Directing his way through community theater

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By Lisa K. Berton


This good-natured, New Jersey native and resident, is an RV salesman by day and a community theater director by night. With his wife Erin's love and support, John Blackwell pours his blood, sweat, and tears into helping to create multi-nomination award shows. John himself is currently nominated for a Perry Award from the New Jersey Association of Community Theaters for directing Hair for The Road Company.

John's interest in theater began in sixth grade when he performed as a singing cowboy. In high school, he took part in one production. At twenty-three, he took his first acting class at a local community college and has been auditioning for community theater ever since.

John's acting credits include:

Jesus Christ Superstar (5  times), Fiddler on the Roof (3 times), South Pacific, West Side Story, The Fantasticks, M*A*S*H, Gypsy ( 1st community theater show), Li'l Abner, The Odd Couple, 1776, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Scrooge, Cabaret, Follies, 1940's Radio Hour, Hair, and Nunsense


On the set of "A Soldier's Play"
On the set of "A Soldier's Play"
In his own words
What inspired you to direct?
I wanted to be able to paint the picture.
What was the first show you directed and how was the experience?
The Odd Couple. I was anxious,  crazy, on edge. I yelled a lot. Erin was my stage manager and she had to calm me down quite a few times. I've matured since then. I had many talented people on that show and they taught me many lessons.
What do you enjoy most about directing?
Seeing my vision come alive.
What goes into putting a show together, from start to finish?
Sweat, hard work and quite a bit of magic.
Which theaters are you currently involved with and how often do you volunteer for each?
The Grand Theater in Williamstown,  NJ. I direct there once a year. ( It's where Erin and I got married) Village Playbox in Haddon Heights,  NJ. I also do one show a year there.
Who is your favorite director?
I like Ron Howard
Who is your favorite actor?
Probably [Robert] Dinero,  Dustin Hoffman, Kelsey Grammar.
Who is your personal inspiration?
Two people that have mentored me in the theater. They are Pat Apoldite and Suzanne Jones.
Erin and John in Jesus Christ Superstar
Erin and John in Jesus Christ Superstar
John's next shows are Noises Off  at Village Playbox and
Beyond Therapy at The Grand Theatre.

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