Thursday, July 30, 2015


It’s getting down to the wire for the Wednesday night “Vocalist” competition at The Media Theatre. The 2015 eliminations have begun after four weeks of wonderfully talented singers entertaining audiences and the top 15 have been announced.

Returning to the Finals during Week Five are Grace Atherholt, 19, York; Chesroleeysia Bobb, 16, Feasterville; Rhiannon Charney, 18, Upper Chichester; Victoria D'Ascenzo, 14, Upper Chichester; Julia Degruchy, 19, Philadelphia; Maggie Kennedy, 18, Malvern; Danielle Lachall, 24, Aston; Paul Mariani III, 15, Ardmore; Jacob Mergott, 16, Swarthmore; Camille Mola, 23, Springfield; Robert Rinaldo, 24, Paoli; Skyler Shields, 16, Downingtown; Emma Smith, 18, Phoenixville; Lauryn Morgan Thomas, 19, Upper Darby; Francesca Venezia, 18, Collegeville. 

An important note: Thomas Dempsey, 16, of Brookhaven was one of the original top 15. However, he is unable to return to the Finals so the next person with the highest score, Francesca Venezia, takes his place. She is not pictured in attached photo which was taken on stage right after the top 15 announcement was made.

The 2015 Vocalist Top 15. Back: Julia Degruchy, Maggie Kennedy, Rhiannon Charney, Skylar Shields, Thomas Dempsey, Jacob Mergott, Robert Rinaldo. Front: Victoria D'Ascenzo, Lauryn Morgan Thomas, Camille Mola, Grace Atherholt, Paul Mariani III, Chesroleeysia Bobb, Emma Smith, and Danielle Lachall.
After four weeks of accumulated judges’ ballot scores and online/ public voting, this was the result heading into week five. Artistic Director Jesse Cline is the one constant judge who works with guest judges each week. The guest judges during week four semi-finals were professional figure skater Ramona Gwynn and Iron Workers Bank VP Brett Whitig. Iron Workers Bank is the title sponsor for the summer event.

Another personality who works with the contestants each week during their Monday night rehearsals plus accompanies them during the show each Wednesday is the accompanist Ben Kapilow. Cline said, “He is one of the most talented accompanists we have had here at the theatre. He has been a great asset to the Vocalist this summer. He has a true understanding as to what this is all about.”

Now that the top 15 are gearing up for the final night on Wednesday August 5, which takes place at 7pm, they have a mandate from Cline. “You must each prepare two songs,” he said. “One of the two songs prepared must be a music theatre piece.”
The purpose behind preparing two songs is that the future remains unseen and each must be ready if they make it into the top five.

The top 15 will sing in Act One on August 5. During intermission, the votes will be tabulated—now all starting with a clean slate (no longer accumulated from the first four weeks). At the top of Act Two, the Top Five will be announced who will sing their second selection starting fresh with new votes once more before a winner is determined.

Each of the Top Five receive a cash prize donated by Iron Workers Bank. First place gets $1500, second place receives $500, and the rest walk away with $250 each.

Who the 2015 “Vocalist” winner will be is anyone’s guess as accumulated votes are no longer happening and each song performance is judged individually now on its own merit. The online and public votes have been wiped clean as well, but are still happening and may assist in moving a contestant into the top five. No public votes will happen once the top five is announced, however.

If you would like to vote for your favorite “Vocalist” contestant, visit or call 610-891-0100. Tickets are available as well, and it’s a great night out for summer entertainment. “Vocalist” finals are Wednesday August 5 at 7pm onstage at The Media Theatre.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


There are ten reasons why you should not miss the ROGER RICKER & FRIENDS August 19 "Good Vibrations" concert at The Media Theatre.

1) It's a night of terrific and fun '60's hits you may remember, performed with three ingredients: Roger Ricker, lots of energy and a keyboard played with strength by Ben Kapilow.

2) You'll be one of the first local audiences to see Brandon Ranalli, who is playing the title role in The Media Theatre's holiday musical "Billy Elliot: The Musical", do his spectacular dancing. You do not want to miss this!

3) Audiences will enjoy the super talents of 10 year old singer/ songwriter Sarah Shoumer. Yes, she's 10 years old and she writes her own songs plus accompanies herself on the keyboard! 

4) Broadway's Kelly Briggs, seen at Media Theatre recently alongside Andrea McArdle in "Hello Dolly" as Vandergelder, will make an appearance dressed to the nines in a meaningful, memorable performance.

5) Paul Mariani III, one of the highlights of the past five years of the summer's annual "Vocalist" contest, reaches into his '60's songbook to sing a classic.

6) Two truly talented teens will sing.  Emily Kinka, who played Mrs. Walker this summer in "The Who's Tommy", will knock your socks off, as will Julia Seeley, who did an electrifying job at two recent cabarets. 

7) The presentation of the first annual Volunteer of The Year Award will be given to Henry O' Neill, a Prospect Park policeman who- when not working his beat- gives his talent to The Media Theatre both onstage and off.

8) The State Street Miracles, the theatre's performance troupe of adults with development disabilities, will again reach into your hearts.

9) The Media Theatre Youth Ensemble will start Halloween early, as they dress as Little Monsters and perform the classic "Monster Mash".

10) Did we mention Roger Ricker? A veteran of over 90 shows at The Media Theatre who has been performing here in Broadway and Children's Series shows since 1995, will headline the show, emcee, and provide you with new arrangements of classic '60's songs like "Up Up And Away", "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do", and "Aquarius". 

There will be other surprises as well, and perhaps a few more special guests not yet known at press time. 

It's gonna be a far-out, groovy happening! You don't want to miss it! Support The Media Theatre and get tickets at or call 610-891-0100. It's the time of year to celebrate The Media Theatre. 
You might even get to dance. 


Want to be a Media Theatre Minion? Sign up for a special Camp Media Theatre one-week session the final week of August. Media Theatre Minions Camp starts August 24 and goes through August 28.

The special new camp session will have the same hours as Camp Media Theatre. Drop-off is in the morning from 8:30am to 9:30pm, with classes in Acting, Music, and Movement (Dance) taking place from 9:30am to 3:30pm Monday through Friday. The camp will close on Friday August 28 at 5:30pm with a special on stage performance for family and friends.

Media Theatre Minions Camp is open to ages 5 and up. It’s just $400 for the entire week camp or $350 if you’ve already been a registered camper at The Media Theatre this summer.

The camp will include songs used in the Minions movies such as “Happy” by Pharrell, “YMCA”, and “Fun, Fun, Fun!”

Campers will create their own scenes in the acting classes at the camp, which do not have to be Minion related…but certainly can be!

Space is limited, so register soon by calling 610-891-0100. 


The contestants arrived at the same call time as they do each Sunday night during the "Vocalist Junior" contest--6:15. While there were a few stragglers here and there, most were on time.

The 31 contestants, ages 7-13, gathered in the theatre. The anticipation of the night's proceedings was palpable. This was the first night eliminations would be made, so six of the talented performers would not be returning for the Semi-Finals of Week Four.

To add some levity to the anxiety each contestant was feeling, Artistic Director Jesse Cline asked the group "How do you spell elimination?" As they giggled and tried to spell the word, the first three completely stumbling on the third syllable (interestingly all thought it was an 'a' instead of an 'i') one boy said loudly "I'm no good at spelling!" 
The 2015 Vocalist Junior contestants prior to eliminations.Click on photo to enlarge.
While spelling may not be their forte, the contestants are certainly good at singing and performing to a decent sized crowd each Sunday night. 

25 of them will be returning to the Semi-Finals. Sadly, at the end of the night, after the first three weeks of judge's votes and public votes were accumulated and tabulated, six Vocalists had to say goodbye.

The third week, it must be said, is a difficult one as each performer tries to pull out all the stops and reaches for the stars with their song. Their hearts were full as they stepped onto the raised platform to belt out numbers like the often-performed "Tomorrow" from Annie, Lady Gaga's "Applause" (rarely done, it must be said), and even The Band Perry's "If I Die Young".
Elaina Fitzgerald, 12, of Wallingford as she sings Lady Gaga's "Applause"
With such a wide variety of music, it's a hard decision, undoubtedly, for the judges to decide who is 'best'. As Cline said to the audience as votes were being tabulated, "This is not about who has the biggest voice or who is the most talented. It's simply about personal opinion, sometimes song choice, and how things land when tabulations are added up. We say it every year and we mean it--by just being here and performing every single contestant is already a winner."

The guest judges were Stacey Barish, Managing Partner for Barish Rosenthal Inc, and John Whitig, the President of Iron Workers Bank (title sponsor).

Returning to the Semi-Finals on Sunday August 2 are: Josh Atkinson, 10, Drexel Hill; Cecilia Bailey, 10, West Chester; Morgan Bitzberger, 13, Thornton; Ava Briglia, 8, Media; Ava Courtney, 10, Garnet Valley; and Larissa Culbertson, 13, Wayne.

Also Jamie Day, 12, Media; Paige Day, 12, Media; Zachary Divito, 9, Aston; Gabrielle Dove, 8, Sharon Hill; Bridget Duffy, 13, Thornton; Cassidy Else, 10, Drexel Hill; Elaina Fitzgerald, 12, Wallingford; Veronica Garrubbo, 12, Berwyn; Lars Halldin, 13, Norristown.

And Ava Kelly, 11, Phoenixville; Skylar Kelly, 11, Phoenixville; Sean Lock, 11, Malvern;  Elizabeth Mercier, 12, Brookhaven; Fiona Moser, 12, Havertown;Sarah Shoumer, 10, Wayne;  JD Triolo, 12, West Chester; Allie Vaccaro, 10, Rose Valley; Brynn Washbourne, 8, Coatesville; Violet Wiley, 9, Woodlyn.

For tickets to "Vocalist Junior", which has its Semi-Final Week Four Sunday August 2 at 7pm, call 610-891-0100 or visit

Friday, July 24, 2015


Disney has a hit on Broadway right now with "Aladdin", but local audiences are able to catch a one hour youth version of the musical at The Media Theatre now through August. It's on Saturdays at 11am and Sundays at Noon each weekend.

"Aladdin Jr" features great songs from the award winning score that you know and love including "Friend Like Me" and "Whole New World" as a humorous wise-cracking Genie played by Denzel Thomas assists Aladdin in winning the heart of Princess Jasmine.
Thomas Lock as Aladdin with Denzel Thomas as The Genie
Humorously mean Jafar (Roger Ricker) with Iago, the Parrot (Carter Weiss)

Princess Jasmine (Veronica Garrubbo) with Aladdin

The Sultan (Henry O' Neill) with Princess Jasmine
The show is perfect for ages 4 and up, with plenty of humor and adventure to keep the audience wide-eyed and attentive. Parents love the show, too, as it brings back memories of the classic animated film.

For tickets call The Media Theatre at 610-891-0100 or visit ($12-15) 

Thursday, July 23, 2015


In an amazing twist following week three of The Media Theatre's Wednesday night "Vocalist" competition, none of the contestants were eliminated heading into the Semi-Finals.

It was a historic first for the contest, currently having its 10th season. 

The past two years has seen no eliminations taking place at all during the first three weeks in order to give each competitor an opportunity to hone their craft in front of a live audience. Three weeks of votes from the guest judges, Artistic Director Jesse Cline, and public ballots are accumulated and added to see who gets cut prior to week four's semi-finals.

But not this summer. All of the contestants will be returning for week four because, as Cline stated during the surprise announcement, "The voting is simply too close to call right now and everyone gets a chance to return for one more week." The Semi-Final scores will be added to the first three weeks, and eliminations will be made prior to the Finals.
The 2015 Vocalist contestants. (Click on pic to enlarge)
All will head into the semi-finals,
which was originally to be culled down to 20.
They are, from left back row:
Abby Pancoast, Rhiannon Charney, Danielle Lachall, Chesroleeysia Bobb, Skylar Shields, Julia Degruchy, Jacob Mergott, Kaelyn Henry, Troy Gartner, Emma Smith, Aiden Everly, Francesca Venezia, Charle Gonzalez, Amelia Dubendorf,
Maggie Kennedy.
Front row: Erin Lynch, Nicolle Riviello, Victoria D'Ascenzo, Hope Smalley, Caroline Adams, Grace Atherholt, Paul Mariani III, Camille Mola, and Robert Rinaldo. 

It was easy to see why the votes are close as week three brought one talented performer after another onto the stage. The show--remember, it is a show for the audience while being a contest for the singers--started off with four pop songs. As the night progressed, however, emotional music theatre filled the air as well as a few country songs.

The "Vocalist" contestants, ages 14-24, are all trying their best and singing their hearts out. Some are in the competition to win, while others admittedly enjoy the performance opportunity. But none of them would turn down the $1500 cash prize which will eventually go to the 2015 "Vocalist" winner.

Cline filled out his ballot as usual, sitting on stage left and chatting with each vocalist after their performance. He was joined by guest judges Eric Golden, from sponsor Iron Workers Bank, and Scott Kinka of Evolve IP. 
The two guest judges during week three--Eric Golden of Iron Workers Bank and Scott Kinka of Evolve IP

 There were a few lighthearted moments as emcee Bill Vargus joyfully moved the night along. A humorously congenial personality, Vargus has a way of knowingly winking at the audience on occasion with clever asides.

The performers this week did their thing in alphabetical order of song title, which meant that Jacob Mergott, 16, of Swarthmore had to wait for over two hours to belt out the classic "You Raise Me Up" tenor anthem. He was certainly a highlight, as was the second act aggressive fun of Danielle Lachalle's "When You're Good To Mama" from the musical Chicago. She's one of the oldest contestants at age 24 and resides in Aston. One of the younger contestants, Upper Chichester’s 14 year old Victoria D’Ascenzo, grabbed the hearts of the audience with her rendition of Carrie Underwood’s “There’s A Place For Us”.

But each performer was a highlight in a truly talent filled "Vocalist" 2015 event, which is why the judges scores are so close at this point and the reason for all of them to be invited back to sing again during the Semi-Finals. 

If you would like to see the Semi-Finals of "Vocalist" live at The Media Theatre and enjoy each contestant prior to eliminations being made for the Finals, get tickets at or call 610-891-0100. It's a historic summer and truly one of the best entertainment choices around on a Wednesday night in Delco. It starts at 7pm, so you have time to enjoy a meal on State Street in Media during Dining Under The Stars prior to the show.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


'THE WHO'S TOMMY' continues at The Media Theatre through August 9 with performances on Friday nights at 7pm; Saturdays at 2pm & 7pm; and Sundays at 3pm.

The production, directed by Jesse Cline, is a hybrid--combining professional theatre with a performance opportunity for teen actors achieving education through stage experience.

Professional actors join the young performers on stage. Garrison Carpenter, seen in The Media Theatre's "Ghost" musical recently, portrays the title role. He'll be in "Billy Elliot: The Musical" over the upcoming holiday season as Billy's older boxing brother Tony.  Adam Hoyak, who appeared on stage with Andrea McArdle in "Hello Dolly", is Captain Walker.

A live rock band is on stage throughout the production, directed by accompanist Christopher Ertelt. Graphic screen design is by Christopher Jordan, assisting to bring the story to life.

'THE WHO'S TOMMY' is the Tony winning musical by Pete Townshend based on the popular rock groups legendary album from the late '60's. It's all about the deaf, mute, and blind boy who becomes a pinball wizard after dealing with major trauma throughout his youth.

Check out the pics below! Tickets are available at or by calling 610-891-0100.

Garrison Carpenter as Tommy with Gigi Furlan as Sally
Garrison Carpenter with Aiden Fox as five year old Tommy
Adam Hoyak as Captain Walker
Cousin Kevin (Owen Mannion) with 10 year old Tommy (Josh Atkinson) and the ensemble
Adam Hoyak with Josh Atkinson and Emily Kinka (Mrs. Walker)
Tommy Can You Hear Me? 


Week two of the "Vocalist Jr" contest at The Media Theatre raised the bar a bit from the first week. There were less nerves and anxieties which allowed each performer to relax a bit and simply have fun on stage as they brought their all to each performance.

It was also a week in which personal statements were showcased through the songs chosen and sung by the 7-13 year old group. 
Wayne's 10 year old singer/ songwriter Sarah Shoumer impressed
with her original song "One Day"
Sarah Shoumer, 10 of Wayne, certainly brought her own unique personal feelings to the stage with an original song she composed herself. Someone of her age writing and performing a song is, in itself, not seen often. The fact that it was actually a good song only added to the memorable two minutes or so she sat serenely at the keyboard and poured her heart into a microphone.

The song she wrote and performed was titled "One Day". Jesse Cline, the theatre's Artistic Director who is the one constant judge throughout the summer competition, was at his usual spot on stage left. He asked Sarah what the song was about and she said, "It's about loving someone so much that you want to have days away from them to make the love stronger. It's about missing someone and realizing how much you love them."

She told Cline that her reason for composing the piece was when her parents left town for awhile and she realized how much she loved them. The audience was entranced by her beautiful pop song, which seemed radio-ready, her ability to compose and play on the keyboard like a pro, and her flowing vocals. It was certainly one of the highlight's of the last few years of "Vocalist Jr".

What the judges will think is anyone's guess, but the audience certainly fell in love with Sarah Shoumer on the night of Sunday, July 19. The two guest judges adding their scores to Cline's were Iron Workers Bank's Barbara Louks and Broadway actor Nicholas Saverine. The scores are added and accumulated for the first three weeks prior to eliminations being made. The public may also get into the voting process with online voting at for $2 per vote. The online public votes are also accumulated for first three weeks of the contest.
It's Sean Lock accompanying himself on ukelele during "Over The Rainbow"

There were other personal statements made throughout the evening from the young singers. Sean Lock, 11 of Malvern, took the well known classic "Over the Rainbow", added his own arrangement to another person's whom he referred to as 'the Hawaiian guy', accompanied himself on ukelele and brought the house down. It was the second appearance for a ukelele within two weeks during "Vocalist Jr"'s 2015 competition...whether this becomes a trend or not remains to be seen.

Morgan Bitzberger adds her own touch to "Everything's Coming Up Roses"

Morgan Bitzberger, 13 of Thornton, did a rather unfamiliar arrangement of the big song from the musical Gypsy, "Everything's Coming Up Roses". The show opens The Media Theatre's 2015-16 Broadway Series season in September. Cline asked Morgan what type of mother Mama Rose is in the musical to which she replied, "One who inspires, but not necessarily in the way you would want her to." Cline told her, "You're putting it very kindly."
The song was "I'm Not That Smart" done well by little Josh Atkinson,
who is very busy at Media Theatre

Drexel Hill's 10 year old singer Josh Atkinson had the costume of the night as he closed the show (which was in backwards alphabetical order). He dressed as if he were in the 20th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee as he performed "I'm Not That Smart", complete with a cape and his spelling bee contestant number dangling from his neck. The song was a humorous and upbeat way to end the night.

Atkinson, it should be noted, was at The Media Theatre all day as Cline mentioned. He arrived at 11am to perform in Aladdin Jr. After lunch at 3pm he played the role of Young Tommy in The Who's Tommy, and then immediately prepared to do week two of "Vocalist Jr" which starts at 7pm each Sunday night, continuing through August 9.

Now, that's quite a personal statement! In fact, when Cline asked Atkinson why he was there all day, the boy simply smiled and said, "Because I love it."

You can't beat that answer and you can't argue the fact that these talented young singers will have quite a future if they keep reaching for their goals while maintaining their unique personalities.

For tickets call The Media Theatre at 610-891-0100 or visit Live streaming is available each week, so you are able to watch wherever you might be. 

The 2015 "Vocalist Junior" contestants on Sunday nights are: Josh Atkinson, 10, Drexel Hill; Cecilia Bailey, 10, West Chester; Morgan Bitzberger, 13, Thornton; Ava Briglia, 8, Media; Shannon Clark, 12, Havertown; Joseph Colasante, 12, Brookhaven; Ava Courtney, 10, Garnet Valley; and Larissa Culbertson, 13, Wayne.
Also Jamie Day, 12, Media; Paige Day, 12, Media; Zachary Divito, 9, Aston; Evelyn Doran, 11, Glenolden; Gabrielle Dove, 8, Sharon Hill; Bridget Duffy, 13, Thornton; Cassidy Else, 10, Drexel Hill; Molly Evanko, 12, West Chester; Elaina Fitzgerald, 12, Wallingford; Veronica Garrubbo, 12, Berwyn; Lars Halldin, 13, Norristown.

And Ava Kelly, 11, Phoenixville; Skylar Kelly, 11, Phoenixville; Sean Lock, 11, Malvern; Elizabeth Mercier, 12, Brookhaven; Fiona Moser, 12, Havertown; Divya Samant, 13, Malvern; Sarah Shoumer, 10, Wayne; Christina Smith, 12, Brookhaven; JD Triolo, 12, West Chester; Allie Vaccaro, 10, Rose Valley; Brynn Washbourne, 8, Coatesville; Violet Wiley, 9, Woodlyn.

Zachary Divito gets into his song "Something Positive"
Violet Wiley sings from Mamma Mia as she opened Week Two show

Veronica Garrubbo
Skylar Kelly
Shannon Clark
Paige Day
Molly Evanko chats with Artistic Director Jesse Cline after her song
Lars Halldin
Larissa Culbertson
Joseph Colasante
JD Triolo
Jamie Day
Gabrielle Dove
Fiona Moser
Evelyn Doran
Elizabeth Mercier
Elaina Fitzgerald
Divya Samant
Christina Smith
Cecilia Bailey
Cassidy Else
Brynne Washbourne
Bridget Duffy
Ava Kelly
Ava Courtney
Ava Briglia
Allie Vaccaro