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Media Theatre’s 2015 gala lights up streets of the borough

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Media Theatre Artistic Director Jesse Cline speaks during the annual gala.

Media Theatre Artistic Director Jesse Cline speaks during the annual gala.

MEDIA >> The Media Theatre’s 2015 gala, titled “Illuminate The Night,” actually lit up a Sunday afternoon.

Due to a snow storm that illuminated the streets in a slippery white Saturday, Feb. 21, the gala was postponed to last Sunday.

With a beautiful gold, silver, and black color scheme presented throughout the theater’s lobby and second-floor Crystal Room, as well as tasty hors d’oeuvres, the Media Theatre provided a lovely site for an afternoon fundraising event. A champagne fountain supplemented the affair, as well as two complete bars.

For the youth ensemble members of the theater’s renowned school, a separate table complete with refreshments just for the young set added a comfort zone for the talented tots and teens.

The annual gala is Media Music Theatre Company’s biggest fundraising event of the year. The professional music-theater organization produces the Broadway Series, Children’s Series and all Educational Programs at the theater.

After an hour-long reception in which sponsors mingled with theater staff and actors, an awards ceremony took place in the large theater, over which the famed chandelier hangs.

Ramona Gwynn, recipient of this year’s Walter M. Strine Sr., Award for Advocacy of the Arts, mentioned both Strine and the chandelier during her acceptance speech.

“Walter Strine Sr., for whom this award is named, would be proud to know that the recent renovation of the theater which he so lovingly brought to life many years ago has created a resurgence of interest in the majestic and elegant location,” Gwynn said. “If you look up, you can see the gorgeous chandelier in the center of it all, the chandelier which he polished after starting the renovation of the theater in 1994 as his dream of a Broadway-style performing arts center came to life.

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“This award really belongs to all of us, everyone who buys a ticket, everyone who spreads word of mouth about the great things happening here, and everyone who applauds the acclaimed productions,” Gwynn continued. “It’s also about the terrific team working together under the direction of Jesse Cline and Patrick Ward, from the box office to the stage. I am proud to represent Walter Strine’s vision on this stage today with this honor.”

Gwynn was given the honor due to her support, which assisted the theater in making capital improvements, gain a wider audience, and continue to expand its educational opportunities.

The Community Partnership Award was given to Convergent Technologies Inc. The company is committed to bringing new digital and online technology to the theater.

Mark Lawton of CTI accepted the honor and said, “We look forward to a bright future with the Media Theatre and enhancing everything from the Broadway Series to the Children’s Programs, as well as box office technology.”

Media Theatre Artistic Director Jesse Cline introduced the program for “Illuminate The Night,” following a lively live auction.

“One of the things I am most proud of here are the educational programs we have to offer,” Cline said. “We’ll be expanding our curriculum this spring after the upcoming grand opening of our new school and dance center. It’s an exiting opportunity to have dance classes, voice lessons, and more as we move into a new era.”

Performers included several actors familiar to Media Theatre audiences (Lauren Cupples, JP Dunphy, Sarah Moya, and Sean Thompson) plus Garrison Carpenter, who makes his debut in the region’s professional premiere of “Ghost” (March 4-29). The youth ensemble performed three group numbers, while Lexi Gwynn and Ben Pedersen brought the house down with “Suddenly Seymour” from “Little Shop of Horrors.”

The gala headliner was Tony-nominated actress Ann Crumb, who started her set with the memorable “It’s As If We Never Said Goodbye” from “Sunset Boulevard,” the show she starred in last spring. She mentioned the fact that she had been in the original Broadway cast of “Les Miserables” and said, “When I heard that Jesse Cline was doing ‘Les Miz’ here at Media, I wondered how it would happen without a revolving set. But upon seeing it, I was mesmerized. The production here was fantastic and I was blown away. I am so honored to be a part of this theater’s family.”

Crumb will return to the Media Theatre when she appears as Mama Rose in “Gypsy” Sept. 23-Nov. 1.

“Illuminate The Night” may have happened in the middle of the day, but moods were certainly not dampened, even as the streets outside were. It’s that type of motivational spirit that has kept Media Music Theatre Company and the Media Theatre alive over the years and will keep its chandelier shining brightly for many more to come.

Corporate Sponsors for the “Illuminate The Night” Gala were Aqua America, CTI, DWD Mechanical, Evolve IP, Iper Design, Iron Workers Bank, Keystone Advertising, King of Prussia Mall, Linvilla Orchards, Media Real Estate, Qlik, TDS, and Safeguard Insurance.

To find out what’s happening at the Media Theatre or to support, visit mediatheatre.org or call 610-891-0100.

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