OCTC offering children’s shows Mondays at the Music Pier

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Steve Fala as Alexander pushes past his mother and two brothers, played by Chelsea Smith, Corey John Hafner and Morgan Kirner, as they arrive at the shoe store to pick out new shoes in the Greater Ocean City Theatre Company’s presentation of “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” in the Ocean City Music Pier Monday, July 9. Steve Fala as Alexander pushes past his mother and two brothers, played by Chelsea Smith, Corey John Hafner and Morgan Kirner, as they arrive at the shoe store to pick out new shoes in the Greater Ocean City Theatre Company’s presentation of “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” in the Ocean City Music Pier Monday, July 9. OCEAN CITY — It may have been a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day” for Alexander on Monday, July 9, but for the more than 500 children in the audience at the historic Music Pier for the show, it was a magical morning.

Children gathered for “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,” the first of five family-oriented shows performed by the Ocean City Theatre Company. 

Offered at 10:30 a.m. on July 16, 23 and 30 and Aug. 6, the live shows are the highlight of the summer for John Anker Bow, director of the OCTC’s children’s theater. Bow said the OCTC promises to both entertain and inspire with the new, expanded offerings for children.

Upcoming shows include “The Three Bears, the Musical,” “Little Red Riding Hood’s Woods,” “Charlotte’s Web” and “The Fabulous Fable Factory.”

Bow said the first performance was “lots of fun.”

“Everything went very well,” he said. “I love what I’m doing.”

“It’s kind of crazy, but we’re all having a great time. I really couldn’t ask for a more fun job,” Bow said.

Bow said he was drawn to theater when he was in fifth grade.

“I was in elementary school and every year we were invited to go to the middle school to see a play,” he said. “They did “Crazy Kamp,” it was a young summer camp show, a very silly show. I can remember how much fun they were having. I said to myself that I wanted to do that, and I would try out for the show when I was in sixth grade. I did, and I got a part. It was very exciting. The performance inspired me.”

Older now, Bow said children’s theater is anything but glamorous.

“In ‘Alexander,’ we have a giant kangaroo, and that costume is very hot and annoying,” he said.

“I always tell the performers to remember that they are performing for a live audience, and there may be many people in the audience who are seeing live theater for the very first time,” he said. “So, you want to give it your all because you may inspire a young child to want to be an actor or actress when he or she grows up. You make an impression and it should be a good one. The memory of your first live performance doesn’t go away. It sticks with people. You want them to be amazed and you want it to be fun. That’s what I remember; it looked like so much fun.”

Growing up in Hamilton, Mercer County, Bow said was involved in all of the creative arts, enjoying band, chorus and anything musical.

“I always loved theater when I was in school,” he said. “I was always in the play; I performed in everything I could. Theater, band, was where I met the coolest people and had the most fun.”

He graduated Rider University with a degree in education and now teaches in many capacities.

“I direct, teach, perform and write,” he said.

A freelancer, he said the stint in Ocean City is among the highlights of his career.

“I enjoy being here,” he said. “I can walk everywhere. I consider myself very lucky to have a job in such a wonderful place.”

Bow has performed numerous times over the past few years with the OCTC.  He directed children’s theater for the Surflight Theatre and the Pennsylvania Youth Theatre in Bethlehem, Pa. He’s also written several children’s plays, including “Red Riding Hood’s Woods.”

“That’s how I got involved with directing, from my writing,” he said.

Bow met Michael Hartman, the OCTC artistic director, several years ago. When Hartman wanted to expand OCTC’s offerings, he turned to Bow. 

“John’s background in children’s theater, both as a performer and director, is extensive and has been pivotal to successful children’s theater programming all around the United States. We are very fortunate to have him overseeing this project for us,” Hartman said.

Children’s theater tickets are $9, which includes the show and a brief post-performance character meet and greet. To purchase tickets for any of the shows, call 525-9248, see www.ocnj.us/boxoffice or stop by the box office at the Ocean City Music Pier. 

For more information about the Greater Ocean City Theatre Company, see www.oceancitytheatrecompany.com.

 

photo by Jen Marra


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