MTC) a decade ago, they thought they’d be lucky to do four, five, six shows a year tops.
“We thought it’d be easy,” said Beverly Bennett, Morgan’s mother-in-law.
“Well it was easy when we were doing one show,” her daughter, Morgan’s wife, Carol Ann Murray, responded.
That was at the very beginning. Today, they’re up to 10 musicals, plus multiple recitals for their classes, plus a “mini performance” at the MTC’s . Not to mention their nine-week summer camp and weeklong spring stage program.
“I don’t know if any of us … thought this would grow to the point where we’d be doing 10 shows a year,” said Morgan. “It has been very pleasantly surprising.”
The idea behind MTC was to fill a void. There were other theater groups in Burlington County—, for example—but none in Moorestown, Morgan said.
Together with his wife and mother-in-law—both of whom, like Morgan, had theater backgrounds—they launched MTC in 2003 with a production of Annie. Since then, “the whole overall program has grown by leaps and bounds,” he said.
Nowhere has that growth been more evident than in the number of children involved with the theater company, which is still their “bread and butter,” said Morgan, the company's producing artistic director. Of the MTC’s 10 shows this year, eight are all-kids. Only one is adults only.
And as much as Morgan, Murray and Bennett love what they do—as do the audiences who keep coming to their shows—it’s the children who really get the most out of it.
Their experience with MTC gives kids confidence, public speaking experience and teaches them to work as a team. Murray, MTC's managing director, said they’ve worked with children with disabilities, exposing them to a creative outlet they might otherwise have never enjoyed.
“It’s life-altering, for everybody … It’s changed my life,” she said. “But more so for the kids that have come through.”
Morgan agreed: “Parents telling us we’ve changed their kid’s life—that’s probably the most gratifying thing of all.”
MTC Wednesday with , the company’s 53rd production.
In mid-April, they’ll hold their spring stage—a weeklong camp for film and TV training—and in May will perform The Jungle Book. The MTC’s main stage production in July will be Footloose.
Morgan said as the theater company has grown they’ve discussed branching out beyond musicals into dramas and comedies. His primary goal though is to find a home for the company.
The MTC has been somewhat nomadic over the last 10 years. They started out at . At one point they were performing at the . Lately they’ve been bouncing between some of the and .
“Between the schools, the Community House and the churches, we’ve had wonderful performance spaces,” said Morgan. “But it’s not quite the same as having our own space.”
the theater company has drawn up architectural designs and toured potential sites, but in the end (as with many life goals) it comes down to money—and just not having enough of it right now.
Yet while the lack of a permanent location has, at times, been a logistical headache, it hasn’t tarnished the theater company’s standing in the community.
“I don’t think we would keep getting people back if we didn’t put on great shows,” said Morgan. “That’s what keeps people coming back.”
For more information about MTC, to see a schedule of their shows or to purchase tickets, visit their website.