Monday, April 25, 2016

WHO'S WHO IN THE MEDIA THEATRE'S '1776'.....MARK MARANO IS SAMUEL CHASE

When we think of the Tony winning musical "1776", Peter Stone and Sherman Edwards historically based show that has plenty of humor and reminds of the greatness of our forefathers without being a history lesson, our minds immediately conjure images of Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. All three are principle roles in the show, and were leaders during the second Continental Congress during which the eventual Declaration of Independence came to fruition. 

However, "1776" also reminds us that there were other men involved in the shaping of our new nation. Some who have, over time, become mere shadows to the triumphant trio. They were, nonetheless, men who assisted in paving the way for our country's eventual independence.

Mark Marano, a Delaware County resident, plays the role of Samuel Chase. Following "1776", he'll be seen in a completely different type of show when he plays the humorous King Louis in "The Jungle Book" each weekend this summer beginning in June.
Mark Marano
"History has always been one of my favorite subjects, and to quote Indy Neidell from "The Great War" youtube series, "History must be lived" in order to be properly studied," he said. "You can't get anything much more alive than putting people on a stage who are trying to get inside the heads of the characters they are presenting to you, and when you understand the people, you better understand the events they help shape."

 As for the production of "1776", he explains that "Playing Chase is a wonderful opportunity to play someone who, at least initially, is on the "wrong side of history" for perfectly rational reasons - it was totally inconceivable for "a nation of 2 million souls to stand against an empire of 10 million" and actually survive, let alone win. Yet, once he's shown that a ragtag bunch of degenerates can effectively shoot together (at least while hunting their dinner), he's willing to take a gamble for a cause he believes in."

Marano is a fan of music theatre and enjoys being a part of it, be it in a classic Broadway musical or a children's show based on classic literature. "Music engages our brain and our bodies, even when we are just listening to it, and I've always been of the opinion that if you've got people laughing, you've got their attention."

He's a young actor, but has had a varied stage career.  "I've been lucky enough to be heavily involved in Shakespeare, but perhaps the most historically-involved production was during my junior year at DeSales University in a stage adaptation of "A Tale of Two Cities" (taking place in the midst of the bloody French Revolution) as the unscrupulous opportunist John Barsad and the truly inhuman Marquis d'Evremonde."


Marano adds, "I've been lucky to have a variety of shows and roles under my belt, but some of my favorites include Teddy in "Arsenic and Old Lace", Egeon in "A Comedy of Errors", The Cowardly Lion in "The Wizard of Oz", and Cinderella's Wicked Stepmother! Adding Samuel Chase to the list means I am more than 3/4 of the way to my Equity Card through the EMC program, which makes me very happy."

Marano is not a stranger to The Media Theatre stage, as he was a competitor during the early years of its "Delco Idol" summer singing contest, which is now referred to as "The Vocalist". The contest gives aspiring performers an opportunity to enhance their skills in front of a live audience and is a very educational experience. To that end, he understands the importance of educating through performance. 

"With "1776", I hope the students take away a new appreciation of how monumental a risk it was to declare independence," he explained. "I hope they take away the value of taking a worthwhile risk, no matter how gargantuan, no matter how perilous it may be to them. Most of all, I hope they come out of the show with a new perspective of America - that we've always been a nation of high ideals, and while we may frequently fall short of those ideals, we have the opportunity to improve upon what the Founding Fathers have given us. To quote Ben Franklin, when asked what kind of government the Constitutional Convention had given us: "[It's given you] a republic, if you can keep it."


From a mainstage classic to a children's story, Marano is an actor of many facets. Audiences may see this entertaining performer in either show by calling The Media Theatre at 610-891-0100 or visiting mediatheatre.org. "1776" is on now through May 22. "The Jungle Book" is on weekends (Saturdays at 11am, Sundays at Noon) in June, July, and August. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

MEDIA THEATRE HAS ROGER RICKER & FRIENDS 'HAPPY BIRTHDAY' CONCERT JUNE 5

It's time to sing "Happy Birthday" to The Media Theatre's Roger Ricker at a special concert on stage Sunday afternoon June 5 at 3pm. 

Ricker's birthday is actually June 7, when he will be a young 52 years old, but weekend parties are always the best so he has decided to put together a special fundraiser for the professional music theatre company.
Media Theatre's Roger Ricker
The Roger Ricker & Friends "Happy Birthday" concert will feature the veteran performer singing a few of his favorite pop classics including "Karma Chameleon" and "Man In The Mirror". Ricker will be joined by a youth ensemble for "Purple Rain" as the late legendary Prince was also born on June 7. 

In lieu of anyone giving him birthday surprises, Ricker requests that all gifts go toward Media Music Theatre Company which is the professional music theatre company housed at The Media Theatre. 

"This concert is a fun way for me to celebrate getting younger," he said. "But it's really about supporting Delaware County's only professional music theatre. I ask that everyone who attends support the theatre with a donation in celebration of my 52nd birthday. That is the finest gift you could give."

Ricker has had quite a year of performance, having been featured in last summer's "The Who's Tommy" and "Disney's Aladdin Jr." as well as this season's mainstage productions of "Gypsy" and "1776" plus the Children's Series shows "Tale of Beauty and the Beast", "Peter Pan and Wendy", and the current "Sleeping Beauty". He's been with The Media Theatre since it opened its doors in 1995 and assisted with its transition to a not-for-profit in 2000. All told, he's been in just about 100 shows at the historic venue.

"This is a nice way to cap the last twelve months," he explained. "After this, I'll take a break from the stage for a while so be sure to come see the concert June 5!"

The State Street Miracles, the theatre's performance troupe of adults with developmental disabilities, will also perform during the special event as well as a few surprise special guests including Prospect Park Policemen Henry O' Neill, who will make his concert debut. O' Neill was The Media Theatre's Volunteer of The Year honoree in 2015. 


Tickets for the Roger Ricker & Friends "Happy Birthday" concert Sunday June 5 at 3pm are $20 per person. Call 610-891-0100 or visit mediatheatre.org. 

Friday, April 15, 2016

'1776' AT MEDIA THEATRE.....FIRST LOOK PICS

The classic Tony winning musical "1776" is on stage at The Media Theatre now through May 22. Don't miss this humorous, lively, and meaningful production all about our founding fathers who created the Declaration of Independence.

Ben Dibble stars as John Adams, directed by Jennie Eisenhower.

Here's First Look Pics! Photos by Maura McConnell 
Ben Dibble as John Adams surrounded by members of the Second Continental Congress
John Morrison as Ben Franklin


Elyse Langley as Abigail Adams and Ben Dibble as John Adams
It's Larry LEES as Richard Henry LEE, quite ProudLEE
FOR TICKETS CALL 610-891-0100 OR VISIT MEDIATHEATRE.ORG

TONY WINNER JASON ROBERT BROWN RESCHEDULED FOR MAY 18 AT THE MEDIA THEATRE

Tony winning composer and lyricist Jason Robert Brown has rescheduled his concert appearance at The Media Theatre for Wednesday evening May 18 at 7pm. All tickets for his previously scheduled April 9 show will be honored. 


Seats are still available for the May 18 cabaret style performance during which he will also chat with the audience. There is also a Meet & Greet with Jason after the show during a private reception available with premium ticket. The concert is $45. There is an extra $10 fee to attend the Meet & Greet following the performance.
JASON ROBERT BROWN
The Media Theatre is the first professional regional theatre in the Philadelphia/ Wilmington region that will be producing his Tony winning musical “The Bridges of Madison County” this coming fall. Based on the novel which was turned into a hit film starring Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood, the show won Jason Robert Brown the Tony awards for Best Score and Best Orchestrations in 2014. Media will also be producing his teen smash “13” in July.

Jason Robert Brown is the ultimate multi-hyphenate – an equally skilled composer, lyricist, conductor, arranger, orchestrator, director and performer – best known for his dazzling scores to several of the most renowned musicals of his generation, including the recently revived “The Last Five Years”, his debut song cycle “Songs for a New World”, and the seminal “Parade”, winner of the 1999 Best Score Tony. The New York Times refers to Jason as “a leading member of a new generation of composers who embody high hopes for the American musical.” 

His latest Broadway musical “Honeymoon In Vegas,” starring Tony Danza and based on Andrew Bergman’s film, followed a triumphant production at Paper Mill Playhouse.  A film version of Jason's epochal Off-Broadway musical “The Last Five Years” was released in 2015, starring Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan and directed by Richard LaGravenese, and a film of Jason’s musical “13” is currently in development.
Jason studied composition at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., with Samuel Adler, Christopher Rouse, and Joseph Schwantner.  He lives with his wife, composer Georgia Stitt, and their daughters in New York City.  Jason is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild and the American Federation of Musicians Local 802 & 47.  Visit him on the web at www.jasonrobertbrown.com.

Two Media Theatre students, Lexi Gwynn and Anna Rosenthal, will appear with Jason Robert Brown on stage performing his songs as he accompanies.

Jason Robert Brown appears at The Media Theatre on Wednesday May 18 at 7:00pm. For tickets, visit mediatheatre.org or call 610-891-0100.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

WHO'S WHO IN THE MEDIA THEATRE'S '1776'....BOB STINEMAN IS JOHN DICKINSON

When we think of the Tony winning musical "1776", Peter Stone and Sherman Edwards historically based show that has plenty of humor and reminds of the greatness of our forefathers without being a history lesson, our minds immediately conjure images of Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. All three are principle roles in the show, and were leaders during the second Continental Congress during which the eventual Declaration of Independence came to fruition. 

However, "1776" also reminds us that there were other men involved in the shaping of our new nation. Some who have, over time, become mere shadows to the triumphant trio. They were, nonetheless, men who assisted in paving the way for our country's eventual independence.

Bob Stineman, who recently received critical acclaim as Atticus Finch in The Media Theatre's "To Kill A Mockingbird", plays the role of John Dickinson who is a staunch believer in remaining tied to Britain.

"Even though Dickinson is the main antagonist of this show, I don't see him as a villain," Stineman said. "He's doing what he feels is the right thing. Here's a man who takes the unpopular position compared to his compatriots."
"Knowing the force they would be up against, he sees the looming threat that would see a lot of young men dying as they fight for independence," he continued. "It's a terrifying thought and something Dickinson is working to prevent, even if it means staying under the yoke of Great Britain."

Stineman explained, "I'm pretty passive by nature, and can't say I'd take a different approach if I was put in that position. Hopefully the audience will understand how complex an issue this was."

"What's interesting about working on this piece right now is that we are in the middle of a fairly contentious presidential race," he stated. "Compare that to how the nation started. I'm not sure how the founding fathers would feel about what's going on right now, but it does create an odd contextual hindsight."

When reminded that "1776" has much humor along with its context, Stineman said, "Humor is a tool that is very human and it makes these larger-than-life men easy to relate to. The music is a powerful tool in and of itself. It's haunting to hear "Mama Look Sharp". The imagery it creates is so powerful. This young man--a boy, really--dying and hoping his mother will find his body. It's a counterpoint to the humor, and puts into context what is happening outside of Philadelphia while these men are arguing during the Congressional meetings."


"Dickinson was actually a bit different than he is portrayed in "1776"" Stineman said. "He was actually a Quaker, much more soft spoken, and published many papers after the fact in support of independence but also on how he believed the government should function. He was also the only one of the founding fathers to free his slaves."

As per his own career, he's a new Actor's Equity Association member and has a short run of "Silken Veils" that will be performing in Indiana and Philadelphia during their respective Fringe Festivals. He's also working on a full length play as one of his many writing projects. "I can't stop creating," he said. "It's just part of who I am."

Whether it's performing or writing, Stineman has a mantra. "So long as I get to help tell stories and give something to the people watching then I’m a happy man.  It’s my bliss, and I intend to follow it."

Perhaps Dickinson felt the same way as he lived his own life with its own unique angle all those years ago.

For tickets to "1776" call 610-891-0100 or visit mediatheatre.org. The show is directed by Jennie Eisenhower. It's on April 13 through May 22. 














Wednesday, April 6, 2016

WHO'S WHO IN '1776' AT THE MEDIA THEATRE....LUKE BRAHDT IS RUTLEDGE

When we think of the Tony winning musical "1776", Peter Stone and Sherman Edwards historically based show that has plenty of humor and reminds of the greatness of our forefathers without being a history lesson, our minds immediately conjure images of Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. All three are principle roles in the show, and were leaders during the second Continental Congress during which the eventual Declaration of Independence came to fruition. 

However, "1776" also reminds us that there were other men involved in the shaping of our new nation. Some who have, over time, become mere shadows to the triumphant trio. They were, nonetheless, men who assisted in paving the way for our country's eventual independence.

LUKE BRAHDT plays the interesting role of Rutledge in The Media Theatre production which is on stage April 13 through May 22. "Rutledge is an unrepentant slaveholder, which is despicable and indefensible," Brahdt said.

In this day and age, it's difficult for citizens of the USA to remember that a few of our forefathers were, in fact, slaveholders. "In order to relate to this role, I must focus on his personal character traits, many of which are admirable," Brahdt explained.
LUKE BRAHDT
"Rutledge is intelligent," he continued. "He was polite, courageous, and droll. He enjoyed exposing hypocrisy. Not one to shy away from harsh truths, he deflates John Adams and Thomas Jefferson when they indulge in bouts of self-righteousness." 

Brahdt has one of the show's biggest numbers, the baritone rich "Molasses and Rum", which is performed as part of his 'deflating' process in the Congress. With his B.F.A. in Musical Theatre and Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point this is the perfect role for him to create in his unique style.

"It's a wonderful thing to be performing this show, especially in the region where the real events actually occurred," stated an enthusiastic Brahdt, a young actor on the brink of creating a career for himself as a professional. "I feel more connected to Philadelphia, and this show truly brings the history to life. With the astounding success of "Hamilton" currently on Broadway, it is enjoyable to be in what is, in a sense, that show's 'prequel'. Plus "1776" has humor, which is always enlivening."

Even a slaveholder has humor? "Humor makes the roles on stage seem real and human," Brahdt said. "The show does not idolize the founding fathers. They are treated as ordinary men in extraordinary circumstances. They bicker, argue, and yes--they enjoy a low brow joke now and then. They were, let's not forget, just men."

"I hope that students who come to see the show will walk away with an image of these famous men who created and signed the Declaration of Independence as normal human beings who rose to this astounding challenge," Brahdt said. "They were not perfect, which is inspiring, because it means they were approachable. Furthermore, I hope the students recognize how they resolved their arguments. Through compromise and meaningful debate, they were able to accomplish the seemingly impossible."

Luke Brahdt moved to Philadelphia a little over a year ago and has performed with People's Light, The Mauckingbird Theatre Company, and Act II Playhouse. Next up, he'll be seen as Antipholus of Ephesus in "The Comedy Of Errors" with Delaware Shakespeare Festival this summer. 

For tickets to "1776" call 610-891-0100 or visit mediatheatre.org. The show is directed by Jennie Eisenhower. It's on April 13 through May 22. 









MEDIA THEATRE HAS 'VOCALIST 2016' SUMMER SINGING CONTEST AUDITIONS MAY 17

MARK YOUR CALENDARS! 

MEDIA THEATRE'S 'VOCALIST 2016' AUDITIONS ARE MAY 17

It’s time once again for “The Vocalist” competition at The Media Theatre. The region’s premier vocal contest kicks off with annual auditions May 17 at 6pm. 

"The Vocalist" and "Vocalist Junior" claim titles that are representative of the professional music theatre company’s mission of professional music theatre. The summer event sets the tone for The Media Theatre’s focus on musicals and music theatre education. It is produced by Media Music Theatre Company, the professional non-profit music theatre organization which has a full season each year with its Broadway Series and youth programming. 


 Auditions for “The Vocalist” will be held Tuesday May 17 from 6pm to 8:30pm. The contest has produced several performers who have gone on to appear in professional productions at The Media Theatre and at other regional theatres, including Ava Briglia who was a top five placer during "Vocalist Junior" and is currently in Broadway's hit show "Matilda", playing the title role. 

 All ages may audition on the same night and will be placed in the proper category according to their age. “The Vocalist” is for ages 14-24 while “Vocalist Junior” is for ages 7-13. The actual contests begin on stage in front of a live audience in July.

Between 35-40 contestants will be culled from the auditions for both versions of “The Vocalist”. The winner of “The Vocalist” and “The Vocalist Junior” will receive a cash prize to assist in furthering their education or career. Iron Workers Bank sponsors the competition. 

There is a $25 registration fee for the auditions at The Media Theatre. All auditioning must bring sheet music for the pianist. Any audition song is acceptable for both age groups. 

Call Roger at 610-891-0100 to register or visit mediatheatre.org You may register online, or register at the door the night of the auditions. No appointments; the auditions are held in order of ‘sign-up’. Please email rer764@gmail.com with questions.

Monday, April 4, 2016

WHO'S WHO IN THE MEDIA THEATRE'S '1776'....DAVID NIKOLAS IS DR. LYMAN HALL

When we think of the Tony winning musical "1776", Peter Stone and Sherman Edwards historically based show that has plenty of humor and reminds of the greatness of our forefathers without being a history lesson, our minds immediately conjure images of Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. All three are principle roles in the show, and were leaders during the second Continental Congress during which the eventual Declaration of Independence came to fruition. 

However, "1776" also reminds us that there were other men involved in the shaping of our new nation. Some who have, over time, become mere shadows to the triumphant trio. They were, nonetheless, men who assisted in paving the way for our country's eventual independence.
David Nikolas, who appears as Dr. Lyman Hall in Media's "1776"


One of those men was Dr. Lyman Hall, of Georgia. Actor David Nikolas portrays Hall in The Media Theatre's production of "1776" April 13 through May 22.

"Dr. Lyman Hall is a newcomer to the Congress, and historically, he came from a small community of "radicals" seeking independence in an otherwise-loyalist colony," Nikolas said. "I think that this, coupled with his experience as a doctor of both theology and medicine, made him a more critical thinker than the more ideological members of that congress who were convinced of their convictions.  He was ready to hear both sides of the argument and make a decision based on his judgement.  These are traits that I try to embody as a rule, never rushing to judgement without carefully weighing the facts of a situation."

In regards to the humor in the production, with several of the roles depicted having been written in such a way that they may, on first glance, appear to be one-dimensional, Nikolas said, "We speak to each other with humor every day - it's part of the way we communicate, so using humor to help tell this story is simply a way to make the information more accessible and consumable."

The show had its premiere on Broadway in 1969, winning three Tony Awards.  Nikolas is a fan of the score. "The music for a show like this helps set the tone for the period," he stated. "Stylistically, by including the minuet and the more classical motifs in the musical numbers it gives the audience the feel for the time period."

He summed up his feelings about the show with a nod to those who signed the Declaration. "There are such important lessons to be learned through the portrayal of our founding fathers.  In debate, whenever discussion devolves into attacks and name-calling, progress stops.  That's not just a dramatic device - that's reality.  If audiences can take away an insight into how critical thought and examination of the reality of a situation can help convince others of their point of view, I'll feel like I've contributed positively to our discourse."

David Nikolas is having his debut on The Media Theatre stage with "1776" as Dr. Lyman Hall. He has been seen at New Jersey's Eagle Theatre in "Assassins" and "The Graduate" as well as at Rose Valley's Hedgerow Theatre in "A Murder Has Been Arranged". Next up he will appear at The Pitman Theatre of NJ as Franz in "The Producers".

Of course, everyone is aware that "1776" takes place right in Philadelphia. "It seems like Media is the opportune place for a revival of this classic musical," Nikolas said.

For tickets to "1776" call 610-891-0100 or visit mediatheatre.org. The show is directed by Jennie Eisenhower. It's on April 13 through May 22.