Unless you are under the age of ten, you know what follows those words. As a youngster, the Meatloaf tune was an anthem, as I grew older, it morphed into an overplayed ear worm. Thanks to local filmmaker, Joe Ronca, I can feel good again when I hear, By the Dashboard Light.
A little over a year ago Ambler resident, Joe Ronca, decided to take a break from Yes, Hello! (a sketch comedy group that you may have seen at The Ambler Theater in July of 2012) and focus on a feature film. This is something that he’s wanted to do for a long time and had a handful of half-written scripts and story concepts, but nothing concrete. He was driven to get to work right away and put an ad out on the ISA (International Screenwriter’s Association) looking for scripts. The ad brought in 80+ scripts; some were phenomenal, but were big budget epics that were just not feasible, and some not so good, as evidenced by only a couple pages.
Finally he found the script for “By the Dashboard Light” – a comedy. After being focused on comedy with YH! for the past 3 years, Ronca initially didn’t want to produce a comedy, but the script was so good, that he couldn’t turn it down. Keep in mind, the ISA is an international website and Ronca received scripts from the UK, India and numerous other countries. After falling for the script he learned that writer Sienna Golden Malik was from Media, PA. He took it as a sign and contacted her immediately.
In March of last year they held auditions at 1812 Productions in Philadelphia. They were casting the primary roles of the film and a handful of smaller parts. Close to 200 people showed up and provided some really good auditions (and a ton that weren’t so hot). Ronca also received countless video auditions from people who couldn’t attend. Interestingly, nearly all of the main character roles were filled with people who sent in a video read. The audition process was captured by filmmaker Trevor Senhouse. Shortly after, Ronca selected the primary cast. The lead role of Roger was to be played by the incredibly talented Keith Chandler. Some recent and very exciting news is that veteran character actor Jon Polito (The Big Lebowski) has also joined the cast!!!
They spent the next 3-4 months preparing a short trailer video that could be used as a fundraiser. Ronca and Malik selected their favorite scenes from the film and he wrote a screenplay for the trailer. After a loooooong SAG (Screen Actors Guild) battle over contracts, they finally got the go-ahead to shoot. The trailer was shot in 2 months and took another 2 months to edit. On Christmas day 2014, they launched the early version of the trailer. After some tweaking, the final version came to life (fellow Amblerians will likely recognize the house in the opening shot). The video is used on their Indiegogo fundraising page AND will also play at the Ambler Theater before movies in the upcoming months – followed by a special message from Ronca to the audience.
Fundraising began last week on 4/20. Their goal is to raise $30,000.00 for the film’s primary production, a goal that they’ve been told by fellow producers is very reachable and with our help, they can reach their goal. Aside from the warm fuzzies of contributing to the project, there are some pretty sweet perks for donations at certain levels, including admission to the premiere at the Ambler Theater, tickets to the VIP after party, and BEING IN THE MOVIE! Yes, that’s correct, you my friend, can be a star… Help support a local artist and who knows, Ambler could make the big time! Also, be sure to like the films facebook page to share the journey with them and be among the first to know about exciting new announcements.
This is an exciting time of year, and Ambler is celebrating! As you can see below, there is no shortage of ways to enjoy the holiday season in town. Ambler Main Street, our local theaters, shops, eateries, pubs and churches are all doing something to make the season extra special. Bring your family, invite your friends and celebrate with your neighbors!
December 4: Live Nativity at St. Anthony’s, 6-8pm. The Christmas Story is portrayed by over 100 parish volunteers, outdoors at St. Anthony of Padua, on Forest Avenue. Complete with live animals, this is a beautiful tradition that you don’t want to miss.
December 6: Ambler Main Street Annual Holiday Parade, updated time 11am. Make sure the little ones bring their letters for Santa!
December 6: Tree Lighting, 6pm. This is a new event this year, and hopefully one that will continue for years to come. The tree will be located in the grassy area next to Sweet Briar Cafe, on Lindenwold Ave. Presented by our friends on Lindenwold Ave, Sweet Briar Cafe, Tony Serrao, State Farm and Ambler Barber Shop.
December 9-28: Act II Playhouse is featuring three different holiday shows that are sure to please! ‘Making Spirits Bright‘ is a Holiday Comedy Cabaret (12/9-28). Murray the Elf returns in ‘Murray the Elf and the Case of the Stolen Sleighbells‘ which is a funny show geared towards families with children 5 years and older (12/20-26). Barrymore Award winning singer, Joilet Harris, returns for one night to perform ‘Joi to the World‘ an evening of Holiday Songs (12/21).
December 10: Holiday Sing-A-Long and IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE!, 6:30pm, at the Ambler Theater. The Ambler Symphony will perform a holiday concert, followed by a sing-a-long of familiar carols. Following the sing-a-long, the theater will screen the Frank Capra Christmas classic (and my favorite movie, yay!), It’s a Wonderful Life!!! If by some crazy chance, you have not seen this movie, you must see it on the big screen! If Ambler is near and dear to your heart, you will immediately feel a connection to Bedford Falls. This film will melt the heart of Mr. Grinch and even Scrooge.
December 11: Santa by Train, 7pm. Ambler Main Street brings Santa to Ambler once again! He is foregoing his sleigh, it’s only December 11th after all, and arriving at the Ambler Train Station to greet his friends and join them in walking to the Ambler Theater. Once they arrive, the theater will screen a Christmas classic for the kids to watch as they wait for their turn with the big guy.
December 12: Holiday Shopping Night, 5-9pm. Your favorite Ambler shops and eateries will be open until 9pm and offer exciting holiday specials. This is a great way to support our local businesses and cross those gifts off your list. Of course, you’re likely to find a few gifts for yourself, but that’s okay, you deserve it! While in town, enjoy the sound of carolers!
December 20: The castle at St. Mary’s will be open for tours, 11am-5pm. The castle will be dressed for Christmas and Santa will be there (pictures, noon-4pm)! Admission is a donation of your choice and the event benefits the students at The Villa.
December 23: Forest & Main presents, The Night Before Christmas. I believe this is the third year F&M has done this, and it is a wonderful tradition. There will be a 5pm reading for families, complimentary milk and cookies for the little ones, and the spicy, adult version of this classic poem will be performed at 10pm. And yes, mulled wine will be flowing. If we’re lucky, Christmas Karaoke will ensue!
December 24: The First Presbyterian Church of Ambler is holding a Traditional Candlelight Service at 9pm.
If you know of other Ambler holiday events that should be shared, let me know. Next stop, New Years Eve!
August 4th marks Cornerstone’s 3rd Annual Narnia in the Park! Cornerstone Presbyterian Church returns to Pickering Field for five nights, as Rev. Dr. Carl R. Trueman reads C.S. Lewis’ The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. The nightly readings, August 4-8, will take you back into the world of Edmond, Lucy and Prince Caspian as they are joined by Eustace in the search for seven lost Lords of Narnia. Each evening will also feature mini concerts of folk and classical music, light refreshments and activities for the kids. This is a wonderful event for the entire family, but don’t stop there, invite your neighbors and friends as well! Bring your own blankets and chairs and sit back as Pickering Field becomes Narnia. The icing on the cake… this event is FREE!!! Be sure to give Cornerstone a big thank you for their hard work in bringing this to the community, once again!
In the case of inclement weather, the event will take place at Cornerstone Church, 211 W. Bethlehem Pike, adjacent to the Sons of Italy building.
2013 was full of memorable moments in Ambler; some ground breaking, exciting and new, others struck a chord of despair and broke hearts. I feel that the moments below are worth revisiting as we bring this year to a close.
Wissahickon School Board votes to close Mattison Avenue Elementary. This decision was a blow to the Borough and so many who fought tooth and nail to keep the school open. Closing its doors once and for all in June marked the end of an era in Ambler. MAE was the last school left in the Borough, and one unlike any other. If you are like me and like to look for the silver lining, I believe that the fight to keep Mattison Avenue open brought people together. They forged bonds as they fought for their kids and their community, it caused many to “wake up” and be more aware and engaged. Following the closure, Ambler Borough went on to purchase the building; it will be the future Ambler Borough Municipal Building.
Mayor Bud Wahl announces that he will not seek another term. After twelve years of service, we wish Bud farewell with great admiration and respect. He accomplished much during his time in office and is a true champion for Ambler!
Forest & Main celebrate their first birthday. This made my list because it was one epic party. Think frat party, but without the crappy beer and bad behavior. F&M is a wonderful addition to Ambler and people came out of the woodwork to show their support. Safe to say, it was a good time had by all.
Opening day of the Ambler Farmers’ Market. This market was a long time coming and Ambler was ready for it! I’m fairly certain that my eyes sprang a leak as I looked up Butler Avenue and saw droves of people making their way down to the market. People of all ages, some with strollers, some with dogs; all of them, ready to shop and spend time with their neighbors. Farmers offering fresh, local food in town, what a sight it was!
The Ambler Arts & Music Festival takes over town! This Friday and Saturday festival was an incredible collaboration between Ambler Main Street, Ambler Rotary, and Ambler Borough. People enjoyed art and music, and partied in town all weekend. Top notch local artists displayed their talent and exciting headline musicians preformed on a state of the art stage in the Ambler Savings Bank parking lot. The highlight was Saturday night when the parking lot and streets were turned into a dance party as the Trammps took the stage. People are still talking about it!
The old Ambler Cabaret changed hands. While this may not mean anything in the immediate future, it has to be (please!!!), a step in the right direction. The Cabaret has laid dormant since 1994, but in it’s day, it was home to tons of great acts, including the Hooters, Tommy Conwell, Merl Saunders, and many, many more. I’ve not heard of any plans yet, but the potential here is HUGE!
El Limon (finally) opens. While Ambler saw several new openings in 2013, this one was highly anticipated (at least by me). We have some incredible restaurants in town, but are short on fast, easy, affordable options, and it’s Mexican! With free margaritas!
The first Ambler Candidate Community Meeting was held. This non-partisan meeting was an opportunity for constituents to meet those up for election, listen to their “stump speeches” and ask relevant questions. The vast majority of the candidates attended and there were no political overtones. This will undoubtedly become a regular event during election season.
Bottom Dollar opens for business. This was long awaited for many in Ambler, after being without a grocery store for more than four years. There has been a lot of debate as to whether or not Bottom Dollar is the “right fit” for Ambler, regardless of your opinion, it is here and open for business.
Proposed development at St Mary’s Villa was announced. While this has clearly been in the works for some time, the news and plans became public knowledge in late November. Naturally, the news was met with mixed emotions. There are still serious hurtles the developers must cross before this project moves forward. I realize that St. Mary’s is not part of Ambler proper, but the outcome greatly affects the Borough.
The annual Christmas Parade. What can I say? I’m a sucker for this parade. This year didn’t feature anything out of the ordinary, but it is so small town, so Ambler, that it makes my list.
Last, but not least…
Throughout the year, several precious little ones were brought into the world, including this cutie spotted at the parade! Congrats to all of Ambler’s new parents, especially my peeps, Marty and Rachel! 🙂
What am I missing? Chime in and tell me below!
Most importantly, Happy New Year, Ambler!
Save the date, January 13-20th!!! Participating restaurants, menus and pricing will be released immediately after the new year begins! In the mean time, RSVP to the event on facebook to be entered to win an Ambler Restaurant Week gift certificate!
Election season is upon us and this year, without the shadow of a national election, we have the luxury of being able to focus on our local elections. For the first time in twelve years, Ambler will have a new mayor. There are five council seats up for election, as well as Borough Tax Collector and there is also an Ambler resident running for a seat on the Wissahickon School Board.
Until this year, there has not been an opportunity for the Ambler community to learn about all of the candidates under one roof. Typically, you have to attend the D’s or the R’s individual functions, which leaves out quite a few. That will change this year, as on October 24th, there will be a non-partisan community meeting where all candidates, from all parties, are invited to speak and engage in a Q&A with members of the audience.
This is your chance to get to know the candidates, learn their platforms, and understand why they are desirous of the position. In addition to learning about the candidates, the meeting will also offer a mini “civics lesson.” The purpose of this is to help the community understand how Ambler Borough operates and what can realistically be expected of a candidate in his or her position.
This meeting is free, there is nothing asked of you, other than your time for the evening. In fact, there is no money being exchanged at all; the venue has been graciously donated by From the Boot, sound and music by Ambler Music, assistance in the form of a meeting facilitator by Mark Warshaw, and the event logo by Joe Ronca.
This event was created with the Ambler community in mind, you are encouraged to attend and be better prepared to make your voice heard on November 5th!
It looks like Cornerstone Presbyterian Church is making Narnia in the Park an annual tradition, and it’s that time of year again! If you missed it last year, you missed out. Last August, Cornerstone brought us a week long celebration of the C.S. Lewis classic, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, and a great time was had by all, young and old. Mark your calendars, as this summer they are doing it again!
July 29 – August 2, you can enjoy nightly readings from another C.S.Lewis children’s classic, Prince Caspian. Dr. Carl R. Trueman will take you into Narnia on the continued journey of Peter, Susan, Edmond and Lucy. The evenings will also feature mini concerts and light refreshments. This is a wonderful event that the entire family will enjoy; invite your neighbors and friends as well! Bring your own blankets and chairs and sit back as Pickering Field is transformed into the Dancing Lawn. This event is FREE, so be sure to show your appreciation and give Cornerstone a big thank you for their hard work in bringing this to the community!
Narnia in The Park
Pickering Field, Park & Highland Avenues
July 29 – August 2, 6:45-8pm each night
In the case of rain the reading will be held at Cornerstone Presbyterian Church, 211 W. Butler Ave, adjacent to the Sons of Italy Building.
Summer is off to a fantastic start in Ambler! So far we’ve had the return of First Fridays, the debut of the Ambler Farmers’ Market, the Ambler Arts & Music Festival, and now Ambler Restaurant Week is on tap. All this activity is the reason I’ve been so absent from my blog, but I wanted to take a moment to share the Restaurant Week link with you so you have plenty of time to make your plans!
The menus are slowly rolling in, but there are a few restaurants who have already submitted amazing menus. Several restaurants are offering lunch menus and additional beverage pairings, lots of options to please everyone. Check out the details at www.AmblerRestaurantWeek.com. Menus, pricing and other information will be continuously updated as we get closer. July 21-28, promises to be another great Ambler Restaurant Week, see you in town!
Tucked away on Forest Avenue is the Senior Adult Activity Center of Montgomery County. This very active organization is asking for our help; they need runners, walkers and volunteers for “Outrunning Senior Hunger… One Meal at a Time,” a 5K Walk and 3K Run! This event will help raise awareness of senior hunger, the need for volunteers to deliver meals, and funds to help sustain the program, Meals on Wheels. Meals on Wheels delivered over 120,000 meals last year to homebound seniors in Ambler, Glenside, Norristown and surrounding communities, and this program continues to grow as the population ages and more individuals remain in their own home with support from agencies like this one.
The 5K Walk and 3K Run will take place on the Campus of Montgomery County Community College on Saturday, April 13, 2013. Registration is $20 and can be handled online or by mail, payable to Montco SAAC at Ambler Senior Adult Activity Center, 45 Forest Avenue, Ambler. Prizes will be awarded in several categories. Please help spread the word about the event!
If you’d like to help, but aren’t to run, walk, volunteer or donate at this time, volunteers are always needed to deliver meals to homebound seniors. Meals on Wheels volunteers can choose the location they would like to serve, and with an SAAC hub in Ambler, it’s easy to make a difference right in our community. Volunteers can either assemble meal packets, drive or partner with a driver. Meal packing starts at 8:00 AM so that drivers / partners can pick up and deliver meals starting at 10 AM. Volunteer schedules and day(s) of week are flexible and a weekly or bi-weekly commitment can be accommodated. The delivery of meals relies solely on volunteers, and they desperately need your help!
Contact the Senior Adult Activity Center in Ambler at 215-619-8863.
Forest & Main Brewing Company is about to celebrate their one year anniversary in April, and boy, has their first year been phenomenal! After a much delayed opening, they opened to instant fan fare and gained a devoted customer base immediately. It didn’t take long for word to spread in the beer community, F&M fans are not just coming from Ambler, but from all over the area, some traveling quite a distance to enjoy their craft beers and tasty pub fare.
Being featured on the front page of the Inquirer, receiving praise from Craig Laban (which is not easy to come by!) and taking home the coveted Best of Philly Brewpub in 2013 highlight a few of their “first year” accomplishments. Just last week they were featured on a 6abc show called, FYI Philly (see link below). The F&M coverage begins at about 9:50 into the show, and is well worth watching. Owners, Gerard and Daniel, give a fantastic peek into the brewery, as well as providing great press for our beloved town!
Check out the video below and be sure to celebrate Forest & Main’s exciting first anniversary at the pub, Saturday, April 13th. There will be live music on the porch, 4-7pm, and undoubtedly a good time had by all.
Forest & Main Brewing Company 61 N.Main Street facebook