Monday, February 24, 2014

MEDIA THEATRE'S 2014 GALA: CELEBRATING 20 YEARS!

The Media Theatre marquee was shining on State Street Saturday night, February 22, as it proudly cast its light on honorees, supporters, and patrons who attended the annual Gala celebrating twenty years of professional music theatre.
Executive Director Patrick Ward and Artistic Director Jesse Cline receive acknowledgment from Gala Chair and Media Music Theatre Company board member Kate Jaffe during the 2014 Gala
The event drew hundreds of guests from Delaware County and beyond as this was more than an annual thank you to Media Music Theatre Company (MMTC). This was the night to  celebrate MMTC's twentieth-year after two decades of award-winning theatre and to look forward to a future which will lead to further fulfillment of its mission.For its past two seasons, MMTC is the recipient of 18 Broadway World Awards for "Best of Philadelphia Theatre" including Best Theatre Company.

MMTC's Artistic Director Jesse Cline and Executive Director Patrick Ward were given special acknowledgement during the evening's award ceremony. Kate Jaffe, Gala Chair and MMTC Board member, surprised the two as she went 'off script' presenting them with a plaque commemorating their achievements.

Gwendolyn Haines receives the Walter M. Strine, Sr. Award for Advocacy of the Arts. She is joined onstage by Perry Ecksel, Board Chair (left) and Jeffry Cadorette (right)

Jeffry Cadorette, a professional auctioneer, emceed the evening as he kept the pace up, smoothly commandeering the stage through the awards, auction, and one-night-only concert presentation. Cadorette, of Media Real Estate and Media Rotary, managed it all beautifully creating a nice mix of humor and fundraising during the second portion of the night's event following an eye-popping reception in the theatre's Crystal Room.
The reception was catered by The Rose Tree Restaurant, MMTC's restaurant partner and Cakes and Candies by Mary Ellen. It was a visual extravaganza which only heightened the experience once the taste adventure took place with each delicious bite--a perfect fit for a twentieth anniversary celebration.
Ellen Wineman and her brother Mitchell Frey accept the Education Award on behalf of their mother Rita Frey. With them are Chairman of MMTC Board Perry Ecksel and the evening's emcee Jeffry Cadorette.

Cadorette was joined onstage by MMTC's Chairman of the Board Perry Ecksel for the evening's awards, the first of which was presented to Mrs. Rita Frey. She is the recipient of the first Education Award for her support of the the professional music theatre's mission to provide opportunities for all who have an interest in the performing arts. Most specifically, she is inspired by The State Street Miracles, the theatre's performance troupe of adults with developmental disabilities. Accepting the award on her behalf were her children Mitchell Frey and Ellen Wineman. Ellen extends her mother's generosity by volunteering as a speech therapist for the Miracles throughout the year.

The Walter M. Strine, Sr. Award for Advocacy of the Arts went to Gwendolyn Haines. The West Chester resident has been a regular patron at MMTC productions for most of the past decade due to her grandson's involvement as a student and performer. She stated that she 'believes strongly in the theatre's mission as it inspires and educates, building bridges for future theatregoers and those who will find a second home on its stage'. The Award is named after the entrepreneur who had the vision in the mid-90's to renovate The Media Theatre as a live performing arts venue.
Elisa Matthews performs during the Gala Concert with Scott Anthony accompanying

PECO received the prestigious Community Partnership Award. Ralph Brown, External Affairs Manager for PECO, accepted the honor on their behalf reminding Gala patrons of PECO's involvement with The Media Theatre since 1997. During the past decade, PECO has been the title sponsor of productions such as "Chicago", "Mame", and "The Diary of Anne Frank". PECO has also been a driving force behind the Empowerment Program which allows students to attend productions who may not otherwise be able to enjoy sitting in a theatre as the lights go down and the show begins.

Performers for the evening's concert performance, which could have been titled "The Best Of Twenty Years" featured premier vocalists familiar to MMTC audiences. Lauren Cupples and Elisa Matthews filled the large venue with their silky soprano vocals as they performed songs from past MMTC productions, as did powerful baritone Sean Thompson and the magnificent tenor Brian Giebler. Cupples and Giebler were past winners of "Delco Idol", the summer vocal contest, with Cupples also having performed in several MMTC Broadway Series musicals. Matthews and Thompson are also veterans of MMTC musicals under Jesse Cline's direction.
Elisa Matthews and Lauren Cupples sing 

The educational component of MMTC's mission statement, so much on view during the entire evening as all three of the honorees have been involved with either supporting youth who have come to see productions or who have supported programs for young people to be educated in music theatre, was showcased by young Lexi Gwynn and Austy Hicks. Both young rising stars chose familiar songs from MMTC's upcoming 2014 Broadway Series production "Les Miserables".

Each talented performer was accompanied by Scott Anthony, MMTC's resident Music Director.


Two decades may have come and gone, but all eyes are on the future as MMTC recently announced its 2014-15 Broadway Series season which includes the Philadelphia regional premiere of two musicals: "The Addams Family" and "Ghost". The season will also include "The Miracle Worker", "Hello Dolly" and the previously mentioned "Les Miserables".

For information regarding the upcoming season, children's shows, or classes at The Media Theatre (all produced by MMTC) call 610-891-0100 or visit mediatheatre.org

Monday, February 17, 2014

MEDIA THEATRE TRAVELS BACK IN TIME WITH 'MAGIC TREE HOUSE: DINOSAURS BEFORE DARK' MUSICAL

The Media Theatre will transport young audiences to prehistoric times when they present the new stage adaptation of “Magic Tree House: Dinosaurs Before Dark” weekends in March, April, and May as part of the award-winning Children’s Series.  The family-friendly musical for ages 4 and up follows the adventures of a brother and sister who discover a magical tree house that whisks them away to the land of dinosaurs.

In “Magic Tree House: Dinosaurs Before Dark”, two siblings, Jack and Annie, happen upon a mysterious tree house that is filled with books covering a wide range of subjects.  As they are looking at a book about dinosaurs, Jack idly wishes they could go there – and, magically, the siblings are transported to a strange new world populated with dinosaurs they’ve only read about. With a book by Jenny Laird, music and lyrics by Randy Courts, and additional lyrics by Will Osborne, the show is based on Magic Tree House #1: Dinosaurs Before Dark, the first book in the Magic Tree House series written by Mary Pope Osborne and illustrated by Sal Murdocca.  The series introduces young readers to different cultures and times in history and has inspired a love of reading in countless children all over the world.  The books are number one New York Times bestsellers – more than 100 million copies have been sold in North America alone. 

 
“Magic Tree House: Dinosaurs Before Dark” is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International. All Broadway Series and Children’s Series productions at The Media Theatre are produced by Media Music Theatre Company (MMTC). The Artistic Director for MMTC is Jesse Cline. “We are the first regional theatre in the Philadelphia area to produce this wonderful adaptation of the popular book,” Cline said. “The cast features a mix of adult actors with our New School students, which is an ideal opportunity for young performers.”
KATHERYN COOPER
The roles of Jack and Annie will be shared by two sets of young actors. Katheryn Cooper, of Glen Mills, and Media's  Justin Fitzgerald will portray the siblings for half of the show’s run, with West Chester's Lexi Gwynn and Michael Wells, of Springfield, entertaining audiences an equal amount of performances. All are students of MMTC’s New School, a conservatory-style music theatre education program for youth.
LEXI GWYNN
A group of trees narrates the story, led by MMTC’s Roger Ricker as Otto, the oldest living tree who remembers the time of the dinosaurs. Tim Woodward plays the role of Stump. 

Veronica Garrubbo, Charlee O’ Donnell, and Morgan Perry are the Red Pines. The Hemlocks are Hannah Brady, Theodora Greco, and Raechel McVey with the Saplings being portrayed by Jolie Jaffe and Madison Law. 

The first dinosaur Jack and Annie meet is Henry, a pteranodon, played by Carter Weiss. Next to come along are the humorous Triceratops, portrayed by Josh Atkinson, Tim Haney, and Danielle Lachall.

The Anatosaurus Mothers are Katie Davis, Shiron Denise, and Amber Duncan. Elaina Fitzgerald plays a younger Anatosaurus. 

The Iguanodons are Sean O’ Neill and Mary Kate Vink, with Panoplasaurus being represented by Jillian Donahue and Lauren Poltrock. The Anklosaurus are Jaydin Knight and Rachel McCabe. 

Not to be outdone, the smart Troodons are Holly Deluca, Mary Layne, and Alexsa McKeown. The Protoceratops and Baby Dinosaurs are Samuel Cooper, Miranda Fitzgerald, Sebastian Fitzgerald, and Bridget Henry. 

The show includes audience participation as smaller volunteers will be asked to join the Baby Dinosaurs on stage and the meanest member of the audience will get to play the role of the roaring T-Rex.

Songs include "Friend or Foe?", "When We Woke", and "March of the Dinosaurs".  “Magic Tree House: Dinosaurs Before Dark” is part of Music Theatre International’s KIDS collection. Audiences can have fun while going back in time Saturday mornings at 11am and Sundays at Noon at The Media Theatre, 104 East State Street in Media (directly across from Media Elementary School). The musical plays March 8 through May 25. Call 610-891-0100 for information and tickets, or visit mediatheatre.org
         

Sunday, February 9, 2014

TWO PHILLY PREMIERES AND 'LES MIZ' HIGHLIGHT MEDIA THEATRE'S 2014-15 SEASON

The Media Theatre has a 2014-15 Broadway Series season which mingles the old with the new--contemporary musicals which have a wide-ranging appeal and classics which demonstrate strong staying power. 

Two Philadelphia professional premieres are among the five productions which Media Music Theatre Company (MMTC) will bring to the historic venue. Both titles are fresh from Broadway runs which recently wrapped; MMTC will be the first Actors Equity member theatre company in the Philadelphia/ Wilmington region to produce the shows following their national tours. 
The season starts out September 24 through November 2 with "The Addams Family", based on the bizarre comic strip characters created by Charles Addams. With music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa and a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, the humorous show focusing on the family who adore the macabre will feature two of Philadelphia's well-known talents: Jeff Coon and Jennie Eisenhower. Both Barrymore Award winners, they'll portray Gomez and Morticia in the regional premiere
During the Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas season "Les Miserables" (November 19, 2014 to January 11, 2015) brings its power to Delaware County's only professional music theatre. It's based on Victor Hugo's legendary novel focusing on Jean Valjean, the French peasant who steals a loaf of bread and spends almost two decades in prison. He is tracked down obsessively by police inspector Javert after he breaks his parole. The Tony winner has one iconic anthem after another in the Claude-Michel Schonberg score with lyrics by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel.  While set during the French revolution, the musical reaches beyond the narrative of its story into the hearts of theatre-goers with titles such as "I Dreamed A Dream", "Castle On A Cloud", and "On My Own". 
January 28 to February 15 brings the play "The Miracle Worker", based on the true story of Helen Keller's relationship with her governess Anne Sullivan. Keller was rendered blind, deaf, and mute due to a childhood illness. William Gibson's play highlights the struggles of her family to control her wild behavior and their subsequent hiring of teacher Sullivan in an effort to assist their cause. The moving, triumphant show is a testament to the power of the human spirit. 
"Ghost: The Musical" has its Philadelphia regional premiere March 4-29, 2015. Based on the extremely popular film from 1990 which had fans swooning over Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore (and an Oscar winning performance from Whoopi Goldberg), it's as romantic as a musical can be. With a book by Bruce Joel Rubin and music from the Eurythmics' Dave Stewart, with assistance from Glen Ballard, the show maintains its narrative focus on Sam and Molly, the two lovers who are attacked upon returning home one evening causing Sam's death. An eccentric medium does what she can to help Sam get back in touch with his dear Molly. An interesting combination of our world and the afterlife, "Ghost: The Musical" is a touching tribute to love.

Jerry Herman's "Hello Dolly!" greets the spring April 15-May 17, 2015. Based on Thornton Wilder's "The Merchant Of Yonkers" (later revised to "The Matchmaker"), it won Best Musical, Best Book of A Musical, Best Score, and seven other Tony Awards in 1964. It's all about sassy and brassy Dolly Levi who travels to Yonkers searching for Horace Vandergelder. She stirs up the lives of his niece and his two store clerks as she manipulates the proceedings. Songs include "Before The Parade Passes By", "It Takes A Woman", "Put On Your Sunday Clothes" and the familiar trumpet-laced title tune. 

Media Music Theatre Company is the non-profit producing arm of award-winning professional productions at The Media Theatre. For two decades, the venue has offered both classic and contemporary titles. Subscriptions are available for the 2014-15 Broadway Series season by phone call only until February 17
After President's Day subscriptions will be available online at www.mediatheatre.org. Call 610-891-0100 for information. Jesse Cline is the Artistic Director. 








MEDIA THEATRE HAS BROADWAY PERFORMERS HIGHLIGHTING ANNUAL BENEFIT MARCH 3

The Media Theatre is hosting a special evening  Saturday March 3  entitled “There’s No Place Like Home”, with a one-night-only concert per...