Meet UPTOWN! Entertainment Alliance (UEA)
It seems like the perfect storm hit in the West Chester / Chester County area lately. The opening of Limelight Performing Arts Center (a place where performing hobbyists and professionals of all ages can learn and sharpen their craft) coupled with the exciting news of a downtown theater in the heart of West Chester driven by the talented and amazing folks at Uptown! Entertainment Alliance. We thought we would get to know what’s on the horizon with this energetic and focused organization and how it will help to bring more performing arts awareness and opportunities to our area. Please welcome Leslie Telthorster, Marketing UEA to our “Step Into Your Limelight” interview series.
Hi Leslie – what is your role at Uptown! Entertainment Alliance?
I serve on the Board of Directors as Marketing Chair.
Can you briefly describe UPTOWN! Entertainment Alliance?
UPTOWN! Entertainment Alliance started as a conversation among friends. Over the past three years, that conversation has evolved into a formalized, passionate effort to bring a theater to West Chester. With the Zoning approval and Successful Footlights & Fun Raising event, we closed on the purchase of the Armory on December 18th and excitedly begin it’s transformation into the theater of our dreams right in the heart of West Chester.
See what happens when passionate people get together and start dreaming! What is your overall mission?
UPTOWN! Entertainment Alliance is a non-profit organization promoting cultural, economic, and civic life experiences in our community through live theater, music, dance, film and other local events in the heart of West Chester, Pennsylvania’s historic district. UPTOWN! will do this by creating a cultural hub for individuals and families within walking distance to West Chester’s bustling boutiques and restaurants. Engaging underserved age and income groups through age and culturally sensitive programming. We believe we are preserving an important part of local and national history.
How did you become part of the team?
I started out volunteering to help with the Gala in 2013.
Where is your theater’s home?
In February 2013, UPTOWN! found a home for its theater — the historic West Chester National Guard Armory located at 226 High Street. With the help of local legislators, Pennsylvania State Senator Andrew Dinniman and Pennsylvania State Representative Dan Truitt, UPTOWN! Entertainment Alliance secured an Agreement from the State of Pennsylvania to transform this grand old building into a multi-use theater.
What an incredible building! Tell us a little more history about the Armory?
The West Chester National Guard Armory building was built in 1916 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It housed the National Guard’s Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 111th Infantry and 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, which traces its lineage directly to Benjamin Franklin, who formed the unit in 1747 to protect the Colonies in the French and Indian War. This unit of soldiers has represented the United States in nearly every war since and is the most decorated unit of our armed forces. This grand 10,900 square foot space with its barrel-vaulted ceiling offers the perfect venue for a large-scale theater and a lasting tribute to courage and sacrifices made by the men of the Bravo Company!
Can you tell us about your fundraising events that our Limelight and West Chester Summer Stage staff, alumni, fans and students could attend?
Attend any one of our programs! Each month Uptown puts on music and jazz concerts, Broadway in the Borough with the Resident Theater Company and Salsa evenings. We also invite anyone to visit our website and make a gift to support the theater.
We love lending a hand to our fellow artists — what type of volunteer opportunities are available for adults and children at UPTOWN!?
Absolutely! All of our events require volunteer support. Handing out programs, taking tickets and setting up tables. We could not run our events without volunteers.
Tell our students about your in-house theater group? What and when will be the first production?
The Resident Theater Company (RTC) is a group formed specifically to work in the new theater. It is a professional theater company with actors from our area as well as New York and Washington DC. Right now we are hosting monthly cabaret evenings and special theater events. RTC is planning to open the new theater with a production of Spamalot.
How can Limelight students and performers learn about audition opportunities for future productions?
Students can visit www.uptownwestchester.org for any volunteer or audition opportunities.
Limelight is so happy to be a “Partner in the Arts” with UPTOWN! Limelight hopes to help UPTOWN! in its’ efforts to fulfill its mission. Can you explain to our readers how our “partnering” can help our collaborative efforts for a theatre revival in our town?
Uptown! is looking to have a variety of arts organizations utilizing the space in the new theater as well as classrooms and rehearsal space. Our partners will have an opportunity to rent space and gain exposure as we grow.
We are sorry you were unable to attend the Limelight production in our black-box theatre on Westtown Road – we produced Seussical The Musical with an adult professional cast. It was a huge success for us. We have elementary, middle school and high school versions coming in January and we would love to extend an invite to you then. Thanks for your time Leslie!