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BWW Interview: Stephen L. Fredericks and SNOW WHITE at The Growing Stage

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SNOW WHITE at The Growing Stage

BWW Interview: Stephen L. Fredericks and SNOW WHITE at The Growing Stage

The Growing Stage, The Children's Theatre of New Jersey (TGS), located in the Historic Palace Theatre in Netcong reopens its doors to the public and kicks off its 39th season with SNOW WHITE. This production will run October 16th through the 25th with in-person performances taking place on Friday, Oct. 16th at 7:30PM (Opening Night), Saturdays at 4:00PM and Sundays at 2:00 PM. This production will also be available for streaming, Oct. 23rd through the 25th. SNOW WHITE is written by Greg Banks, with direction by the theatre's Founder and Executive Director, Stephen L. Fredericks.

SNOW WHITE is not your usual "Once Upon a Time." Classic. To start with, it's a two-person play. Two fabulous, whip-smart, super-fast actors play Snow White, the huntsman, the prince, and all seven dwarfs. And it's funny too. So expect the unexpected in this fabulous fairy tale.

SNOW WHITE features the talents of three professional performers in the cast all making their Palace Theatre debuts: Aycka Lima of Hackettstown, NJ, as Snow White; Garrett Gallinot of Toms River, NJ, as Dwarf 4 and Emily James of Dover, NJ, as the Minstrel.

Based on recommendations issued by the CDC and Governor Murphy, The Growing Stage will implement new health & safety protocols in our facilities. We're dedicated to ensuring the highest quality experience for our performers and audiences alike. Health & Safety Protocols include: Limited Capacity (25%), Mandatory Face Coverings, Touchless Temperature Checks, Contactless Ticketing, Reduced Lobby Time, Pod Preferred Seating, Hand Sanitizer Stations and Digital Playbills. had the pleasure of interviewing Stephen L. Fredericks about the upcoming show and the season ahead at The Growing Stage.

BWW Interview: Stephen L. Fredericks and SNOW WHITE at The Growing Stage

SNOW WHITE looks like a delightful show! Tell us a little bit about the team that is making it happen.

All of production team are here at The Growing Stage and in fact, we were very fortunate to be in a position that no staff had to be furloughed during the COVID crisis. Like many of our professional colleagues we immediately pivoted to a virtual platform, but are very grateful to be back on the Palace stage creating live theatre. I have the pleasure of directing the piece alongside Cara Scalera as our Stage Manager, our Resident Artist Perry Arthur Kroeger has created a magical set which is complimented by Lori Lawrence's costume design. The company of three performers are all emerging professional artists - Aycka Lima is Snow White alongside Garrett Gallinot as Dwarf Four play ALL the roles we have come to expect from the fairy tale. The minstrel, Emily James shares her incredible violin, keyboard talents as well as adding every sound effect possible to underscore the entire piece.

Why do you think your upcoming production of SNOW WHITE is so unique to the renowned fable?

Two actors portraying Snow White, all Seven Dwarfs, an Evil Stepmother, the Huntsman, cowering Servants, a Queen Mother, in addition to bears, birds and beasts of varying degrees all accompanied by a live musician. It couldn't be more unique! The piece is a fun celebration to the creative spirit.

What have been some of the challenges of producing and directing the show during Covid-19?

Staging actors so that for the vast majority of time they never are closer than eight feet a part or ever face each other. The rehearsal process has been interesting as well with our mask use since I haven't seen their full face since the audition process. Thankfully they all have very expressive eyes!

We know that TGS is taking all needed precautions to keep guests healthy. What would you like audience members to know about safety measures?

We are taking this very seriously ensuring that we provide our patrons with the same quality arts experience we have become recognized statewide for creating for our young audience, but also that our protocols ensure their families health and safety during their time at the Palace. Temperatures taken at the door, masks required for all, hand sanitizing stations located throughout the theatre, express seating, virtual playbills, no intermission, with seating pods for families separated form others. Our seating has been reduced from 250 to 65 - 25% of occupancy! We have also created a video that's available on our website at www.growingstage that our patrons can preview prior to attending.

SNOW WHITE will also be filmed and made available to our families not yet ready to venture out at this time. It's a sentiment we appreciate and respect so we wanted to ensure they still had the opportunity to see the show within the comfort of their own home. That format will also feature a talk-back with members of the production team and our performing artists.

TGS was recently featured on New 12 New Jersey. Tell us a little about this exciting news story that was widely viewed.

Whenever your work is noticed and applauded by such a statewide format as News 12 New Jersey it is extremely appreciated. There is a lot of behind the scenes effort and support that has allowed The Growing Stage to not only to be the recognized Children's Theatre of New Jersey, but to also be in the position to be able to survive these unprecedented times. While the camera focused on only a few, there are a lot of folks' unseen that have in the past and continue to make our impact possible.

What would you like patrons to know about your upcoming season?

It's a work in process as we continue to navigate this national pandemic. We started the process in March, when we were forced to cancel the remaining run of PINKALICIOUS in order to do our part for the safety of our patrons, to look at the immediate future in two-week blocks of time since things were so uncertain. Sadly, that feeling of uncertainty hasn't really changed though we have all had more good weeks than bad here in New Jersey. That said, we tend to look now at the future in monthly blocks with the hope of announcing a full slate of shows for 2020/2021 very soon. Stay tuned!

Anything else, absolutely anything you want BWW NJ readers to know.

We're here! The Growing Stage staff is continuing to create a wonderful and engaging arts education curriculum virtually and our upcoming production of SNOW WHITE is a safe and enriching way for our families to once again share in the pure joy and magic of live theatre. We also greatly appreciate the continued support that we have received during this health crisis. Thank you!

The Growing Stage is located at 7 Ledgewood Avenue, Netcong, NJ 07857. SNOW WHITE is produced by special arrangement with Plays For Young Audiences. Ticket Prices for SNOW WHITE -IN PERSON: $28 for adults, $22 for seniors and $18 for children. STREAMING: $25/family. To purchase tickets, please visit www.growingstage or call (973) 347-4946.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of The Growing Stage

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