Alum John Maurer Takes Productions to
New Heights at MCCC's Kelsey Theatre


10/09


Few people know how to put on a show like John Maurer.

As the artistic director of Maurer Productions OnStage, Maurer has been responsible for presenting numerous shows at MCCC's Kelsey Theatre since 2004. His work has been seen as a huge boost for regional theater in Central New Jersey, and he recently was recognized for his efforts by the New Jersey Association of Community Theaters with the David P. McMenemie Award, given to an individual who has made a significant, lasting and invaluable contribution behind the scenes of community theater.

The Ewing resident got his start in show business as a Mercer student, running spotlight for performances at Kelsey in 1982. But running spotlight was just a small part of what was to come for Maurer at Mercer.

"I had the opportunity to do so many different things, and I'm very much into trying new things," Maurer said. A television production major with a minor in theater, Maurer went on to be involved in not only multiple areas of the theater, but also in the college's television studio and radio station, graduating with a degree in Radio/Television in 1982.

He credits Walt Gradsky, who was then the engineer of the television studio, as being a key mentor. "Walt was the kind of person who liked to share what he knew. He was a great influence," Maurer said.

After receiving his associate degree, Maurer worked in television production for the Arts and Entertainment Network, Lifetime and the Medical Entertainment Network before beginning his own animation and graphic design business. When he and his wife, Diana, whom he met when she was a Kelsey Theatre stage manager, decided to begin a family, Maurer took a job as new media coordinator for NJM Insurance Group in Ewing, a position he currently holds. He has also taught 3-D animation and multimedia courses at Mercer.

As Maurer developed his career, he has still found time to perform in remarkable and colorful ways. He has entertained audiences as a clown, a magician at the Showboat Casino in Atlantic City, a self-taught stilt walker, and a "strolling character" on the Atlantic City boardwalk.

John Maurer
Maurer Productions OnStage is a family affair; from left are Dan, Diana and John Maurer.
John and Diana Maurer in a 2007
performance of "Nosing Around."

Despite his broad experience, Maurer doesn't consider himself a natural performer, but rather someone who has never been afraid to continue trying. "I had to work at being a performer; it's the best type of work experience. I always tell people to keep auditioning for different roles, even if they don't get the parts. You can't learn it in a book," he stressed.

Maurer began to focus his energies at Kelsey Theatre in 2003 after being approached by Kelsey Theatre Artistic Director Kitty Getlik to produce children's programming. Teaming up with Diana, John developed the popular "Nosing Around" clown shows featuring magic, mirth and a little bit of mayhem that quickly drew a loyal following among the younger set.

These days, Maurer and his company are taking on some of the great American theater classics -- and receiving accolades for their work. In the 2007-08 season, Maurer Productions presented "Driving Miss Daisy," with an on stage convertible as a prominent prop, and "Singin' in the Rain," which featured an actual rainstorm. The two shows were nominated for 17 Perry Awards between them, with "Daisy" winning five. Last season, the company's production of "Man of LaMancha" was nominated for four awards.

Maurer Productions OnStage is a family affair. Diana serves as a vice president and business manager, and John's brother, Dan, serves as a vice president and marketing director. Maurer enjoys working with family members, noting they are comfortable enough with each other to create a successful work dynamic. "We all have opinions, and we know when to back off and when to push. No decisions are made unilaterally," he said.

The Maurers are happy to have found a home at Kelsey Theatre. While John says he would love to retire one day and concentrate solely on theater production, for now he will continue to make the time to do what he loves, even in the face of life's other responsibilities.

Having wrapped up "Hollywood Arms," a play based on the childhood of actress Carol Burnett, in October, Maurer Productions OnStage will present "Children's Letters to God" at Kelsey Theatre from January 8 to 17.

More about Maurer Productions is available on their website here.

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