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. 

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 14, 2015


“Vocalist Junior” at The Media Theatre had its first week of competition Sunday night July 12 at 7pm. With a bit of anxiety from the young contestants (ages 7-13) which was tempered by an extremely appreciative crowd, the show went off without a hitch.
Yeah, I'm singing! It's Josh Atkinson, 10, of Drexel Hill with "Who I'd Be"

Cecilia Bailey, 10, West Chester, sings "Let Go Fly A Kite"
Morgan Bitzberger, 13, Thornton with "Bright"
Singing in alphabetical order meant that one lucky person had the opportunity to go first. Josh Atkinson, 10, of Drexel Hill, handled the position well as he started the summer event off with a nicely done performance of “Who I’d Be” from the Broadway musical Shrek.

Of course, this also meant that one person—lucky or not, depending on how you look at it—had to wait for 30 other performers to sing before she got her chance to close the night. Violet Wiley, 9, of Woodlyn, looking like she was dressed for MTV in a leather jacket and boots, had terrific focus as she sang the Blondie hit “Dreaming” as a finale. Her father, Sean, accompanied her on ukulele. Yes, ukulele!

All other performers were accompanied by Ben Kapilow, who gamely handled playing everything from pop songs to Broadway songs to childhood favorites. Each week, the contestants have one rehearsal with Mr. Kapilow on Saturday morning at 8am prior to the Sunday evening performance/ competition.
Ava Briglia, 8, of Media chats with Jesse Cline after singing "I Wish"
There were highlights during week one. Ava Briglia absolutely held the audience in the palm of her hand while supremely belting out “I Wish”. From Media, she’s only 8 years old and is one of the youngest in the contest. Veronica Garrubbo, 12, of Berwyn certainly was “Extraordinary” as she performed her song, and West Chester’s JD Triolo, 12, did a memorable “Go The Distance”.

That’s not to say others were not excellent, on pitch, focused, or terrific in their own way because every one of the 31 singers certainly used their personality, stage presence, youthful exuberance, and talent to entertain the crowd and the judges. All contestants were certainly deserving of the appreciative applause. And, as we know from years past, there is no way of knowing which contestant will leap out from the group to eventually become the winner. It's a one-week-at-a-time event, with the first three weeks seeing all 31 singers on stage prior to eliminations as all judges scores and public votes are accumulated until after week three.
Special Guest Judge Kelly Briggs, Broadway actor and performer who appeared alongside Andrea McArdle in "Hello Dolly" recently and returns to Media's stage this fall in "Gypsy" and "Billy Elliot: The Musical"
Shannon Clark, 12, Havertown, prepares to sing "Our Song"

12 year old Joseph Colasante of Brookhaven with "Giants In The Sky"

Ava Courtney, 10, Garnett Valley, does "Trust In Me"
Larissa Culbertson. The large screen allows the audience to know each contestant's age and township
Jamie Day, 12, Media with "I'm Not That Girl"
Jamie's twin Paige Day sings "Could Have Danced All Night"
Zachary Divito, 9, of Aston talks with Jesse Cline after his song

The one constant judge is Jesse Cline, Artistic Director for The Media Theatre.  Sitting at a table on stage left throughout the show, Cline does a little chat with each of the young ones in “Junior” just as he does in the Wednesday night “Vocalist”. It’s these unrehearsed and completely improvised chats that provide extra entertainment value for the audience. When Cline asked Phoenixville’s 11 year old Skylar Kelly what her song “The Climb” meant, she mentioned “It’s about trying hard to get something and then getting it.” He asked her what it was she was trying for and she said, without a moment’s pause, “To win this!”

It was that type of spirit which represented the entire evening. All of the contestants brought the best they had to offer to the stage, which is really what “The Climb” is all about. With a bit of nerves, a bit of spunk, lots of wonderful voices and plenty of encouragement, 2015’s “Vocalist Junior” is sure to be a major ingredient in a memorable summer for them, for their families, and for the audience.

Marsha Peltz emceed. The "Vocalist Junior" is sponsored by Iron Workers Bank.
Evelyn Doran, 11, Glenolden, with "Popular"

Gabrielle Dove, 8, Sharon Hill sings "A Beautiful Day"
Bridget Duffy, 13, Thornton prepares to sing "Lost Stars"
Cassidy Else, 10, Drexel Hill closes Act One with "My Favorite Things"
Act Two opens with Molly Evanko, 12, of West Chester,  performing "Good Morning" for the crowd of 150, not including those who purchased the event on live stream service
Elaina Fitzgerald, 12, Wallingford, is "Feelin' Good"
Veronica Garrubbo, 12, Berwyn, with "Extraordinary"
"Something's Coming" says Lars Halldin, 13, Norristown
Ava Kelly, 11, Phoenixville sings "Roar". Her dress was top costume of the night!
Ava's twin, Skylar, sings "The Climb"
He really is having fun with "Bare Necessities"! It's Sean Lock, 11, from Malvern
Elizabeth Mercier, 12, of Brookhaven with "For Good"
I want to be "Part of Your World" sings Fiona Moser, 12, Havertown
"People Help The People" with Divya Samant, 13, Malvern
Sarah Shoumer, 10, Wayne with "Not Pretty Enough" but looking great!
Christina Smith, 12, of Brookhaven does "Try"
JD Triolo, 12, West Chester "Go The Distance"
"When I Grow Up" says Allie Vaccaro, 10, of Rose Valley
"I Know Things Now" says 8 year old Brynn Washbourne of Coatesville
Final contestant --Whew!--Violet Wiley does Blondie's "Dreaming". She's 9 from Woodlyn

To get tickets to “Vocalist Junior” which continues every Sunday night through August 9, call The Media Theatre at 610-891-0100 or visit

Sunday, July 5, 2015


So this blog is, at times, a base spot for press and marketing materials for The Media Theatre.

At other times, such as with this writing, it gives me--Roger Ricker--the opportunity on a rare occasion to speak about what I am directly involved in and have noticed.

As the rehearsal manager for "The Vocalist" 2015 competition, what I can tell you plainly is this: The talent this year within the Wednesday night competition's 14-24 age group is, as a whole, the best it has ever been. I speak from the heart, as I am not a judge for the contest nor an instructor for any of those involved. Merely an observer from a Stage Management position. 

Without even analyzing my comment to the singers after rehearsal this evening, I actually thanked them all for entertaining me. Yes, I did. They were there to rehearse on stage with the accompanist (Ben Kapilow) and to receive notes from myself which might boost their confidence or pointers which might assist them during the show such as 'to stand in the light'.

However, not many pointers had to be given. This group of teenagers and young adults was so spot-on and performed with such ease it was almost as if we were watching a show that had been rehearsed for several weeks already! 

And the diversity of the song choices...the best ever! Yes, there are Broadway songs both recognizable and not-so-well known as well as classic pop songs. BUT the important issue of note is that the various genres within those categories is ample, with barely one song sounding like the one before it. 

Plus, the singers this year have such unique personalities which shines through in their talent it's as if they were pre-packaged singers appearing on a nationally televised 'reality' singing show. These young vocalists ARE THAT GOOD.

You do not want to miss this Wednesday night's first 2015 "Vocalist" show, which is in and of itself a contest. Yes, one of these young people will be announced as the 'winner' eventually and will win $1500. But let me tell you....without seeming like a cliche...they are ALL WINNERS! 

The audience, too, will win with this group. Your heart will be taken by these aspiring singers which bring natural talent to The Media Theatre stage this summer. You'll want to hear more. I did. And, because I manage each rehearsal all summer long, I'll have the privilege of doing so.

GET YOUR TICKETS NOW! This is promising to be a fantastic show! It's Wednesday nights July 9 through August 5 at 7pm. Tickets are $12-15

Friday, July 3, 2015


The Media Theatre's New School, a conservatory style music theatre education program, has exciting new changes for 2015-16 Season.

Jesse Cline, the theatre's Artistic Director, has overseen the New School for the past five years and will continue to do so as changes are implemented. Being a part of the New School is by invitation or audition only.

A major change is the elimination of choreography and dance in the New School curriculum, with a major focus on Acting and Voice. Those who wish to study dance still have the opportunity through the theatre's Tap and Ballet classes.

Among the changes, students will be divided strictly into two age groups. Ages 7-11 will meet on Mondays from 4:30pm to 6:30pm starting September 21 and will have classes in Acting and Voice. Ages 12-18 will meet on Thursdays during the same hours and will become the New School Performance Ensemble, which will eventually be a traveling performance group. The Ensemble will rehearse and perform one act plays and musicals, as well as create cabaret performances that are easily presented at area schools and community events.

Check out the attached brochure for information!


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