Contemporary dance returns to TRI-PAC this weekend!

This news comes from Tri-PAC…

The Mélange Contemporary Dance Company returns to the Tri-County Performing Arts Center, 245 E. High Street, Pottstown for a weekend of superb music and dance.  On stage for three shows only, April 13th, 14th, and 15th, their performance features new duets, group pieces, and a reprise back by popular demand.

 Giving the show its title of “Past Forward” is the dual theme of change and continuity: The more things change, the more they seem the same.  Not just a dance performance, this is a show about telling stories and exploring relationships, according to Artistic Director Michelle Jones-Wurtz.

The show begins with “Me and Bessie,” a story-dance telling the tale of the lifestyle and hardships of Bessie Smith, a jazz singer during Prohibition.  Her life was a contrast of hardship and success, and by the time she died, she was penniless.  However, her music continued; it has been covered by many musical legends including Nina Simone, Eric Clapton, and Billie Holiday.

The Company then reprises an excerpt from “Survivor”, a piece dedicated to Michelle Jones Wurtz’s mother, a stage 3 breast cancer survivor.  The show includes a variety of pieces, including a work commissioned for the International Dance Festival in Poland in 2011, a movement interpretation of the famous Botticelli painting, “The Birth of Venus”, and even a celebration of the Beatles, a band that changed music forever.  The piece “History Repeating” is a visual study of how the more things change, the more they stay the same.  The finale is “Katrina’s Cross”, a look at New Orleans before, during, and after Hurricane Katrina.  This work is choreographed in part to original music by Deborah Stimson- Snow, Artistic Director of the Tri-PAC.

The dancers include Michelle Jones Wurtz, Elrey Belmonti, Dana Blackman, Christa Campbell, Kathleen Kerner, and Jackie Kokolus.  Musical choices range from rock, to blues, to classical and everything in between!  Be prepared for an evening of stories, songs, and inspiring movement as the tales unfold.

Tickets for all shows at the Tri-PAC are available online. Please note that seating is now reserved, so go to to purchase your tickets now or call 610.970.1199 to ensure the best seats.  Tickets range from $13 for children 12 and under, $15 for students and seniors (65+), and $17 for adults. Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more.  When available, tickets will be sold at the door.

Village Productions is a dynamic nonprofit performing arts organization that seeks to strengthen community, inspire creative exploration, educate, and entertain, through the presentation of quality performing arts events and educational opportunities geared toward a diverse audience. The new Tri-County Performing Arts Center at 245 E. High Street, Pottstown, PA is the home of Village Productions. You may contact Village Productions through their website at, or by telephone at 610-970-1199.



Next Happy Hour on March 16th at Ranieri’s Carpet & Flooring downtown!

This month’s party is in the heart of the downtown! Join the gathering on Friday, March 16th from 5-7 pm at Rich Ranieri’s, established in Pottstown since 1980. The $5 cover will get you appetizers from the Icehouse; beverages are complimentary.

Rich Ranieri’s Carpet & Flooring, Paint & Wallpaper
King & Manatawny Streets
Pottstown, PA 19464

Tri-PAC makes special offer for student groups to see Toys in the Attic

The Tri-County Performing Arts Center (Tri-PAC) in downtown Pottstown is offering a unique educational opportunity for high school or college groups. If you and your friends, students, and colleagues have an interest in classic drama, read on!

Award-winning, literary and dramatic
Its literary and dramatic quality is unassailable.  Yet, Lillian Hellman’s Toys in the Attic rarely is staged because it is so demanding to perform.  Tri-PAC is doubling down.  To add even more intensity than its intimate black box theater, our Toys will be performed in-the-round, as if we’re right there watching love, greed, envy, economic struggle, deceit, skeletons in the closet and fateful decisions unfold right before our eyes.  This is what drama is supposed to be: slices of real life that grab us and give us food for our own thoughts.  Performances will be preceded by a special “Prologue” discussion with Director Neal Newman.

Toys in the Attic is a penetrating, powerfully honest study of family and what’s important in life, and not.  While it was written in 1960, it deals with depression-era economic and social issues that feel utterly contemporary.  It features characters who might be living next door today.

About the Director
Neal Newman has taught and directed at Fordham University, University of the Arts, Cabrini College and the University of Pennsylvania.  He trained as a director at Carnegie Mellon and the Guthrie Theater is Minneapolis.  In addition to directing off-Broadway, and five seasons of Shakespeare in the Park in Philadelphia, he directed Ragtime and A Christmas Carol for Tri-PAC.


Two Thursday night performances (March 8 and March 15) of Lillian Hellman’s award-winning Toys in the Attic including the Director’s Prologue.  Half-price tickets for pre-paid student groups of 10 or more, including at least one teacher or parent.  With the student group discount, for these two Thursday night performances student tickets will be $8 and adult tickets $9.

For tickets, call 610.970.1199 or email to arrange for assistance from one of our group specialists.  For more information  visit

Support the Gallery School: Carnival in Venice event on March 31st!

Fashion Plates 6: Carnival in Venice

The Gallery School of Pottstown asks you to save the date!

Fashion Plates 6: Carnival in Venice is coming in March. Join them on March 31 at Brookside Country Club for another fabulous fundraiser.

The Gallery School’s signature fundraiser returns to its roots as an evening, couples-friendly event. Guests will enjoy amazing food, unlimited signature cocktail, and wonderful entertainment, from a  fabulous fashion show, sponsored by Boscov’s Department Stores, to a strolling magician, a harpist and more. They will give away fun door prizes, and their fabulous silent auction will bring out the bidder in everyone.

Purchase your individual ticket before March 10 for only $65. After March 10, individual tickets will be $70. Or take advantage of their two for $120 ticket deal.


VIST Financial
Boscov’s Department Stores

Table Sponsors

Boenning & Scattergood, Inc.
Independence Planning Group
Heartland Abstract, Inc.
Dolan & Mayerson, P.C.
Sager & Sager
J.H. White Financial
Creative Health Services

Entertainment Sponsors

Pete La Rosa Productions
513 Entertainment
Betsy Chapman, Harpist
Magical Illusions of Kyle and Kelly

Spring memoir writing class for seniors offered by Sue Repko at The Gallery School

This spring I’ll be teaching a couple of writing classes at The Gallery School of Pottstown. A memoir class for seniors is highlighted below.

You may or may not know that I just finished a master’s program in which I focused on memoir and essay writing. It should come as no surprise that most of my writing at this point in my writing life involves some aspect of growing up in Pottstown and my experiences re-discovering my hometown as an adult.

My philosophy as a writer and teacher of this kind of material is that looking back and making sense of our lives is a basic human instinct. Everyone has many stories inside them. Sometimes it takes a while to peel away the layers of an experience, get to the heart of it, and express what it means so that it not only makes sense to ourselves but also to others.  When we give shape to a memory, when we put it into context – when it is more than just “this happened, then that happened” – we are creating art. Everyone’s got their own voice; there’s no right or wrong way to tell any of these stories. 

Just one more note about the book we’ll use…  I had a workshop with Abigail Thomas a few years ago. She’s an amazing teacher, and her book is the next best thing to having her in the class!  I hope there are some older adults out there who want to join in!



This class is for older adults who want to capture memories on paper and re-discover where they’ve been, who they’ve known, and what they’ve done. Life’s joys and hardships can often be found in the smallest moments. We will use “Thinking About Memoir” by Abigail Thomas to get ideas and write very short essays or scenes. Students may get their own copy or copies will be provided for a small additional fee. An optional public reading at the end of the class will give writers a chance to share their work with family and friends. Minimum 4, maximum 10 students. WINTER/SPRING SESSION Begins April 4. Class runs Wednesdays from 6-8pm. 8 weeks. $125 (member), $135 (non-member).


Underwater Robotics Company Plans Relocation to Pottstown

Editor’s note: Below is a press release and photo recently received from Steve Bamford, Executive Director of PAID, Inc. – that’s Pottstown Area Industrial Development, Inc. – the economic development leader in Pottstown. I will echo Council President Toroney’s statement: VideoRay is exactly the type of employer we want to attract to our community, and a huge high-five goes out to Jason, Steve, Borough staff, the Zoning Hearing Board, and Borough Council for helping make this happen. Stay tuned as we report on more good economic development news coming out of Borough Hall and PAID…

VideoRay, LLC and Pottstown Area Industrial Development, Inc. (PAID) have announced plans for the relocation of VideoRay’s headquarters to Pottstown, Pennsylvania.

VideoRay, the global leader in observation Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) technology, is working on plans to acquire and renovate the former Levitz building at 212 E. High Street.

Photo by Henning Klepp Christensen

The building would initially be occupied by 35 VideoRay employees working in management, corporate administration, marketing, engineering, assembly, and repair functions. The rapidly growing manufacturer of very small underwater ROVs expects to increase the size of its workforce over the next several years.

 “I am very excited about what we can do when we relocate to downtown Pottstown,” said Scott Bentley, President and majority owner of VideoRay LLC. “There are a lot of reasons why we will be better off in Pottstown than where we are now. We were recruited by PAID and I have found Borough Manager Jason Bobst and the Borough staff to be very helpful in addressing some zoning and parking issues. It has been great working with PAID and the Borough.”

“VideoRay is exactly the type of employer we want to attract to our community,” said Stephen M. Toroney, Borough Council President. “A global high tech company with tremendous growth potential will soon call Pottstown home and we are pleased to welcome them.”

PAID and the Borough have been working with VideoRay since November to help determine the feasibility of relocating and alleviating concerns about moving from a rural to urban environment. The company has outgrown its current location in East Pikeland, Chester County.

“We presented the many benefits of establishing operations in Pottstown,” said Steve Bamford, Executive Director of PAID. “The idea of locating in a classic, walkable downtown was appealing to the company. Proximity to restaurants, the Tri County Performing Arts Center, public transportation, and convenient parking factored into their decision, as did plans for expansion of the Schuylkill River Trail and the continued growth of Montgomery County Community College in the borough.”

VideoRay is also exploring establishing a robotics campus in the building by leasing space to independent companies that provide some of the accessories and software used by VideoRay and its customers. “The prospect of additional technology companies moving to Pottstown is tremendously exciting and we are here to be of assistance,” said Bamford.

About VideoRay
With more than 1,950 Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) in service around the world, VideoRay is the global leader in observation ROV technology. The VideoRay ROV is an extremely versatile, portable, affordable, and reliable solution for underwater operations including surveys, offshore inspections, search & recovery, homeland & port security, science & research, fish farming, and other unique applications in underwater environments. More information about VideoRay can be found at

About PAID, Inc.
Pottstown Area Industrial Development, Inc. (PAID) is the non-profit corporation designated by a partnership of the Borough of Pottstown, Pottstown School District, and the Montgomery County Redevelopment Authority to coordinate and lead economic development efforts within the Borough of Pottstown, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.

Still deciding where to dine on Valentine’s Day?

Today is Tuesday, February 14, 2012…

Complimentary bottle of wine and romantic acoustic guitar by Russ Ferrara at Juan Carlos Fine Mexican Cuisine tonight. Call 484-624-4931 for reservations. Juan Carlos is at 235 E. High St., Pottstown, PA 19464. On the web at

Or…. the Brick House is offering several special packages…

Roy’s Rants reviews Ain’t Misbehavin’

Although I saw Ain’t Misbehavin at TriPAC this past Saturday, and Roy saw it on Sunday, he beat me to it and got his review up today. Roy’s review is here. I have to say I agree wholeheartedly with his overwhelmingly positive review.

Every single cast member has a distinctive and beautiful voice. They are: Denia Gibson, Mia Mbuy, Alexa Morefield, Marc Sherfield (who’s got his Golden Ticket to American Idol!) and Isaih Robinson. The talented and totally swinging musicians included Ben Bullock on piano as Fats Waller, Lewis Ben on drums, Louis Rieger (of High Street Music Company fame) on bass, Aaaron Gould on trombone, and Barb Newberry on reeds.

My favorite numbers were all after intermission: “The Viper’s Drag,” “Mean to Me,” and “Your Feet’s Too Big.” “Black and Blue” was heart-wrenching. Wait… I take that back… “Honeysuckle Rose” in the first act was skillful and soulful. All of it was directed and choreographed by Zuhairah McGill, founder of First World Theatre Ensemble.

This show is one more in what is becoming a long line of Tri-PAC hits. They know what they’re all about at 245 E. High Street. I asked at the ticket window if all the shows had sold out for next weekend and was told that there may have been literally only a couple seats left. Give a call to the box office, just in case (610-970-1199). I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you!

p.s. Let’s not forget that the Milkman Lunch Company & Cake Shoppe provide intermission treats at Tri-PAC. I had a Cotton Club Cake Pop – it was like a lollipop in size and shape, only it was moist, yellow cake coated in white chocolate icing and drizzled with milk chocolate. Bite-sized perfection!


All-you-can-eat Soup Bowl Fundraiser at The Gallery School next Saturday

Sent in by The Gallery School…

Support your local art school and beat the winter chill at the same time!

Soup Bowl Fundraiser
Saturday, February 18 from 12-3pm
All you can eat!

Join us for a delicious, beat-the-winter-chill event! You will be able to choose a handcrafted ceramic bowl and then fill it with your choice of homemade soup. Bread, beverages and homemade desserts will round off your lunch.

We will have a nice variety of soups to sample, made by our members and volunteers, and donated by local restaurants. (Vegetarian soups will be included in the selection.) Have fun sampling every option, or fill up on your favorite!

Vegetarian * Italian potato * black bean * chili * stew * tomato * French onion * broccoli cheese * and many more!
Tickets are only $15 and all proceeds benefit the non-profit Gallery School of Pottstown. There will be a limtied number of tickets available for sale at the door, so be sure to buy your ticket today! Tickets can be purchased online (or through the orange PayPal button below.)

When you finish your soup, be sure to take some time to see our Winter Member Show: “Baby, it’s cold outside!”. This fun show is all about contrasts: warm and cold, tropical paradise and winter wonderland.


The Gallery School of Pottstown

@ Gallery on High
254 E.High St.
Pottstown, PA 19464

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