The Al Alberts Showcase was on Channel 6 in Philadelphia for nearly 35 years. It remains one of the country’s top 10 longest running television programs in the United States, and is a precursor to The Media Theatre’s “Delco Idol” summer vocal competition. The Media Theatre will dedicate its contest on July 18 Al Alberts, who passed away in 2009.
Born Al Albertini in Chester, the showman went to South Philadelphia High School. The school was famous for the many graduates who became legendary in show business along with Alberts including Joey Bishop, Al Martino, Chubby Checker, and Frankie Avalon. Following that, he attended Temple University and entered the US Navy.
In the navy, Alberts met Dave Mahoney, who became a music partner of his. Together they formed The Four Aces. The Media Theatre will highlight a few of The Four Aces tunes this summer in the production of “Forever Plaid” at The Middletown Performing Arts Center in Cape May Court House, NJ. The show there runs July 18-22 and features the hit song “Three Coins in the Fountain”, made famous by The Four Aces. The song won the Oscar for Best Original Song from a Film in 1954. Their biggest hit, “Love is A Many Splendored Thing”, was the theme to the film of the same name released the following year and is also featured in “Forever Plaid”.
Al Alberts became a television personality in Philadelphia when he began hosting a one-hour Saturday afternoon talent show “The Al Alberts Showcase” which first aired on WKBS-TV in the early 1960’s. It eventually moved to WPVI-TV and featured a local group of youngsters known as The Teeny Boppers. Locals would perform on the show, which assisted in launching the career of the very first “Annie”, the legendary Andrea McArdle. McArdle is also connected to The Media Theatre, as she is performing the lead role of “Mame” there in the spring of 2013, after having been the headliner at their annual gala this past fall.
“We consider ourselves a launching pad for aspiring talent as well,” said Jesse Cline, the Artistic Director for The Media Theatre. “Our “Delco Idol” contests represent that aspect of our mission. It’s a summer event in which young singers are given a showcase and an opportunity, much like the focus Al Alberts placed on local talent for over 32 years. We are proud to carry on his tradition in Delaware County at a professional music theatre that has national recognition.”
One of the “Delco Idol” judges on Wednesday July 18 will be Barbara Zippi, of Artemis Productions, who was a former producer and personal assistant for Al Alberts. She says, “I received my ‘college’ degree working for Al. He nurtured thousands of careers over the years, many of whom are recognizable today. I remember when Teddy Pendergrass was on the show!”
She looks forward to “Delco Idol” on July 18. “Al Alberts was my uncle and this dedication to him warms my heart,” she said. “I’ll have a lump in my throat the entire evening, as the fond memories will be there for me. This is a wonderful occasion.”