Twenty Two Day Theater and Music Festival explodes in Downtown Norristown
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 Ticketleap.com. 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 www.ironagetheatre.org
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)