Muhlenberg Celebrates 50th Anniversary Of Sondheim’s ‘Anyone Can Whistle’

Logo of Muhlenberg College

Logo of Muhlenberg College (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Allentown, PA – Stephen Sondheim’s rarely produced musical comedy “Anyone Can Whistle” will get a Fiftieth Anniversary production at the Muhlenberg College Theatre & Dance Department, Oct. 24 – Nov. 2. An absurdist satire about insanity, conformity, miracles, and local government, the 1964 musical is also a great love story, according to director Beth Schachter, and has become a cult classic among musical theater fans.

“The music is quite lovely,” says Schachter, a member of the theater faculty at Muhlenberg, and the chair of the Theatre & Dance Department. “The humor is also very enjoyable. The show is witty in a way that many musicals are not.

“Anyone Can Whistle” plays on the stage of the Empie Theatre, Baker Center for the Arts. Tickets and information are available at http://www.muhlenberg.edu/theatre and 484-664-3333.

The show tells the story of a bankrupt town with a corrupt mayoress, in which the only business still thriving is Dr. Detmold’s Sanitarium for the Socially Pressured — known locally as The Cookie Jar. The town needs a miracle — which is precisely what it gets when a local girl licks a rock and water gushes out. Bingo! A modern-day Lourdes, with the tourist trade to boot. (The miracle was staged by the mayor’s cronies, of course.)

Things get even more complicated when the Cookie Jar patients get mixed up with the pilgrims, and no one can tell who’s crazy and who isn’t — not that it was entirely clear to begin with.

The show satirizes issues and attitudes that are still very much germane 50 years later, Schachter says: issues of gender norms and gender equality, questions of individuality and conformity, social protest and civil disobedience.

“The show argues for standing up for change and not waiting for the people in charge to change things for you,” she says. “That’s something that appeals to me, as the people of Hong Kong flood the streets with their umbrellas in support of democracy.”

Schachter says the show offers a particularly sophisticated and compelling depiction of women, with two powerful female characters in Fay, a nurse who works at the Cookie Jar, and Cora, the town’s mayor.

“The show is interested in women, in their desires, ambitions, and wishes,” she says, “which is part of the reason I like it so much.”

Senior Samantha Simon, from Hawthorne, N.J., plays the central role of Cora — a villain of the piece, but a complicated character nevertheless. Simon appeared last fall as Rosa Bud in “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.”

“Samantha is having a terrific time playing this hilarious villainess,” Schachter says. “She is a powerful presence on stage. She really takes over.”

Sondheim wrote “Anyone Can Whistle” very early in his career as a composer. He had contributed lyrics to the hits “West Side Story” and “Gypsy,” but had only written the score for one Broadway show, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.” The show closed after nine performances, but went on to become a cult favorite among musical theater fans, particularly Sondheim-philes. The show offers a preview of the complex melodies and innovative structures that characterize the composer’s later shows.

“‘Whistle’ marks the beginning of Sondheim’s distinctive voice and style,” Schachter says. “He develops that style much further in his mature work, but it’s fascinating to see this early expression of his talents as a composer.”

Tim Averill designs the scenery, which has “a zany, cartoony, fairy-tale feel to it,” Schachter says. “We were inspired by the set of ‘Laugh-In,’ with its bright colors and crazy angles.” The choreography, by Lynn Wiener, is similarly outlandish, highlighted by a comic ballet in which the ballerinas play deputies in an epic chase scene — on pointe.

“It’s a total hoot,” Schachter says. “But it’s a hoot with something to say, and what it has to say is still interesting and relevant 50 years later. It has been a revelation for me.”

Muhlenberg College is a liberal arts college of more than 2,200 students in Allentown, Pa. The college offers Bachelor of Arts degrees in theater and dance. The Princeton Review ranked Muhlenberg’s theater program in the top twelve in the nation for seven years in a row, and Fiske Guide to Colleges lists both the theater and dance programs among the top small college programs in the United States. Muhlenberg is one of only eight colleges to be listed in Fiske for both theater and dance.

Performances of “Anyone Can Whistle” are Oct. 24 – Nov. 2. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, with an additional 2 p.m. show on Saturday, Oct. 25. Regular admission tickets are $22. Tickets for youth and LVAIC students and staff are $8. Group and season subscription rates are available.

Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.muhlenberg.edu/theatre or by phone at 484-664-3333. Performances are in the Empie Theatre, Baker Center for the Arts, Muhlenberg College, 2400 Chew St., Allentown.

A Festival Of Innovative One-Act Plays, Muhlenberg’s ‘New Visions’ Spotlights Inspired Work Of Talented Student Directors

Logo of Muhlenberg College

Logo of Muhlenberg College (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Allentown, PA – Emerging theatrical talents will be on display in Muhlenberg College’s “New Visions” Directors’ Festival, featuring plays directed by four senior directing students in the College’s Department of Theatre & Dance. “New Visions” plays Sept. 27-30 on Muhlenberg’s Studio Theatre stage.

The festival will be presented in two evenings. Evening A features Federico Garcia Lorca’s “The Love of Don Perlimplin for Belisa in the Garden,” directed by Allison Lloyd, and Romulus Linney’s “Hrosvitha,” directed by Julia Schneiderman. Evening B features “Out Loud: Three Short Plays,” directed by Michael Witkes, and Caryl Churchill’s “This is a Chair,” directed by Hayley Cooke.

“The Love of Don Perlimplin for Belisa in the Garden” tells the story of Don Perlimplin, a hopeless bachelor, who is convinced to marry the beautiful but promiscuous Belisa. Four potent scenes illustrate the tale of a man overcome by the spirits of passion and the desire to win the love of the woman to whom he is married.

The title character in “Hrosvitha” was a canoness at Gandersheim Abbey in 10th century Saxony, and is regarded as the first Christian playwright. By imagining the visit of a hostile monk and the conflict that unfolds, Romulus Linney examines the tensions that exist within and around Hrosvitha — a forward-thinking woman with an understanding of the world that didn’t always harmonize with her religious beliefs and deep faith.

“The play contends that we are the authors of our own stories,” Schneiderman says, “and that women, most of all, must struggle to rewrite the world around them.”

“Out Loud” comprises three short plays: “Black Eye” by Carolyn Gage, “Game On” by Gary Garrison and “Baby Steps” by Geoffrey Nauffts. The show explores the importance of overcoming the stigmatization of homosexuality and fighting for one’s sexual identity. One actor plays the lead in all three plays, following a journey from hiding his sexuality, to coming out with hesitation, to finally embracing his sexuality and standing up for himself as a proud gay man.

“This is a Chair” explores the relationship between language and meaning. Eight vignettes, juxtaposed with large title signs, look at the complexities of human relationships and the struggle to connect.

Muhlenberg College is a liberal arts college of more than 2,200 students in Allentown, Pa. The college offers Bachelor of Arts degrees in theater and dance. The Princeton Review has ranked Muhlenberg’s theater program in the top twelve in the nation for seven years in a row, and Fiske Guide to Colleges lists both the theater and dance programs among the top small college programs in the United States. Muhlenberg is one of only eight colleges to be listed in Fiske for both theater and dance.

Performances of “New Visions” are Sept. 27-30. Evening A will be performed Saturday, Sept. 27, at 2 and 8 p.m and Tuesday, Sept. 30, at 8 p.m. Evening B will be performed Sunday, Sept. 28, at 2 and 8 p.m. and Monday, Sept. 29 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 for one evening and $20 for a combination ticket including both nights. Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.muhlenberg.edu/theatreanddance or by phone at 484-664-3333. Performances are in the Studio Theatre, Trexler Pavilion for Theatre and Dance, Muhlenberg College, 2400 Chew St., Allentown. For mature audiences.

Announcing Our 2014-2015 Season LIVE At Steel River Playhouse

Picture 577Laugh. Cry. Sing. Dance. Think. And be prepared for the unexpected! From the family classic The Sound of Music, to the gritty drama Court Martial at Fort Devens, to the joyous Shout!, to the whimsy of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, there’s something for every theatergoer to love in our 2014-2015 season!

For tickets, click “Online Tickets” or contact 610.970.1199 or boxoffice@steelriver.org. For subscriptions or group sales of 10 or more, including personal or business events and receptions, contact subscriber@steelriver.org.

Audio-Description Training To Be Held In Allentown

Audio DescriptionThe Lehigh Valley Arts Council is offering affordable audio description training to the theatre community in order to help them increase attendance to their productions by becoming more disability-friendly.

Theatre practitioners from all walks of life—actors, students, volunteers, educators—are encouraged to enroll in the upcoming audio description training sessions and acquire new performance skills.

Fee: $25. Typically, this workshop costs $590. Thanks to the underwriting support of LVCIL and an anonymous donor, the Arts Council is able to offer it at a very reasonable price. Audio description assists patrons who are blind/low-vision to access the visual elements of stage productions through live narration provided by trained describers. Patrons use headsets to hear the audio description.

This two-day audio-description training for the Performing Arts will be held:

  • October 3 & 4, 2014 | 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    Lehigh Valley Arts Council
    840 Hamilton Street
    2nd Floor Conference Room (Suite 200)
    Allentown, PA 18101

Includes Audio Described performance of “Harvey” at DeSales University (2755 Station Ave., Center Valley, Pa. 18034) on October 2, 2014 at 8:00 PM

REGISTER NOW FOR THE TRAINING!

ArtsQuest Announces Next President & CEO‏

Kassie-HilgertOver the past 30 years, ArtsQuest has been honored to share some huge news with the community, most recently through the development of the SteelStacks arts and cultural campus. Today, we’re excited to share one of the biggest announcements in our history.

This afternoon, we announced that ArtsQuest Senior Vice President of Marketing and Advancement Kassie Hilgert will be named the next President & CEO of ArtsQuest.

Since joining ArtsQuest in 2008, Kassie has demonstrated amazing leadership abilities, an incredible passion for our arts and cultural mission and a thorough understanding of the Lehigh Valley and the many elements that make it so special. Kassie has developed numerous partnerships with local, regional and national corporate partners, community organizations and foundations, helping ArtsQuest greatly expand its arts and cultural programming in recent years. As Senior Vice President of Marketing and Advancement, she is responsible for overseeing the sponsorship, marketing, development, ticketing, public relations and volunteer departments, which include 27 full- and part-time employees dedicated to supporting our mission.

Over the next several months, Kassie will work closely with ArtsQuest Founder and current President Jeff Parks while meeting with ArtsQuest staff, board members, volunteers, sponsors, partners and members of our community. She will officially assume the President & CEO’s responsibilities when Jeff retires in January 2015.

As for Jeff, while he may be retiring after three decades dedicated to arts, culture and our community, he won’t be riding off into the sunset just yet. Starting in May 2015, Jeff will assume the part-time role as the new Executive Director of the ArtsQuest Foundation, the nonprofit foundation established to help ensure the long-term sustainability of our organization as we continue to grow and expand our programming for the region.

I invite you to congratulate Kassie on this great accomplishment when you see her. Under her leadership, along with the support of our dedicated and creative staff, board and volunteers, ArtsQuest will continue be a national leader in providing access to exceptional arts and cultural programs and events.

Joe Pietrantonio
President, ArtsQuest Board of Trustees

Behind The Scenes Of Spamalot – July 12, 2014! Arts Alive 2014‏

Go Behind the Scenes of Spamalot

Saturday ◊ July 12, 2014 ◊ 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m

Dorothy H. Baker Theatre, Trexler Pavillion

Muhlenberg College

2400 W. Chew Street

Allentown, PA 18104

Pay close attention to that man behind the curtain!Meet Curtis Dretsch, set designer for Monty Python’s Spamalot, on Saturday, July 12, 2014, from 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Join us for the second installment of the Arts Alive! 2014 series, “Behind the Scenes,” as the Lehigh Valley Arts Council once again arranges for arts patrons to take a cultural tour of the arts process.

Spamalot parodies the legend of King Arthur and his band of lunatic knights as they sing and dance their way through a ridiculous divine quest. The show, which won the Tony Award for Best Musical and was seen on Broadway by more than two million people, is providing Dretsch the opportunity to tackle its wacky story and outrageous landscape for the 34th Season of the Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre.

Dretsch, Director of Design and Technical Theatre for Muhlenberg College, has designed the stage sets, costumes, and lighting for more than 100 theatre and dance productions in his career. He is known for creating lavish colors, spectacular designs, and architectural magic that amazes audiences, and he continues to build precise models of each project. In addition to more than three decades designing for Muhlenberg, he has worked in New York City, Philadelphia, Washington D.C, Baltimore, Dallas, Edinburg and London.

Guests will enjoy a tour backstage and get a glimpse into his design process—from concept to scale model to the completed stage set.

Limited attendance. Tickets: $10 for members; $15 for nonmembers.

RESERVE YOUR SPOT TODAY! 

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The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival Presents: ‘The Great Divorce’

Monday, June 23, 2014, 7:30 p.m.
DeSales University
Labuda Center for the Performing Arts
2755 Station Avenue
Center Valley, Pa. 18034

“Unmissable! From the quiet, seemingly casual beginning to the unforgettable final moments, Lawton has us in the palm of his hand.” –  Philadelphia City Paper

 “Brilliantly conceived and performed…as intelligent and provoking an evening as I’ve spent at the theater in a long time.”  – Broad Street Review 

“Passionate acting combined with riveting storytelling.”  – Philadelphia Inquirer

ONE NIGHT ONLY!
The Great Divorce
Based on the novel by C.S. Lewis The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival presents
The Great Divorce – back by popular demand for one night only! Lauded by The Philadelphia Inquirer in this “masterful solo show,” actor Anthony Lawton “delivers a wondrous ride filled with dazzling insight and language.”

An allegorical journey, The Great Divorce weaves philosophical imaginings with theatrical magic!

COMING UP! Two-Day Audio-Description Training For The Performing Arts On July 18 & 19, 2014!

Audio Description assists patrons who are blind/low-vision to access the visual elements of stage productions through narration provided by trained describers. Patrons use headsets to hear the audio description. Trainees will also attend an audio-described performance of Monty Python’s Spamalot. Click HERE for more information on this training.

July 18, 2014 | 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
July 19, 2014 | 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Lehigh Valley Arts Council
840 Hamilton Street, 2nd Floor Conference Room (Suite 200)
Allentown

July 18, 2014 | 7:30 PM to 10:00 PM:
Monty Python’s Spamalot (Audio Described Performance)
Baker Theatre/Trexler Pravilon, Muhlenberg College
2400 Chew St. Allentown

FEE: $25 RESERVE YOUR SEAT!

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The Mock Turtle Marionette Theater Presents: The Morningtime Of Now

The Morningtime of Now

Thursday ◊ May 22, 2014 ◊ 8:00 p.m.

Charles Brown Ice House

56 River St. (Sand Island)

Bethlehem, Pa. 18018

 

ImageProxy (8)In 1920, America was enthralled by the nature writings of a precocious six-year-old girl. Her name was Opal Whiteley. Nearly 100 years later, with her stories captured in puppetry and her poetry in song, Opal takes us to a transformative place—The Blue Hills.

Opal Whiteley’s quaint diary inspired folksinger Anne Hills to use her text in song. With 30 puppets created by the Mock Turtle Marionette Theater, the show celebrates a child’s wonder at the beauty of nature! The Morningtime of Now is for adults and children alike! Bring the whole family to this original music and puppet play based on the diary of a young girl in the early 1900s.

Click here to purchase last minute discounted RUSH TICKETS are available for this performance on May 22nd for only $9.99!

 

For More Information:

www.facebook.com/themorningtimeofnow

or visit The Mock Turtle Marionette Theater’s website

http://mockturtle.org/

 

The Morningtime of Now is an original puppet play based on the diary of Opal Whiteley with original music by Michael Smith.

With Anne Hills, Kayla Prestel, Jay Ansill and the 2013-14 Touchstone Theatre Apprentices.

Puppetry and direction by Doug Roysdon of Mock Turtle Marionette Theatre.

RUSH TICKET IS FOR MAY 22nd PERFORMANCE!

Additional dates and times are May 22 – 25 @ 8pm and May 25 – 26 @ 2pm.

Click Here to Buy
Last Minute Discount
RUSH Tickets 
for ONLY $9.99!

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Pittsburgh Fringe Festival Offers Three Days Of Performances

Locator map with the Shadyside neighborhood in...

Locator map with the Shadyside neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania highlighted. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After beginning with a pair of warm-up acts last weekend, what’s billed as the first Pittsburgh Fringe Festival gets under way May 9 with a three-day flood of two dozen productions — many with multiple performances — taking place in eight locations in and near Shadyside.

The festival is the brainchild of Dan Stiker, who had enjoyed attending and performing at the New York International Fringe Festival and missed its excitement when he moved back to Pittsburgh.

“It’s the kind of theater I want to be a part of,” he says.

Like Striker, some may have developed a taste for fringe festivals by attending the best known ones in New York City or Edinburgh, Scotland, or those in smaller U.S. cities such as Minneapolis, San Diego, Cincinnati and Asheville, N.C., or those in farther flung locales including Singapore, Budapest and Melbourne.

Read more: http://triblive.com/aande/theaterarts/6036617-74/fringe-festival-stiker#ixzz31F5pB7wF
Follow us: @triblive on Twitter | triblive on Facebook

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Marta Kiesling Resigns As Steel River Playhouse Executive Director

Picture 577POTTSTOWN, PA — Marta Kiesling, the dynamic executive director of Steel River Playhouse who grew a small acting group that performed in her living room into the region’s premiere venue for live theater, has parted ways with the institution she helped found.

A Monday evening e-mail from the board of directors to community leaders announced that Kiesling’s resignation had been accepted, effective May 1.

“We’re saddened to lose such a visionary person who built the playhouse to the strong cultural and educational institution it is today,” the release said.

What started as Village Productions was grown by Kiesling into the TriCounty Performing Arts Center, which with the help of grants from Montgomery County and a variety of other sources, established a theater in the former J.J. Newberry Department store at 245 E. High St. in 2008.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140506/marta-kiesling-resigns-as-steel-river-playhouse-executive-director

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Underground at Ron’s Presents SpiritGrass In Concert May 10, 2014

ImageProxy (6)

Underground at Ron’s

1012 E Southampton Ave

Wyndmoor, Pa 19038 (Glenside with a GPS)

Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre Embarks On 34th Theatrical Season

Logo of Muhlenberg College

Logo of Muhlenberg College (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Allentown, PA—The Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre festival at Muhlenberg College announces the lineup for its 2014 summer season — the 34th in the festival’s history. The season will feature the groundbreaking 1970s musical “A Chorus Line,” Monty Python’s “Spamalot,” and “Gruff!” a new musical for young audiences.

“A Chorus Line” opens the summer season, June 11-29. The Tony Award-winning best play of 1975, and one of the longest-running plays in Broadway history, “A Chorus Line” delves into the lives of 17 dancers auditioning for eight spots in the chorus of a Broadway musical. SMT artistic director Charles Richter directs the production.

“Spamalot” — the zany Monty Python musical comedy adapted from the classic movie “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” — runs July 9-27. Directed by James Peck, the show parodies the legend of King Arthur and his band of haphazard knights as they sing and dance their way through a ridiculous divine quest.

“Gruff! A New Family Musical… with Goats!” runs June 18 through July 26. In this interactive and puppet-filled musical, a young goat leaves the junkyard for the first time and stumbles into the fantastical land of the trolls. The show is a new creation of the neo-vaudeville theater group Doppelskope, and is recommended for ages 4 and up.

Tickets and information are available at muhlenberg.edu/SMT and 484-664-3693.

“A Chorus Line” takes the audience behind the scenes of an unnamed Broadway musical, and into the minds and lives of 17 Broadway hopefuls in the midst of a soul-baring audition. As the ranks thin, the auditioners face the realities of life, love, and a career in show business. “A Chorus Line” features such memorable numbers as “What I Did for Love,” “One,” “I Can Do That,” “At the Ballet,” “The Music and the Mirror,” and “I Hope I Get It.”

The Broadway production of “A Chorus Line” garnered numerous awards when it premiered in 1975, including the Tony Awards for best musical, best book, and best score. Charles Richter directs the production. Michael Schnack is musical director, and Muhlenberg dance program chair Karen Dearborn choreographs.

The Muhlenberg premiere of “Monty Python’s Spamalot” features “some of the funniest antics introduced on a Broadway stage,” according to USA Today. The show is “lovingly ripped off” from the classic 1975 film by beloved British comedy troupe “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” King Arthur and his knights embark on an ill-fated quest for the Holy Grail, dodging giant wooden rabbits, obnoxious Frenchmen, and a death-defying limbless knight along the way. James Peck directs. Justin Brehm serves as musical director. Sammy Reyes choreographs the production.

In the world-premiere family musical “Gruff!” a young goat learns the wonder of the natural world, and a new adventure begins, in which trolls and goats learn to live and play together. This innovative take on the story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff is the work of Doppelskope, a neo-vaudeville theatre ensemble that creates original works featuring puppetry, magic, and clowning. Gruff is directed by Ora Fruchter, with music written by Ora Fruchter and Toby Singer. It is appropriate for ages four and up.

A sensory-friendly performance of “Gruff!” will be presented Saturday, June 28, at 1 p.m. The performance will feature lighting and sound design conducive to children with autism and other sensory processing difficulties; a cast meet-and-greet and orientation before the performance; an open house and available sensory stories in advance of the performance; and facilities available for children who need time away from the performance. Tickets are provided at a discounted rate of $5. For reservations and information about the sensory-friendly performance, please contact general manager Jess Bien at 484-664-3087.

An accessible performance will be presented during the SMT season, featuring audio description for patrons with visual impairments and open captioning for patrons with hearing difficulties. Details are still pending; however, the performance will take place on a Sunday at 2 p.m. Call 484-664-3087 for information.

“A Chorus Line” runs June 11-29; “Spamalot” runs July 9-27. Performances are Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Ticket prices for both “A Chorus Line” and “Spamalot” are as follows. For the first four performances: regular admission tickets are $33; seniors are $29; students and children are $18. For the remaining 11 performances, beginning Sunday of opening weekend; regular admission tickets are $39; seniors are $36; students and children are $20.

“Gruff!” runs June 18 through July 26. Performances are Wednesday through Friday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m, and Saturday at 10 a.m. only. All tickets to “Gruff!” are $10 for June performances and $12 for July performances.

Tickets and information are available at www.muhlenberg.edu/SMT or 484-664-3333. Information on group discounts, subscriptions, and family matinee discounts is available on the website.

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Act 1, DeSales University Presents: The Music Man

ImageProxy (3)River City, Iowa is in for a heap of trouble when the fast-talking con man Harold Hill comes to town promising a magnificent marching boys band. His swindle backfires when he falls in love with Marian, the town’s lovely librarian. Featuring classic show tunes such as “Goodnight, My Someone,” “Till There Was You,” “Gary, Indiana,” and “Seventy-Six Trombones!”

The Music Man is one of the greatest musicals of all time!

For more information on The Music Man, visit: the Act 1, DeSale’s University’s Website or call: 610.282.1100 

The Music Man, is under the direction of Performing Arts Division Head John Bell, who will also conduct the orchestra. A professional director, choreographer, conductor, and actor, Bell’s professional credits include the Old Globe Theatre, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Meadowbrook Theatre, the Orlando Shakespeare Festival, the Virginia Opera, and the Michigan Opera.

Willson’s innocent and beautiful ballads and his rousing anthems to a bygone time never fail to tap into the American spirit.” - John Bell

Tuesday  April 29, 2014 ◊ 8:00 p.m.
Main Stage Theatre (Labuda Center for the Performing Arts)
2755 Station Avenue
Center Valley, PA 18034

RUSH Tickets Available!
Only $9.99 – Last Minute Discount!

LVAC-4Lines

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Muhlenberg College’s Camp Imagine Performing Arts Camp For Middle Schoolers Nurtures A Passion For The Arts

Logo of Muhlenberg College

Logo of Muhlenberg College (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Allentown, PA — This summer, Muhlenberg College’s Camp Imagine program celebrates its 16th year of educating and enriching the lives of the Lehigh Valley’s middle school students. Founded in 1999 the program provides young people in grades 6-8 with a month-long performing arts experience, which is free for students of the Allentown School District.

The program runs June 30 through July 25, Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

“Camp Imagine provides invaluable opportunities to nurture a passion for the performing arts,” says the program’s education manager, Lindsay Quinn. “It also builds real-life interpersonal and expressive skills, which help students in all areas of their lives.”

Participants in 2013 said that the program helped them “to take risks and ask questions,” “to be confident and be loud,” and “to not be afraid to show my art.”

Camp Imagine will culminate in a free showcase performance for family and friends at the conclusion of the four weeks, on Saturday, July 26. Participants will be guided through creative arts experiences in the performing arts by talented teams of Muhlenberg College students and alumni. These teaching artists are experienced, professionally trained and supervised.

Camp Imagine students will explore their talents in acting, music, and dance in a safe and open environment, rotating through classes in drama, movement, and vocal expression. They will also get to work with Muhlenberg alumni and students to create a dynamic ensemble environment with their peers.

Camp Imagine meets 9:30 to 12:30 a.m, Monday through Friday, June 30 through July 25. There is no session on Friday, July 4. A lunch is provided for free to all participants, and free bus transportation is provided from all four Allentown School District middle schools. The camp is free for all students who attended Allentown School District middle schools in the 2013-2014 school year. For non-ASD students, tuition is $395; however, partial and full need-based scholarships are available.

Students must register to participate. Applications are available online at www.muhlenberg.edu/camp, and by request at camp@muhlenberg.edu or 484-664-3693. Students should enroll by June 1 to ensure availability.

The programs are made possible by underwriting support from Embassy Bank, Enterprise Car Rentals, Highmark Blue Cross, Lehigh Valley Educators Credit Union, The Foundation for Allentown City Schools, and individual donors.

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Pow Wow On Mantawny Creek Celebrates Pottstown’s Native American Heritage

Pottstown, PA – In 1859, workers clearing a mound in an area on the south side of the borough unearthed skeletal remains and artifacts of an ancestor of the Lenni-Lenape people.  Over the next twelve years many more remains and artifacts were unearthed in this area.  Many of the remains and items were initially exhibited locally, but over time they have been lost.

memorial

memorial.jpg an image of the memorial on Industrial Highway

In 2000, then mayor Anne Jones headed up a campaign that resulted in the Memorial currently located at the intersection of South Franklin Street and Industrial Highway. The site sits on land generously donated by the family of Mr. Tim O’Conner, owner of Humphrey Flag Company.

The memorial, which was originally dedicated on May 5, 2000, is an acknowledgement and a recognition of the people whose spirits inhabit those grounds.  Unfortunately, in recent years, the memorial has been neglected. In an effort to bring new life and attention to this memorial, Ron Williams and Clanmother Star Harbach have organized a re-dedication of the memorial on May 3 and a pow wow on May 3 and 4. Williams says: “The Memorial is my primary objective.  The Pow Wow is a way of creating interest. I am hopeful that in time we can do more to make this memorial a local landmark that we can be proud of. It should be a place of cultural awareness.  Future plans will include warm weather monthly story-telling circles, new plants representing the indigenous  features of the pre-colonial period, a medicine wheel, lighting and a sculpture representing the culture of the Native Americans, for starters.”

The rededication ceremony will begin at 9am on Saturday, May 3 at the site, which is at the corner of Franklin St. and Industrial Highway near the river. Frankie and Johnnie’s has generously offered the use of their parking lot for those who want to attend. Afterwards the festivities will switch to Memorial Park.

The pow wow will take place from 10am-6pm on Saturday and from 10am-5pm on Sunday at the Veteran’s Memorial in Memorial Park. Visitors will be treated to dances from many different tribes. In between the dances, a storyteller will entertain and educate with traditional tales. Guests will be able to shop at different Native American vendors, who will be selling leather crafts, jewelry, beadwork, instruments, wood sculptures, herbal teas and more. Author Gretchen Hardy will be selling signed copies of her book. Buttons & Beads: Lenape Princess Wynonah and the Future President, an historical fiction book illustrated by Zoungy Kligge, takes what is known of these intrepid ancestors and weaves them into one Lenape woman, Wynonah, who becomes their collective voiceA portion of the sales of her book will be donated to the Memorial fundraiser.  There will also be an interactive education tent run by Laura and Ron Buckwalter where visitors can learn more about the Lenape people. Outside of the main pow wow site, other local groups including ArtFusion 19464 will be set up.

SpritWing.jpg the group giving a free concert at the pow wow on Saturday night

SpritWing.jpg the group giving a free concert at the pow wow on Saturday night

The event will begin with a Grand Entrance and opening ceremony at 12pm on Saturday. Following the opening ceremony, there will be a Veteran’s Dance, where military veterans and those currently serving are invited to participate to honor their service. The dancing will continue until 6pm. At 7pm, group Spirit Wing entertain the community with a free concert open to the public. The pow wow on Sunday will also begin with a Grand Entrance at 12pm. The events that day will end at 5pm.

Clanmother Star will MC the event and Joe Camaho will be whip man for the event, a ceremonial position responsible for lining up the dancers for the Grand Entrance. Medicine Horse Singers will drum for the dancers.

The entrance fee for the pow wow is $5, cash only. Children 6 and under are free. Visitors can park in the Memorial Park lot and at the lot by the Carousel building on King Street. There will be a free trolley running from the Carousel parking lot up to Pottsgrove Manor, where the annual May Day festivities will also be taking place on Saturday.

Please note that the back gate at the Veteran’s Memorial in the park will be closed to the public. All events will run rain or shine.

The organizers and dancers ask that visitors only take pictures when they are told it is allowed, as a matter of respect. Those who do not follow these rules will be escorted from the event. This is a pet friendly event. Well-behaved pets on a leash are welcome, and owners are asked to be courteous and clean up after their pets.

All funds raised during this weekend will go toward establishing an annual celebration and the maintenance and improvement of the monument. The site will be updated to make it a place of learning, with a regular schedule of storytelling and other events that will take place on site. The pow wow will be an annual event, in an effort to continue the recognition of what was lost.

In conjunction with this effort to create the awareness of the Native American contribution to the history of this nation, Representative Mark Painter will also be presenting a resolution in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives on June 2, to recognize this year as the 90th anniversary since Native Americans were granted full United States citizenship.  Until 1924, Native Americans were not citizens of the United States, but on June 2, 1924 Congress granted citizenship to all Native Americans born in the U.S. under the Indian Citizenship Act.

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Muhlenberg College To Present Premiere Circus Workshop

Allentown, PA – The circus is coming to town! A group of Muhlenberg College dancers, actors, gymnasts and aerial acrobats — 30 students in all — have pooled their talents to produce Muhlenberg’s first Circus Workshop. Their work will culminate in two performances on April 25.

Noah Dach ’16, a dance and business double-major, launched the project. Henry Evans ’16 serves as an assistant director and performs. Paige Klibanoff ’15 and MJ Hodge ’16 helped to develop the script and will be performing as well.

“I’ve always wanted to form a dance company,” Dach said. “I had experience in aerial before I came to Muhlenberg, and thought it would be interesting to combine that with the skills that students have been working on here. I approached Karen Dearborn, the head of Muhlenberg’s dance program, with the idea, and she helped me get it on its feet.”

The project builds on the aerial acrobatics classes that the Muhlenberg dance program began offering in spring of 2012, under the instruction of experienced aerialist and Muhlenberg alumna Madeleine Hoak.

Aerialists who had taken Hoak’s class auditioned for the Circus Workshop in January. Other auditioners performed dance combinations or gymnastics skills or recited song lyrics as dramatic monologues. From those who auditioned, Dach assembled an ensemble of diverse performers and began weekly rehearsals.

“What is most fulfilling about directing this project is how my ensemble members are always surprising me with new things,” Dach said. “I could never imagine this project being where it is now after setting this idea in motion last semester.”

The 30-minute performance tells the story, through motion, music and circus art, of a young woman looking back on her life. The other performers represent different aspects of her life, including Joy, Love, and Temptation.

“I’ve always wanted to create something modern that could tell everyday stories through art,” Dach said. “With this project, we have focused on creating something very true and human that cannot be captured in a grand, enormous circus setting. I think that we have found an intimate balance between the abstract and the reality.”

Response on campus has been enthusiastic. Of the 70 seats available for each performance, all sold out in less than two weeks. Dach said he would hopes the project will grow from here.

“Going forward, I would love to see this project expanded and incorporated into more of Muhlenberg’s productions, or even to use the members of this workshop to start forming a performance company after graduation,” Dach said. “This has been a great beginning, and it would be wonderful to see the project move into a larger theater so that more audience members could see it and support it around campus.”

Muhlenberg College is a liberal arts college of 2,200 students in Allentown, Pa. The college offers Bachelor of Arts degrees in theatre and dance. The Princeton Review consistently ranks Muhlenberg’s production program in the top ten in the nation, and the Fiske Guide to Colleges lists both the theatre and dance programs among the top small college programs in the United States.

For more information about the Department of Theatre and Dance, visit http://www.muhlenberg.edu/theatre.

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Upcoming Lehigh Valley Arts Box Office Performances

lehigh-valley-arts-council-box-office.jpgBach & Handel Chorale:

April 26th: 30th Anniversary Concert Gala

Chamber Music Society of Bethlehem

April 11th: Daedalus Quartet

April 25th: Gryphon Trio

May 16th: Walden Chamber Players

Moravian College Music Institute

April 4th: Moravian College Wind Ensemble

April 6th: Moravian College Community Orchestra

April 12th: Jazz @ Moravian

Moravian College Theatre Company

April 25th & 26th: Jesus Christ Superstar

PA Sinfonia Orchestra

April 12: Chamber Orchestra – All Nature Sings

Click here for more information and tickets: http://lvartsboxoffice.org/

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Muhlenberg’s Production Of “Mad Forest” Offers Innovative Take On Romanian History

Allentown, PA– As history unfolds in the Ukraine, Muhlenberg College Theatre and Dance presents the story of similar events from a quarter century ago. “Mad Forest,” by award-winning playwright Caryl Churchill, set during the 1989 Romanian Revolution, plays on the Muhlenberg mainstage April 24-26.

Directed by Beth Schachter, “Mad Forest” captures the events of the 1989 Romanian Revolution through the eyes of many who experienced it. On the eve of the revolution, and under the pressures of a paranoid society with secret police, two families, one poor and one wealthy, struggle to survive the chaos and deprivations of Nicolae Ceaucescu’s megalomaniacal Communist regime. A play of romance and politics, bookended by weddings, “Mad Forest” blends together documentary theatre and magical realism to explore the psychological landscapes of people trying to find freedom.

“‘Mad Forest’ tells the story of what happens when people who were once oppressed have the freedom to speak truthfully,” says Schachter, who serves as chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance at Muhlenberg. “It comments on the fragile nature of families and relationships in a very human way.”

Schachter became familiar with “Mad Forest” when she served as dramaturg for the American premiere of the play in New York City in 1991. She has wanted to revisit the play ever since then.

“Working on that production gave me insight into what is going on underneath the words, and more importantly, underneath the silences,” says Schachter. “This play clarifies what so often goes unsaid between people in difficult situations.”

Shortly after the 1989 revolution, Churchill travelled to Bucharest with director Mark Wing-Davey and a team of students to interview eye-witnesses and experience post-revolution Romania first hand. While there, they lived with Romanian families and collaborated with Romanian drama students. What emerged was “Mad Forest,” which premiered in London in 1990 and opened in New York the following year.

The Romanian Revolution refers to a series of protests and riots that took place in December of 1989 and led to the overthrow of Ceaucescu. Schachter hopes to bring these stories of revolution to a new generation.

“These stories have become particularly relevant in the last few months,” Schachter says. “History is unfolding in the Ukraine, with remarkable parallels to 1989 Romania. It’s not every day that you see world leaders toppled in a matter of weeks.”

British playwright Caryl Churchill has been writing since 1958. She has received Obie Awards for her plays “Top Girls,” “Cloud Nine” and “Serious Money,” as well as the Obie Sustained Achievement Award. Churchill is known for artfully commenting on such controversial themes as gender roles, power struggles, and political conflicts throughout the world.

“Churchill’s writing is fascinating because it is blunt and direct,” Schachter says. “She is able to capture how these characters struggle to find their voices after a shift in power through the revolution.”

“Mad Forest” also features a faculty spotlight performance by Holly Cate, who teaches acting at Muhlenberg. She plays a variety of roles in the show, including an angel, a grandmother, a dog, and a translator, among others. This will be Cate’s sixth mainstage performance at the college in the past seven years.

“I love working on shows here because it is so much fun to play alongside students that I have had in class,” Cate says. “I have always wanted to work on a Churchill play, so this is a great learning opportunity for me as well as for the students involved in the production.”

Muhlenberg College is a liberal arts college of 2,200 students in Allentown, Pa. The college offers Bachelor of Arts degrees in theatre and dance. The Princeton Review consistently ranks Muhlenberg’s production program in the top ten in the nation, and the Fiske Guide to Colleges lists both the theatre and dance programs among the top small college programs in the United States.

Performances of “Mad Forest” are April 24-26: Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., and Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for LVAIC students, faculty, and staff and for patrons 17 and under. The performance is intended for mature audiences.

Performances are in the Baker Theatre, Trexler Pavilion for Theatre and Dance, Muhlenberg College, 2400 Chew St., Allentown. Performance information and tickets are available at 484-664-3333 orwww.muhlenberg.edu/theatre

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‘Dance Emerge’ Dance Concert Showcases Eclectic Work By Emerging Student Choreographers In A Nationally Acclaimed Program

Logo of Muhlenberg College

Logo of Muhlenberg College (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Allentown, PAMuhlenberg College dancers tell their stories through movement, as the Muhlenberg Theatre & Dance Department presents “Dance Emerge,” a showcase for dance works created by emerging choreographers, April 10-13 in the College’s Dance Studio Theatre. Corrie Franz Cowart is the artistic director for the concert.

“Choreographers in this year’s ‘Dance Emerge’ are mining emotional and physical landscapes that celebrate the thrills of life and mourn our human foibles,” Franz Cowart says. “Humor and real-life circumstances are blended with physical skill and choreographic imagination, transforming observations of our world into kinetic and visual journeys for the audience.”

“Dance Emerge” will showcase 12 choreographers and 60 dancers from the department’s dance program, which is among the most highly regarded programs of its kind. The concert features costume and lighting designs by the department’s acclaimed professional staff.

The 12 original dances include contemporary jazz, hip-hop, tap, dance theater, and modern works that investigate such topics as the sensation of getting lost in a book, women’s struggles with power, circus lights, and ritualized behavior. Choreographers drew inspiration from such diverse sources as dance history, travel, personal relationships, and college experiences.

Muhlenberg College’s Theatre & Dance Department offers one of the top-rated college performance programs in the county, according to the Princeton Review rankings.  Muhlenberg is a liberal arts college of more than 2,200 students in Allentown, Pa., offering Bachelor of Arts degrees in theater and dance. It has been named annually among The Fiske Guide to Colleges’ top 20 small college programs in the United States, and the American College Dance Festival Association has consistently recognized dances premiered on the Muhlenberg stage for excellence in choreography and performance.

“Dance Emerge” runs April 10-13 in the Dance Studio Theatre, Trexler Pavilion for Theatre & Dance, Muhlenberg College, 2400 Chew St., Allentown.

Performances are April 10-13: Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m.; Saturday, April 12, at 2 and 8 p.m. and Sunday, April 13, at 2 and 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults, $8 for patrons 17 and under, and $8 for students, faculty and staff of all LVAIC colleges.  For groups of 15 or more, tickets are $13.

Tickets and information are available at 484-664-3333 or www.muhlenberg.edu/dance.

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