Wednesday, August 31, 2016


The borough of Media, just minutes from Center City Philadelphia, is fortunate to have a thriving professional regional music theatre company housed in its historic Media Theatre. Known as Media Music Theatre Company, the not-for-profit sees as one of its greatest achievements a focus on education.

Producing five major professional productions per season, The Media Theatre has become synonymous with Media Music Theatre Company. The productions often have opportunities for its students to perform alongside Actors Equity Association members, gaining insight and experience as they portray important roles within the show's structure. 
Gianni Palmarini, who plays Michael in "Bridges of Madison County" at Media Theatre
The 2016-17 season opener, "The Bridges of Madison County: The Musical", offers that experience for three Media Theatre students. Gianni Palmarini, a 16 year old from Aston, plays the role of Michael in the show, while Anna Rosenthal and Molly Sorensen share the role of Carolyn. Michael and Carolyn are the children of Francesca, the Italian woman who meets a National Geographic photographer and has a life-changing romance for a few days while her family is away.

Gianni Palmarini has his first professional role in the production. A proud product of The Media Theatre's New School, which is a conservatory-style music theatre education program focusing on acting and vocal music under the guidance of Artistic Director Jesse Cline, Palmarini has been in several of the theatre's summer teen musicals including "Hair" and "Jesus Christ Superstar" and is the 2012 "Delco Idol Junior" winner. He's been in several Media Theatre Children's Series productions as well, and recently studied vocal performance at Interlochen Center for the Arts. The knowledge and confidence he gained at Media allowed him to play the lead role of Evan in "13", Nathaniel in "The Civil War", and Laurie in "Little Women: The Musical" in community theatre productions. 
Anna Rosenthal, one of the young student actresses who plays the role of Carolyn

Philadelphia's Anna Rosenthal and Malvern's Molly Sorensen share the role of Carolyn. 

Rosenthal, 14, is in her second professional production at Media, after appearing in last season's holiday hit "Billy Elliot". She's appeared off-Broadway in "Timmy the Great" and was a featured vocalist this past June in Cline's "The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber" at Media. She's a New School student as well, and has had private lessons with Cline. She's been in productions of "Mary Poppins", "Annie", and "The Sound of Music" and won a Broadway World Award for Best Actress Under Age 25 for the Central PA region.
Molly Sorensen, who also plays the role of Carolyn
Sorensen, 15, is in her Broadway Series debut with "Bridges of Madison County", but she's been seen frequently on The Media Theatre stage taking part in the performance opportunities its students gain. She played Patrice in "13" and lead roles in the theatre's children's series productions of "Snow White" and "Beauty and the Beast". in 2014, she won the "Vocalist Junior" summer singing competition. She's also been seen in "Shrek Jr" and "Beauty and the Beast Jr" at Malvern Theatre Society.

"We are very happy to increase the validity of music theatre education," said Cline, who also directs "The Bridges of Madison County"at Media. "The classes are extremely helpful. The opportunities we provide each season for our students to perform alongside professional actors in major Tony winning Broadway productions such as "Bridges of Madison County" are an added bonus. Music theatre education is a major component of our mission."

Over the years, Cline has overseen a revised Theatre School which gained popularity and recognition with acting classes for children, teens, and adults. Camp Media Theatre just celebrated its sixteenth summer, seeing growth each year so much so that in 2016 the camp offered two complete summer musicals ("13" and "School of Rock") and had more campers within its day camp than ever before. The New School came into fruition in 2010, which is a conservatory-style music theatre education experience with weekly classes for two age groups September through April.

"Classes are the basis of the training," Cline explained. "Performing in productions adds so much to each student's capabilities. It's training taking place in front of a live audience at an award-winning music theatre company. We are very appreciative of the region's support."

To see "The Bridges of Madison County: The Musical" at The Media Theatre, which runs September 14 to October 23, or to find out more about classes being offered, call 610-891-0100 or visit The show, with a book by Marsha Norman, and a Tony winning score by Jason Robert Brown, is based on the best-selling novel. It's a sweeping romance about the roads we travel, and the bridges we dare to cross. 

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