Due to being conducted at auditorium, the township recreation department’s non-profit youth community theatre company found itself without a venue for this year‘s main stage show, "Willy Wonka."
“The only other stages in town are in the senior citizen communities, but these stages have no theatrical sound or lighting,” said Manchester Musical Theatre Director Krystyna Hubbard. “We wanted the kids to have the same quality show as they are used to, so now we have to rent stage lights and body mics.”
Hubbard said through the generosity of Crestwood Village 7 in Whiting, they were able to secure the village’s Fernwood Hall stage for free, plus get some extra rehearsal time there before the show, but, the equipment rental will still be costly.
To help pay those expenses, the theatre company will hold a dine-in fundraiser at on Route 37 in Manchester Township. Ten percent of all dine-in proceeds on Sunday, July 31, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. will be donated to the company.
Diners also will be treated to performances from the students and door prizes.
Hubbard, who lives in the Pine Lake Park section of the township, started the theatre company through the Recreation Department 10 years ago for children ages 8 to 17 years old.
“I have a daughter who is musical but there weren’t many activities out there for her, so I went into the recreation office and suggested a theater program,” Hubbard said. For the first eight years, Hubbard served as the company’s musical director and the past two, as the director of its productions.
Hubbard currently teaches music at Cedar Drive Middle School in Colts Neck.
“I grew up with the Dover (Toms River) Recreation theater program main stage,” she said. “That program inspired me to pursue a career in music. I wanted to give back and that’s how I got involved in the Manchester program.”
Thirty students are involved in the eight-week musical theater program that rehearses five hours a week. Hubbard said they chose "Willy Wonka" because the show has a serious moral.
“It has a great message for everyone to use your imagination,” she said. “It inspires you to stay young and stay positive, which is a great message for kids.”
The show will be held at 7 p.m. on August 12 and 13. Tickets cost $8 for adults and $5 for seniors and children under 3. For more information and tickets, visit www.manchestermusicaltheatre.org or call the township recreation office at 732-657-8121, Ext. 1178 or 1170.
Hubbard said they have a returning group of students every summer and some of them now go to the Ocean County Performing Arts Academy in Lakehurst.
“I’ve got a lot of talented kids,” Hubbard said. “I can’t wait to show them off.”