Thank you to all of our patrons who come out to support JMT every year. We have an extremely talented, and dedicated cast and production staff who truly enjoy bringing these wonderful Broadway musicals to our Jenkintown community. Please stay tuned for updates about next year’s production. Thank you again for supporting the arts in Jenkintown! – The JMT Board of Directors
Community Theatre is going strong in Montgomery County, and JMT would like to encourage you to also support some of our colleagues in the area:
Willow Manor Players, Roslyn, PA - http://www.willowmanorplayers.org/
Pulley & Buttonhole, Jenkintown, PA - http://pulleyandbuttonholetheatre.org/
Neshaminy Valley Music Theatre, Neshaminy, PA - http://www.nvmt.org/
Beth Sholom Players, Elkins Park, PA - http://www.bethsholomplayers.org/
It’s a pleasure to sit and think about all of my years connected to the community theater network. It is what I call my “therapy”. As I tell the young folks who are interested in getting into community theater…where else can you meet 20 or so new friends, sing, dance and act in front of 200 people for 6 shows?…and you can do this every year!
For today’s youth it is a great way to prepare for the stresses of the work world. I believe that those who participate are much more prepared to deal with all that each day throws at you. It develops your confidence and allows you to comfortably stand in “front” and speak……in whatever you do.
I found over my 26 years with JMT /Community Theater that performing is great medicine to cure your fears and a source of developing confidence in yourself. I’ve been associated with a few community groups but none for as long as I have been with JMT. I’m fond of JMT, as it resides in the neighborhood I went to grade school in and spent most of my teen years hanging out in. I was lucky enough to get a small role in my first JMT show – South Pacific (1988). It was there I met the friendliest, and what I thought were extremely talented, people. I played the role of Buzz Adams (the pilot) and began what was to be a great bunch of relationships. Within the 26 years of performing I was lucky enough to nab many leading roles and also smaller parts in the annual productions. I can tell you that a lot of those contacts and friends that were made “still” exist today. They are truly family to me.
So anyway I won’t bore you with every role I achieved but I will tell you that each one gave me something to move forward with in my life. Today I try and tell all of the younger set involved that being involved in theater at this level truly has its benefits – stay with it and watch yourself develop. Especially today with all of the social media tools, you find that young people don’t communicate as well as they should (my opinion). I mean you’ll never see anyone texting a line to someone on stage..it has to be face to face…..hey! Communicating! I know it’s not that extreme but you know what I mean.
About 5 years ago I started to get interested in the back stage part of the productions. It’s true however that as you get older (and balder) that those leading roles don’t appear that often. So I started helping with sets and doing stage crew. You should all try it sometime. I think you’ll find as I did that that guy or gal moving that set is as equally important as the leading man or woman. As an actor you sometimes take that for granted but it is as specific as a leading role. I also get to watch individuals grow each year and that is so cool to see. I could mention a ton of individuals but the list is too long. I will tell you that we have a present cast member that was just a baby when I began at JMT and now he is dancing , singing and acting on stage. He’s not only developed as a performer but as a young man as well….and…his mom still does the show also. Pretty cool stuff huh? That is a perfect example of not only JMT but community theater at its best!
Today I am on the board of another local community group called Willow Manor Players which provides quality community theater performed at Abington Jr. H/S. Many of the performers who do shows at JMT also participate in the WMP program. It’s good to see the casts mix it up between the 2 groups . Folks can do a show in the spring and the fall which gives the community an opportunity to see close to and sometimes as good as off Broadway productions. Maybe I’m biased but the quality of the community theater in this area is second to none. All participants should take a bow!
I pretty much stick to the Producer role at WMP these days along with stage crew for JMT and also “announcing” at JMT. I always look forward to letting everyone know that they must “Unwrap All Hard Candy” at this time!
This year’s production of “Hello Dolly” is as good as it gets! The sets, lights, dancing, acting etc……. it is extremely well done. It is just another example of people’s commitment to this trade. Our goal is to keep this train running and with the participation of all of you who read this I believe we’ll keep performing and we’ll buying tickets for a long, long time. This year is my 40th year being connected and involved in Community Theater, and I’m looking forward to many more!
Hope you enjoyed the blog post! See you all on stage!
If you are a JMT patron, or are bringing a guest, requiring disability access or special seating arrangements, please contact our Ticket Manager, Jenn Adams at 215-478-6546 at least 48 hours prior to the performance and leave a detailed message. One of our representatives will return your call with additional questions. The Jenkintown High School Building is handicapped-accessible through the front door in the drop-off circle, and we do have an elevator available for anyone in need of ambulatory assistance. There is also a handicapped-accessible ramp and door, with additional parking spaces, at the rear entrance of the school off of Highland Avenue. Handicapped placard parking is limited in front of the school, however, our parking attendant will save a range of spaces for those with valid placards. Thank you for your support of Jenkintown Music Theatre and we hope to see you at Hello, Dolly!
Jenkintown Music Theatre greatly appreciates the generosity and community involvement of our show sponsors. Without their support, JMT might have difficulty supporting the arts in Jenkintown and bringing such wonderful musical productions to our audience. From everyone at JMT – THANK YOU!
The Hiway Theater is celebrating its 100th birthday, having opened in 1913 as the “Jenkintown Auditorium.” The theater is located at 212 Old York Road in Jenkintown, PA. We are nonprofit, community-based movie theater, specializing in independent, art, and foreign films. http://www.hiwaytheater.net/
One of my favorite musical numbers comes from “Cutains”, the show JMT produced in 2010. The song “It’s a Business” finds the show producer, Carmen, explaining to her not-so-terribly talented daughter, Bambi, her perspective on producing musical theatre for profit. It’s a great, funny song and I’ve been revisiting it for inspiration this year. As many of you are aware, JMT finally became an incorporated non-profit entity at the beginning of this year. Extensive research, thought and planning went into moving forward with the process, and we knew there would be something of a balance between positive outcomes and what some might perceive as negative outcomes. The learning experience over the past several months has been quite interesting.
On the positive side, we are now officially able to accept tax-deductible donations, and provide statements of giving, since we are a non-profit entity. We were able to implement electronic ticket sales through Facebook and our website, which was not possible in years past. We are working out some bugs for those who don’t wish to use a credit card for purchases, but it has so far been one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. Our relationship with the school district remains strong, with an increased flow of communication and better connections with the performing arts instructors. We are also making inroads back into the Jenkintown business community, and the community at large. Our hope is to bring even more participation from community residents to JMT in the future.
Because this is our first year with the new structure, it has mildly affected how we determine budget amounts for our creative departments. There is a small measure of uncertainty in predicting whether Hello, Dolly! will sell the right dollar amount of tickets we need to be successful, but we’re cautiously optimistic about it. With non-profit status comes a new level of accountability to state and federal accounting standards, which must be adhered to in order to keep our legal status. From this point forward, we can not backslide into what have been the traditional ways of managing our productions. Change and uncertainty may be difficult to deal with sometimes, but we’ll do our best to explain and answer any concerns.
JMT has a bright future as a non-profit arts entity, and the group needs to function under the rules of a corporate structure. We’ve learned quite a bit about the balance between the artistic side and the business side, which can be a challenge at times. As the group continues to develop, I’ll try to share some of our milestones, improvements, and fund-raising initiatives. Thanks for reading!
“I’m not devoid of culture, but my feet are on the floor. It’s a business.” -Curtains
Camelot was the first JMT show I produced after the groups long-standing producer of nine years decided to step down in favor of some positive and exciting life changes. Having spent a couple years as house manager and Home & School Liaison, Dolly, Frank, Nancy, and Shirley approached me to see if I was interested in taking on the producer role. Not knowing any better, I said, “Sure. How hard could it be?”
The audition process back then was a little more complicated and moved a little slower. We didn’t have the digital video-recording technology that we do today, so Bill was largely using a mini-DV recorder and rolling the tape backwards and forwards during the casting meeting. Once again, we had a fantastic cast for Camelot – Gary Gilbert as King Arthur, Kathy Liebars as Guenevere, the amazing Kevin Gallagher as Lancelot, Grant Evans as Mordred, Larry McLaughlin as Merlin (it was a My Fair Lady reunion!), Carrie Lucente-Alderfer as Nimue, and Paul Pope as Sir Pellinore with his dog. We had a second Abington High School student cast as Tom, the boy at the end of the show, named Lee Slobotkin. Lee had played the young boy from the upstate New York family in Ragtime for us and did a terrific job. He is now with the touring company of “Wicked” playing the role of Boq, according to his Facebook page.
Sandy did a terrific job costuming this show using both rented and custom-sewn pieces that blended perfectly with a set designed by local architect Judy Hendrixson, who’s now in Doylestown, PA. Since the auditorium still did not have air conditioning at that point, some of the heavier costumes made conditions under the stage lights difficult for our actors. During one dress rehearsal, both King Arthur, and one of Guenevere’s ladies-in-waiting passed out on the stage from heat exhaustion. After that happened, we started bringing in cases of water to keep backstage.
The set included a massive tree in which King Arthur perches in the opening act, an amazing painting of the castle on the stage wall, and silk, floor-length banners painted with tree branches and leaves descending from above the stage. When Bill’s lights hit those fluttering, silk banners the effect was astounding! Making the tree was one of the most fun, yet disgusting, projects I’ve ever worked on. Judy, Marie Kizel, and I spent two weekends attaching large cardboard tubes to a solid drum base (for the trunk), with burlap covered with clear wallpaper paste. The paste came in large, white buckets and was the consistency of gooey slime – the kind you see in the Alien films. When we were done, we had a huge, hard-to-move, really lovely tree complete with leaves and branches that provided a mostly safe, if slightly precarious, perch for Gary. After Camelot wrapped, a local kindergarten teacher asked if she could have the tree for her classroom, so we delivered it.
While we were still in the midst of “hell-week” dress rehearsals, when our co-producer, Nancy Huttlin, approached to give me some news. I just want to take a second here to say how much I miss working with Nancy. She had a great sense of humor, was pretty organized, and new a lot about musical theater. She had a real knack for figuring out which shows would work for JMT, and for many years was an instrumental part of the production staff. The news Nancy and Frank K. had just received was that the license for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast had just been released for community groups like ours. She asked me what I thought, and I said, “Nancy, I don’t even have to think about it. Ask Frank to put in the request for the paperwork and we can announce it to the cast and in the program.” We sealed the “Beauty” deal before the performances were done. That was one of the best decisions we ever made, and ended Camelot on a real high note.
JMT would like to thank WRDV-FM and WLBS-FM Public Radio in the Delaware Valley for supporting Hello, Dolly!
One of my ongoing projects is the organization and management of JMT materials which I’ve personally collected over the past 12 years of volunteering with JMT. I also inherited archived material from productions dating back to the early 1980′s. Sifting through the old programs, cast lists, meeting minutes, and department reports makes me consider how much has changed since I first volunteering with JMT. I can sincerely say that my involvement with JMT over the past 12 years has been an extraordinary learning experience that has included lessons in patience, innovation, negotiation, and flexibility.
Back in 2002, when JMT produced “My Fair Lady”, we had pretty much unlimited access to the school district buildings, some of the classrooms, and the auditorium. Highland Avenue cut through between West Ave. and Greenwood Ave, prior to the link building and traffic circle completion in 2007. As I’ve mentioned before, there was no air conditioning in the building, and the old boiler was unreliable on the best of days. There were no security cameras watching the hallways and access doors, and no high-tech alarm system. It seemed the real discussions about school security began shortly after the Columbine shooting in 1999, and then picked up speed after September 11th, 2001. The State of PA began to pass new regulations about school lockdowns, access to public buildings, and emergency procedures to protect students and teachers, which the school district was legally bound to follow. Tighter regulations and improved security systems began to make JMT’s formerly unlimited access more difficult to negotiate, and at times, led to contentious relations with school district administrators and teachers.
I’ve personally survived the tenures of four Jenkintown High School Assistants to the Principal, and three Superintendents, and I can honestly say our relationship with the school district is very positive at this point. . Every year since 2005, the lines of communication are more open and we seem to have a mutual understanding of each organization’s needs. That being said, the school district’s needs will usually take precedence over the needs of the group using the facility. Jenkintown’s students, teachers and academic programs come first, as they are graciously allowing us access to the building.
Let’s also talk tickets. Back in the day, we had a large cardboard box with six slots for the tickets for each performance date. It was bulky, clumsy, and tough to carry around when it was full of tickets. Not to mention that if you left the box on top of your car and started driving down West Avenue, things could get a little dicey (that actually happened). We were spending money on supplies for tickets with small envelopes (but these were usually covered by a sponsored donation), copier paper for ticket and ad flyers, #10 mailing envelopes and postage. Handling the ticket sales has been an extremely labor-intensive process that takes a combined skill set of accounting, organization and customer-service skills, all of which we luckily have in Jenn Adams. We started streamlining the ticket process, and cutting supply costs a little bit, in 2008 with “The Most Happy Fella” when we started printing our own tickets on color-coded paper. Over the winter months of 2013, we were able to implement our online ticketing software with Vendini, a company headquartered in Boston, and we’re finding it’s one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. The online ticketing system allows us not only to accept credit card ticket purchases, but also to do additional fundraising, create reports, and communicate with our patrons about upcoming shows. While the business team of JMT understands the growing pains that sometimes accompany changes to the system, we continue to improve and learn from the issues that come up, and we’re working with our long-standing customers who have questions and concerns about purchasing online.
It’s my fervent hope that the innovations and technology available today, such as social media marketing and the new ticketing system, will give JMT a solid foundation to move forward into the next 30 years. While innovation is not always easy to accept, it’s critical to the future of JMT. 2015 will mark the group’s 70th anniversary in Jenkintown, and in 2045, I’d like to see the 100th!