The Media Theatre held its annual fundraising Gala on Saturday evening, February 23. The event is a celebration of the professional music theatre company's mission, with a focus on its patrons, supporters, and advocates. Dave White, of Delaware County Council, introduced the evening with special mention given to the theatre's educational opportunities and The State Street Miracles. Two special awards were given prior to the headlining concert by Broadway star Justin Guarini. Scroll below for photos from the event!
The first award of the evening, The Walter M. Strine, Sr. Award for being an Advocate for the Arts, took place immediately following a live auction presided over by professional auctioneer Jeffrey Cadorette of Media Real Estate. MRE was one of the Gala sponsors. The award was presented to Robert Mormile, the President and CEO of the VT Group, a graphics company. The Award is so named due to Strine's vision and fulfillment of creating and sustaining a live performing arts venue in Delaware County focusing on music theatre.
When presenting the award, The Media Theatre's Chairman of the Board Perry Ecksel stated, "In preserving the memory of the great visionary Walter Strine, Sr., we bestow annually the Walter Strine, Sr. Award as a fitting tribute to him. This year's honoree has been a great assist to us in furthering our mission."
The second honoree of the evening was Broadway Producer Jed Bernstein, who is also the Producing Director for the newly renovated Bucks County Playhouse. Gala Chair Carol Thaler Roberts presented the award to Mr. Bernstein, who is a Tony winning producer. "We are honored to recognize the brilliance of Jed Bernstein with our 2013 Achievement in The Theatre Award. During his accomplished career, he has combined business savvy in marketing, branding and promotion with his passion for theatre. His leadership achievements reflect key milestones in the way contemporary Broadway functions."
She continued, "He launched Playhouse Productions specifically to produce at the newly revitalized Bucks County Playhouse, one of the country's most famous regional theatres. This Spring, we are proud to collaborate with Mr. Bernstein and Bucks County Playhouse as we present a revival of the classic musical "Mame" starring Broadway's legendary Tony nominee Andrea McArdle. The production will be directed by our own award-winning Artistic Director Jesse Cline. Bravo to you, Jed, for your many accomplishments and your commitment to the renewal of Bucks County Playhouse. We are so appreciative that Jesse Cline and The Media Theatre will be partnering with you as the synergy of one theatre supporting another fortifies us!"
The Gala evening was capped by a thrilling performance by Broadway and "American Idol" star Justin Guarini, who spoke of his memorable performances at both The Media Theatre (in "Chicago") and at Bucks County Playhouse (in "It's A Wonderful Life"). He seemed quite at home on the stage, delivering wonderful interpretations of classic pop and Broadway songs with meaningful insight given about his experiences during the past decade. The appreciative audience, moved and inspired by Guarini, was brought to their feet with a huge standing ovation following his incredible final song "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me", an Elton John classic that seemed, with his meaningful interpretation, as if it had been written specifically for the golden-voiced star.
Three of the theatre's New School students preceded Guarini. They were 12 year old "Delco Idol Junior" winner Gianni Palmarini, 10 year old vocalist Anna Rosenthal, and 10 year old dancer Brandon Ranalli. The three were a fitting segue into Guarini's concert, as he himself started out as a young performer. As Guarini watched them perform from the wings, he applauded in appreciation and was--as a young father himself-- inspired to be watching possible future Broadway stars perform their hearts out for The Media Theatre's Gala audience.
Jesse Cline, the theatre's Artistic Director, summed it up nicely. "The future of the theatre depends on young talent, much like the students we have in our school. The students learn from Justin Guarini, Andrea McArdle and others who have appeared here on our stage. There is no better way to support the future of music theatre than by supporting Delaware County's professional music theatre company, The Media Theatre."
For information and upcoming shows at The Media Theatre (recently named Philadelphia's Best Theatre Company by Broadway World) visit mediatheatre.org or call 610-891-0100. The Gala audience was treated to a special preview of the musical "Forever Plaid" which plays now through March 31.
Broadway performer Justin Guarini
Auctioneer Jeff Cadorette, Board Chair Perry Ecksel, Artistic Director Jesse Cline, Gala Chair Carole Roberts, and 2013 Honorees Jed Bernstein (Producing Director of Bucks County Playhouse) and Robert Mormile (VT Group).