Bellarine Theatre Company Announces 2016 Shows
Christmas and New Year’s have just past, so it may be too soon for you to make Valentine’s plans.
But the Belllarine Theatre Company (BTC) has already done just that and will open their 2016 season with a youth version of Broadway classic “Guys and Dolls” Feb. 12-14. Called “Guys and Dolls Jr.,” the show will feature young actors in grades 5-9, who auditioned earlier this week.
This will be the company’s third season performing at the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences (LBIF) in Loveladies.
BTC was founded in 2011, by Jessica Huch while she was still a student at Rowan University. Between classes and her own performances, Huch, who now has a masters degree in Theater Arts Administration, said she was able to incorporate BTC into a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
“We are dedicated to serving the members of local and surrounding communities in Southern Ocean County with innovative and original work,” she said in an earlier statement.
Shortly after the company was formed and using $10,000 from a Pepsi Refresh grant BTC presented its first production, “The Wedding Singer,” at Pinelands Regional High School that summer.
The high school’s theater was and continues to be the venue for the company’s larger productions during the summer.
The following year the company presented two very diverse productions: “Annie” and “Next to Normal,” a rock musical centering on a woman trying to deal with the effects of her bipolar disorder.
“We proved to the community that we could produce classics alongside newer works, giving everyone the opportunity to enjoy our performances,” said Huch.
Soon after, Bellarine was approached about having productions in what Huch calls a “gem” hidden within the Long Beach Island Foundation’s main building.
Despite a smaller stage and less seating capacity Huch agreed eagerly.
“Coming from an undergraduate program that encouraged thinking out of the box and trying new things, I was eager to see this new space and envision what it could hold for us,” she said.
BTC’s 2014 shows exceeded everyone’s expectations that year, she said. The company staged three productions at the foundation — “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” featuring an ensemble cast and audience participation; “Dorothy Meets Alice,” a tale geared mainly for children with a performance specifically tailored for a special needs audience, and “Bat Boy: The Musical,” inspired by a tabloid headline of child found living with bats in a cave. They also returned to Pinelands with a full cast production complete with a live orchestra of Rogers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma.”
Last year, BTC staged its first all youth production of “Into the Woods Jr.” Huch said. They even tailored a free performance for children or adults diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or other sensitivity issues. The idea came to her when they took her younger sister to a special needs performance of “The Lion King” on Broadway.
The company also held a student directors showcase, presented the critically acclaimed “Songs for a New World” and a big stage production of “Legally Blonde,” at Pinelands.
Huch serves not only as the Executive and Artistic Director of the company, but also choreographs and directs most performances. Her now husband and college sweetheart, Chris, serves as Managing Director and President of BTC’s Board of Directors. The couple resides in West Creek, where their home is the headquarters for the theater company. Both also step into the spotlight to perform on stage on occasion, said Huch. “We hold open auditions for all our performances and while we get people from all over we often see lots of familiar local faces,” she said. Many include teachers, students and graduates from Pinelands and the Southern Regional School District like Jannah Tabbacchino, a music and theater teacher at Southern’s middle school and guest director Jim McCabe, who is the Improv instructor at SRHS.
As for the name Bellarine, Huch said she and Chris thought they made up the word to express the beauty they wanted to create. And were surprised that it actually was a place in Australia . But they are glad that it is a wonderful coastal place much like LBI and they hope to visit it one day.
Huch said the local community has become very supportive of Bellarine Theater Company.
“We only cover about 40 percent of our production costs through ticket sales, so we rely on the generosity of our sponsors and the community in general to continue to let us have them benefit from a live theatrical experience in the area.”
Huch said the special events that will serve as fundraisers in 2016 are still in discussion. In the past the company has performed a Christmas Improvisation special and a recent holiday gala.
Also still in the planning stage are three family theater performances over the summer, she said. The shows will be tailored to children and will involve them in some interactive performances. The complete 2016 schedule is below.
Special Event - Jan. 23 @ LBIF
“Guys & Dolls Jr.” - Feb. 12 - 14 @ LBIF
Special Event - March 12 @ LBIF
“Dogfight” - May 19 - 22 @ LBIF
Student Director Showcase - Date TBD
Family Theatre Series @ LBIF - June 28, July 12, August 16
“The Producers” - Dates to be determined @ PRHS
Special Event - Sept. 23 @ LBIF
“ The Rocky Horror Picture Show” - Oct. 28 & 29 @ LBIF
“Urinetown” - Nov. 18-20 @ LBIF
Special Winter Event - Dec. 17 @ LBIF
For more information visit www.bellarinetheatre.com or find them on Facebook at:www.facebook.com/bellarine.theatre.company