Leading Social Justice Advocate Lateefah Simon To Speak At Montgomery County Community College March 28

Blue Bell/Pottstown, PA —Lateefah Simon, a nationally recognized advocate for civil rights and racial justice, will discuss how solutions to big problems often begin with one person who is willing to act when she visits Montgomery County Community College on Tuesday, March 28, at 12:30 p.m. for the annual Richard K. Bennett Distinguished Lectureship for Peace and Social Justice. 

The lecture will be held in the Science Center Theater, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell, with a simulcast to MCCC’s South Hall Community Room, West Campus, 101 College Drive, Pottstown. The community is invited to attend this free presentation, but tickets are required. To reserve seats, visit www.mc3.edu/BennettLecture or call 215-641-6518. 

Simon has more than 20 years of executive experience advancing opportunities for communities of color and low-income communities. She gives hope to thousands of families who are struggling to overcome the challenges of poverty and discrimination.  

She currently serves as president of the Akonadi Foundation, a charitable group that funds community projects in the San Francisco Bay area. She has received several honors for her work including being the youngest woman ever to be named a MacArthur “Genius” Grant Fellow. She also was included on the first ever Power List in O Magazine, received the Remarkable Woman Award from Lifetime TV, and was honored by JFK Presidential Library with a Fenn Award. 

This presentation is part of the ongoing Richard K. Bennett Distinguished Lectureship for Peace and Social Justice series which was established at the College in 1981. The lectureship reflects the ideals of Richard Bennett, a Quaker who devoted his life work to accomplishing peace and justice through non-violent efforts.   

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Auditions For Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre‏

Allentown, PA — Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre will hold open auditions on Feb. 28 and 29. Performers will be cast for the season’s mainstage productions: “Gypsy,” performing June 15 – July 3, and a second show performing July 13-31.

The following audition details can also be found online, at muhlenberg.edu/smt. A performance rights agreement prevents SMT from announcing the title of the second production at this time, but full details are available on the website.

For the second production of the season, actors of color are particularly encouraged to audition.

Children may audition for “Gypsy” on Sunday, Feb. 28, from 1 to 3 p.m. They should be ages 8 to 12, both boys and girls, under 5 feet 2 inches in height. They should prepare a vocal audition as described below, and will be taught a dance combination.

Preliminary dance and vocal auditions will be held for both productions on Sunday, Feb. 28, from 3 to 11 p.m., and Monday, Feb. 29, from 5 to 11 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 send an email to SMTcompany@muhlenberg.edu by Friday, Feb. 26, indicating available dates and times within the scheduled audition, and providing a mobile phone number where the auditioner can be reached with questions.

Those without access to email should call the Muhlenberg Theatre & Dance office at 484-664-3087, during regular office hours before Thursday, Feb. 25. Voice messages should contain all of the above information.

For “Gypsy,” performers ages 16 and up are encouraged to audition. There are several roles for older actors. As indicated above, a separate audition will be held Sunday afternoon for children. All auditioners should prepare a 32-bar up-tempo song selection from a Broadway musical written before 1975. Please no rock or pop selections. Some roles do not require singing, but everyone interested in being in the production should prepare a vocal audition. Bring properly marked sheet music. An accompanist will be provided.

All females auditioning for the production will be required to do a short dance audition. All males auditioning for the production under the age of 30 will also be required to do a dance audition. No preparation is required. Males over the age of 30 need not do a dance audition.

For the second production the director will be casting actors ages 15 and up. Actors of color are especially encouraged to audition. Please prepare a 32-bar cut of a song from a contemporary musical. Bring properly marked sheet music; an accompanist will be provided. All actors will also be required to do a dance audition.

Auditioners may audition for both productions. People who are auditioning for both shows should prepare two different songs.

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 a comedic monologue not more than two minutes in length, one song (see guidelines above), and a 90-second dance solo. Please send a ling to a video hosted on the internet; e.g., YouTube or Vimeo. Do not send attached files via email. You may also submit a DVD following the same guidelines, which should be received prior to the audition dates.

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

Auditioners should bring two copies of their resumes and headshots.

“Gypsy” will be directed by Charles Richter, with choreography by Karen Dearborn and musical direction by Michael Schnack. Rehearsals are May 24 through June 14, Tuesday through Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 11 p.m. Young actors will not be called during school hours and will generally be released by 9 p.m. Performances are June 14 through July 3, Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

The second production will be directed by James Peck, with choreography by Samuel Antonio Reyes and musical direction by Ed Bara. Rehearsals are June 21 through July 12, Tuesday through Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m and 7 to 11 p.m. Performances are July 13-31, Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. A performance rights agreement prevents SMT from announcing the title of the second production at this time, but full details are available on the website.

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.

High school stage management internships are available for those who will be at least 16 years old by the time they begin working for MSMT. Interns work alongside college students and professionals from the College, and guest artists from New York, learning valuable skills that they can take back to their high school programs. Interns receive a $400 stipend for the summer.

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

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Pittsburgh Needs 21,000 Affordable Homes, Study Says

DSC01828Mayor Bill Peduto’s newly named Affordable Housing Task Force has daunting numbers to chip away at. For starters, a shortage of 21,000 homes in Pittsburgh that are affordable enough for families of four whose income is $24,000, which is 30 percent of the area’s median income for that size household.

Attorney Robert Damewood of Regional Housing Legal Services called the shortage “severe” and said that throughout Allegheny County, more than 30,000 people live in housing they can’t afford, most paying more than 50 percent of their income on housing. “This makes them very insecure and at risk of eviction.”

The  has just issued a report on a situation it expects to escalate as rents rise in more neighborhoods.

Mr. Damewood researched and prepared the report for the Housing Alliance’s Building Inclusive Communities work group. It recommends the city establish inclusive zoning, assuring a percentage of affordable units in any development, either by mandate or incentives to developers, such as land use approvals, height density bonuses and additional build-outs at no extra cost. In flat markets, a community land trust or land bank can preserve properties for affordable development.

Read more:

http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2015/05/06/Pittsburgh-needs-21-000-affordable-homes-task-force-reports/stories/201505060095

Wells Fargo Provides $20,000 Grant To Assist Students In Montgomery County Community College’s Mentoring Program

Photo: Wells Fargo recently presented a $20,000 grant to Montgomery County Community College to provide scholarships for students participating in the College’s Minority Student Mentoring Initiative. Back row, from left:  Student Zachary Collier, Philadelphia; Tara A. Brady, Wells Fargo Assistant Vice President/Senior Relationship Manager; student Fernando Garcia, Pottstown; Edward Brown, MCCC Academic Advisor; and Dr. Steady Moono, Vice President of West Campus in Pottstown. Front row, from left: Dr. Karen A. Stout, College President; student Jacori McEachnie, Eagleville; student Diahann McIntyre, Norristown; Anthony Rosado, Wells Fargo Area President for Montgomery County; student Clifton Ford, Pottstown; and Wilson Gonzalez, Souderton. Photo by Sandi Yanisko.

Photo: Wells Fargo recently presented a $20,000 grant to Montgomery County Community College to provide scholarships for students participating in the College’s Minority Student Mentoring Initiative. Back row, from left: Student Zachary Collier, Philadelphia; Tara A. Brady, Wells Fargo Assistant Vice President/Senior Relationship Manager; student Fernando Garcia, Pottstown; Edward Brown, MCCC Academic Advisor; and Dr. Steady Moono, Vice President of West Campus in Pottstown. Front row, from left: Dr. Karen A. Stout, College President; student Jacori McEachnie, Eagleville; student Diahann McIntyre, Norristown; Anthony Rosado, Wells Fargo Area President for Montgomery County; student Clifton Ford, Pottstown; and Wilson Gonzalez, Souderton. Photo by Sandi Yanisko.

Blue Bell/Pottstown, Pa. –Wells Fargo recently presented a $20,000 grant to Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) to provide financial assistance for students participating in the College’s Minority Student Mentoring Initiative (MSMI) to enable them to complete their programs of study and graduate.

Wells Fargo’s generous grant will provide scholarships to 10 students who participate in the MSMI program, have a proven financial need and are committed to graduate. In 2014, MCCC received the national Leah Meyer Austin Award by Achieving the Dream for its outstanding work in supporting student success, including improving the persistence rates for minority students through MSMI.

“In keeping with our mission, this grant will help to ensure the completion and success for some of our most at-risk students, who face numerous challenges because of their circumstances and other factors,” said College President Dr. Karen A. Stout. “We greatly appreciate the longstanding community partnership with Wells Fargo.”

“Wells Fargo believes everyone should have access to quality educational opportunities,” said Anthony Rosado, Wells Fargo’s area president for Montgomery County.  “We are pleased to provide the support that helps these students achieve their educational goals.”

In 2009, MCCC first launched its Minority Male Mentoring Program to close the nationally documented achievement gap for African-American male students. The program connects participating students with caring mentors for guidance and support while providing opportunities for civic engagement, academic advisement, personal development and leadership development. Between 2009 and 2013, participants showed a term-to-term persistence rate of close to 80 percent—significantly higher than the 63 percent for non-participants.

In 2013, the initiative was expanded to include African-American and Latina female students and was renamed the Minority Student Mentoring Initiative (MSMI). Currently, MSMI provides one-one-one mentoring and access to wrap-around support services to more than 150 minority students enrolled at MCCC.

One participant, Jacori McEachnie, 18, Eagleville, says the program has opened new doors for him.

“The program is very helpful, especially meeting with my mentors and the tutoring,” said McEachnie, a Liberal Studies major. “Now, I am a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society, and I was just accepted into Bucknell’s Summer [2015 Residency] program.”

For the summer program, selected students enroll in two courses at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa. Participating students then have the opportunity to apply to Bucknell in 2016, and if accepted, they will transfer to the university with junior status on full-tuition scholarships.

Additionally, MSMI assists students who are enrolled in MCCC’s Gateway to College program, which serves high school students who have dropped out of school or who are not track to graduate. Gateway students enroll in courses designed to help them achieve their high school diplomas while receiving college credits. Currently, 17 school districts and the Montgomery County Workforce Investment Board partner with MCCC and refer students for the program. MCCC is one of only 42 colleges in the country and only the second college in Pennsylvania selected to participate in the Gateway to College National Network.

Modern Retelling Of ‘Romeo And Juliet’ Sheds Light On Race Relations, Police Violence At Muhlenberg College

Allentown, PA – During one month in the summer of 2014, in separate incidents in cities across the United States, four unarmed black men were killed while being arrested by police officers. None of the officers who used lethal force in these cases were held legally accountable.

Police violence against black men is not a new issue, but the frequency of recent incidents and intense media coverage has pushed it to the fore in the national discourse. This spring, a group of young theater artists, led by faculty member and director Troy Dwyer, enters the dialogue with an audacious production of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” The show runs April 22-26 at Muhlenberg College Theatre & Dance.

“It’s definitely a piece of protest art, and one I imagine Shakespeare purists won’t like,” Dwyer says. “I’m cool with that.”

Dwyer’s production will remain essentially faithful to the events and language of Shakespeare’s classic, but will feature two important twists: the action of the play will be set in a modern Midwest, and Juliet’s family, the Capulets, will be a black family.

“This will be the first time an African-American family will be represented on the Muhlenberg stage since I have worked at the college,” says Dwyer, who joined the Muhlenberg faculty in 2003. “Muhlenberg Admissions has been courting a more diverse student body for years, and it is exciting that we can finally represent that on the stage.”

Dwyer’s adaptation envisions love blooming one sweltering summer night on a city street in the American Midwest. Two young lovers make an unlikely and courageous connection, a spark that defies distinctions of race, class and culture. But when a black teenager dies, the city’s long-simmering tensions escalate into full-scale violence, leaving the lovers on opposite sides in a brutal and deadly conflict.

“Shakespeare’s plays truly stand the test of time,” Dwyer says. “The story is not only easy for college actors to relate to, but takes on new meaning when placed in a society that is very similar to Staten Island, Ferguson, Madison… or Allentown.”

Between July 17 and Aug. 9, four African-American men were killed in the United States. In Staten Island, Eric Garner was seen selling untaxed cigarettes and was smothered in a choke-hold, a method that is prohibited by Staten Island Police. In Beavercreek, Ohio, a black man was shot by police in a Walmart, and in Los Angeles, an unarmed black man was shot by police the next week. In Ferguson, Missouri, in what was the most intensely covered news story of the summer, Michael Brown was shot at twelve times by a local police officer while unarmed.

“My communities were having pointed conversations about the criminalization of black bodies,” Dwyer said. “I wanted to explore the socioeconomic structures that coordinate with racial and ethnic privilege.” None of the police officers in these incidents was held legally accountable for their actions. These and other recent incidents have escalated racial tensions and widened the rift between the police and the public that they serve, according to Dwyer.

“There has always been something unsettling about how, in the show, Romeo doesn’t face any consequences for murdering Tybalt,” Dwyer says. “No one in authority seems concerned, and this facet of the play is given more meaning if Tybalt is a man of color.” Dwyer’s other recent Shakespeare productions at Muhlenberg, “The Winter’s Tale” and “The Tempest,” both addressed social issues and included actors of non-traditional sexes playing pivotal characters. “The Winter’s Tale” raised questions about contemporary marriage, while “The Tempest” explored issues of gender and sexual politics.

This production of “Romeo and Juliet” also features music written by a student composer. Jakeim Hart, ’16, worked with Dwyer to being new life to Shakespeare’s work through song. Hart previously composed an original musical, “Sinternet!,” for the Muhlenberg stage two years ago.

“I am hoping to bring new joy, laughter, and pain to a well-known story through the music that I write,” says Hart, who is also playing the role of Paris in the production. “Everyone is the production sings throughout the show, and I also play the guitar.”

Muhlenberg College’s Theatre & Dance Department offers one of the top-rated college performance programs in the country, 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 theatre and dance. It has been named annually among the Fiske Guide to Colleges’ top 20 small college programs in the United States.

“Romeo and Juliet” runs April 22-26 in the Studio Theatre, Trexler Pavilion for Theatre & Dance, Muhlenberg College, 2400 Chew St., Allentown. Seating is very limited. Performances are Wednesday through Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 8 p.m. (Sunday’s performance was originally scheduled for 2 p.m.; it is at 8 p.m.) Tickets and information are available at 484-664-3333 or http://www.muhlenberg.edu/theatre&dance.

Study: Minorities In Pittsburgh Region Dominate Low-Wage Jobs

Ever since the British defeated the French and the Indians then changed the name of Fort Duquesne to Fort Pitt, the vast majority of the population of Pittsburgh has been white.

The workforce of the Pittsburgh region is now 89 percent white, with the remaining share of workers split between African Americans (7 percent), Hispanics and Asians (2 percent each), and 1 percent people who are listed as another racial minority, according to a study released Thursday by the Workforce Diversity Indicators Initiative that was the subject of a forum on diversity at the University of Pittsburgh on Thursday.

The employment sectors with the most diversity also were the lowest-paying sectors, such as administrative and support services with 20 percent share of minorities. That sector includes office work jobs and marketing but also security services, cleaning and maintenance and waste disposal. Minority workers in those jobs make $2,761 a month, which, according to the report, was one of the lowest of all sectors.

Even lower pay was found in the sector with the second highest concentration of minority workers — accommodation and food services — which had 16 percent representation by minority workers on the payrolls earning $1,442 a month.

Read more:

http://www.post-gazette.com/business/career-workplace/2015/03/06/Pittsburgh-region-minorities-dominate-low-wage-jobs-study-finds/stories/201503060177

North Philadelphia Meeting Addresses Gentrification

, a in , Pennsylvania

, a in , Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PEOPLE FROM all over Philadelphia came together Saturday to tell their stories about gentrification at the Church of the Advocate in North Philadelphia.

Organizers had issued fliers calling for an “emergency town hall” to confront a “crisis facing black Philadelphia: the demise of our neighborhoods.”

In gentrification, some neighborhoods are targeted for revitalization – but the new development leads to huge rent or property-tax increases that often force longtime residents out.

Sister Empress Phile, one of the organizers, said the group will host more town halls and ask for more public meetings, including congressional hearings.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20140303_North_Philadelphia_meeting_addresses_gentrification.html#AU1SM36tmtUWDA0U.99

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Pennsylvania Ranks 4th In Black Homicide Victims, Latest Stats Show

Map of Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PENNSYLVANIA ranked fourth nationwide in black homicide victimization in 2011, according to an organization that ranked the state second in the previous year.

The Washington, D.C.-based Violence Policy Center, which released the new study Thursday, said the latest figures show that Pennsylvania had 29.02 homicides per 100,000 black civilians in 2011.

A study released by the same nonprofit group last year ranked Pennsylvania second in 2010. The state was ranked third in 2009.

In 2011 — the latest year for which FBI statistics are available — blacks accounted for half of all homicide victims nationwide, yet represented 13 percent of the U.S. population.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/Pa_ranks_4th_in_black_homicide_victims_latest_stats_show.html#SIwjH48fKP1kXpBA.99

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Swiss Apologize For Encounter Oprah Calls Racist

English: Oprah Winfrey at the White House for ...

English: Oprah Winfrey at the White House for the 2010 Kennedy Center Honors (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  I guess in addition to not getting the Oprah Winfrey Show in Switzerland they don’t follow the Forbes listings of wealthy people.  Oprah is on numerous lists, including being #1 on the Celebrity 100 List and #13 on the list of 100 Most Powerful Women in the World. Maybe it would be a good idea learn who these people are so when they pop into your shop and want to look a handbag that costs the equivalent of a beginning teacher’s salary, you might have a clue.  #customerservice

GENEVA (AP) – Switzerland is a glamorous playground of the rich and famous, filled with glitterati from princes to movie stars. It’s also a land with a sometimes uneasy relationship with foreigners – especially when they aren’t white.

Billionaire media mogul Oprah Winfrey says she ran into Swiss racism when a clerk at Trois Pommes, a pricey Zurich boutique, refused to show her a $38,000 handbag, telling one of the world’s richest women that she wouldn’t be able to afford it.  Winfrey earned $77 million in the year ending in June, according to Forbes magazine.

“She said: ‘No, no, no, you don’t want to see that one.  You want to see this one.  Because that one will cost too much; you will not be able to afford that,'” Winfrey, appearing on the U.S. television program “Entertainment Tonight,” quoted the clerk as saying.  “And I said, ‘Well, I did really want to see that one.’  And she refused to get it.”

She brought up the incident during an interview about her new movie, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” which opens next week and focuses on civil rights and race relations in the U.S. She was asked to open up about her own experiences with discrimination.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/entertainment/celebrities/20130809_ap_dc0748727bf040c780d8d9610a4a7749.html#Heyzqs5U21ELC7lZ.99

Montgomery County Budget Cuts Take A Toll On Community Organizations

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NORRISTOWN — It’s halfway into the year, and some local organizations that received county funds in the past are beginning to feel the effects of the 2013 budget cuts.

County budget cuts are robbing the Montgomery County African American Coalition of its “meat and potatoes” programs, according to charter member Bob Wright.

Three weeks ago, the group met at the First Baptist Church in Cheltenham, where a consortium of representatives from different minority organizations throughout the county, including the local chapter of the NAACP, discussed the budget and how it affects the low- and moderate-income county population.

Among them, Legal Aid, which received $281,7000 from the county general fund in 2012, was initially zeroed out of the budget for fiscal year 2013.

Read more:  http://www.timesherald.com/article/20130707/NEWS01/130709776/montgomery-county-budget-cuts-take-a-toll-on-community-organizations#full_story

Under The Gun: Norristown Raises Awareness — And Hope — Through Art

Location of Norristown in Montgomery County

Location of Norristown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NORRISTOWN –  The mission statement of the ACPPA Community Art Center has not changed since 2004, when the doors first opened, but over the years, Executive Director Amy Grebe has changed the way she interprets it.

In an interview at her office, located in the basement of Grace Lutheran Church on Haws Avenue, Grebe rattled off the words by heart, as though she were reciting the Pledge of Allegiance: “We provide opportunities that use art as a vehicle for creative self-discovery and community revitalization.”

After taking a breath, she explained with a smile that while her goal remains the same, exposing children to the arts.  She prefers now to focus on the creative process, rather than the final product.

“I am less inclined to make good artists than I am to create good citizens,” Grebe said.  “We use the creative process to help them envision a possible future for themselves.”

She also provides after school snacks, donated by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Read more:  http://www.timesherald.com/article/20130622/NEWS01/130629862/under-the-gun-norristown-raises-awareness–and-hope–through-art#full_story

Half Of U.S. Seniors One ‘Shock’ Away From Poverty, Report Warns

NEW YORK  (TheStreet) — Are U.S. seniors “truly vulnerable” to spending their retirement in poverty?

That thought, almost unthinkable almost 15 years ago, is inching closer to reality, says a study from the Washington, D.C.-based Economic Policy Institute.

Older African-Americans (63%) and Hispanics (70%) are especially vulnerable to spending their golden years in economic peril, the study says, with 48% of all U.S. seniors, or about 19.9 million Americans, “one bad economic shock away” from falling off a financial cliff after age 65 — a fall from which they may not recover.

Read more: http://business-news.thestreet.com/philly/story/half-of-us-seniors-one-shock-away-from-poverty-report-warns/11947636

For At Least 20 Years, Interlocking Problems Have Plagued Wilkinsburg Schools

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United ...

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United States Public School Districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the Wilkinsburg School District, almost half of students don’t graduate.

A third of students have been involved in incidents that threatened school safety.  On state tests, 86.4 percent of 11th graders aren’t proficient in math and 68.3 percent aren’t proficient in reading.

The district is hemorrhaging students to charter schools.  It borrowed $3 million for general operating expenses and has furloughed about 80 teachers in the past three years.

Some residents are taken aback when asked for their assessment of the district, seeing it as self-evident that the district has already fallen off the cliff.

“Honestly, it’s too far gone,” said Wilkinsburg resident Stephanie Shea.  “Code blue happened a while ago.  At this point, it needs to be totally dismantled.”

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/education/for-at-least-20-years-interlocking-problems-have-plagued-wilkinsburg-schools-691087/#ixzz2VpYDUujs

Pittsburgh Sees Asian Population Increase

Locator map of the Greater Pittsburgh metro ar...

Locator map of the Greater Pittsburgh metro area in the western part of the of . Red denotes the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area, and yellow denotes the New Castle Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the Pittsburgh-New Castle CSA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When Deepti Alampally moved here from India four years ago, she didn’t have to explain where she was going.

“Everyone back home knows about Pittsburgh,” Ms. Alampally said.

She said Pittsburgh is famous among Hindus because its three rivers make it a holy city in the religion. It’s fitting, then, that Pittsburgh is home to nearly 15,000 South Asians, according to 2010 Census data. In total, nearly 50,000 Asians and Asian-Americans live in the Pittsburgh metro area — making them the second-largest minority group after African-Americans, and ahead of Hispanics.

That puts Pittsburgh right in line with the national trend, according to a Pew Research Center report released Tuesday.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/region/pittsburgh-sees-asian-population-increase-641096/#ixzz1ySpSmX00

Pottstown TriPAC’s “Ain’t Misbehavin’” – A Review

I had the pleasure of attending the Sunday matinée performance of Ain’t Misbehavin’ at Pottstown’s Tri-County Performing Arts Center yesterday afternoon.  I must say it was one of the best things I have seen thus far at the TriPAC and the afternoon flew by!

This production is being done in the smaller theatre on the third floor.  There are no bad seats!  The performance was sold out!  I believe it was announced all three weekend performances sold out.  My comment to you is, call now and see if any tickets are available for next weekend!

Ain’t Misbehavin’ is a musical.  In fact it is almost entirely sung. Although there is scarcely any dialogue, a story is told nonetheless!  The cast of five actors is phenomenal and the musicians, who are also integral to this performance, are second to none!  Our story takes place in Harlem in the 1930’s.  Appropriately the entire cast is African-American as well as most of the musicians and the director.  I must comment that the level of talent here is amazing!  If you like the music of that era you will be beyond pleased with the high musical standards in this production.

In addition to superb music, I laughed until I cried.  The “looks”, “stage whispers” and innuendo are priceless.  This production is nonstop singing and dancing and the cast barely broke a sweat.  The ease of the performances and the level of confidence displayed by the actors and musicians is professional.  Kudos to Director, Zuhairah McGill for her excellent leadership.  A good Director is worth their weight in gold and Ms. McGill definitely falls into that category!

There were three songs that I especially liked (I loved them all).  Two were funny and one was very moving.  When the Nylons Bloom and The Viper’s Drag were hysterical!  Again, laughed until I cried.  Black and Blue was one of those songs that run the gamut of emotion.  It was a very sad song about the struggles of African-Americans during segregation.  While the cast was singing, there were poignant pictures being displayed on the back wall of a segregated America.  For Caucasians it is embarrassing and painful to watch, nevertheless “keeps it real” and reminds us how far we have come and how far we still have to go as a nation.  I am old enough to remember segregation and remember the great turmoil and pain our nation went through before and after the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964.  Yet I didn’t feel preached at either.  The point was made and we moved on.

I give a huge shout out to all five actors:  Denia Gibson, Mia Mbuy, Alexa Morefield, Marc Sherfield and Isiah Robinson.  Alexa, Marc and Isiah are TriPAC veterans.  Denia and Mia were in their first TriPAC production.  Stellar cast!  Mr. Sherfield got a golden ticket to Hollywood on American Idol this season!  How impressive is that!  I would say that validates my comments on the talent level.  Evidently Randy, Jennifer and Steven would agree, at least on 1/5th of the cast!  You are all stars!

Another huge shout out goes to the orchestra!  Ben Bullock’s piano skills are nothing short of amazing.  Ben is the Minister of Music at Invictus Church and I am sure they are thrilled to have him there!  The amount of playing is almost nonstop.  Other than the intermission the production is two hours of music!  I was very pleased to see Louis Rieger in the orchestra on string bass.  Mr. Rieger owns the High Street Music Company and I applaud his community involvement!  Louis has “mad skills” on the string bass and I thank him for sharing his considerable talent in this production.  Mr. Rieger walks the talk!  We like that here at Roy’s Rants!  Mega kudos to orchestra members: Lewis Ben on drums, Aaron Gould on trombone and Barb Newberry on reeds. Great job all around!

The production staff did an excellent job as well.  Everything went off without a hitch and it was a professional production all the way around.

One more shout out to the Red Hat Society who showed up in a big group.

I give this production two Roy’s Rants thumbs up.  If had more thumbs they would all be up!

There are three more performances left:  Friday, February 17th, Saturday, February 18th and Sunday, February 19th.

Tickets
ADULT: $17
STUDENT / SENIOR (65+): $15
CHILD (12 & under): $13

Groups of ten or more receive a $2.00 per ticket discount!

The Tri-County Performing Arts Center is located at 245 E. High Street, Pottstown, PA. 

Voice: (610) 970-1199

Internet:  http://www.tripac.org