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Tipton Creek Musical Theater Ensemble to entertain at DelGrosso Amusement Park

The Tipton Creek Musical Theater Ensemble will entertain park goers at DelGrosso’s Amusement Park with music, singing and dancing tomorrow at 7 p.m., Saturday at 3 and 7 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m.
The ensemble, made up of teenagers ages 13 to 18 from junior and senior high schools in Bedford, Blair, and Centre Counties, was formed in August 2004 and has been rehearsing for the performance since September. The group meets one weekend a month at the Church in the Middle of the Block in Altoona.
Owned and operated by John Rita, the former church is now a community-oriented center that emphasizes the arts and, with the assistance of State Representative Rick Geist, recently received a grant from the Department of Community and Economic Development.
The Tipton Creek group is part of the Creative Youth Theater Foundation, which focuses on making education in the arts available to dedicated teens regardless of income. The Foundation officially opened its doors in September 2004, encompassing the Altoona ensemble and the Middleburg Teen Theater Class in Middleburg, Virginia. Actor Robert Duvall serves on the Foundation’s honorary board of directors.
The Altoona contingent made its gala debut in November 2004 in Middleburg, Virginia, and, along with the Middleburg Teen Theater Class, raised over eight thousand dollars. Monies raised by this non-profit organization through ticket sales and donations cover operational costs and a scholarship fund which includes an exploratory arts scholarship program for summer camps and programs and a higher education scholarship grant geared for college-level education in the performing arts. The group has most recently performed at the Blair County Arts Festival in May.
Tom Sweitzer, the Foundation’s artistic director, had a particular interest in starting the local group. Born and raised in Altoona, he is the great nephew of Fred and Mafalda DelGrosso. Although he left Altoona to live and work in Virginia, he desired to work more closely with his family. After spending summers in Altoona teaching drama classes and working with the Altoona Community Theater, he and his associate, Kimberly Tapper, developed the idea for the Tipton Creek Musical Theater Ensemble.
“Last year, Kim and I were teaching a class in Altoona. We had about 18 or 20 teens and were very impressed by them. We put together a proposal for the Foundation to come up here,” Sweitzer commented.
Knowing the DelGrosso family’s strong commitment to youth, he approached them to sponsor the local group. They agreed without hesitation.
Parents play an active role as well, working closely with Sweitzer and Tapper in helping the teens explore and realize their potential. In the Fall of 2005 and Spring of 2006, parents and teens from both the Altoona and Middleburg groups will participate in Master Workshop Days, a program featuring college counselors and persons in the performing arts who will share their expertise in various career fields. The workshops will also be open to non-foundation members.
At the present time, the Altoona ensemble numbers 18 to 20 teens, a number that works well for individual attention. Sweitzer and Tapper are hopeful that if the right teachers come along, the group will grow in number over the coming years.
For more information about the Tipton Creek Musical Theater Ensemble and The Creative Youth Theater Foundation, contact Tom Riley at 684-1350.