What started as a small play put on by members of the Country Shore Women's Club and a few of their children has grown into their largest fundraiser of the year, with the children taking on the starring roles.
The club will perform "Sleeping Beauty" March 21-24 at Upper Township Elementary School in Marmora.
The Country Shore Women's Club started in 1969. It included women from Marmora who wanted to do something good for the community. About five years later, membership grew to include all of Upper Township. Seven years ago, the membership expanded again to include women from outside the township.
Carolyn Peltz, of Upper Township, is one of the founding members of the club and has been doing the play for 28 years.
"The plays began because there were women in the club that simply enjoyed writing one-act plays and acting them out," Peltz said. "They were the only group of its kind to do shows. It was done in the winter because there was nothing to do then. We were trendsetters - no one else did plays in the area at the time. This niche in the market made these performances a huge success."
Proceeds from the play go to four Ocean City High School seniors to further their education.
Club President Marybeth Grant, of Upper Township, has been doing the play for six years.
"I help with the play, whether it be dancing on stage, coordinating food concessions, creating costumes or painting scenery," Grant said. "Whatever helps make the show go on."
Theresa McKinley, club member and co-director of the play, said the play used to have only club members and their husbands, and a few children when needed.
"Now, the tables are turned - the club members' children are the stars of the show and the club women perform in one musical number and a few scenes here and there," McKinley said. "We don't discriminate by talent or age. Anyone associated with the club is welcome to join in the performance. We usually have full houses on Friday and Saturdays. Many people come every year to see the dancing moms."
"I love sharing arts with children," McKinley added. "Our musicals are a place where any child, no matter what their ability, can find a place to shine. Many of our actors have been performing annually for over 13 years (they are only 16 years old). It is heartwarming to see relationships and talents grow year to year."
Grant said the plays introduced her children to the stage.
"They love acting and performing," Grant said. "This experience helped them further their career on stage with the Youth Opera of South Jersey, the Ocean City Theater Company and local school productions."
Jill Clark, club member and play director, said the plays are her favorite fundraiser of the year.
"We get to spend a tremendous amount of time with our children as well as our good friends," Clark said. "We have a great group of really talented ladies that work well together for this community event."
Contact Debra Rech:
If you go
What: Country Shore Women's Club production of 'Sleeping Beauty'
When: 7 p.m. March 21 to 24 and 3 p.m. March 24
Where: Upper Township Elementary School, Tuckahoe Road, Marmora
How much: Advance tickets $6 per person, $5 per person for groups of 15 or more, and $7 at the door.
For more information or to purchase tickets, call Jill Clark at 609-287-9684.