Special 25 Years Anniversary Feature:
It’s hard to believe how far the Media Theatre has come in 25 years.
*Now, as the Media Music Theatre 25th Anniversary Gala and Benefit plans to entertain and treat guests in grand style, to mark 25 years on State Street in the county seat, it is best to start in the foyer to fully understand and celebrate what has happened in the iconic building since 1994. *The Gala already took place this past March. When this article was written it has not taken place at the time.
Over entry doors is printed: “The mission of the Media Music Theatre Company is to promote and nurture the imagination, diversity, and joy unique to music theatre by the production of new and classic works; to herald music theatre to young people as an art form that is relevant to their lives and to foster an understanding by them that it is indigenous to their cultural heritage.”
Artistic Director Jesse Cline, Executive Director Patrick Ward and Company Manager Roger Ricker have been at the helm throughout the quarter-decade and several iterations of the enterprise. The three provided a look back to the beginning. READ ENTIRE ANNIVERSARY FEATURE
The Media Theatre for the Performing Arts is a growing non-profit organization that has been operating as the only professional theatre in Delaware County since the year 2000. Located in downtown Media on beautiful State St., The Media Theatre was originally constructed in 1927 as a vaudeville house also featuring “talkies”. The ornate physical structure of the Media Theatre certainly represents the historic presence and unique value of downtown Media.In 1993, Walter Strine Sr. purchased the theatre and undertook a massive renovation of over $1 million which restored the theatre to its former aesthetic glory. Throughout the 90s, the theatre was run as a for profit business under the management of Rockwell Productions. However, there was a small wing of theatre lovers that formed a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization called the Society for the Performing Arts of the Media Theatre.
In 2000 when Rockwell Productions abandoned the theatre and its production of live entertainment, the Society stepped in, took over management, and established The Media Theatre as it is today. Producing five musicals each year, the currentBroadway Series provides opportunities to gain new audiences and strengthen the support of current patrons and old friends.
Children’s programming is also an essential element of the Media Theatre’s artistic and educational efforts. The combination of a strong Children’s Series of 5-6 productions annually, and a well-respected School of Theatre allow for a strong outreach program to a vast array of young people in our community. Now in its 8th year as a not-for-profit entity, The Media Theatre music theatre company is thriving and is proud to serve as the cultural and economic anchor for Delaware County.
*72 BROADWAY WORLD AWARDS FOR ‘BEST OF PHILLY THEATRE’
*20 READERS POLL AWARDS AS ‘BEST LIVE THEATRE’ IN DELAWARE COUNTY! 2001-2016.(from Delaware County Daily Times, News of Delaware County, Main Line Times, and Main Line Life newspapers)
*8 BARRYMORE AWARD NOMINATIONS FOR EXCELLENCE IN THEATRE and
*A BARRYMORE AWARD WIN FOR “THE WILD PARTY” IN 2004
*DELAWARE COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AWARD ’06 for Economic and Community Development
Built in 1927 by Samuel Dembow as Media’s third and largest movie theatre, it was designed by the firm of Magazine, Eberhard, and Harris. The interior was docorated in the English Renaissance style by Harris Brodsky. The theatre opened in August 1927 with a screening of “The Jazz Singer” starring Al Jolson, the 1st motion picture with sound. Admission was 25 cents. The theatre served for nearly 75 years as a movie palace displaying the magic of motion picture to generations of Media residents. It was also the site for vaudeville shows, Media High School graduations and community events. The building was acquired by Walter M. Strine who converted it into the Media Theatre for the Performing Arts in 1994 in honor of his wife, Elizabeth and her lifelong love of music.
The economic impact of the theatre with 50,000 individual tickets and a budget of 1.3 million is:
- Full-Time Equivalent jobs of 81.85, second largest employer in Media after Delaware County,
- Expenditures (direct total expenditures by theatre and audience into the Borough economy) equal $2.8 million,
- Local revenue is $162,791,
- State revenue is $183,838.
(These figures are from the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance’s Economic Impact Calculator).