Wednesday, April 30, 2014

WHO'S WHO IN SUNSET BOULEVARD---PATRICK LUDT

The Media Theatre presents the Tony winning musical Sunset Boulevard now through May 18, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s magnificent take on Billy Wilder’s legendary film focusing on the silent film star Norma Desmond as she hopes for a return to screen glory during the advent of the talkies.

Tony nominee Ann Crumb plays Norma Desmond in director Jesse Cline’s production. She is joined by a stellar cast. This Who’s Who series will place the spotlight on several of the other cast members in the show which runs April 16-May 18. The musical is brought to The Media Theatre stage by Media Music Theatre Company.

Patrick Ludt portrays Artie Green in "Sunset Boulevard"
The role of Artie Green is played by Patrick Ludt, a familiar face to Media Theatre audiences due to his stellar performances in shows as Roger in “Rent”, Sir Robin in “Spamalot”, and the title role (roles?) in the demanding “Jekyll and Hyde: The Musical”. His relationship with The Media Theatre and Cline spans almost a decade, also including supporting roles in “My Fair Lady” and “Forever Plaid” as well as taking the helm as director for a successful run of “The Sound of Music” in 2012.

“Artie Green is an assistant director,” Ludt explains. “He is a good friend of Joe Gillis, the young screenwriter who Norma Desmond pulls into her web in Sunset Boulevard. I feel that Artie and I are similar to each other as we both care deeply about our friends and family.”

Ludt feels that Sunset Boulevard’s score has a bit of a different sound to it than Sir Webber’s other musicals. “The interesting thing is the style,” he said. “The show has an underlying jazz feel to it during many of what I refer to as ‘the exposition numbers’.”

“That’s probably due to the time period of the story and the movie it’s based on,” he added. “The movie translates well to being a stage musical because it’s prominently melodramatic. The story and the roles, plus the subject matter of a silent film actress having lost her career…it all lends itself to songs that are grand and sweeping.”

He continues, “This is Webber’s only popular musical based on a movie. Now, in 2014, most Broadway musicals are based on old movies or even more current ones. It used to be that musicals, once popular, became motion pictures, but it’s reversed now. It’s all fine, as long as we hold onto the sanctuary of live performance which is a totally different art than film, which has all the editing and camera angles. When it’s live, you see what is really happening in the moment, which is partly what Norma Desmond was all about.”

How would he have connected with his audience as a silent movie actor in the 1920’s? Ludt slyly says, “Quietly!” After a brief pause, he says, “Actually I would have been very philanthropic and would have given a lot of my time and wealth to the less fortunate. That’s what we should look to, even in this day and age, if we are lucky enough to be in such a position as Norma Desmond was in.”

“I think audiences will love this production of Sunset Boulevard,” Ludt says. “The cast is incredibly talented, giving stellar performances. I’m thrilled to be a part of it and love working with Jesse Cline, a great director. It’s an enjoyable and meaningful experience.”

To get tickets or to find out more regarding The Media Theatre’s Sunset Boulevard (Now through May 18) call 610-891-0100 or visit mediatheatre.org






Tuesday, April 29, 2014

MEDIA THEATRE'S CLINE AND WARD RECEIVE AWARD FROM VETERAN'S MUSEUM

Jesse Cline and Patrick Ward, the Artistic Director and Executive Director of The Media Theatre, received a special acknowledgement during Veteran’s Night for the current production of “Sunset Boulevard”. 

The Outstanding Partnership Award was presented to them by Ed Buffman of The Pennsylvania Veterans Museum, honoring their 12 years of working together with Veteran’s Night presentations at the theatre during which veterans receive a special reception and are recognized for their great service to the country.
Pictured: Media Theatre Artistic Director Jesse Cline and Executive Director Patrick Ward receive a special honor from the Pennsylvania Veterans Museum from Museum Co-Chair Ed Buffman
In accepting the special plaque which will be placed in the theatre’s lobby, Patrick Ward said, “Actually it is we who feel honored to have a partnership with the veterans. Your presence here is a special thing which we look forward to.”

At each Veteran’s Night one combat veteran is placed in the spotlight for his or her service prior to the evening’s musical production. The tradition has been taking place for the past 12 years several times per year during The Media Theatre’s Broadway Series.

 “During our production of “South Pacific” in 2001 it was Patrick and I who had an idea for a special museum in our Crystal Room upstairs which would salute the veterans,” Cline said. “That was the beginning of what is now the Pennsylvania Veterans Museum down the street here in Media. In working with Mayor Bob McMahon, Ed Buffman, and Bud Hendrick we were able to accomplish something special.”

Ed Buffman, in presenting the plaque, said “The veterans must remember that Jesse Cline and Patrick Ward never forgot us. They always remember the veterans.”

The next Veterans Night at The Media Theatre will take place during the run of the comedy musical “The Addams Family”. Veterans and their families are given a special price for a reception and show on a Saturday night when one of the service men or women will be recognized for their service to the country.


“Sunset Boulevard”, the current musical, plays through May 18. For tickets or information call 610-891-0100 or visit mediatheatre.org

Monday, April 28, 2014

WHO'S WHO IN '13, THE MUSICAL'...JACOB TRACEY AND EVELYN SCHIAVONE

The Media Music Theatre Company (MMTC) in Media, PA and The Wilmington Drama League in Wilmington, DE have partnered to bring Jason Robert Brown’s high-energy “13,The Musical” to Media for two weekends May 30 – June 8. 

The production features thirteen talented actors from the Delaware and Pennsylvania areas who have found a unique kinship performing this entertaining and insightful musical together.  In this blog series, the actors share their insights on being a teen, the show, and each other.
Jacob Tracey

Jacob Tracey, one of the oldest actors in the show, plays the ditsy Malcom.  He has been influenced immensely by his experience performing in “13”: “I’m inspired to become more open and to come out of my shell even more into a whole new world.” 

Actress Evelyn Schiavone who struts her stuff as the gossipy Molly agrees: “I relate to it a lot because I’m 13, and I feel all the same emotions as all of the characters in the story.”
Evelyn Schiavone

And what a story! The musical chronicles the trials and tribulations of 13 thirteen-year-olds as they face the realities of friendship, faith and family while finding their place in the world.  There’s romance, gossip, intrigue, heartbreak and even a couple of fights – all choreographed to an excellent Jason Robert Brown score. 

Being on the verge of “teendom” has its challenges and Tracey, who has been at it longer than the role he plays, faces them daily: “Being a teenager in today’s world is hard.  We have to live up to the expectations of our peers, parents and teachers.  Some of us strive and push ourselves to the limit while others don’t work at all.” 

And it’s that pressure to be perfect that Schiavone, one of the youngest of the cast, finds most difficult:  “I’ve been trying to make the best of the situations I’m in.  Parents should be way more understanding of teens.”

And that’s what makes this group of teens identify with each other.  After rehearsals began for the Wilmington production back in November they’ve relied on and supported each other as performers and friends.  

And what does Jacob Tracey- who is studying at Cab Calloway School of the Arts in DE -take away most from the experience? “Follow what you want to do, not what others want you to do.”
With an unforgettable rock score from Tony Award-winning composer Jason Robert Brown, the writer of Broadway’s current “Bridges of Madison County” as well as “Parade” and “The Last Five Years” among others, “13” is a 
poignant musical for all ages about discovering that cool is where you find it, and sometimes where you least expect it.  

The show boasts a Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Lyrics and tells the story of Evan Goldman, who is having a great life…until his parents get divorced and he’s forced to move with his Mom from NYC to Indiana!  The show features a cast of teens portraying 13-year-old characters dealing with the perils of middle school. This high-energy show was Broadway’s first all-teenage cast, and has many humorous and touching moments.


For tickets to 13 The Musical at The Media Theatre May 30 – June 8, call 610-891-0100 or visit mediatheatre.org.







Wednesday, April 23, 2014

SUNSET BOULEVARD RECEIVES RAVE REVIEWS FROM PHILLY CRITICS

The current production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical "Sunset Boulevard", directed by Jesse Cline and featuring Tony nominee Ann Crumb as Norma Desmond, is receiving critical acclaim from Philadelphia theatre critics.

The show, based on Billy Wilder's classic film noir, is all about a silent screen star desperate for a return to film glory. She believes a young screenwriter, Joe Gillis (Sean Thompson) is her ticket to recapturing her glory days. The score includes several show-stopping numbers including Norma's "With One Look" and "It's As If We Never Said Goodbye".



Neal Zoren, a theatre critic in the Philadelphia region who travels to Broadway and abroad frequently to London's West End, said "Ann Crumb's Norma Desmond is one of the finest and most exhilarating performances you will ever see--It's a work of art."
Of Cline's direction, he says the production highlight's Cline's "deftness as a director of the complex". 
You may read his entire review here: READ NEAL ZOREN'S REVIEW HERE

Dante Bevilacqua, of TICKET Magazine, says the show is a "masterstroke of artistic creativity". READ TICKET REVIEW HERE

Pati Buehler, critic for Broadway World Philadelphia, stated that "Crumb attacks the stage with attention-grabbing authority" and praises the director, orchestra, and set design as well. READ BROADWAY WORLD REVIEW HERE


Christina Perryman, of the DelcoNewsNetwork, says "Ann Crumb is riveting." She goes onto say that "Sean Thompson is charismatic as Joe". READ DELCONEWS REVIEW HERE


Henrik Eger, freelance theatre critic, posted his review here: READ ON PHINDIE

SUNSET BOULEVARD is at The Media Theatre through May 18. Call 610-891-0100 or visit mediatheatre.org 


Monday, April 21, 2014

MEDIA THEATRE RECEIVES PROCLAMATION FROM US SENATE FOR 20TH ANNIVERSARY

The Media Theatre is currently celebrating its 20th Anniversary Season.

After receiving congratulations from the Pennsylvania State Senate, we now have received an official proclamation from the US SENATE, signed by Senator Pat Toomey.

We are very appreciative of all of the support!


The proclamation reads:
                                       
"Whereas, The Media Theatre for the Performing Arts celebrated its twentieth anniversary at its annual gala on February 22, 2014; and,

Whereas, The theatre was constructed in 1927 by Samuel Dembow as Media's third and largest movie theatre. It served for nearly 75 years as a movie palace displaying the magic of motion pictures to generations of Media residents. The theatre was also the site for vaudeville shows, Media High School graduations and community events; and,

Whereas, Walter Strine, Sr. purchased the theatre and converted it into the Media Theatre for the Performing Arts in 1994 to honor his wife, Elizabeth, and her lifelong love of music; and,

Whereas, in 2000 the Society of the Performing Arts of the Media Theatre, a non-profit organization, took over management of the theatre and established the Media Theatre we know today; and,

Whereas, the mission of the Media Theatre is to promote and nurture the imagination, diversity and joy unique to music theatre by the production of new and classic works; to herald music theatre to young people as an art form that is relevant to their lives and to foster and understanding by them that it is indigenous to their cultural heritage. Lauded as the only professional theatre in Delaware County, the Media Theatre for the Performing Arts produces five Broadway musicals and a children's series each year, and it is home to the Media Music Theatre Company; and,

Whereas, The Media Theatre for the Performing Arts was the recipient of the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce's 2006 Award for Economic and Community Development, several Readers Poll Awards for "Best Live Theatre", various Barrymore Award Nominations and a 2004 Barrymore Award for "The Wild Party"; and,

Now, therefore, Senator Pat Toomey proudly recognizes The Media Theatre for the Performing Arts on the occasion of its twentieth anniversary. Congratulations and Best Wishes.

Signed by Pat Toomey, U.S. Senator

Saturday, April 19, 2014

FIRST LOOK...PICS FROM MEDIA THEATRE'S 'SUNSET BOULEVARD'

The Media Theatre's production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's take on "Sunset Boulevard", the classic 1950 film noir, is on now through May 18. 
Broadway's Tony nominee Ann Crumb (nominated for "Anna Karenina") portrays Norma Desmond, the former silent film star desperate for a return to motion picture glory. She has also been seen on The Great White Way in "Aspects of Love", "Chess", "Les Miserables", and more.

First three shots below taken by Mark Jordan; fourth shot pre-production by Maura McConnell. 
ANN CRUMB as NORMA DESMOND

Ann Crumb with Sean Thompson as Joe 
Philadelphia's Sean Thompson, seen on The Media Theatre stage in "Forever Plaid", "Oliver!" and "Dr. Dolittle", plays Joe Gillis, a young screenwriter drawn into Norma's web of manipulation.

The show is directed by Jesse Cline, winner of 2013's Broadway World Award for Best Director of a Musical in Philadelphia for "Mame".
For tickets call 610-891-0100 or visit mediatheatre.org.

Monday, April 14, 2014

WHO'S WHO IN MEDIA'S SUNSET BOULEVARD: NICHOLAS SAVERINE

The Media Theatre presents the Tony winning musical Sunset Boulevard April 16-May 18, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s magnificent take on Billy Wilder’s legendary film focusing on the silent film star Norma Desmond as she hopes for a return to screen glory during the advent of the talkies.

Tony nominee Ann Crumb plays Norma Desmond in director Jesse Cline’s production. She is joined by a stellar cast. This Who’s Who series will place the spotlight on several of the other cast members in the show which runs April 16-May 18. The musical is brought to The Media Theatre stage by Media Music Theatre Company.

The role of Max- Norma Desmond’s butler, protector, and enabler of her delusional world-is played by Broadway veteran Nicholas Saverine. He was seen on The Great White Way in two of the world’s most popular musicals: Les Miserables and The Phantom of The Opera. He has a long relationship with Les Miz, having also appeared in its National Tour. Other National Tours he has performed include Pirates of Penzance, The Student Prince, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Internationally he toured in Phantom and Dance of The Vampire.

At regional theatres across the USA, Saverine’s long list of credits includes Man of La Mancha, Footloose, Children of Eden, The Most Happy Fella, The Music Man, and the Yeston & Kopit version of Phantom to name a few.  His silky tenor has been delighting audiences of opera as well in titles such as La Boheme, Madame Butterfly, Maria Stuarda, and the American premieres of Die Soldaten and Ivanhoe in Boston. He premiered Nixon in China throughout Europe, while local audiences have seen him previously at The Media Theatre in Oliver! and in productions at every major venue in Philadelphia as well as with The Philly Pops.

Of the role of Max, Saverine says “Max is very devoted to Norma Desmond, almost to a fault. She has relied on him repeatedly over the years, until she depends on him for everything.”

Saverine has a long relationship with Lloyd Webber productions. “This is one of only two of his musicals based on a movie,” he explained. “Phantom of the Opera is based partly on the Lon Chaney silent film. Sunset Boulevard is also his most cinematic score. It’s extremely dramatic, with relationships that are very operatic in nature. The situations are so grand they demand more then just dialogue to relay themselves.”

As a teacher of voice for the Music Theatre Track of Rowan University’s theatre department, Saverine discusses his take on the world of music theatre in today’s fast-paced society as opposed to decades earlier. “The fusion of the elements—story telling, music, and dance—has become inseparable,” he says. “The songs and dances are integral to the story and not just superfluous pieces to ‘take up space’. More and more musicals are being through-composed, with little or no dialogue.”

He also mentioned the advances in technology. “Technically, productions have exploded!” he said. “They work to create more special effects. All of this is awesome but we must never lose the ability to tell the story. The meat of a piece should be as clear and powerful on a bare stage as with big budget production values.”

He feels the revival of Sunset Boulevard at The Media Theatre is a must-see. “Audiences should see this not only because it is a fantastic production but because the primary focus is placed on the performers in telling the story,” Saverine stated. “Our director, Jesse Cline, has wrung every drop of drama and emotion from the score, capturing the atmosphere of the original film. If you know the film or not you will be captivated by the story of these driven and passionate characters.”
To get tickets or to find out more regarding The Media Theatre’s Sunset Boulevard (April 16-May 18), call 610-891-0100 or visit mediatheatre.org









Thursday, April 10, 2014

WHO'S WHO IN MEDIA'S SUNSET BOULEVARD: KELLY BRIGGS

The Media Theatre presents the Tony winning musical Sunset Boulevard April 16-May 18. It's Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s take on Billy Wilder’s legendary film focusing on the silent film star Norma Desmond as she hopes for a return to screen glory during the advent of the talkies.

Tony nominee Ann Crumb plays Norma Desmond in director Jesse Cline’s production. She is joined by a stellar cast. This Who’s Who series will place the spotlight on several of the other cast members in the show. The musical is brought to The Media Theatre stage by Media Music Theatre Company.

Kelly Briggs plays the role of Cecil B. Demille, the legendary film director who Desmond approaches in order to fulfill her return to glory. He was last seen on The Media Theatre stage as Mr. Babcock alongside Andrea McArdle in 2013’s Mame also directed by Cline. That production traveled to the renowned Bucks County Playhouse and won several Broadway World Awards for “Best of Philadelphia Theatre” including an honor for Briggs as Best Supporting Actor in a Musical.

This is not Briggs’ first Webber musical, as he ventured into the world of Cats for three years on Broadway and on tour. “It is great doing a musical of Sir Webber’s once again,” he said. “After doing Cats I did the National Tour, playing both Old Deuteronomy and the track of Bustopher Jones/ Gus/ Growltiger.”

Briggs had been a Broadway veteran by that time. “Cats was after my 7 and a half years in the Broadway and National Companies of Les Miserables as the Bishop of Digne, while covering the roles of Valjean and Thenardier,” he explained. “I’ve been blessed in so many ways. Receiving the honor from Broadway World for Mame last year meant so much, as well as the New Jersey Broadway World Award last year for “Best Cabaret/ Musical Performance”. And fortunately I was  able to return to the role of Thenardier this past summer in Surflight’s production of Les Miserables.



He continued, “And now onto Media’s production of Sunset Boulevard, which has an amazing group of actors.  Jesse Cline’s vision of the story is unlike any I have seen. Audiences will definitely walk away from this production understanding why Media Music Theatre Company has received so many awards and accolades during its two decades of music theatre.”

As for his view of the musical itself, Briggs finds that “There are many similarities with Sunset Boulevard and the other legendary works of Sir Webber. The musical themes that each character carries are prevalent in most of his works, which assist in causing his compositions to be so memorable.”

To those who are familiar with the classic Billy Wilder film of which Sunset Boulevard is based, Briggs explains “It is great material for a musical. The dramatic narrative of a silent movie star whose life was thrown into chaos by the advent of the talkies, the time period, the characters—it’s so perfect to tell with music.”

Just as film has changed over the decades due to the technology which was the thorn in Norma Desmond’s career, the world of live theatre has progressed as well. To that, Briggs says “Musical theatre has changed tremendously through the years. It is the one performing art that we Americans created. At first it was the melding of Drama, Opera, and Ballet. The story was strengthened through the song and dance. Now there are different forms of the musical. But I do feel there are writers out there who are getting back to the classic original form of this art.”

Sunset Boulevard reminds us of the classic, original form of the art of motion pictures while it also melds a classic music theatre narrative with Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s unique style which, ironically, created a sub-genre of its own to the world of Broadway from the late ‘70’s to the ‘90’s. It is this blending of the past with the present which will, forever, give life to Norma Desmond’s world.

To see Tony nominee Ann Crumb, Kelly Briggs, and the entire cast in director Jesse Cline’s production of Sunset Boulevard April 16-May 18, call 610-891-0100 or visit mediatheatre.org














Wednesday, April 9, 2014

UNIQUE THEATRE PARTNERSHIP BRINGS '13: THE MUSICAL" TO THE MEDIA THEATRE THIS SPRING

The Media Music Theatre Company (MMTC) in Media, PA and The Wilmington Drama League in Wilmington, DE have partnered to bring Jason Robert Brown’s high-energy “13,The Musical” to Media for two weekends May 30 – June 8. 
This unique arrangement was born after executives from the only professional music theatre in Delaware County attended a performance in Wilmington to support one of its talented New School students, Gianni Palmarini. The 13-year-old singer, actor and former “Delco Idol Junior” winner (Media Theatre’s showcase for youth and student performers recently renamed “The Vocalist”), Palmarini was cast in the role of the conflicted Jewish teen Evan Goldman. 

Impressed by the production and the stellar young talent in the show, Media’s Artistic Director Jesse Cline decided Wilmington’s “13” had to be seen by a wider audience.
Cline feels strongly that the partnership exemplifies its mission to support and showcase young talent.  “We at Media Music Theatre Company have an obligation to provide opportunities not just for young actors, but for audiences to see what these youth are really all about,” he explained. “The musical “13”, as presented by Wilmington Drama League, was very much similar in style to the type of work we do with teens. It’s all about who they are at this moment in time with no pretension and no filter. It’s a great fit for our stage at The Media Theatre.”

Media Music Theatre Company produces the Broadway Series at The Media Theatre, as well as each of its educational programs and youth productions. “The work done by these young actors in “13” is a testament to the high quality professional training they are receiving both at the Drama League and our training program at The Media Theatre.”

The Wilmington Drama League’s Director Nick D’Argenio and his production team crafted a talented cast of teens from Delaware and Pennsylvania who played to full houses over its two-week run, and he too feels the show deserves to continue: “I knew we had something special with these kids and I’m honored that The Media Theatre artistic staff was so touched by our production of “13” that they wanted to form this partnership.”

Rob Tietze, President of the Drama League, agrees: “This is an exciting opportunity on a number of levels - this unique collaboration between the Wilmington Drama League and Media Theater helps provide a blueprint for how theaters can work together to expand and support the performing arts in our region."

In fact Wilmington’s full production team including D’Argenio as well as Music Director Anthony Vitalo, Choreographer Tommy Fisher-Klein and Production Manager Kathy Buterbaugh will be resuming their roles for Media’s production. 

The cast, along with Media Theatre’s Gianni Palmarini include: Amanda DeFilippis, Branden Fletcher, Karalyn Joseph, Katie Loftus, Kyra McKillip, Wyatt McManus, Lindie Moe, Nolan Moss, Felipe Rocha, Will Rotsch, Evelyn Schiavone and Jacob Tracey.

With an unforgettable rock score from Tony Award-winning composer Jason Robert Brown, the writer of Broadway’s current “Bridges of Madison County” as well as “Parade” and “The Last Five Years” among others, “13” is a poignant musical for all ages about discovering that cool is where you find it, and sometimes where you least expect it.  The show boasts a Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Lyrics and tells the story of Evan Goldman, who is having a great life…until his parents get divorced and he’s forced to move with his Mom from NYC to Indiana!  The show features a cast of teens portraying 13-year-old characters dealing with the perils of middle school. This high-energy show was Broadway’s first all-teenage cast, and has many humorous and touching moments.

For tickets to 13 The Musical at The Media Theatre May 30 – June 8, call 610-891-0100 or visit mediatheatre.org.



Tuesday, April 8, 2014

WHO'S WHO IN MEDIA'S SUNSET BOULEVARD: SEAN THOMPSON

This is the second in our special Who’s Who in The Media Theatre’s production of Sunset Boulevard series. With each of these features, we meet a cast member who assists director Jesse Cline in bringing this Tony winning musical to the stage. It is a Philadelphia professional premiere starring Tony nominee Ann Crumb as Norma Desmond, the silent screen star aching for a return to motion picture glory. It’s based on Billy Wilder’s legendary cinematic classic with a memorable score from Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Sean Thompson plays the role of Joe Gillis. Sean has been seen several times on The Media Theatre stage. Last season he was one of the four young men in the popular production “Forever Plaid” and was also seen in “Dr. Dolittle”.

Sean Thompson who portrays the role of Joe Gillis 


All in all, Thompson has done nearly 40 professional productions in regional theatres in Pennsylvania, New York, Kansas, Missouri, California, and the Virginia/ DC area. He has appeared as Lancelot in Camelot, Curly in Oklahoma, Willy in I Married An Angel, and Cinderella’s Prince in Into The Woods. He has appeared at the Tony winning Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA where he also performed in Sunset Boulevard as Artie Green.

In The Media Theatre’s production, Thompson is playing the leading role of Joe Gillis. “He’s the struggling screenwriter whom Norma Desmond draws close into her own world,” he explained. “He began to crave money after a bit of success so his creativity—and hence his artistry and career—began to suffer. So the offer Norma gives him is initially appealing.”

Thompson enjoys playing the role made famous by William Holden in the 1950 film and sees a similarity between himself and Joe Gillis. “I, like Joe, attempt to pay my bills and get on in life by practicing my art as a career,” he said. “That’s a challenging task!”

Of Webber’s take on the film noir classic, he says, “The score was clearly written with the music of old Hollywood movies in mind, so it’s grand, sweeping, and quite majestic. Webber is a master at writing his scores specifically for the world of the show. One thinks of the soaring, operatic quality of The Phantom of The Opera.”

Time Magazine actually refers to Webber’s Sunset Boulevard work as his ‘most artfully constructed score’. “It’s a perfect story for a musical,” Thompson said. “The psyches are deep, the emotions are high, and the relationships themselves seem to sing.”

As the world of cinema has transformed itself over the years, the same has been happening with the world of theatre. Thompson’s take on it is that “Musical theatre moved away from the standard 'book' of shows like Oklahoma! and, say, Cabaret.  It was morphed into a sung-through, operetta look-a-like in the 80s and 90s with shows like Miss Saigon and The Phantom of the Opera.  We need to keep in mind that strong books are not only nice perks to a show, they are essential. As the masterful Stephen Sondheim teaches, the music must serve the story.  The Broadway musical version of the Irish movie Once has achieved it: a beautiful, touching score accompanying a touching, well-written, stunning book.”

“This is why Sunset Boulevard works as a musical,” he said. “It’s got a strong book based on the film with each song moving the story forward as the narrative flows to its dramatic climax as Norma gets ‘ready for her close up’.”

If he had been a silent film star, Thompson explains that he would have connected with his audiences using his physical characteristics, of course. “It would have been with my EYES! And with my facial hair, I think,” he said. “Facial hair on a man says a lot about his role. Is he a sinister villain with a thin, dark goatee? Or a young hopeful romantic whose face is bright and clean-shaven?”

Thompson sums it up by saying “Sunset Boulevard is a unique story.  It's a backstage look at the medium we admire so much: the movies.
 It's about what can happen when fame fades. But it’s fun to behold, as it has fantastic music and dynamic performers whose portrayals are guaranteed to stick in an audience's mind for some time to come.”


The show is produced by Media Music Theatre Company, the non-profit professional music theatre organization which produces the Broadway Series of musicals each season at The Media Theatre. It received Broadway World’s “Best Theatre Company of Philadelphia” honor in 2012 and 2013.

For tickets to Sunset Boulevard, which runs April 16-May 18, visit mediatheatre.org or call 610-891-0100.







Thursday, April 3, 2014

MEDIA THEATRE ASSISTS IN LOCAL HIGH SCHOOL MOCK CRASH EVENTS

For the past several years, The Media Theatre has been a part of Mock Crash events at local high schools. These events provide insight for students into the dangers of driving under the influence and texting while driving among other issues we tend to bring upon ourselves.

The Media Theatre provides the make-up for the students involved in the events, as well as two or three adult actors for each Mock Crash. The actors portray grieving family members or accident victims.
The Media Theatre provides make-up, make-up artists, and volunteer actors who portray grieving family members in local Mock Crash events at area high schools. Pictured, back row, are the theatre's Tim Haney (make-up artist) and the two actresses Stacey Loehrs and Michell DeLuca. Stacey's son is involved at The Media Theatre and Michell is the costume designer for its Children's Series. They are pictured here with Strath Haven High School students. 

The Delaware County Daily Times, in an article published April 3, 2014, has more information regarding the events organized by Main Line Health and sponsored by State Farm Insurance. READ DAILY TIMES ARTICLE HERE

The Media Theatre's website is mediatheatre.org

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Media Theatre Recognized By Pennsylvania State Senate for 20 Years of Professional Music Theatre

The Pennsylvania State Senate, in a proclamation from Senator Dominic Pileggi and Senator Edwin B. Erickson, recognized The Media Theatre for the momentous occasion of its twentieth anniversary in producing professional Broadway musicals.


The proclamation reads, in part, "The Senate of Pennsylvania takes great pride in recognizing those organizations which, through adherence to the highest standards of service, contribute in a meaningful way toward a better and more productive society."

It goes on to mention a brief history of The Media Theatre, followed by "Lauded as the only professional theatre in Delaware County, The Media Theatre for the Performing Arts produces five Broadway Series musicals and a children's series each year, and it is home to The Media Music Theatre Company."

A mention is given to the theatre's School of The Theatre, its outreach programs to the community, and its economic impact on the region. 

Further, a wish is given for future success from The Pennsylvania State Senate.

Artistic Director Jesse Cline and Executive Director Patrick Ward said in a joint statement that "We are extremely honored to receive this proclamation and recognition."

The Media Theatre is becoming even more nationally recognized as of the past few months, with 
several actors who have appeared on its stage appearing on Broadway including Andy Karl as the lead in "Rocky: The Musical" and Jeremy Greenbaum as Davey in "Newsies", along with its own students Beada and Dan Briglia. Beada recently performed in Broadway's "A Christmas Story" while her brother Dan was traveling the East Coast in "The Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular". 

A production first produced professionally at The Media Theatre, Josh Rivedal's one-man show "The Gospel According to Josh", will be staged off-Broadway this spring at The Player's Theatre in Manhattan. Josh also appeared in several Media Theatre productions.

Along with these actors, Audra McLaughlin of Glenolden who was one of The Media Theatre's former "Delco Idol" contestants--in the summer singing contest now titled "The Vocalist"--is doing very well on NBC's Emmy winning vocal competition "The Voice". 

The current production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Sunset Boulevard" starring Tony nominee Ann Crumb is playing April 16-May 18. For tickets or information call 610-891-0100 or visit mediatheatre.org


Click on the image below to read the Senate's proclamation. 






Tuesday, April 1, 2014

WHO'S WHO IN MEDIA THEATRE'S 'SUNSET BOULEVARD': ELISA MATTHEWS

The Media Theatre presents the Tony winning musical Sunset Boulevard, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s magnificent take on Billy Wilder’s legendary film focusing on the silent film star Norma Desmond as she hopes for a return to screen glory during the advent of the talkies.

Tony nominee Ann Crumb plays Norma Desmond in director Jesse Cline’s production. She is joined by a stellar cast. This Who’s Who series will place the spotlight on each actor in the show which runs April 16-May 18.
Elisa Matthews portrays the role of Betty Schaeffer. Elisa is well known to Media Theatre audiences, having portrayed a few of the most iconic roles ever written for musical theatre actresses. She appeared in Cline’s production of My Fair Lady as Eliza Dolittle, and appeared in the beloved role of Maria von Trapp in Media’s The Sound of Music. She was Grace in Annie and took on the dramatic portrayal of Emma in Jekyll and Hyde: The Musical. All of these performances, including her time as Betty in Sunset Boulevard, give her the opportunity to showcase her vocals which the Philadelphia Inquirer referred to as ‘wonderfully song-bird’ style soprano.

The song bird is a two-time Barrymore award nominee, and her recent performances include Lily in The Secret Garden (11thHour Theatre), Mrs Anderssen in A Little Night Music (Arden Theatre), and Meg in Little Women (Bristol Riverside Theatre).  She studied at Penn State University and teaches voice when not performing.

Elisa says the role of Betty is “A movie script reader and dreams of writing a great movie herself.” Having recently had her first child, Elisa continues by saying “Betty is driven but also wants a family life which I can relate to.”

Sunset Boulevard has what Time Magazine refers to as “Webber’s most artfully constructed score.” Elisa says that “It’s based on the classic film noir by Billy Wilder and has an operatic quality. Ann Crumb will be dazzling and it’s worth the trip for audiences to see what she does with the role. Working with her gives all of us much inspiration.”

If she would have been a silent film star, Elisa explains that she would, as Norma does, “use my face, eyes, and body language to connect with the audience”. Of course this production of Sunset Boulevard is not on the screen, although it will use screen graphics to emphasize certain elements of the narrative and reflect, perhaps, how Norma Desmond sees the world around her. This use of technology is a reminder that, like the world of film, theatre is also constantly evolving as it moves toward the future and finds a way to continue to connect with an ever-changing audience. To that extent, Elisa reminds us that we ‘need to teach young people about the art form so they will become our future performers and audience’.

With her mind on the future as a young mother and actress, Elisa understands what Norma Desmond could not quite come to grips with—that, as time moves forward, we must remember what caused us to fall in love with films and Broadway musicals as we continue to improve them. Sunset Boulevard is a musical which provides a glimpse into the past while building a bridge to what may come our way if we just remember.

The show is produced by Media Music Theatre Company, the non-profit professional music theatre organization which produces the Broadway Series of musicals each season at The Media Theatre. It received Broadway World’s “Best Theatre Company of Philadelphia” honor in 2012 and 2013.

For tickets to Sunset Boulevard, which runs April 16-May 18, visit mediatheatre.org or call 610-891-0100.