After 11 years of mounting original productions every summer, the East Brunswick Young Adult Charity Players decided to take a somewhat unique path towards their wholly original 2012 show.
That would be the tactic of blending the completely original with the completely imitated.
That production, Better Luck this Time!, opens today (Friday, Aug, 3), at the , and it mixes an original script with countless popular songs from a myriad of sources, from Bruno Mars to the New York stage sensations Avenue Q and The Lion King.
Mike Solomon, producer of Better Luck this Time!, explained that the decision to blend the new with the old for the group’s 12th original production was hardly attributable to one person.
“This year's show began with a meeting between (directors) John McLean, (director/writer) Chris Devery, (Musical Director) Kat Siciliano, and myself around December,” Solomon said. “We knew that we wanted to create something that was more magical in nature.
“A lot of different ideas were thrown around, but we finally settled on a lucky pocket watch.”
As the book to Better Luck this Time! Took shape, it began to tell the tale of a young orphan girl searching for a mysterious lucky pocket watch, an idea whose inspiration Solomon fully understands.
“The lucky item idea was somewhat inspired by the musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” he said. “We really loved the moments where it seemed like the main character's book had all the answers. Each time it was used, he would wink at the audience and it was a really strong moment. These moments gave us a really strong conceptual point for our show.”
Once the book was set, Solomon says that finding the right places for the various songs proved intuitive. “Most songs came naturally as we filled in the plot,” he said. “We really wanted a strong script-specific song list. There were a few, however, that we just knew we wanted to see performed on stage and we wrote directly for those.”
With a musical in hand, the next step was casting, always an interesting process for the EBYACP. The company is, in their own words, “directed, produced, and run solely by pre-teens to college graduates, the East Brunswick Young Adult Charity Players allow all students, whether experienced or not, a chance to be a part of the theater, while doing good for their community.”
And this time around, there are almost 50 students, experienced or not, on the stage.
“Our cast is about 45 people” Solomon said. “Although it can be tough to keep focus at times, it's very rewarding when you can hear a chorus of almost 50 people standing on stage performing and giving it everything they have. Also, because we're a charity organization, the more people we get, the further we can get to our goal of raising money for the community.
“The EBYACP is an organization that gives us the opportunity to use something we love; theatre, to give back to the community that we love.”
Since its organization in 2001, the EBYACP, has operated as a nonprofit organization to raise money for the , a fund supporting local young people with physical and mental disabilities. To date they have raised over than $50,000 for this cause.
The show runs this weekend, Friday August 3 to Sunday Aug. 5, at the . Performances are 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $12. Call 732-372-8016 for ticket information.