A dozen stage performances offered free at OC Library

 TOMS RIVER –   New Jersey’s Theatre Alliance’s Stages Festival will present eight unique programs throughout March at various Ocean County Library branches.

 Initially offered 15 years ago as a one-week program for young people, the Stages Festival proved to be so popular it now provides a full month of performances, workshops and programs for theater lovers in all stages of their lives.

 While all the performances at the branches are free, registration is required to attend.  For more information or to register, telephone the branch or visit the library’s Web site www.theoceancountylibrary.org .

 The Stages Festival begins with a presentation by Surflight Theatre’s musical production of “A Year with Frog and Toad” at the Pt. Pleasant Borough branch (732-295-1555) Sat. March 3 at 11 a.m.

 Intended for grades Pre-K and up, the 55-minute program teaches an important lesson about friendship and rejoices in the attributes that make each of us different and special. The show will be repeated Sat. March 31 at 11 a.m. at the Stafford branch (609- 597-3381.)

 Other performances include:

 “IRL: In Real Life” presented by George Street Playhouse at the Lacey branch (609-693-8566) Thur. March 8 at 7 p.m. Recommended for ages 11-18, the play examines the dangers of cyber-bullying and investigates how students can take an active role to end it.

 “Victorian Magic” presented by the East Lynne Theatre Company and actor/magician Robert Aberdeen who delights audiences of all ages with his sleight-of-hand.  Performances include audience participation. It will be presented at the Long Beach Island branch (609-494-2480) Sat. March 17 at 2 p.m.; the Point Pleasant Borough branch (732-295-1555) Sat. March 24 at 1:30 p.m.; and the Upper Shores branch in Lavallette (732-793-3996) Tue. March 27 at 7 p.m.

 The pop culture phenomenon “Schoolhouse Rock, Live!” presented by Surflight Theatre comes to the musical stage at the Toms River branch (732-349-6200) Sat. March 17 at 2 p.m. The Emmy-award winning 1970s cartoon series taught youngsters history, grammar, math, science and civics through clever songs.

 The Pushcart Players present “Stone Soup and Other Stories” at the Little Egg Harbor branch (609-294-1197) Sat. March 17 at 11 a.m.  These four folk tales from around the world provide a delightful introduction to theater as well as to the cultures and customs of other lands.

 East Lynne Theater Company’s “Sherlock Holmes’ Adventure of the Norwood Builder” will be presented as a vintage radio broadcast, complete with live sound effects and commercials, just like radio shows were done in the 1930s.   The play will be performed at the Toms River branch (732-349-6200) Sun. March 18 at 3 p.m. and the Barnegat branch (609-698-3331) Tue. March 20 at 7 p.m.

 The musical “Happily Ever After – A Cinderella Tale” is based on the classic tale takes the audience on a sometimes happy, sometimes sad, but always compelling journey.  Fueled by inner beauty, courage and kindness, the characters triumph over greed, arrogance and bully behavior. The Pushcart Players will perform this adaptation at the Manchester branch (732-657-7600) Sat. March 24 at 10:30 a.m.

 “Frog and Toad” follows two great friends through four fun-filled seasons, learning life’s important lessons about friendship and diversity.  This play is presented by Centenary Stage Company at the Lakewood branch (732-363-1435) Fri. March 30 at 2:30 p.m.

 These Ocean County Library events have been made possible by the generous support of The Horizon Foundation of New Jersey, the New Jersey Theatre Alliance, the Stages Festival, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and Bank of America.

Information about the New Jersey Theatre Alliance and Stages Festival can be found at their Web sites www.njtheatrealliance.org and www.stagesfestival.org .

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