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Destination Norristown Arts Hill: Creating change through creativity The Norristown Arts Festival brings together talents from across the Philadelphia region for a day of food, fun and entertainment for people of all ages. Showcasing local and regional talents the festival strives to bring new life to the Norristown community through the arts. Visit for directions and more information.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Twenty Two Day Theater and Music Festival explodes in Downtown Norristown

“Norristown’s Theatrical Treasure.” Begins Second Annual Independent Voices Festival in January 2011
The Centre Theater brings a series of events by more than eleven regional performance groups to its fourth floor theater with the Independent Voices Festival beginning January 6 and running through February 6.

The Independent Voices Festival spotlights performers who deserve an encore performance or who what to bring new work to the stage. The Centre Theater also offers opportunities for new performers to explore professional productions. The month long festival highlights more than three premieres and performances from many genres’ including theatre, movement, music, and puppetry.

“It is an exciting month for us. We see many unique events and also get to build a broader community of artists in downtown Norristown,” stated Fran Doyle, Executive Director of The Centre Theater.

The production will spotlight several different music performances. The Chestnut Street Singers will present a concert on January 9, Krissy Johnson will sing an afternoon of classical and show tunes on January 30 after having transformed into The BOSSLADY as part of Bosslady band covering 70s and 80s classics with a comic flair on January 14th.

Theatrical productions by Tiffany Joyner, Robert Miller and Karen Waller-Martin will accent the African American Experience and racial issues while Citizen Paine by Bill Hollenbach will return after a triumphant run for Harvey Kaye to celebrate Martin Luther King Day. Joyner’s Apologies are for the Living ran to great acclaim at the recent Philadelphia Urban Theatre Festival and The Colored Museum by George C. Wolfe. directed by Karen Waller-Martin has been playing around the Philadelphia region since last year and runs at Independent Voices on January 13 and 15. . The play is a series of vignettes about African American culture full of humor, tragedy and suspense. Robert Miller’s play “A portrait in Black and White” is directed by Donovan Hagins and run January 29. This piece looks are racial conflict and redemption.

The variety of production is exciting. The newly developed Seventh Inning Stretch Puppet Company hailing from Temple University will bring new adult puppet works to the Centre while the UMBELICO mask company will present a modern movement based commedia piece.
The Centre is developing its collaboration with the Dynamic South Camden Theater Company. The weekend of Jan 20 and 21, the centre will present a new play by Jo Paprzycki about Nick Virgilio noted Camden Haiku artist, “Nick of Time” and a short documentary by Sean Dougherty about the writer.

“We are working with each of the participating companies to continue our collaborative spirit” stated Fran Doyle.

Social and human issues will take the stage with Casual World/Intimate Heart, a one woman show about abuse, depression and redemption which includes monologue, movement and music. Casual World/Intimate Heart runs January 8. The New Mystic Theatre Company will produce two plays about social problems including drug use on January 23.

Each weekend there will be performances in the Centre Theater’s 4th floor space Thursday-Saturday at 8pm and Sunday matinees. All seats are $15.00. Most performance dates are 60-75 minutes long. Tickets can be purchased by visiting the Centre Theater website and checking the posted calendar for performances and times or at Patrons can also call the Centre at 610-279-1013.

The conclusion of the Festival will be a four day run of the world premiere of Chris Braak’s Red Emma, commissioned by Iron Age Theatre and Directed by John Doyle as part of the company’s social justice arm. The play, about the visionary anarchist Emma Goldman debunks the prejudices against her in the spirit of Citizen Paine and Marx in Soho and stars Mary Touneman.

“This festival is part of The Centre Theater’s role as anchor of the Norristown Arts Hill.” stated Randall Wise, Co-Director of Iron Age Theatre.

The Centre Theater and Iron Age Theatre have received Barrymore nominations for Outstanding Ensemble in Terra Nova and Best Lead Actor in The Elephant Man. As City Paper’s Mark Cofta put it so eloquently: “Iron Age Theatre keeps defying the odds, producing quality plays with loving care.”

The Centre Theater has been involved with the project to develop an arts district in Norristown. The Theatre has been the anchor for the arts in Norristown for more than15 years. The theater is located at 208 DeKalb Street one block from the Norristown Transit Station, the street that has become “Norristown Arts Hill”. The facility is undergoing a massive renovation including the development of an new larger theatrical space.

Working together, The Centre Theater and Iron Age Theatre have been one of the most critically acclaimed companies in the area for over fifteen years. The Philadelphia City Paper called the companies, The area's most under appreciated professional theater. The companies have also premiered eight plays in the past two years including “Molumby’s Million,” “Waiting for the Ship from Delos,” Philadelphia playwright Chris Braak’s “The Life of John Henry,” and Jeffrey Hatcher’s “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” The Centre and Iron Age will conclude their 2010 Season with O’Neill’s Emperor Jones featuring Kash Goins and the classic musical The Sound of Music directed by Aileen McCulloch.

The Centre Theater is in the Montgomery County Cultural Center at 208 DeKalb Street in Norristown. It is easily reached via routes 202, I-76, I-476 and Ridge Pike. There is plenty of free parking and the theater is one block from Septa’s Norristown Transit Center on the Manayunk/Norristown line.
Call 610-279-1013 for tickets and information or visit the web at

Tentative Schedule

January 7: TBA
January 8 Casual World/Intimate Heart 8pm
January 9 Chestnut Street Singers 3pm
January 14 The Bosslady Band 8pm
January 15 The Colored Museum 8pm
January 16 King of the Plains: The Life and Times of Buffalo Bill Cody Gene R Frank 2pm
January 17 Citizen Paine by Bill Hollenbach 8pm
January 20 Nick of Time by Joe Paprzycki South Camden Theatre and Michael Bee Puppet Theatre 8pm
January 21, Nick of Time by Joe Paprzycki South Camden Theatre 8pm
January 22, Dead Man's Mambo by OMBELICO Mask Ensemble 8pm
January 23 Two plays by The New Mystics Theatre Company 2pm
January 27, Apologies Are For The Living by Tiffany Joyner 8pm
January 28, Apologies Are For The Living by Tiffany Joyner 8pm
January 29, A Portrait of Black and White by Robert Miller featuring Donovan Hagins 8pm
January 30: Krissy in Concert 2pm
Feb 3-6: Red Emma by Chris Braak Featuring Mary Kay Tuomanen -Iron Age Theatre 8pm (Thurs-Sat) 2PM (Sunday)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Theatre Horizon presents 'The Very Merry Xmas Carol'

For The Times Herald

Christmas stories.

They come in all shapes and sizes. From the solemn and majestic Boar’s Head Festival produced by St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Lafayette Hill each January to the ongoing slew of Nativity pageants staged by other area churches and the countless lay classics peopled by characters like Scrooge, the Grinch and Charlie Brown.

How to describe “The Very Merry Xmas Carol Holiday Adventure Show,” scheduled to start preview performances tonight and keep spirits bright at Norristown’s Centre Theatre – courtesy of Theatre Horizon – through Dec. 31?

The tellers of this family-friendly yarn – “appropriate for ages 10 to 110” – call it “an arctic adventure where three unlikely friends battle a mysterious and malevolent force that’s unraveling the tradition of Christmas.”

“The trio of snowman, red-nosed reindeer and man from London-town are the very last hope in stopping the whirling, howling villain known as Xmas from devouring all Christmas tales and, indeed, the very spirit of Christmas, itself,” they continue.

“The three heroes find themselves tossed into a dizzying world of mixed-up Christmas stories where each page in the storybook bleeds into the next. But how can such wildly different creatures ever hope to get along when a great dark void threatens to erase every Christmas story ever told?”

The funnymen who pose the question and their thespian pals from Theatre Horizon hint at a happy ending:

“While outsmarting this Xmas villain, expert actors marshal their theatrical superpowers to reveal a vision of the holiday – and of ourselves – that is both bizarre, illuminating and wickedly funny.”

“The Very Merry Xmas Carol Holiday Adventure Show is an original fantasy by Justin Jain, Dave Johnson, Tim Sawicki and Brad Wrenn, AKA The Berserker Residents.

The production’s cast, directed by Alex Torra, includes Jain, Johnson, Wrenn and Brian McCann.

Theatre Horizon Artistic Director Erin Reilly says the family-friendly comedy was “specifically created for Norristown audiences” and represents “six months (of) brainstorming plot twists, experimenting with costumes, improvising dialog and figuring out how to create dozens of characters with just four live actors.”

“We like to present never before seen shows for families to experience together at the holidays,” Reilly continues, noting the authors-performers have been “a sold-out hit of the Philly Fringe for the past three years.”

“The challenge of creating original comedic work is not new to Jain, Johnson, Sawicki and Wrenn. Having created Philly Fringe Festival favorites such as Annihilation Point (2009), The Berserkers have proven themselves as experts in creating something out of nothing.

“For the past six months…the Berserkers have been meeting almost weekly to unpack the humor and irony behind beloved Christmas stories, to play with classic Christmas themes and personalities and to knit together an adventure story for a holiday crowd.

“These actors were singing ‘Jingle Bells’ in July, exploring arctic settings in the sweltering heat. Now that December has arrived and Christmas is in the air, we look forward to entertaining families who want to celebrate the holiday together.”

For their part, the Berserkers look “to eschew time-honored conventions of theater, opting, instead, for a site-specific experience in which the audience is teleported – from the very moment they step through the door – into the fantastic world we’ve made for them.”

“Our work is original and created in a collaborative manner, embracing location, a sense of play and an inclusion of the audience within the story as it unfolds.”

Centre Theater is located in the Montgomery County Cultural Center, 208 DeKalb St., Norristown. More information is available at 610-283-2230 or

If You Go

“The Very Merry Xmas Carol Holiday Adventure Show” preview performances are scheduled for tonight and Saturday at 8; Sunday at 2 p.m. and Dec. 16 at 7 p.m.

The opening night, Dec. 17 is sold-out.

Additional performances are set for Dec. 18 at 8 p.m.; Dec. 19 at 2 p.m.; Dec. 22 at 7 p.m.; Dec. 23 at 7 p.m.; Dec. 24 at 2 p.m.; Dec. 26 at 2 and 7 p.m.; Dec. 27 (Industry Night) at 7 p.m.; Dec. 29 at 7p.m.; Dec. 30 at 7 p.m.; and Dec. 31 (New Year’s Eve) at 6:30 and 9:30 p.m.

A champagne toast will follow Dec. 31’s 6:30 p.m. performance; a “light fare reception,” the 9:30 p.m. performance. The latter will also feature “ringing in the New Year with…a live feed of the ball dropping in Times Square.”

The Dec. 16 7 p.m. show is part of a special event hosted by Greater Norristown Corporation. Tickets are $30 each or $50 per couple and include a pre-curtain food and cocktail hour, starting at 5:30 p.m.

A local Christmas choir will serenade audiences prior to each performance, and “treats from Bee’s Sweet Shoppe” will be offered during intermissions.

Preview tickets cost $22. Tickets for regular performances are $27 for adults, $24 for seniors and $21 for students and children.

Tickets can be purchased at 610-283-2230 or Box office hours are Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

More arts in Norristown this Sunday.

Sunday, Dec. 12.
Antonio Vivaldi’s “Gloria” will be presented 10:45 a.m. at Christ Church, United Church of Christ, 103 W. Marshall St., Norristown. Featured will be the Chancel Choir, Kauffman String Quartet with John Paul Galib, trumpet. Melanie Eberhard is director. Free. Information: 610-275-3092.

Space Showcase on Norristown Arts Hill- Oct 25th

Norristown Arts Hill is a new cultural district taking shape in offices, warehouses, and storefronts in Norristown. If you own a creative business, or are an entrepreneur or self-employed artists, you know that leasing the right work space at the right price is crucial to your business and your art. Norristown has an inventory of rental spaces; one may be just right for you!


Meet property owners and community members, see available properties, and stay for complementary cocktails afterwards!

To register, please contact Gabriela Prete at

Father John D’Amico Trio to Perform in Norristown

Father John D’Amico Trio to Perform in Norristown- An evening of Jazz helps celebrate the Arts on Norristown’s Arts Hill.

The Father John D’Amico Jazz Trio will perform in The Centre Theater’s 4th floor theatre on October 9, 2010 at 7pm. The event, which supports the continued development of a cultural District, costs $20 per seat and will include a meet and greet with Father John after the performance.

One of Philadelphia’s outstanding Jazz composers, lyricist and pianists, Father John has been playing piano since he was six and Jazz since he was 17. An ordained priest, he traded his pulpit for a piano and the rest is history. He has performed with Jazz greats like Lionel Hampton, Etta Jones, and, Jimmy Oliver. Father John was a 1989 recipient of the John Coltrane Award for Outstanding Achievement in Jazz.

The trio includes noted Jazz musicians Kenny Davis on bass and Gregg Mc Donald on drums. Father John is a consummate musician and composer whose style echoes the work of Count Basie, Keith Jarret and Bill Evans but ultimately the music is his own. A beautiful mixture of style and technique, the Father John Trio creates music that is dynamic and beautiful.

The Norristown Arts Council brings The Father John D’Amico Trio to The Centre Theater to expand the cultural sensibility of the Norristown Arts Hill. The performance will be held in the Centre Theater, the anchor of the Arts Hill and called “Norristown’s Theatrical Treasure” by the Philadelphia City Paper. The 4th floor black box space seats only 75 guests and as such assures an intimate encounter with the music.

Tickets can be purchased on line at Ticketleap,

The Father John D’Amico Trio recently performed at Zanzibar Blue and performed at Majestic Hotel in Cannes, France, where they enthralled audiences. The Trio has performed at the West End Café, the Village Gate in New York City, and all the well known clubs of Philadelphia and the surrounding area.

Father John has been featured as a solo performer on Philadelphia Television Stations’ morning shows, and Public Television.

In 1993 the Father John D’Amico Trio was the first group outside the realm of the classical venue to perform at the highly acclaimed Woodmere Art Museum series “Music at an Exhibition”. The Father John D’Amico Trio has had number of live broadcasts on radio stations WRTI and WHYY and have participated in several Philadelphia area based events including Old Pine, Haddonfield Presbyterian, Philadelphia Art Museum’s Wednesday evening series and the Presidential Jazz Weekend.

The Norristown Arts Hill endeavors to develop the Arts in Norristown. Located on DeKalb Street in Norristown, this dynamic cultural district embraces creative artists and their audience. The organization is building business connections and creating events including performance and exhibitions. The Centre Theater is the anchor of the Arts Hill located at 208 DeKalb Street and has been producing professional theatre for 15 years in Downtown Norristown and hosting artists from around the region. The facility will be undergoing a substantial expansion in the next 12 months. For more information visit

Festival Launches Arts Hill

The Norristown Arts Hill Launch Festival will take place on Saturday, April 24, 2010 (rain or shine) from 10:00am – 5:00pm on Dekalb Street from Main to Marshall Streets. The event marks the official launch of the Norristown Arts Hill district, which is anchored by the Center Theatre.
Feature performers include jazz pianist Father John D’Amico, the Ebenezer Gospel Choir, the Voloshky Ukrainian Dance Ensemble and the Philadelphia Dance Theatre. Another 24 local and regional acts will appear on four different stages throughout the day. A “Best Of Project Twenty1″ film festival will be playing in 401 Dekalb Street all day.
Attendees can indulge in an array of foods like Italian pork sandwiches, funnel cake, Mexican, Soul Food and all-American fare. Bring some spending money for the many vendors that will be selling paintings, clothing, jewelry, and arts and crafts.
“As a long-time observer and participant in Norristown community events, I have never been more impressed than I am today with the current movement to celebrate the Arts in our town,” says Bob Butera, a long time resident and respected attorney, “This overwhelming citizen involvement and enthusiasm is exactly what we need. It’s this kind of spirit that will revive Norristown.”
For more information about vendor/sponsorship opportunities please call 610-272-9100 email, or visit the Norristown Arts Hill facebook group.