OLD BRIDGE – It’s almost lights, camera, action as Main Street Theatre Company prepares for its first show – “Once Upon A Crime: The Trial of Goldilocks” – in their new location at Congregation Beth Ohr.
Kevin Gunther, founder of the non-profit community theater’s (MSTC) Board of Trustees, said he expects “emotions” to “run high” as curtains open this weekend.
At the height of the novel coronavirus pandemic, members were not sure if they could keep the long-time community theater going. In March 2020, the community theater was one week away from opening its musical show “Spamalot” and the Main Street Theatre Academy was booked.
“We rely on ticket sales and we were not able to do shows,” Gunther said, noting they had to refund the “Spamalot” and Academy tickets.
Despite obstacles, MSTC was able to hold two shows prior to the “Once Upon A Crime: The Trial of Goldilocks,” a Kidsworks’ show, including a virtual and a socially distanced show.
The Kidsworks’ show kicks off the start of many things the MSTC has in store as they bounce back from the pandemic, which include the recent move to Congregation Beth Ohr, 70 Route 516, on Aug. 1.
Cindy Guerra, board president of MSTC’s Board of Trustees, said they had been looking for a new space for a while, but the specifics of a stage and restrooms within a certain price range made the search difficult at times. She said they were fortunate to find the “amazing” space at the synagogue and said their costume shop remains at the Sayreville Senior Center.
Members are working to get the word out about the move. They attended OB Arts in Mannino Park in August and plan to attend Old Bridge Day on Sept. 25 and Sayreville Day on Oct. 2.
The Main Street Theatre Company was founded over 25 years ago by a group of Sayreville High School graduates who shared a common vision of bringing a high quality community theater to the Greater Middlesex County community. The group has produced hundreds of theatrical productions, including more than 130 full-scale plays and musicals, 45 Kidsworks Theatre for Children productions, six original works, as well as three New Jersey “premiere” productions.
Through the years Main Street has gained recognition from the community and its peers. Main Street has garnered numerous Perry Awards, including Best Production of a Musical, Best Direction, Best Scenic Design and Best Musical Direction to name a few.
The New Jersey Association of Community Theaters has also honored three of Main Streets Trustees with Lifetime Achievement Awards for their contributions to New Jersey community theater.
MSTC performed at the historic Step Inn Ballroom in Sayreville for 14 years until the group lost its lease in 2003 and found its new home on Bordentown Avenue in Parlin.
Despite the obstacles of limited funding and high production and occupancy costs, Main Street has continually grown over the years to what is now a six-show season of Main Stage productions and has grown to include MSTC Kidsworks, Main Street Junior/Youth Productions, Main Street Theatre Academy, Just Dance, shows and classes from resident improv troupe Death by Improv, as well as many other concerts, karaoke and open mic nights.
MSTC is dubbed “The Magic That is Main Street.”
Guerra said MSTC is a family affair and welcomes new members of any age.
“We have something for everyone,” she said, whether a person wants to be on stage or work behind the scenes. She said her children auditioned for “Peter Pan” in 2012 and she has been involved ever since.
Gunther said he became involved with MSTC after his daughter auditioned for a part in “Annie” 25 years ago. He said he loves the arts and wanted to continue helping families experience community theater the way his family did.
Victoria Mosier, of East Brunswick, is the director of “Once Upon A Crime: The Trial of Goldilocks” show. She has been a member of MSTC since 2011.
“I love Main Street because it truly embodies the feeling of home,” she said. “Everyone has been kind and welcoming. I have also loved the opportunity to grow. I started as a performer and have recently had chances to direct, produce and even choreograph shows. I could not imagine being anywhere else.”
Grace Herrick, of Sayreville, has been performing in shows with MSTC since 2018. Her first production was “The Wizard of Oz.”
“Since then, I’ve done plenty of shows there and the friends I’ve made are incredible,” she said, adding she “loves the families” she meets after shows, especially the Kidsworks’ productions. “The energy of the theater really feels like home to me and I’m always happy to return and put on more shows there as time goes on.”
Camryn Burniston, of Old Bridge, has been a part of Main Street since 2017.
“Main Street helped me get into theater and make more friends,” he said. “I love how everyone from Main Street is loving and thoughtful.”
Tommy Fulbrook, of Sayreville, has been involved in MSTC for 10 years. He did his first show when he was 13 years old.
“I love this theater company with all my heart, I started out with this company as a shy kid and now I’m on the board for the theater company,” he said. “MSTC has help me come out of my shell and realize who I am as a person, this company and my theater family will always have a special place in my heart.”
Brittany Ahr, of Old Bridge, has been a part of MSTC for almost two years.
“I started getting back into theater right before COVID hit,” she said. “I got to meet all these wonderful people while rehearsing for “Spamalot” and it was unfortunate we never got to perform it. However, I still stayed close with the community and was so excited that the theater found a new home in my hometown. I am currently volunteering as the marketing/outreach head of the Main Street staff and I love getting to help highlight all the great things this theater is doing for kids, teens and adults alike. Getting to perform as Mama Bear in Goldilocks has been super fun and I’m excited to perform on our new stage with a bunch of fantastic people.”
Shows for Once Upon A Crime: The Trial Of Goldilocks by Flip Kobler and Cindy Marcus is scheduled for 3 p.m. Sept. 18-19 and Sept. 25-26 at Congregation Beth Ohr, 70 Old Bridge, Matawan Road (Route 516).
For more information visit www.mainstreettheatrecompany.org.