Donna Marie Nowak is a writer and cartoonist with over 100 publication credits. Her books include JUST JOAN: A JOAN CRAWFORD APPRECIATION, the ultimate guide to the ultimate star, and MAD ABOUT MYSTERY: 100 WONDERFUL TELEVISION MYSTERIES FROM THE SEVENTIES with an Introduction by Stefanie Powers. She is an active member of Mystery Writers of America and is currently working on a mystery series featuring her amateur sleuth Miss Iodine Bell.
The Moorestown Theater Company presented their 140th show with a heartwarming, inaugural production of Showstoppers' Holiday Spectacular, in which 15 hand-selected youngsters between the ages of 10 and 21, all trained in theater arts, performed a variety of favorite holiday tunes with dancing and 'a few surprises' in between at 4pm and 7pm on December 16, 2017. The basement of the First Baptist Church in Moorestown was a perfect venue to create warmth and intimacy with the audience, which is why jazz cellars also have a special ambience. The stage was simple, but effective with a silver backdrop and two Christmas trees that were lit up when the lights dimmed. The silvery voices of the company opened the show with 'The Most Wonderful Time of the Year' and with very little rehearsal time, as MTC's Producing Artistic Director Mark Morgan confided during the intermission, the production still bore all the hallmarks of creativity and professionalism which make MTC a delight. Along with Christmas classics and fluidly executed ballet and jazz dances, there were humorous tunes. Ten-year-old Angela Cucinotta and 12-year-old Madeline Johnston did an adorable duet of 'Never Fall in Love (With an Elf)' and in the spoof song 'Nutcracker,' the three boys in the cast, Ryan Edwards, Will Reid and Aaron Wachs, rue how their football watching is ruined by yet another cursed season of that ballet. Zoey Schaeffer, who had a fine comedic presence in other spots, did a jazzy little rendition of 'Winter Wonderland' and Cali Barton and Juliet Morgan encouraged the audience to join in during their lively duet of 'Feliz Navidad.' The talented Morgan was marking her 122nd performance with MTC, her first being at age six months as 'Infant Annie' in Annie. In between each number, individuals in the company performed 'The Twelve Days of Christmas,' each singer representing one day with their numbers growing as the show progressed until the entire company was onstage. 14-year-old brother and sister Ryan and Chloe Edwards were again co-starring after having appeared together in MTC's Willie Wonka, Jr. and Sophia Waninger displayed her musical skills on a mandolin during her solo 'Last Christmas.' The revue was topped with a rousing tap finale to 'Jingle Bells' and being a tapper myself, this was truly a high point. Credit must be given to choreographer Jody Haggerty; not just a series of timesteps, however effective they may be, the tapping consisted of intricate footwork, including pullbacks. The show also marks the last production for Annette De Rosa as Administrative Director as she moves on to a new chapter in her life, although she promises to keep a toe in the show behind the scenes and as the company's webmaster. The Moorestown Theater Company looks forward to an exciting new season in 2018 and has no intention of slowing down. Meanwhile, Showstoppers Holiday Spectacular was just the ticket to stir the Christmas spirit and a wonderful showcase for delightful and dedicated young talent who will be performing throughout the region and beyond.BWW Review: ROALD DAHL'S WILLY WONKA JR. at Moorestown Theater Company August 6, 2017