Lehigh Valley Apartments Are Still Booming With No Bust In Sight, Experts Say

When Mark Mulligan saw how fast his new apartments in Easton’s former Pomeroy’s building were leasing, he started snapping up more city properties for more rentals.

Now more developers are jumping on board. In one week alone this month, three new apartment projects were announced in the Easton area, including a plan for 240 apartments at an abandoned industrial site in Palmer Township.

City Center Lehigh Valley is building 370 apartments in Allentown, 570 apartments have been approved along Freemansburg Avenue in Bethlehem Township and the long-stalled Dixie Cup factory renovation in Wilson Borough appears to be finally starting with plans for 250 apartments.

There’s no denying that the Lehigh Valley is in the midst of an apartment boom. But will there be a bust?

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/breaking-news/index.ssf/2015/02/lehigh_valley_apartments_are_s.html

Beth Henley’s Wildly Warm-Hearted Southern Comedy ‘The Miss Firecracker Contest’ Premieres At Muhlenberg

Allentown, PA — Beth Henley’s Southern comedy “The Miss Firecracker Contest” opens Feb. 18 at Muhlenberg College, with a cast of six college seniors. Director Francine Roussel says that the cast is ideally suited to convey the play’s themes of accepting ourselves for who we are in order to move ahead in our lives.

“Henley’s themes are really strong, but there is a lightness to her writing,” Roussel says. “The show is a comedy, almost to the point of farce, but at the same time, there are extremely moving moments where the characters are at a precipice, looking at their lives.”

“The Miss Firecracker Contest” runs Feb. 18-22 on the college’s Studio Theatre stage. Tickets and information are available at muhlenberg.edu/theatre and 484-664-3333.

Roussel says she selected the show because college students can relate to it — both those playing the characters and those watching in the audience.

“They are at a point in their lives where they are going to invent their life after college,” she says. “I think the play is at the core of what’s on their minds. What are their dreams? What are their concerns for the future?”

“The Miss Firecracker Contest” tells the story of 25-year-old Carnelle Scott, known around her tiny Mississippi town as “Miss Hot Tamale” for a past that she would like to forget. She’s got flaming red hair, a sparkler between her teeth, tap shoes on her feet, and The Star Spangled Banner on the tape deck, not to mention a burning desire to win the crown in this year’s Miss Firecracker Contest — the annual beauty pageant in her town. Carnelle hopes a Firecracker victory will help her shake her tarnished reputation and leave town in a blaze of glory.

“All these characters are dealing with crucial rites of passage,” Roussel says. “You can laugh out loud, but at the same time realize how desperate the characters really are.”

“The Miss Firecracker Contest” is Henley’s followup to her Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy “Crimes of the Heart.” First produced in 1980, the play also explores themes of femininity and beauty.

Russell Norris plays Delmount, Carnelle’s older cousin who has just been released from an asylum. Norris says he and his character are quite different in many respects, but they are both people at a crossroads, learning all they can before they move forward.

“This process is the perfect culminating experience,” Norris says. “We’re all going out into the professional world so soon, and we’re all in it together. It’s really bringing us together as a cast, and we all have a similar goal to learn as much as we can in this last opportunity, and soak in the experience.”

Norris’s castmate Julia Garber, who plays Carnelle, agrees. But she also points out that, for all the play’s complex and dynamic characters, it is also very funny.

“I think the audience is going to laugh really hard,” Garber says. “It’s not just a crazy, Southern comedy, but a play that has a lot more depth. I can take a lesson from Carnelle to always stay hopeful and believe in myself.”

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 15 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 “The Miss Firecracker Contest” are Feb. 18-22: Wednesday through Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for LVAIC faculty and staff. The performance is intended for mature audiences. Tickets and information are available at 484-664-3333 and muhlenberg.edu/theatre.

Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre Announces Open Audition Dates

Allentown, PA — Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre will hold open auditions for performers ages 16 and up on Feb. 22 and 23. Performers will be cast for the season’s mainstage productions: the raucous, pupped-filled musical comedy “Avenue Q,” performing June 10-28, and the classic musical “Hello, Dolly!,” performing July 8-26.

The following audition details can also be found online, at muhlenberg.edu/smt.

Vocal auditions will be held Sunday, Feb. 22, from 1 to 5 and 6 to 11 p.m., and Monday, Feb. 23, from 7:30 to 11 p.m. Vocal auditions will be held in the Empie Theatre, Baker Center for the Arts. Appointments are three minutes.

Dance auditions for “Hello, Dolly!” will be held Sunday, Feb. 22, from 4 to 7 p.m. and Monday, Feb. 23 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., in the Baker Theatre, Trexler Pavilion for Theatre & Dance. Dance auditions will take about half an hour.

All auditioners must register in advance and schedule an audition. Auditioners should send an email to SMTcompany@muhlenberg.edu before Friday, Feb. 20, 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. 19. Voice messages should contain all of the above information.

All “Hello, Dolly!” auditioners will be assigned a time for both a dance audition and a vocal audition. Auditioners must both dance and sing, even if they concentrate in just one area. All performers in “Hello, Dolly!” will sing and dance. “Avenue Q” does not require a preliminary dance audition, although callback auditions may include some movement.

Auditioners who live too far away from the Allentown area or who are unable to attend auditions may submit a preliminary DVD audition. The DVD should consist of a comedic monologue not more than two minutes in length, one song (see guidelines below), and a 90-second dance solo. DVDs must arrive before the audition date listed to be eligible for consideration.

Auditioners who receive a callback must attend in person to be considered for a role. Callbacks will be held March 14-15, and will include acting auditions, reading from the script.

Auditioners for both shows should prepare a memorized vocal selection of 32 bars. An accompanist will be provided for the vocal audition. Auditioners must bring sheet music in the key in which they would like to sing, with the selection indicated and any cuts clearly noted. Please no accompaniment tapes or a cappella auditions.

Auditioners for “Hello, Dolly!” should prepare a song from a musical produced prior to 1980. Auditioners for “Avenue Q” should select a song that shows character, from 1980 through the present.

For dance auditions, auditioners will be taught a short dance sequence, which they will then perform. No preparation is required.

Auditioners should bring two copies of their resumes and headshots.

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 boxoffice@muhlenberg.edu.

Upcoming Performances In The Lehigh Valley

UPCOMING PERFORMANCES

REPERTORY DANCE THEATRE presents:

March 7, 2015 | 4:00 pm @ Scottish Rite Cathedral
Cinderella


BACH & HANDEL CHORALE presents:

April 11, 2015 | 3:00 pm @ Zion U.C.C. of Lehighton
The Bach and Handel Easter Concert


CHAMBER MUSIC SOCIETY OF BETHLEHEM presents:

February 13, 2015 | 7:30 pm @ Foy Hall
Auryn Quartet

March 13, 2015 | 7:30 pm @ Foy Hall
Vienna Piano Trio


PENNSYLVANIA SINFONIA ORCHESTRA presents:

March 22, 2015 | 4:00 pm @ Christ Lutheran Church, Allentown
An Afternoon with Mozart


MORAVIAN COLLEGE MUSIC INSTITUTE presents:

February 14, 2015 | 7:30 pm @ Peter Hall
Chamber Music from Old Japan – SATORI East

February 16, 2015 | 7:30 pm @ Foy Hall
Dame Evelyn Glennie, percussion

February 20, 2015 | 7:30 pm @ Peter Hall
Faculty Recital, featuring: “Dueling Sopranos”

February 22, 2015 | 7:00 pm @ Foy Hall
Moravian College Community Orchestra, featuring: Jeffrey Biegel

February 27, 2015 | 7:30 pm @ Foy Hall
Moravian College Wind Ensemble, “Harmony & Conflict”

March 22, 2015 | 7:00 pm @ Foy Hall
Moravian College Jazz Combo II & Jazz Fusion

March 22, 2015 | 4:00 pm @ Peter Hall
Moravian College Early Music Ensembles

March 29, 2015 | 7:00 pm @ Peter Hall
Celtic Ensemble & Guitar Ensemble

March 29, 2015 | 4:00 pm @ Peter Hall
Delta Omicron Presents: “Hey Old Friends” Alumni Concert


Muhlenberg College ‘Master Choreographers’ Dance Concert Displays Talents Of Acclaimed Choreographers, More Than 60 Dancers

Allentown, PA — The Muhlenberg College dance program will showcase world premiere works by eight accomplished choreographers in its annual “Master Choreographers” concert, Feb. 5-7. The concert features a diverse selection of styles and genres, ranging from classical ballet to contemporary jazz, modern dance, and tap accompanied by live jazz music.

This season’s concert will feature “Prayers,” choreographed by guest artist Jessica Lang, the recipient of a prestigious 2014 Bessie Award, as well as seven world-premiere pieces choreographed by acclaimed guest artists and faculty members.

Karen Dearborn, founder and chair of Muhlenberg’s dance program, will receive the Distinguished Service Award from the LVAIC Dance Consortium following the performance on Thursday, Feb. 5. Dearborn is the concert’s artistic director and one of the featured choreographers.

“This concert presents a spectacular evening of dance,” Dearborn says. “We are thrilled to showcase choreography by Jessica Lang, along with new works by internationally acclaimed guest artists and faculty.”

In addition to Lang and Dearborn, the concert will feature works by: Danish choreographer Charlotte Boye-Christensen; Corrie Franz Cowart, co-artistic director of Co-Art Dance; Heidi Cruz-Austin, alumna of the Pennsylvania Ballet; Dorrell Martin, founder of LEON Dance Arts NY; Shelley Oliver, director of Shelley Oliver Tap Dancers; and Jeffrey Peterson, former dancer with Danny Buraczeski’s Jazzdance.

The Dance Consortium is a collaborative effort of the Lehigh Valley Association of Independent Colleges (LVAIC), created to pool resources to bring world-class performers and choreographers to the Lehigh Valley. Now in its 40th year, the Dance Consortium includes Cedar Crest College, DeSales University, Lafayette College, Lehigh University, Moravian College, and Muhlenberg. The Distinguished Service Award is presented annually to a member of the Lehigh Valley dance community for outstanding contributions to the advancement of local dance.

The award will be presented to Dearborn by Deborah Sacarakis, artistic director of the Zoellner Arts Center at Lehigh University and recipient of the 2014 award. The presentation ceremony will immediately follow the 8 p.m. performance, at about 10 p.m. All are welcome to attend.

Performances of “Master Choreographers” will take place Feb. 5-7: Thursday, Feb. 5, at 8 p.m.; Friday, Feb. 6, at 8 p.m.; and Saturday, Feb. 7, at 2 and 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for patrons 17 and under. Performances are in the Empie Theatre, in the Baker Center for the Arts, Muhlenberg College, 2400 Chew St., Allentown. Information and tickets are available at

484-664-3333 or muhlenberg.edu/dance.

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.

Choreographer Bios

Charlotte Boye-Christensen is the former artistic director of the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, located in Salt Lake City. A native of Copenhagen, Denmark, Boye-Christensen received her formal training at London Contemporary Dance School and at the Laban Centre in London and completed her Master of Fine Arts degree at the Tisch School of the Arts, New York University. She has been commissioned to create new works for numerous dance companies and universities around the world. Boye-Christensen is the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship and grants from the Theatre and Arts Councils in Denmark, Germany, Mexico and Singapore, as well as a recipient of the Choo-San Goh Award for Choreographic Excellence. In 2002 she joined Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company to assist in the artistic direction of the company. She became the artistic director in 2008 and has created and re-staged 26 pieces on the company. In April 2013, she stepped away from that position in order to form NOW-ID, an interdisciplinary contemporary dance company, and to pursue more international commissions.

Heidi Cruz-Austin is an alumna of the Pennsylvania Ballet, and she has danced featured roles in works by choreographers ranging from Alvin Ailey to George Balanchine. In addition to dancing with Pennsylvania Ballet, Cruz-Austin has performed with the Philadelphia-based company Ballet X and as a guest artist throughout the United States and Europe. As a choreographer, Cruz-Austin was a winner for the 2003 Ballet Builders showcase in New York City. She has been commissioned to create works for Franklin and Marshall College, Bryn Mawr College, Repertory Dance Theater, and Ballet D’errico, and she was a recipient of the 2004-2005 New Edge Residency at The Community Education Center of Philadelphia.

Corrie Franz Cowart has performed with the Mary Miller Dance Company, LABCO Dance, Minh Tran and Company, the Dance Theatre of Oregon, and the Pittsburgh Opera. She has performed both nationally and internationally with Impact Productions’ “Dayuma” and “The Masterpiece.” Cowart continues to perform and choreograph for her own company Co-Art Dance, a contemporary dance company she co-founded in 1997 with her husband Tim Cowart. Corrie is an assistant professor at Muhlenberg College, where she teaches modern, dance composition, and dance on camera.

Karen Dearborn has choreographed more than 70 works in concert, theater, and musical theater, including national tours of the Tony Award-winning National Theatre of the Deaf and several Equity theatres. She has provided choreography for the Muhlenberg theater productions of “On the Town,” “The Pajama Game,” “Oklahoma!,” “Urinetown,” and “West Side Story,” and Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre productions of “Hairspray,”  “The Sound of Music,” “The Who’s Tommy,” and “Oliver!” to name just a few. Dearborn is the founding director of Muhlenberg’s dance program. Her scholarly research has been published in the Journal of Dance Education, and she contributed an essay to the book “Performing Magic on the Western Stage.” She serves on the executive board of the American College Dance Festival Association.

Jessica Lang has created more than 80 works on companies worldwide since 1999, including Birmingham Royal Ballet, The National Ballet of Japan at the New National Theatre Tokyo, Joffrey Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, Colorado Ballet, Ballet San Jose, Richmond Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Ailey II, ABT II, Hubbard Street 2, and New York City Ballet’s Choreographic Institute, among many others. American Ballet Theatre has presented her work at the Metropolitan Opera House, and she has received commissions from the Dallas Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Museum for its Works and Process series. For opera, Lang received acclaim for her directorial debut and choreography of Pergolesi’s “Stabat Mater” at the 2013 Glimmerglass Opera Festival. Lang is the recipient of 2014 Bessie Award. Her ballet “Lyric Pieces,” commissioned and performed by Birmingham Royal Ballet, earned a nomination for a coveted 2013 Manchester Theatre Award in the United Kingdom. Lang has received numerous grants for her work on ballet companies from organizations including the Jerome Robbins Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Choo San Goh Foundation. Her receipt of a 2010 Joyce Theater Artist Residency, supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, helped launch her own company, Jessica Lang Dance in 2011. Lang, a graduate of The Juilliard School under the direction of Benjamin Harkarvy, is a former member of Twyla Tharp’s company, THARP!

Dorrell Martin is founder of the jazz and contemporary dance program, LEON Dance Arts NY, which is associated with LEON Contemporary Dance Company/NY, of which Martin is the artistic director. He was also the creator and director of the jazz and contemporary program at The Joffrey Ballet School. He is former artistic director/co-founder of Houston Metropolitan Dance Company in Houston, Texas. Martin was a soloist for the national and international touring company of “A Few Good Men Dancin’,” and has danced in such shows as “Aida,” “West Side Story,” “The Lion King,” and “Swing.” He has also performed with many professional companies, including Arch Dance, Locke Contemporary Dance, Houston Grand Opera, Metropolitan Opera, and Richard Rivera’s PHYSUAL. Martin has also performed with such recording artists as Jennifer Lopez, Pink, Black Eyed Peas, Rihanna and Debra Cox.

Shelley Oliver is a Canadian-born tap dancer, choreographer, and educator. She has appeared internationally with some of the legends of the tap world. She is the artistic director of The Shelley Oliver Tap Dancers currently touring with the David Leonhardt Jazz Group throughout the northeast. Oliver is a founding member of Manhattan Tap and served as a co-artistic director and choreographer with the company. She has toured in concert halls in Europe, China, the Caribbean, Canada, and the United States. She has performed with Savion Glover, Gregory Hines, Jimmy Slide, Buster Brown, Jimmy Slide, and Chuck Green. Oliver’s television appearances include “Tap Dance in America” with Gregory Hines and “Star Search.” On faculty at Muhlenberg College, she directs the Muhlenberg Jazz Tap Ensemble, providing community outreach in the Allentown area. Ms. Oliver has produced a series of “Tap Music For Tap Dancers” CDs that have become a standard pedagogical tool in the tap dance world. She is the recipient of the 2009 Outstanding Dance Educator award for the Lehigh Valley Dance Consortium.

Jeffrey Peterson serves as an assistant professor of dance at Muhlenberg College, where he teaches modern, jazz, and partnering techniques. He holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Peterson began his professional dance career in national tours with JAZZDANCE by Danny Buraczeski in 2000. Since then, he has performed in the work of Clare Byrne, Edisa Weeks, and Mathew Janczewski, as well as Stephan Koplowitz’s “Grand Step Project,” and the Minnesota Opera’s production of “The Pearl Fishers” with choreography by John Malashock. His choreographic work for Jeffrey Peterson Dance has appeared at Joe’s Pub, Joyce SOHO, and Dixon Place in New York City, The Minnesota Fringe Festival, Intermedia Arts, and Bryant Lake Bowl in Minneapolis, and in “The Cloth Peddler” at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles. Peterson’s choreography has appeared in the concert repertory of numerous university dance programs. His ongoing creative work includes choreographic projects, colorguard and visual consultation for the Govenaires Drum and Bugle Corps, and sound design.

Lehigh Valley Arts Council Announces Arts Alive 2015 Series

The Lehigh Valley Arts Council is pleased to announce the new line-up for the Arts Alive 2015 Series. These three events for members and their friends allow participants to rub shoulders with the creative process and engage their minds and spirits.

On Saturday, February 7, 2015, “Curator’s Choice” introduces Elaine Mehalakes, the new vice president of community engagement at the Allentown Art Museum. Ms. Mehalakes will guide an informal discussion from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on works of art she has selected for their relevance to the collection and to the community. Ms. Mehalakes has extensive experience in curating and cataloguing; she previously worked at the Davis Museum and Cultural Center in Wellesley, Massachusetts, and at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

“A Joyous Rehearsal” arrives with spring as guests are invited to attend a rehearsal of the Bach Choir of Bethlehem on Monday evening, April 20, 2015, from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m., at the First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem. Visitors will preview the power and joy of the 108th Bethlehem Bach Festival as Artistic Director Greg Funfgeld welcomes the group prior to rehearsal and speaks about how this century-old community chorus continues to remain relevant.

“Wood & Steel” is a tour of furniture designer and craftsman Bill Kreider’s studio on Saturday, June 20, 2015, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Inspired by unconventional and discarded items, often with historical context, Bill’s designs use contemporary lines to offset traditional materials. He has transformed garage door springs into a dining room table, a ship’s drive wheel into a coffee table, and perhaps most famously, Bethlehem Steel “I” beams into bookcases.

Come join Bill for a personal tour of his studio workspace, which is located in the old Pennsylvania Stage Company scene shop on 127 North Lumber Street in Allentown, and discover the artistry of turning industrial debris into true masterpieces.

Attendance is limited for these behind-the-scenes cultural tours to only twenty-five visitors at each event, so reserve your tickets soon at LVArtsBoxOffice.org. Light refreshments will be served at each event. Fees for each event are $15 for Arts Council members, $20 for nonmembers. Enjoy a special 33% discount if you buy tickets to all three events in the series (three tickets for the price of two).

Randall Forte, Executive Director
Lehigh Valley Arts Council
Phone: 610-437-5915.
Email: info@LVArtsCouncil.org
Web: www.lvartscouncil.org

RUSH TICKET: Bach Choir Christmas Concert – Sat, Dec 6th 8pm – ONLY $9.99!‏

Saturday ◊ December 6th, 2014 ◊ 8:00 p.m.
3231 Tilghman Street
Allentown, PA 18104

Join The Bach Choir, Bach Festival Orchestra and Soloists for beautiful music inspired by Mary, the Mother of Jesus. The concert will close with a traditional carol sing.

Our Christmas Concerts open with J.S. Bach’s Cantata 147 including the famous chorale Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring and close with the effervescent Magnificat of J.S. Bach’s most famous son, C.P.E. Bach in honor of the 300th anniversary of his birth. The Choir is also featured in a beautiful selection of pieces in praise of Mary, ranging from the much loved 16th century setting of Ave Maria by English composer Robert Parsons, to Stanford’s 20th century Magnificat with its soaring soprano solo, and the moving a capella Mary Speaks by contemporary American composer Daniel Gawthrop.
  • J. S. Bach Cantata 147 featuring Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring
  • C. P. E. Bach Magnificat
  • Robert Parsons Ave Maria
  • Charles Villiers Stanford Magnificat in G
  • Daniel Gawthrop Mary Speaks

Click here to purchase tickets: http://www.etix.com/ticket/online/performanceSearch.jsp?performance_id=7060778&cobrand=lvartsboxoffice

Center City Allentown High-End Apartments Renting Far Faster Than Expected, Developer Says

English: View of Allentown City from east side

English: View of Allentown City from east side (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Developer J.B. Reilly has been building apartments for 25 years, but he’s never seen demand like he’s seeing now for his high-end apartments in Center City Allentown.

His company, City Center Lehigh Valley, announced Sept. 8 it was accepting deposits for 170 apartments in the under-construction Strata Luxury Flats at Four City Center. Two months later, almost half have deposits on them.

“I’ve been in the apartment development business my whole career and we’ve never experienced this kind of demand – even close to this kind of demand,” Reilly said Friday.

The interest in the apartments is tied to the new attention on Allentown’s downtown, Reilly said. In recent months, new restaurants, office space and a minor league hockey arena have opened, with Reilly leading much of the development.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/allentown/index.ssf/2014/11/center_city_allentown_high-end.html

Fall Chocolate Festival Sweetens Saturday At Allentown Brew Works

Calling all chocoholics.

Fegley’s Brew Works is bringing back its Fall Chocolate Festival, 4-7 p.m. Saturday at Allentown Brew Works.

The festival features chocolate samples, 50 chocolate vendors and a chocolate bar. Allentown Brew Works will debut a Chocolate Lager and Bethlehem Brew Works will offer a Chocolate Peanut Butter Stout – both of which can only be found at the Fall Chocolate Festival.

“You’re going to leave on Saturday with chocolate overload,” says Fegley’s Brew Works Corporate General Manager Jesse Albertson. “I’ve never experienced a chocolate festival like this.”

Read more:  http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/food/index.ssf/2014/11/fall_chocolate_festival_sweete.html

Muhlenberg Production Of ‘Agamemnon’ Offers Innovative Take On Greek Tragedy

Logo of Muhlenberg College

Logo of Muhlenberg College (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Allentown, PA— The hardest part of directing a play that’s a couple thousand years old isn’t getting your audience to understand the play, says director Matthew Moore. The hard part is making sure they connect with it — and that means finding a way to cut its mythic characters down to human size.

Moore’s production of Aeschylus’ tragedy “Agamemnon” opens Nov. 19 at the Muhlenberg College Theatre & Dance Department, where he is a faculty member. He says that his first job as director has been to help a modern audience relate to an ancient tragedy, with its ancient characters and their ancient motivations.

“Ted Hughes has given us a beautiful, poetic, modern translation, so the language isn’t a great challenge for the audience,” Moore says. “The challenge comes from creating these larger-than-life characters on the stage, in a way that makes them and their crazy decisions seem not only real but compelling.”

“Agamemnon” runs Nov. 19-23 on the college’s Studio Theatre stage. Tickets and information are available at http://www.muhlenberg.edu/theatre and 484-664-3333.

Moore says his approach to creating an accessible “Agamemnon” has been highly collaborative — and highly improvisational, to an unusual degree for a theater production. The cast spent the entire first month of rehearsals doing improv and movement work, with guidance from movement consultant Susan Creitz, another Muhlenberg faculty member. Their objective was to find the physical reality of their characters before they started learning their lines.

“The first thing Matt ever said at rehearsal was, ‘This text is a spell, and we are going to learn how to cast it,'” says Kate McMoran, who plays Clytemnestra, Agamemnon’s vengeful spouse. “I don’t think I could have even started to the scenes if I hadn’t had the improv movement experience first.”

“Agamemnon” tells a tale of revenge and murder set in the aftermath of the Trojan War. Ten years before, the Greek King Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter Iphigenia to gain the necessary winds to sail to Troy. Now he returns victorious — but his fleet and kingdom have been decimated by the war, and the memory of his sacrifice looms large, particularly for his wife, Clytemnestra.

Feigning thankfulness for his safe return, Clytemnestra lures her husband into the bath, where she murders him to avenge her daughter. But justice proves elusive in this primal tale of revenge.

“I am interested in the practice of theater as a continued collaboration,” Moore says. “It doesn’t mean you come and collaborate with me on my vision. It means let’s actually do the work of figuring out what this is together.”

Part of the collaborative process for “Agamemnon” includes the contributions of senior Sean Skahill, who has composed a dark, edgy original score for the production. Skahill also composed music for last fall’s “The Winter’s Tale,” but in a very different style. For “Agamemnon,” he uses a looping station, an electronic device that loops and layers different sounds and instruments to create an improvisational soundscape.

“Matt keeps saying that the play is about the past repeating itself,” Skahill says. “So the looping device really works nicely on a literary level. We keep hearing the past, layered over itself to create more and more complexity.”

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 15 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 “Agamemnon” are Nov. 19-23: Wednesday through Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for students and for LVAIC faculty and staff. The performance is intended for mature audiences.

‘Moving Stories’ Dance Concert Showcases Innovative Work By Student Choreographers In Muhlenberg’s 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 “Moving Stories,” a showcase for dance works created by emerging choreographers, Nov. 6-8 in the College’s Baker Theatre.

Artistic director Karen Dearborn says the 10 choreographers selected for the program have created sophisticated and innovative dances, informed by their liberal arts education, and intended to probe and illuminate the human experience.

“‘Moving Stories’ is designed to inspire and challenge audiences,” Dearborn says. “These visually lush dances offer a view of our present and future through contemporary eyes. It is always exciting to be enveloped in these kinetic and symbolic works of art — to be moved by the movement.”

In addition this year, Muhlenberg will present “Dance On: Moving Stories Part II,” a free 40-minute concert, Nov. 8 and 9, also in the Baker Theatre.

“Moving Stories” will showcase over 50 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 ten original dances include contemporary jazz, tap, and modern works that investigate female competition, the images in dreams, personal tragedy, architecture, consciousness and fear. Everything from wildlife, interpersonal relationships, a cappella, nightmares, and the interworking of the human mind struck inspiration for the choreographers.

“Moving Stories” features the choreography of Samantha Chu, Allison Conley, Shayna Golub, Tyler Holoboski, Courtney Hunsberger, Emily Lombardo, Zoe Papaeracleous, Krysta Parker, Kelley Romanuski, and Kylie Sickler.

“Dance On” features pieces by Sarah Braviak, Natalie Coy, Noah Dach, Paige Klibanoff, Liz Spilsbury, and Elizabeth Thompson.

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.

“Moving Stories” runs Nov. 6-8: Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., and Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults, $8 for patrons 17 and under. Tickets and information are available at 484-664-3333 or muhlenberg.edu/dance.  

“Dance On” runs Nov. 8-9: Saturday at 5 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. Admission is free, and tickets are not required.

Both concerts will be performed in the Baker Theatre, Trexler Pavilion for Theatre & Dance, Muhlenberg College, 2400 Chew St., Allentown.

Allentown Could Be Blueprint For New Development

English: City of Allentown from east side

English: City of Allentown from east side (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ALLENTOWN, PA – Three years ago, run-down tattoo parlors and pawnshops dominated Hamilton Street, the main drag in Pennsylvania’s third-largest city.

Now they’re gone, replaced by high-tech firms, high-end restaurants, and a burst of construction activity. In 22 months, seven buildings of at least 10 stories have gone up along Hamilton Street, and two older buildings were rehabbed. The centerpiece is the PPL Center, a new, gleaming, 10,000-seat arena that this week opens as the new hockey home of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, the Flyers’ minor league affiliate.

Bolstered by special legislation that diverts most of the state taxes on new development within a 130-acre urban zone, supporters say what’s happened in Allentown could be a blueprint for other long-suffering small cities eager to shed their industrial past.

“I think we’re trying to change the Allentown identity,” Mayor Ed Pawlowski said over lunch Thursday at the Hamilton, one of five new downtown restaurants. “It was so jerry-rigged over the years there wasn’t much of an identity left.”

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/nation_world/20141012_Allentown_could_be_blueprint_for_new_development.html#elAVd62cIEa7dzdL.99

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.

Allentown Developer Announces New Project, Possible Rooftop Restaurant

English: City of Allentown from east side

English: City of Allentown from east side (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The developer already behind $500 million of development in downtown Allentown has something new up his sleeve.

J.B. Reilly announced plans Wednesday to renovate a blighted vacant building at Eighth and Linden streets, turning the ground level floor into 4,000-square-feet of retail space.

The upper floors of the three-story building will become either apartments or office space, and a rooftop restaurant could be established there as well, Reilly said.

“We think this is a really important project because it’s sort of the gateway into the residential neighborhood,” said Reilly, president of

City Center Lehigh Valley. “We think it’ll have a pretty big impact on the neighborhood outside the NIZ.”

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/allentown/index.ssf/2014/10/allentown_developer_announces.html

Allentown’s Americus Hotel Revitalization Suffers Major Blow

English: City of Allentown from east side

English: City of Allentown from east side (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Plans to revitalize Allentown’s historic Americus Hotel have suffered a major blow that could set the project back multiple years, according to the hotel owner.

Albert Abdouche said financing for the $16.5 million renovation project has fallen through due to an Allentown authority’s hesitation regarding his plans.

As a result, Abdouche said he is no longer seeking to tap into the Neighborhood Improvement Zone, Allentown’s 127-acre special tax district, to finance the project.

Instead, Abdouche plans to make $1 million in improvements to the first floor with private money, then perhaps return to the Allentown Neighborhood Improvement Zone Development next year to finance the rest of the hotel renovations.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/allentown/index.ssf/2014/09/allentowns_americus_hotel_revi.html

Six Lehigh Valley Foodie Events This Weekend And Next, That Will Leave You Stuffed

Dig in!

The next two weekends are jam-packed with tasty events.

Here’s your outlook this weekend:

Bacon 5K Challenge and Bacon & Brews Bash – Friday and Saturday, Allentown

Coca-Cola Park, 1050 Iron Pigs Way, is hosting a Bacon 5K Challenge on Friday where participants need to consume a half-pound of bacon when they reach the 2.5-kilometer mark. A post-race party follows.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/food/index.ssf/2014/09/foodie_forecast_the_next_two_w.html

Allentown Police Hire New Officers, Implement New Training

The PPL Building (seen here in the distance) i...

The PPL Building (seen here in the distance) is the tallest building in Allentown, Pennsylvania. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Allentown Police Department added four new officers on Wednesday, as the police chief described for city officials new training and equipment the force has been implementing.

In the last few months the department has appointed its first liaison for the gay and lesbian community, and added training in Spanish language, emergency vehicle usage and riot policing.

The department has also received a $68,000 grant for the installation of audio and video equipment in 10 police cars, something Chief Joel Fitzgerald hopes will be implemented in all the city’s marked police cars.

“It’s a tremendous benefit for both the community, as well as cops because it insulates them from claims that might not be true,” he said.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/allentown/index.ssf/2014/09/allentown_police_hire_new_offi.html#incart_river

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.

Allentown Approves New Parking Garage Near Hockey Arena

English: City of Allentown from east side

English: City of Allentown from east side (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Allentown officials have insisted they are prepared for the barrage of vehicles that will be coming into the city from the opening of the new PPL Centerhockey arena.

Now, those vehicles will have 1,000 additional spots to park in.

Allentown planners signed off today on a new seven-story parking garage at Sixth and Walnut streets, within walking distance of the arena and other major downtown development projects.

“The traffic’s coming, there’s nothing we can do about that,” said Oldrich Focuek, planning commission chairman. “You know ‘the British are coming?’ Well, the traffic is coming, and we’re trying to deal with that.”

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/allentown/index.ssf/2014/09/allentown_approves_new_parking.html

Arts & Access: Celebrating Cultural Accessibility

LVAC-4LinesOn November 10, 2014, the Lehigh Valley Arts Council and the Lehigh Valley Partnership for a Disability-Friendly Community will co-host an exposition, Arts & Access: Celebrating Cultural Accessibility, at the Lehigh Valley Health Network, 2100 Mack Boulevard, Allentown, from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m.

The November 10th expo heralds the twenty-fifth anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act which occurs on July 26, 2015. The Lehigh Valley Arts Council and the Partnership for a Disability Friendly Community are planning a yearlong celebration next year to unite the entire community around creating a more inclusive region and expanding access to the arts for all people.

“Let’s remove barriers and open our doors to persons with disabilities,” says Randall Forte, Lehigh Valley Arts Council Executive Director. “It’s easier than you might think, and this event will give arts groups the help they need.”

Additionally, the 2012 U.S. Census data estimates indicate the number of non-institutionalized people with disabilities living in the Lehigh Valley is 81,000, or 12.7%, a figure that represents a significant number of potential new audience members for the cultural community.

Partnership member Jan Schwoyer sums it up best: “From my vantage point, the disability community is made up of people who have to do things differently. The arts community is a group of people who love to do things differently. These two groups were made for each other!”

Sponsored by the Lehigh Valley Health Network and Just Born, Inc., the November expo is free and open to the public. Featured guest, writer Shane Burcaw, will speak about his upcoming memoir, Laughing at My Nightmare, due out this October, and the importance of accessibility in the community. He writes an occasional column about life and disability in the Lehigh Valley in the Morning Call.

Exhibitors from local social service agencies and cultural organizations will be on hand to promote the consumer services and the specialized training they provide, including:

Empathy not Sympathy: Interacting Respectfully with People with Disabilities;

About Hidden Disabilities: Legal, Practical, and Human Considerations;

Audio-Described and Open-Captioned Performances.

Panel presentations will showcase recent collaborations between the cultural and disability communities that have extended access to the vision-impaired and to children with autism. Among the presenters are representatives from:

Center for Vision Loss

Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre

Arch of the Lehigh Valley

Act One, DeSales University Theatre

Lehigh University Art Galleries and Museum

If you are interested in getting involved, the Arts & Access planning committee meets on the first Monday of the month from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. Please R.S.V.P. to info@lvartscouncil.org.

What: Arts & Access Expo
When: November 10, 2014 / 3:00 – 6:00 p.m.

Where: Lehigh Valley Health Network, 2100 Mack Boulevard, Allentown

Randall Forte, Executive Director
Lehigh Valley Arts Council
Phone: 610-437-5915.
Email: info@LVArtsCouncil.org
Web: www.lvartscouncil.org/access