Independent News Briefs, Dec. 22


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The Middletown Arts Center has announced the formation of the MAC Players, the organization’s new community theater company for adults/young adults age 15 and up.

Led by Theater Education Director Kathy Connolly, the group will kick off its first season in 2022 with “Shrek The Musical” on March 3, 4, 5 and 12, according to a press release.

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Auditions for “Shrek The Musical” will be held on Jan. 8 from 1-7 p.m. Callbacks will be on Jan. 9 from noon to 5 p.m. Participants must prepare 32 bars of a musical theater song in the style of the show and 32 bars of a song of choice showing range.

All auditions will be performed at the Middletown Arts Center, 36 Church St., Middletown (next to the train station). Free parking is available onsite with additional free parking available in the train station metered lot on weekday evenings after 6 p.m. and on weekends.

To schedule an audition time, email Actors of all ethnicities are strongly encouraged to audition. Actors’ Equity Association members may audition for a possible guest appearance contract, according to the press release.

“Shrek The Musical” is based on the Oscar-winning DreamWorks Animation film “Shrek.”

“Shrek The Musical” is a Tony Award-winning fairy tale adventure featuring all-new songs from Jeanine Tesori and a book by David Lindsay-Abaire. The MAC Players production is directed by Kathy Connolly with musical direction by Nicholas Jupinka.

For more information, visit


A 43-year-old man has been found guilty of stalking a teenage girl in Hazlet several years ago, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey announced on Dec. 17.

Shyam Gurung, formerly of Jersey City, was convicted by a state Superior Court jury in Freehold of fourth degree stalking following deliberations that took place over two days following a week-long trial, according to a press release from the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.

A May 2017 investigation led by the Hazlet Police Department determined that Gurung, who was working as an Uber and Lyft driver at the time, drove his black Infiniti sedan to the area of the Hazlet Middle School on multiple occasions to see the 14-year-old girl.

On one occasion, Gurung approached the girl as she walked home from school and told her she was “pretty,” indicating that he followed her every day.

Less than a week later, Gurung was observed waiting across the street from the school as the girl began walking home. He was arrested shortly thereafter, according to the press release.

Gurung is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Vincent Falcetano on Feb. 25. Convictions on fourth degree crimes are punishable by terms that range from probation to 18 months in state prison, according to the press release.

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