Gertrude Stein’s challenging ‘Listen To Me’ finds Vivid Adaption On Muhlenberg College Stage, Feb. 22-26

Allentown, PA — “Listen to Me” is a bittersweet adventure by Gertrude Stein — a love story and a cerebral frolic, in the face of planetary crisis. Directed by James Peck, Stein’s evocative, rarely produced play will be presented at Muhlenberg College, Feb. 22-26.

Written in 1936, Stein’s play is a piece of experimental staged poetry, in which characters laugh, love, philosophize, and struggle heroically to hold onto hope as their prospects dim.

“It has these themes of environmental catastrophe and looming disaster,” says Peck, a theater professor at Muhlenberg. “It asks some questions about the ways in which romance, love, and art matter in the context of a dire planetary situation.”

Peck has directed Stein before, and has also published articles about her theatrical work. He calls her “one of the most original and important theater thinkers of the 20th century,” and says that he wanted to share the experience of working on her plays with students.

In a few words, according to Peck, “Listen to Me” is arguably, partly, possibly a love story at the end of the world — but he resists the effort to impose a synopsis. The play is unusual in several ways: it has only a couple of clearly defined characters; most of the text isn’t so much dialog as it is poetry; and its scenes unfold with only the suggestion of a linear course of events. But Peck says that audience members who have the idea that the play is difficult or inaccessible will be quite surprised.

“I want people to understand that it’s not just ‘weird,’” Peck says. “It’s very deeply felt, it really starts from feeling — that Stein is deeply concerned about how people treat each other and about fairness in human relationships. I want them to know how moving her plays are and how accessible they are once you start to put them on their feet and figure out ways to put the language into actors’ bodies and create stage pictures around the words.”

To that end, the cast of 15 have been collaborating and experimenting their way through the text, finding the moments and phrases that resonate, and exploring ways in which to communicate that resonance to an audience.

“It’s a cooperative process,” says Xavier Pacheco, who plays Sweet William, one of the show’s two named characters. “The only way to rehearse this play is to work consistently through it all together and see where we end up. It’s a brilliant cast. It feels good to be working with people in a way that we’re all in it together.”

Scenic designer Tim Averill has found a design solution that echoes both the circumstance of the play and the process of its creation. It’s a dock, extending off stage from the top of a sphere — the earth, perhaps — on which words and images will be projected. It suggests the last visible piece of a sinking ship, on which the actors perch apprehensively.

“It’s a desperate place where people are trying to live,” Averill says. “It’s about too many people and too much stuff and too much light.”

The production also features an original score by Doug Ovens, who also collaborated with Peck on last season’s “Ulysses in Nighttown.” Ovens says the score will feature a “virtual chamber ensemble” of prerecorded woodwinds, percussion, and piano, as well as a “celestial soprano” derived for samples from recordings of his vocal pieces.

“My music revisits Modernist styles while striving to amplify ideas of love as well as confusion, conflict, and, hopefully, survival,” Ovens says.

Peck says he hopes all these elements will come together in a theatrical experience that feels, on the one hand, cautionary and anxious, and on the other, hopeful and celebratory — because, in these days, that’s how he feels as an artist and global citizen.

“Can we feel love and existential dread at the same time?” he asks. “I think that’s what Stein wants to know. It’s what I want to know. How do those things fit together? I think we can; I think we have to. And that’s what we’ve set out to do.”

“Listen to Me” plays Feb. 22-26. Showtimes are Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. Regular admission tickets are $15. Tickets for youth and LVAIC students and staff are $8. The production is recommended for mature audiences. 

Tickets and information are available online at or by phone at 484-664-3333. Performances are in the Studio Theatre, Trexler Pavilion for Theatre & Dance, Muhlenberg College, 2400 Chew St., Allentown.

MCCC, Pottstown Organizations Hold Children’s Dental Sealant Program

Pottstown, PA — The Dental Hygiene program at Montgomery County Community College is partnering with the Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation and Community Health and Dental Care to offer a free Children’s Dental Sealant program on Saturday, March 25 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

During this community outreach event, children ages 6 to 14 will received free oral examinations and sealant application performed by licensed dental hygienists in consultation with a licensed dentist. The College’s dental hygiene students will provide support services. A dental sealant is a clear, preventive coating placed on permanent back teeth to prevent dental decay.

The sealant program will be held at Community Health and Dental Care, 11 Robinson St., Suite 100, Pottstown. Space is limited, and appointments are required. Call 610-326-7405 to make an appointment or for additional information.

About Montgomery County Community College

For more than 50 years, Montgomery County Community College has grown with the community to meet the evolving educational needs of Montgomery County. The College’s comprehensive curriculum includes nearly 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as customized workforce training and certifications. Students enjoy the flexibility of learning at the College’s thriving campuses in Blue Bell and Pottstown, at the Culinary Arts Institute in Lansdale, and online through a robust Virtual Campus.

As an Achieving the Dream Leader College, the institution is positioned at the vanguard of national efforts to increase completion, improve learning outcomes, and remove barriers to access for students. The College is also recognized regionally and nationally for its sustainability leadership, work with military veterans, community service and service learning opportunities, and use of classroom technology. For more information, visit

Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre Announces Open Audition Dates

Allentown, PA — Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre will hold open auditions on Feb. 26 and 27. Performers will be cast for the season’s mainstage productions: “Hair,” performing June 14 – July 2, and “My Fair Lady,” performing July 12-30.

The following audition details can also be found online, at

Preliminary vocal auditions will be held for both “Hair” and “My Fair Lady” on Sunday, Feb. 26, from 12 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 11pm, and Monday, Feb. 27, from 5 to 10 p.m. All auditions will take place at Muhlenberg College, at the Baker Center for the Arts and the Trexler Pavilion for Theatre & Dance.

All auditioners must register in advance and schedule an audition. Auditioners should visit the Summer Music Theatre website, at, and follow the link to the registration form. Auditioners without internet access may call the Theatre & Dance office at 484-664-3087, during regular office hours before Thursday, Feb. 23.

All auditioners should prepare a 32-bar song selection from a Broadway musical written before 1975. Auditioners should bring properly marked sheet music. An accompanist will be provided. Dance will not be a part of the preliminary audition, but will be included in callback auditions. Auditioners should bring two copies of their resumes and headshots.

For “Hair,” performers ages 18-30 are encouraged to audition.  For “My Fair Lady,” the director will be casting actors ages 16 and up, and older auditioners are encouraged to attend. Auditioners may audition for both productions.

All actors participating in Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre productions are paid a stipend. Out-of-town actors are provided with free housing. We will consider casting Equity members on guest artist contracts.

Auditioners who live too far away from the Allentown area or who are unable to attend auditions may submit a preliminary video audition. The video should consist of one song (see guidelines above). Please send a link to a video hosted on the internet; e.g., YouTube or Vimeo. Do not send attached files via email.

Auditioners who receive a callback must attend in person to be considered for a role. Callbacks will include dance and acting auditions, reading from the script.

Callbacks will be held on Monday, March 13, for “Hair” and Tuesday, March 14, for “My Fair Lady.” Auditioners must attend callbacks in person (not by video submission) unless previous arrangements have been made.

“My Fair Lady” will be directed by Charles Richter, with choreography by Karen Dearborn and musical direction by Ed Bara. Rehearsals are June 20 through July 11, Tuesday through Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 11 p.m.  Performances are June 12 through July 30, Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

“Hair” will be directed by James Peck, with choreography by Samuel Antonio Reyes and musical direction by Ken Butler. Rehearsals are May 23 through June 13, Tuesday through Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m and 7 to 11 p.m. Performances are June 14-July 2, Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Non-performing opportunities are available for technicians and costumers. Carpenters, electricians, props technicians, light board and sound board operators, and stage crew are needed for productions. Costumers, first hand, stitchers, and wardrobe running crew are needed in the costume shop.

The application deadline for technicians, costumers, and administrative personnel is March 9. Applications can be found online at Completed applications can be sent to