Dear Peter and Jennifer,
I read with interest your mission statement for your exciting announcement about a non-profit company affiliated with StarStruck to insure its growth. It seems like the most natural organic development that you can contribute to your community, your neighbors and your extended family of kids, many of whom have now grown up and are becoming parents and having kids of their own. It’s great to hear politicians speak about “our children are our future” but taking action and following the biblical command of “God helps those who help themselves” is definitely a part of what the American spirit is all about.
What you have done in Stuart, Florida is a great example/a prototype of what has become an American tradition extended and has in the last 20 years changed the face of all of America.
You should be singled out by the State of Florida as a prime example of what can be done without a check from the State! Without a check from the Federal Government! Without dealing with a school board or going through the bureaucracy of all of the things which slow it down and put obstacles in your path. StarStruck has been the ultimate salmon swimming upstream against a sea of naysayers and through demonstration and experiential learning, has created a safe haven for children to grow in areas and fields which are not covered directly in school. You are in the education business. You are in the communications business. The kids who are part of your StarStruck family do not feel that they are going to school/that they have difficult lessons to learn. When they establish (over a period of time) the wonderful disciplines that go with preparing a musical, the wonderful lessons of learning that you don’t always have to be the star to be an effective contributing member of society, to realize that you must work collaboratively and with mutuality of respect between boys and girls and men and women in a collegial environment for the benefit of the whole/the community/the country – all done through the metaphor of “putting on the show”, they are subliminally learning how to be better quality Americans. How to be good citizens. How to be good parents. Learning solid values and character building. The risks they take are the risks of going up on the stage and failing. Those risks are the essence of the history of America itself. America was built by a group of Founding Fathers who took risks, who were willing to fall on their faces and get up and start again. It’s the same risk that every great entrepreneur of our country has taken through the years, through hundreds of years of building the economy and building every aspect of the society we live in.
I don’t see StarStruck as a little theatre in a little town in the State of Florida. I see it as symbolic of what America needs most. Self-help by people with passion, integrity, talent, imagination, creativity, inventiveness and a prototypical way for all of us to have a good time, to laugh on the stage, to be involved in the community and to learn simultaneously.
Every show is filled with lessons about life, parables in fairy tales and metaphors in the shows and it is painless, fun and getting dressed up, painting sets, putting on costumes and putting the show together and learning how to work the lights – it’s all part of theatre but it’s also all part of becoming an adult and having interests that are not just to get the best S.A.T.’s.
The great neurologists already are working deeply into brain research on how musical intervals and dance movement and the integration of them and role playing all contribute to better grades, better S.A.T.’s ratings, better interviews, more scholarships at schools and higher incomes from better quality employment and professions because their brains during the period of plasticity and growth are building a wiring system that none of us truly understands but seems to have an incredibly positive effect on all of us – which is permanent!
Although I’ve been your buddy and we know each other for a decade or more, I’m writing to you as the Chairman and CEO of MTI as well. I say that not to demonstrate my credentials but to let you know that I see that in 20 years, MTI has licensed over 100,000 JR. productions in the United States with more than a half million performances by children of musical theatre shows. We track all of those communities. We see how it has impacted and affected the schools, the teachers, their morale, their willingness to keep working with the kids, the teacher’s delight in working with each other. Having a galvanizing force in the community, whether it be the local or regional theatre or a community theatre or combination theatre for children and adults is definitely a world I know and understand. We license in all 50 states. We license in 68 countries of the world. We serve four million Americans who are either in the orchestra, work backstage or go out onto the stage. That does not include all the teachers, administrators and people at all the schools that we are also serving and who benefit.
There are 10,000 community theatres in America. Some communities have no theatre of any kind other than a community theatre.
What you are doing/what you are offering your community and trying to accomplish in extending it/embellishing it/growing it enriches the quality of life of everyone around you.
You are to be applauded. You are to be congratulated. What you are doing is valid from an educator’s point of view, from a humanity point of view and from what you know in your gut is the difference between right and wrong. You know that what you are doing is the right thing.
I’ve seen you at work. I’ve seen the end product. I’ve seen you in the process of developing, changing, honing, interfacing with children of different ages, how compassionate and sensitive you are, how strong you are in guiding them, how professional you are in every sense of the word.
I’m so happy for you and congratulate you on your endeavors, your ongoing growth and wish that there were more of you and that you could be replicated throughout America on a grander scale because although musical theatre has become ubiquitous and is also one of the greatest exports of America with all of its arts (whether it be television, film, theatre, music or dance), what you have done propels the American dream and elevates all of us.
Thank you, dear friends.
Mr. Gershon is the Music Theatre International CEO and, formerly, the Vice Chairman of The Stigwood Group.Stephen Sondheim referred to Mr. Gershon as, ‘a visionary and the brainchild behind making American musical theatre accessible to all ages.’ Having studied music at The Juilliard School and The Art Student League, Mr. Gershon is a graduate of Columbia Law School and practiced music/theatrical law. At the invitation of Preston Robert Tisch, Mr. Gershon joined the Development Committee for New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Mr. Gershon is the current CEO for MTI International.
“Jennifer Jones, you and Peter are Amazing artists, teachers and overall human beings! Tonight's show for Camp Cats was spectacular! I don't know how you guys are doing this, but it is like a magic. In ONLY 3 weeks, putting out such professional show with little kids, BRAVO!!! We are forever in debt to you for giving our daughter and so many children in our community such amazing experiences that going to last a lifetime. I LOVE YOU!”
“Just saw this PAWSITIVELY adorable show at StarStruck featuring some of its tiniest actors! Peter & Jennifer Jones, what you're able to put together in just a few weeks time is just mind blowing, and the sheer joy on the faces of these kids when they perform just solidifies the commitment Paul and I have made to support your efforts. Bravo, Bravo, Bravo!!!”
“Thank you to the StarStruck Family for the wonderful experience (CampCats). You did a great job putting the show together in such a short period of time. And thank you for believing in my daughter!”
“The show (Beauty and the Beast) was the best one I've ever seen at StarStruck. Everything...the sets, the costumes, the choreography and the cast was so professional. I felt as though I was in a theater on Broadway. Congratulations.”
“I attend most of the shows at StarStruck. I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed Pippin. I loved, loved, loved it! The set, costumes and choreography were just stellar. If it wasn't sold out, I would have gone again yesterday. Well done! This community is so blessed to have you and Peter and your heart behind StarStruck!”
“It was just such an incredibly well done production...incredible costumes, incredible music, incredible staging and set, incredible cast and crew incredible choreography incredible performances...made for an Incredible night that we will remember forever.”
“[StarStruck] should be beyond proud of what you accomplished! Amazing portrayal and delivery by all the actors in the show. Some of the performances were beyond their years... Aaron should win an award. I am just amazed how you coordinated all those kids in synchronous harmony. A very difficult show for this age group and they not only got its essence but performed it so well! Bravo Mrs Jones!”
“From the moment we walked in -it was an incredible evening -the idea of cocktails amid the sets -with white lights overhead -was awesome -the kids were so touching -all they said was so from the heart -wow -and Vanessa was over the top -loved your interview spot -was so perfect in every way -I have nothing but admiration for the PROFESSIONAL way you do everything -can't wait to help ! And you were stunning!”
“Great night with Vanessa Williams... everyone had fun and the girls (performing) got the Starstruck message out there. Those little darlings were so full of love and passion for their StarStruck. Love it. Marshay congrats to you for luring Vanessa and putting on such a great event. Jennifer we loved your one on one with Vanessa. Great conversation. We love your shows and your parties. And we are very proud of Miss Kamryn (our granddaughter). You and Peter have changed her life. She is so happy!!!”
“Super Duper Show. (Gypsy) As always Starstruck never disappoints!!! Under the direction of Jennifer Jones, Gypsy was a WOW! Every member of the cast was fabulous. The dance number by Nicky Wood was great. Karin Leone nailed the part of Mama Rose. What a talent. And Tessie Tura (Jennifer Jones) was so much fun. Jennifer never ceases to amaze me. And Peter Jones is musical perfection. We loved it all. Still can't believe we have such good theatre in Stuart! Don't miss this show!"
"Hi Jen, I was having a hard time this past weekend because my teacher passed away. The only thing that really made me feel better was being at Starstruck. I feel so fortunate to be a part of this show, and to work with you and Peter, Val, and everyone. Thank you so much for everything you do, and for making Starstruck the most amazing place. There really is nowhere like it.
"I love you all so much. You've really changed my life and made me believe in myself. Coming to StarStruck has been one of the best things I've ever done."
"To Jennifer Jones- Thank you for everything. I know I've said it over and over, but it's because I truly cannot thank you enough for this opportunity. These past few months, "HELLO, DOLLY!" has been my everything. I'm so sad that it's over, but then I remember how incredible it felt to be in a show that I'm so proud of! I want to thank you for being such an amazing director. I've never worked with anyone who has helped me so much, and allowed me to try new things with my acting. I'm so grateful."
Sydney Wolff, Cast member HELLO DOLLY December 2014
"Emma has been going to StarStruck since age 6. The impact it has had on her confidence has been amazing. When Emma first began Musical Theatre, she was so shy and had difficulty looking up when performing on stage. Fast forward six years and Emma is learning about “on camera” acting and auditioning. Peter, Jen, Chris and Josh have helped Emma so much throughout the last several years and we love them."
"You (Jennifer and Peter) were awesome as usual tonight! Thank you so much for creating a venue where people can share their love in public ... in theatrical, therapeutic ways! You guys are the stuff legends are made of!" ~ K.J. Moran, 2014
"We would like to thank you, Ms. Chris and everyone at StarStruck for your incredible generosity, love and training that you have offered to Danielle. She has truly fallen in love with StarStruck and all of your teachers. She desires to train to seven days a week! She has discovered much about herself in the short time that she has been under your training. Because of your kindness and generosity a little girl has discovered her love for the arts and is willing and wanting to continue training to better herself as a "triple threat". As her parents, we are extremely grateful for the solid foundation, training, and attention that you have given to her." ~ Paige Graves, July 2014
"We thoroughly enjoyed the WILLY WONKA show! What a wonderful production. Thank you so much for including Faith in so many terrific ways during the show. Highlighting her abilities was very appreciated by her family. It was lots of fun to see her enjoying herself so very much during the show. Her split was impressive and the sweeping scene was perfect for her. The Ooompa Loompa part fit her personality to a T. Thank you again for a wonderful summer for Faith!"
"What a great show! Congratulations Jordan on your debut at StarStruck! WILLY WONKA Jr. is one of the best shows I have ever seen. Feels great to have my daughter be a part of the best theatre production company in the country! Feeling Proud."
"You guys make my heart swell, and I'm forever grateful I saw that "got talent" sign so many years ago. Musical theatre is my son's first love. I really want him to continue to grow under the guidance of the absolute best. Thanks for making my child's life better." ~Xxo- Mom of SPRING AWAKENING Cast member, July 2014
"WOW. It (SPRING AWAKENING) was really something special. I already knew that some of the kids were incredible vocalists but the depth and complexity that they were able to bring to their characters at such a young age was amazing. My mom came with me and was overwhelmed by the talent and the professional quality of the production. I've seen him (Kevin Paul) do some awesome work before, but there was a maturity to his performance in this show that is extremely rare at that age. Peter and the band were fantastic, as usual. Congratulations!"
"I can't thank you enough. Ava had the most wonderful first day of WILLY WONKA rehearsal! I was nervous about her not knowing anyone and afraid she wouldn't audition or sing in front of anyone. She had a blast! Can't wait to come back tomorrow and has already begged to go again next year! As a full time working Mom, you have NO idea what that means to me! I'm relieved, excited for her, and can't wait to see the show! Thanks so much! "
"Words can't begin to thank you for all that you have done to make this StarStruck experience especially meaningful and fun for Alexis. Your encouragement and enthusiasm have inspired her, taught her, and filled her with joy. She is happy and dancing around, filling my home with music!!! I believe that Alexis is most comfortable when she is on stage and performing and singing her little heart out! Most Gratefully, Sally Moore"
"Thank you to Jennifer and Peter for all your patience and hard work. My daughter, Kamryn, has done two ShowCases now in Musical Theatre and I can already see growth. She truly loves it! She can hardly wait for Frozen camp. I really appreciate all you do and thank you again. I am so grateful to have a place Kamryn can develop her love of music and drama."
"Thank you StarStruck for all that you have done for our daughter, Siobhan, and me. I've ushered for many of your shows and always enjoy myself so much. I have to say that Thursday night's COMPOSER SERIES show was soo inspirational & fun, I truly loved it!! And ShowCase was great to!! It's easy to see you put your heart into your work & only great things come from that!! Thank so much again!"
"I loved how each and every child had the opportunity to showcase their talents. Every single one of them rose to the occasion and did a fantastic job! Kudos to the staff at StarStruck!!!!"
"This was an amazing night!! It's so wonderful to see how these kids accepted this challenge head on and performed beautifully! Thanks to the whole StarStruck staff for loving these kids and encouraging them to be even more than they thought they could be! It's amazing to see them bloom!"
"They've done it again! The show itself is so great.... many nice messages, and lessons. Of course our friends at StarStruck bring a professional level of casting, direction and production to everything they do... and the talent!!! Kevin Paul, Christina Reagan, Katie Rodgers, Andrew Rodgers, and Becca Suskauer are all phenomenal. Congrats to all involved. PS if you're a first-timer to musical theatre, or considering bringing the family, this is a great show, in just ONE act, for that!" ~ Terry Barber
"The people that I have met at StarStruck have changed my life to an incredulous extent. The chance to work alongside the radiant, humble, and convivial students and teachers at StarStruck has inspired within myself a strive towards being the embodiment of everything I have learned. Professionalism, kindness, a sense of courage, and a willingness to be better will remain ingrained in my heart forever, and I am left with boundless appreciation. The assurance and confidence I have gained and the completeness and wholesomeness of a show production have caused my personal character to develop alongside every other aspect of the performance. It is truly a unique and impeccable sensation to learn equally about yourself and a story simultaneously. The acting classes are simply a testament to my journey as an individual. They have both incorporated a sense of fulfillment, of knowing the human condition, and helping in my knowledge for my passion as a performer. In essence, they have aided in the quest that each person attempts to answer; one must 'know thyself'. And in my time here at StarStruck, I have taken all of the steps toward furthering my goals, my dreams, and my love for this craft. To know all of these aspects to a closer degree, to see a little more of what I love, that itself is worth more than I could ever express." - Justin Wagner
" I saw the Yale a cappella chorus- and for the first time, I bought a bottle of water. The water was sooooo good. I don't like some of the bottled waters- but that bottle was great, and I drink a lot of water! I brought it home and refrigerated it- finished it today- and once again I was aware of how good it was! I missed seeing you- but great- as always- to see Peter. What you have done for this community is beyond anything I ever thought could happen when I moved here in the dark ages of 1966. Love as always, Bryna Potsdam"
"Danke, merci, thank you!!! For a wonderful evening, the after party was totally unexpected. Eine wunderbare show, un merveilleux spectacle, a wonderful show, a wonderful show by beautiful, very talented people. Cheers!"
"I want you to know that my long time friend came up from Palm Beach for our party. She was completely impressed with CABARET and StarStruck. She thought that Peter, the whole cast, and the intimacy of your theatre was better than anything she's seen at the Kravis. I couldn't agree more. Kudos to all of you. Thanks to you, we set a new standard for Martin County."
"We went to last night's performance of CABARET, (February 2014) Fantastic, blew us away!! The cast was amazing. And where else could you see CABARET where the EMcee is so terrific and also plays the music onstage on the piano, nowhere! Great Job! Glad we have StarStruck!" ~ Francis Smith
"John and Rae are absolutely adorable and moving in this play. I've worked with them for almost 20 years, and I can promise you taht this is some of their very best work. Once again, I am blessed work with you both. This show really has become a very special piece of theatre. Peter's fan club grows everyday with his spectacular work, Jonathan Cummings is such a joy to work with and Alix Paige is one incredible Sally Bowles. Lauren Adrian Espitia works me like a Kost pro and those Kit Kat Girls & Boys are to die for. It's so easy to love and feel for each of you on that stage. Thank you, Jennifer Jones, for your love, trust and support."
"StarStruck hosted the Boys & Girls Club Retro Game Show Night and they were amazing! The staff was helpful and professional. The atmosphere is so chic tha ti gives automatic class to your event. Part of our event required using the stage and theatre space. The sound engineer and stage manager ran the evening so well it was like we were rehearsing for weeks! thank you so much and we will be doing this event again!" - Pete Morello
"Thank you StarStruck for being such gracious hosts for the second year for the FAWE Talent Show. Our kids truly loved the experience, your staff was very helpful and we all just had a great time. Hope to see you again next year! "
"I can't thank you enough for all that StarStruck does for our kids and families at Bridges. I smile so much and for so long at the Winter Performance, my face hurt. I could not have wished for anything better. The joy in our children's faces was priceless. Simply put, I have a love affair going on with StarStruck and hope this continues for MANY years." - Sally Padgett
"When I first came to StarStruck, I thought it was awesome because the people were so cool and I love how everyone has a part in everything that happens there. I was used to this huge theatre with over 700 seats and hundreds of people working on one show at a time. Not knowing anything at the time about StarStruck, I didn't think that it could compare to a theatre like that... I was very wrong. There is something about a sort of family dynamic at StarStruck that makes these shows so amazing and powerful. Out of every show that I saw at my previous theatre, I must say that SS shows are better. There is real heart and I feel so lucky to be a part of it."- Janie Willison
"Just had to tell you how much my guests and I enjoyed the show last night. Three guests, two of whom recently relocated to Stuart, joined us. They had never been to StarStruck. They left saying they had never seen a "local" performance that good anyplace and they live part of the year in the DC are. I don't know how you and Peter do it, but keep on doing it!"
"Blaine and I were at the Senior Sendoff show on Saturday night. We enjoyed it immensely- the kids are just fabulous. Peter was wonderful. And Jennifer: your special moment with Cory just touched our hearts. I can see him in 15 years, when he is a wildly renowned performer being asked if there was a special teacher in his life... and that would be you!! WOW!! Also, it was the first time we've had the pleasure of seeing you perform. So great!! God bless you and Peter for your positive impact on "your kids". The world will be a much better place for it!"
"9 TO 5 is a ten, along with its wonderful star and one of the best casts you've ever put together! Your very evident enjoyment being back on stage and the obvious fun you were having stimulated both cast and audience. And Peter played his new conductor role without a hitch. Amazing! Glad you are selling out. You deserve it. Staging and choreography helped make it a perfect evening. Congrats to all!" - Broadway Producer, Bob Eckert
"We love you StarStruck! Thank you for having us attend your performing arts center!"
"Dear Jennifer, I must find you tomorrow to thank you personally - what a great experience this has been for both my boys! It was such a thrill to watch Eli tonight and see him so focused and precise - just what he needed to learn. I'm sure they would love to do another show - a lot of driving but well worth the effort. I'm so impressed and inspired by both you and Peter, and everything you have accomplished. Thanks again for everything. "
"Thank you so much for the kind words. Brittany adores working with you and Peter and we are beyond blessed to not only have you both as her teachers but mentors. Her progress is a true reflection of you as a teacher and a person. We constantly speak about the impact you and Peter have made on Brittany. Thank you for taking the time to not only train her through the shows and classes but her private lessons in preparation for college. Brittany's confidence in her theater work as she approaches the next phase in her life is owed to you and Peter for your constant encouragement and dedication to molding her into the performer she had the potential of being. Love, Donna"
"If you're searching for funny yet thought-provoking theatre performed by a Broadway-caliber cast, don't miss this presentation. COMPANY looks at marriage (and non-marriage) through the eyes of commitment-phobic, perennial bachelor Bobby, his married friends and his three frustrated love interests. Through a series of vignettes with these characters, we explore personal relationships: what we get from them and give up for them, and how we grow because of them. Though the high points of the show are many, one of my favorites was Jennifer Jones' scathingly sizzling "Ladies Who Lunch." This is a true ensemble show, however: everyone had their chance to shine, and they made the most of it. In the interest of full disclosure, I am a longtime Sondheim enthusiast, and have been a contributing writer to the Sondheim Review magazine. Does this make any Sondheim show a slam-dunk with me? Quite the opposite. If aything, I'm more demanding than most- and I thoroughly enjoyed this production. Kudos to StarStruck for extending the reach of locally produced theatre beyond the basics, and doing it incredibly well. I highly recommend this show." ~ Denise Belizar
"I was at the show opening night. I absolutely loved it. The cast sounded amazing and the show was quite funny. I was thoroughly entertained from beginning to end. I laughed, I cried and I was touched. I feel so fortunate that we are able to see a production of this caliber here in Stuart. I highly recommend this show to anyone who appreciates and loves musical theatre." ~ COMPANY, 2008
"I went to see the show last night and I loved every minute of it. It was extremely funny and very professional. I am a theatre buff who has attended many Broadway shows and I truly felt the caliber of this show was comparable to many of the others I've seen. The singing was wonderful and I enjoyed the show thoroughly." ~ COMPANY, 2008
"This past weekend, I viewed COMPANY and found the show extremely entertaining. I commend the cast on their hard work and talent. The show was comical and quite touching. I highly recommend seeing COMPANY!" ~ COMPANY, 2008
"This show is amazing. It is perfectly cast, and from what I have seen with StarStruck and all other productions by local theatres, this is the most talented combined group of performers in one show." ~ COMPANY, 2008
"I am a New York born, Broadway loving woman that has seen so many shows I can barely count. My snowbird time here in Stuart is always such a pleasure, and I enjoy seeing StarStruck shows as much as possible!" ~ COMPANY, 2008
"This show was a special treat for me Friday night since I recently saw the revival on Broadway. I have to admit I loved this production more. The vision made more sense, and though I enjoy instruments on stage, it was so nice to see the show staged differently and back to the root of the meaning. A lost bachelor who thinks he has it all figured out, but has not got a clue." ~
"...Josh Noble does an exceedingly excellent job portraying a man on a search, and has the acting and singing chops to go along with it."
"...Elizabeth Casalini was hysterical as Amy. Peter Jones plays beautifully. Jennifer Jones shines as Joanne (my fav character), and Jonathan Cummings has a gorgeous voice."
"I loved COMPANY in the 70's. I loved the recent revival. And, I love StarStruck's production."
"Jennifer and Peter: We jumped the gun and saw your wonderful show Friday night. If I may be so bold (not that I'm a qualified critic, but isn't everybody?) both Amanda and I thought it was by far and away the best thing we've seen in many a moon. The cast was very professional and the voices were outstanding. Of course Jennifer's number was the highlight for us. Love and blessings to you both, keep up the good work." ~ Amanda and Bob Howard