Media Theatre Celebrates 20th Year with Annual Gala

Media Theatre Celebrates 20th Year with Annual GalaThe Media Theatre marquee was shining on State Street Saturday night, February 22, as it proudly cast its light on honorees, supporters, and patrons who attended the annual Gala celebrating twenty years of professional music theatre.

The event drew hundreds of guests from Delaware County and beyond as this was more than an annual thank you to Media Music Theatre Company (MMTC). This was the night to celebrate MMTC's twentieth-year after two decades of award-winning theatre and to look forward to a future which will lead to further fulfillment of its mission. For its past two seasons, MMTC is the recipient of 18 Broadway World Awards for "Best of Philadelphia Theatre" including Best Theatre Company.

MMTC's Artistic Director Jesse Cline and Executive Director Patrick Ward were given special acknowledgement during the evening's award ceremony. Kate Jaffe, Gala Chair and MMTC Board member, surprised the two as she went 'off script' presenting them with a plaque commemorating their achievements.

Jeffry Cadorette, a professional auctioneer, emceed the evening as he kept the pace up, smoothly commandeering the stage through the awards, auction, and one-night-only concert presentation. Cadorette, of Media Real Estate and Media Rotary, managed it all beautifully creating a nice mix of humor and fundraising during the second portion of the night's event following an eye-popping reception in the theatre's Crystal Room. The reception was catered by The Rose Tree Restaurant, MMTC's restaurant partner and Cakes and Candies by Mary Ellen. It was a visual extravaganza which only heightened the experience once the taste adventure took place with each delicious bite--a perfect fit for a twentieth anniversary celebration.

Cadorette was joined onstage by MMTC's Chairman of the Board Perry Ecksel for the evening's awards, the first of which was presented to Mrs. Rita Frey. She is the recipient of the first Education Award for her support of the the professional music theatre's mission to provide opportunities for all who have an interest in the performing arts. Most specifically, she is inspired by The State Street Miracles, the theatre's performance troupe of adults with developmental disabilities. Accepting the award on her behalf were her children Mitchell Frey and Ellen Wineman. Ellen extends her mother's generosity by volunteering as a speech therapist for the Miracles throughout the year.

The Walter M. Strine, Sr. Award for Advocacy of the Arts went to Gwendolyn Haines. The West Chester resident has been a regular patron at MMTC productions for most of the past decade due to her grandson's involvement as a student and performer. She stated that she 'believes strongly in the theatre's mission as it inspires and educates, building bridges for future theatregoers and those who will find a second home on its stage'. The Award is named after the entrepreneur who had the vision in the mid-90's to renovate The Media Theatre as a live performing arts venue.

PECO received the prestigious Community Partnership Award. Ralph Brown, External Affairs Manager for PECO, accepted the honor on their behalf reminding Gala patrons of PECO's involvement with The Media Theatre since 1997. During the past decade, PECO has been the title sponsor of productions such as "Chicago", "Mame", and "The Diary of Anne Frank". PECO has also been a driving force behind the Empowerment Program which allows students to attend productions who may not otherwise be able to enjoy sitting in a theatre as the lights go down and the show begins.

Performers for the evening's concert performance, which could have been titled "The Best Of Twenty Years" featured premier vocalists familiar to MMTC audiences. Lauren Cupples and Elisa Matthews filled the large venue with their silky soprano vocals as they performed songs from past MMTC productions, as did powerful baritone Sean Thompson and the magnificent tenor Brian Giebler. Cupples and Giebler were past winners of "Delco Idol", the summer vocal contest, with Cupples also having performed in several MMTC Broadway Series musicals. Matthews and Thompson are also veterans of MMTC musicals under Jesse Cline's direction.
The educational component of MMTC's mission statement, so much on view during the entire evening as all three of the honorees have been involved with either supporting youth who have come to see productions or who have supported programs for young people to be educated in music theatre, was showcased by young Lexi Gwynn and Austy Hicks. Both young rising stars chose familiar songs from MMTC's upcoming 2014 Broadway Series production "Les Miserables".

Each talented performer was accompanied by Scott Anthony, MMTC's resident Music Director.

Two decades may have come and gone, but all eyes are on the future as MMTC recently announced its 2014-15 Broadway Series season which includes the Philadelphia regional premiere of two musicals: "The Addams Family" and "Ghost". The season will also include "The Miracle Worker", "Hello Dolly" and the previously mentioned "Les Miserables".

For information regarding the upcoming season, children's shows, or classes at The Media Theatre (all produced by MMTC) call 610-891-0100 or visit mediatheatre.org.

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