To promote their upcoming week of "Fiddler on the Roof" shows, members of The Studio Stage will perform selections from the classic musical at the Whiting Town Center, the company announced.
The free show, sponsored by shopping plaza owners and AAM Management in conjunction with Levin Management, will be held on Sunday, July 15, at 6 p.m., according to Producing Artistic Director Michael Grande.
"They've never had anything like this," Grande said.
The Studio Stage opened in the Whiting Town Center about seven months ago, though performers have been working together in Ocean County for about the past seven years. The permanent home, tucked away in an unassuming storefront, features a black box theater.
This allows the audience to be "brought into the world of the theater — which is a very Manhattan-based idea," Grande said. "It's an intimate, 70 seat setting that allows the performers and audience to interact very closely."
The idea behind the black box is to create disorientation when the audience enters. From there, the performers create the experience.
"Now you're in the world of the theater," Grande said. "It's a really neat illusion," said office manager Gregory Sankowich.
In the past seven years, the members have staged 17 productions. "Fiddler on the Roof," which runs from Tuesday, July 24, through Sunday, July 29, will be the third in the black box theater. Tickets for the show are $15 and can be purchased at the July 15 event, online or by calling 732-350-2320. Whiting has been welcoming to the emerging theater company.
The community's reception has been "wonderful," Sankowich said. Many of the seniors in Whiting's retirement communities come from a time when stage productions were more common and thus appreciate the live theater.
"Their generation especially, they want something real," Sankowich said.
Though the company is based in Whiting, Grande said that "a mix" of people from throughout Ocean County are attending performances.
"They come from all around, really. All the shows have been selling out, which is cool," he said.
Securing a dedicated space for the company, which includes about 20 performers in addition to a music teacher, vocal teacher, choreographer and technical director, has helped to improve the quality of productions, according to Grande.
"Having your own space enables you to put on better shows," he said. "The casting is more productive, rehearsals are more productive and the productions are much more professional because we have time to build everything out."
"It really is the Broadway experience in Manchester," Sankowich said.
The theater space may also be used for other types of shows in the future, such as open mic or improv comedy nights. That is "something we're open to," Grande said.
The troupe, which also tours and brings shows to senior centers throughout Whiting, is in the early stages of preparation for its review of "Chicago" in August and is readying "Jekyll and Hyde" and "A Christmas Carol" for later this year.
More information about The Studio Stage is available online.