Allentown, PA — An evening of visionary experimental theater will be on display as Muhlenberg College’s mainstage theatre and dance season opens Sept. 28, with “Attention: New Visions Directors’ Festival.” The directors whose work will be featured in the festival say they aim to shine a light on human behavior in a complicated, broken, beautiful society. The festival is the first of two on the Muhlenberg mainstage this fall and will showcase the work of two talented directors from the College’s Department of Theatre & Dance.
Running through Oct. 2, the evening includes short, relatable plays that use heightened, imaginative situations to offer witty and moving answers to questions about knowing each other. The world premiere of “The Imaginary Audience” by Mattie Brickman is directed by Emma Steiger ’17, and “Oh, the Humanity & Other Good Intentions,” three short plays by Will Eno, is directed by Sarah Bedwell ’17.
“The Imaginary Audience” tells the story of three adolescent ballet dancers learning the difference between performing onstage, performing in society, and performing identity, Steiger says.
“The title of the play is taken from a psychological concept I think we all understand too well,” Steiger says. “Clinically, the Imaginary Audience comes from the way that adolescents perform in society due to a feeling of constant surveillance. But the concept has broader implications for all of us.”
The play invites us to eavesdrop on the three young dancers, desperate to meet the dance world’s harsh standards and to fit in. While flexing their internet muscle, the girls take things a step too far—and discover a shocking secret.
Steiger worked with playwright Mattie Brickman in Los Angeles over the summer, and she and the cast will continue collaborating with her by email and phone. Brickman plans to attend a performance.
“I want the play to both resemble and mock reality,” Steiger says. “I want it to come as a shock.”
“Oh, the Humanity & Other Good Intentions” is a collection of three short plays in which the characters set out to present themselves in the best light, given some difficult circumstances—”or ultimately, desperately, any light at all,” says Sarah Bedwell, who directs the collection.
“I’m really interested in exploring how people deal with tragic events,” she says. “We often overlook the way we react to others in the face of those events.”
In “Enter the Spokeswoman, Gently,” an inexperienced airline spokeswoman gives a press conference to the families of victims immediately after a plane has gone down. In “The Bully Composition,” a photographer and his assistant seem to be asking the audience to recreate a famous photo from the Spanish American War. In the title piece, a husband and wife figure out that they can’t get where they want to go because they are in a play and their car is made of chairs.
“I want my audience to look at these absurd events and realize they are not so absurd,” Bedwell says. “In exploring that, we’re exploring what it means to be human.”
“Attention: New Visions Directors’ Festival” plays Sept. 28 – Oct. 2. For mature audiences. Showtimes are Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m., with 2 p.m. matinees on Saturday and Sunday. Regular admission tickets are $15. Tickets for youth and LVAIC students and staff are $8.
Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.muhlenberg.edu/theatre or by phone at 484-664-3333. Performances are in the Studio Theatre in Trexler Pavilion for Theatre & Dance, Muhlenberg College, 2400 West Chew St., Allentown
Founded in 1848, Muhlenberg College is a highly selective, private, four-year residential college located in Allentown, PA., approximately 90 miles west of New York City. With an undergraduate enrollment of approximately 2,200 students, Muhlenberg College is dedicated to shaping creative, compassionate, collaborative leaders through rigorous academic programs in the arts, sciences, business, education and public health. A member of the Centennial Conference, Muhlenberg competes in 22 varsity sports. Muhlenberg is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Muhlenberg 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 eight 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.
|ALLENTOWN, PA – Dragon sightings are on the rise in the Lehigh Valley and that is exciting news for our arts community! On the big screen, movie-goers are enjoying the performance of Allentown child actor Oakes Fegley in the title role of Pete’s Dragon. Another fire-breathing beast greets visitors at the entrance of the new manufacturing facilities of Smooth-On, Inc. in East Texas. Dragons are powerful, mythological creatures that epitomize courage, vigor, and unbridled imagination—vital attributes for risk-takers like artists.
In homage to the dragons in our midst, the Lehigh Valley Arts Council invites you to ignite your imagination at ARTS COUNT 2016, the annual arts rally and grant award ceremony. The magic happens on October 19, 2016, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Smooth-On, 1725 Willow Lane, East Texas, PA 18046.
“We are very grateful to Smooth-On for hosting this event,” says Randall Forte, Executive Director of the Lehigh Valley Arts Council. “This international arts business is a giant in the realm of special effects.“ Smooth-On’s technologies and materials have been used to make movie figures and props for Star Wars, The Hobbit Trilogy, Harry Potter, The Walking Dead, and many other films and TV shows. (As a special treat, the Smooth-On staff will be on hand to give you scars, bruises, and bloody gashes.)
ARTS COUNT also serves as the occasion for the Lehigh Valley Arts Council to distribute grant awards to the Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts (PPA) Project Stream recipients in Carbon, Lehigh and Northampton counties. Project Stream is open to individual artists and community groups who apply for support of an arts-related project with strong public impact. More than $34,000 in state funds will be awarded to 22 applicants for activities held from September 1, 2016 through August 31, 2017.
“ARTS COUNT celebrates the public/private partnerships that fuel the arts in our region,” says Executive Director Randall Forte, “and features local business and foundation leaders giving testimony on the value and impact of the arts.” Locally elected officials are invited to present checks to the grant recipients from their districts. In keeping with the spirit of fellowship, Arts Council members are encouraged to bring a guest and rally for the arts.
The October reception is free to Arts Council members and grant recipients; the cost to guests and nonmembers is $10. Refreshments will be served. R.S.V.P. to 610-437-5915 to attend.
For more information about the PPA grant application, contact PA Partners in the Arts Coordinator Zach Kleemeyer at ppa@LVArtsCouncil.org.
List of 2016-17 PPA Grant Awardees:
ALLENTOWN, PA — Muhlenberg College’s nationally-ranked Theatre & Dance Department announces its 2016-2017 mainstage season. Highlights include classics by Gilbert & Sullivan and Anton Chekhov, a dance-theatre performance based on Harlem drag ball culture, a rarely produced Gertrude Stein play, and works by acclaimed guest choreographers.
The season features six fully mounted theatrical productions and three mainstage dance concerts, running from September 2016 through April 2017.
The season begins with “Attention: New Visions Directors’ Festival,” Sept. 28 through Oct. 2, featuring two short plays directed by senior Muhlenberg directing students: “The Imaginary Audience,” by Maddie Brickman, presented in its world premiere, directed by Emma Steiger; and “Oh, the Humanity, and Other Short Plays,” by Will Eno, directed by Sarah Bedwell.
Gilbert and Sullivan’s classic swashbuckling comic opera “The Pirates of Penzance” is presented Oct. 28 through Nov. 6, directed by Charles Richter, with choreography by Samuel Antonio Reyes and musical direction by Ed Bara.
“Moving Stories,” Nov. 10-12, features original choreography by the department’s upper-class dance majors, in a variety of genres and styles. The concert showcases dance as storytelling, narration in human form, addressing themes as broad ranging as the students’ own diverse backgrounds.
“Falling: New Visions Directors’ Festival” continues this season’s series of short plays, with classic short works directed by talented senior directing students. The evening’s plays include “Salome,” by Oscar Wilde, directed by Simon Evans, and “Icarus’s Mother,” by Sam Shepard, directed by Karina Fox. The festival runs Nov. 30 through Dec. 4.
“Master Choreographers,” Feb. 9-11, will feature major restagings and original works in ballet, contemporary dance, tap, and jazz, showcasing work by nationally and internationally acclaimed guest artists and faculty. Guest choreographers include Orion Duckstein, Cristina Perera, and Trinette Singleton.
Gertrude Stein’s “Listen to Me,” directed by James Peck, is a rarely produced avant garde play — a cerebral frolic in the face of planetary crisis, in which characters philosophize, laugh, and struggle heroically to hold onto hope as their prospects dim. The show runs Feb. 22-26.
“Wig Out!,” up-and-coming playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney’s tell-it-like-it-is look at the Harlem drag ball scene, is presented March 30 through April 2. The production is directed by Troy Dwyer and features choregraphy by Samuel Antonio Reyes.
“Dance Emerge,” April 19-22, showcases the ideas and talents of our brightest young choreographers. The intimate Dance Studio Theatre is the backdrop for innovative, explorative dance pieces. Jeffrey Peterson serves as artistic director.
The season concludes with Russian playwright Anton Chekhov’s classic “The Cherry Orchard,” a bittersweet comedy about love and loss, playing April 26-29. Matthew Moore directs, with a faculty spotlight performance by Holly Cate.
The mainstage performance series is produced by Muhlenberg College’s acclaimed Theatre & Dance Department, currently ranked the No. 1 production program in the country by The Princeton Review. The Fiske Guide to Colleges lists both the theater and dance programs among the top small college programs in the United States.
Discounts are available for packages of four or more productions. Tickets and information: 484-664-3333 or http://www.muhlenberg.edu/theatre&dance
Founded in 1848, Muhlenberg is a highly selective, private, four-year residential, liberal arts college located in Allentown, Pa., approximately 90 miles west of New York City. With an undergraduate enrollment of approximately 2200 students, Muhlenberg College is dedicated to shaping creative, compassionate, collaborative leaders through rigorous academic programs in the arts, humanities, natural sciences and social sciences as well as selected pre-professional programs, including accounting, business, education and public health. A member of the Centennial Conference, Muhlenberg competes in 22 varsity sports. Muhlenberg is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
|MESSAGE FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: What I Did This Summer
This summer I have been out front in the Lehigh Valley more than usual, surveying audiences at various arts events. The study, Arts & Economic Prosperity V, is part of a national study to determine the economic impact of the nonprofit arts industry.
Sounds dry, doesn’t it? Actually, it’s been fun to mingle with arts patrons and bump into old friends at the theatre or a concert. It is too early to tell, but attendance at these events seems very strong.
The data collection continues through 2016, and the results of the analysis will be released in Spring 2017 at a public forum, Whose Business is the Arts? For the past twenty years, the Lehigh Valley region has enjoyed double-digit increases that are far above the national average. The previous study in 2012 determined that arts and culture was a $208 million industry. It will be fascinating to see what the numbers tell us this time. Maybe I am turning into a data-geek!
Allentown, PA — Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Award-winning musical “In the Heights” — the precursor to his blockbuster Broadway hit “Hamilton” — runs July 13-31 as the second production of the Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre season. The show tells a story that many of its cast hold close to their hearts: the story of families and cultures that have been transplanted from far away.
Many of the show’s 20 actors and dancers can tell you a story about their families coming to the mainland United States from Puerto Rico, or Cuba, or the Dominican Republic. For some, that story is not so long in the past. Wilma Rivera, for example, is a professional actress, a Muhlenberg College alumna, and a first-generation American. She says “In the Heights” is the story of her family.
“When I saw ‘In the Heights’ on Broadway, there was this moment when the music of the first number started, and it captured so beautifully the experience of what it’s like to be a Latino,” says Rivera, who plays Camila. “It’s that struggle to maintain an identity and also to assimilate — especially in New York City.”
“In the Heights” was a hit when it opened in 2008, running more than a thousand performances and bringing its composer, Lin-Manuel Miranda, to the attention of theatergoers. Miranda’s innovative score melded the rhymes and rhythms of hip-hop with the Latin-style music of salsa and merengue, and, together with Quiara Alegría Hudes’ book, captured the sights, sounds and stories of the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City.
The show won the Tony Award for Best Musical and was short-listed for a Pulitzer Prize the following year. Miranda also won the Tony for Best Score. Choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler and musical director Alex Lacamoire also won Tony Awards for their Latin- and hip-hop-inflected choreography and orchestrations. The three would reunite with director Thomas Kail to create “Hamilton.”
“Miranda is deeply versed in ’90s hip-hop,” says James Peck, who directs the production for Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre. “He picks up beats and rhythm structures and song structures from hip-hop, and he incorporates salsa, merengue, and other Latin styles — but he’s also a musical theatre fanboy from the age of five. The results are really a musical tour-de-force.”
MSMT’s production features choreography by Samuel Antonio Reyes and musical direction by Ed Bara. John Raley designed the set, Lex Gurst designed costumes, John McKernon designed lights, and Patrick Moren designed sound.
Peck credits choreographer Reyes as a driving force behind bringing the show to the MSMT stage.
“Sammy is a hip-hop dancer, a theater artist, and a Puerto Rican. He has a deep understanding of the cultural dynamics at work in this piece,” Peck says. “I wouldn’t have had the temerity to the play without him. It was Sammy saying, ‘I’ve got to do “In the Heights”‘ that made it come together.”
“In the Heights” tells the universal story of a vibrant community in New York’s Washington Heights neighborhood — a place where the coffee from the corner bodega is light and sweet, the windows are always open and the breeze carries the rhythm of three generations of music. It’s a community on the brink of change, full of hopes, dreams and pressures, where the biggest struggles can be deciding which traditions you take with you, and which ones you leave behind.
Miranda himself was born in Washington Heights, and grew up in Linwood, one neighborhood over. His parents had moved to New York from Puerto Rico, and every summer, he visited his grandparents back on the island.
Wilma Rivera’s classmate at Muhlenberg, Gabe Martínez, also remembers feeling like he was watching his own family’s history on stage when he first saw “In the Heights.” Martínez saw the show for the first time a year to the day after his grandmother passed away.
“The actress who played Abuela Claudia was the spitting image of my abuela,” says Martínez, who stars as Usnavi, the role that Miranda played on Broadway. “As soon as she walked out on stage, my father and I started weeping. We were at the matinee; I bought the cast recording on the way home and had it memorized by the time I went to bed.”
Martínez’s grandparents moved from Puerto Rico to New York in the 1940s, shortly after his grandfather returned from service in World War II.
“They wrote to each other every day, planning their move to New York, the American dream,” Martínez says. “When the war was over, he hadn’t been home a week when they bought a plane ticket and headed to the Bronx.”
Rivera has a similar connection to the material. Her father immigrated to the United States from Cuba in the early 1970s. Her mother was born in East Harlem, but moved to Puerto Rico as a small child. Both came from poverty, she says. Her mother was the only one in her family to go to college. When Rivera went off to Muhlenberg to study acting, she was the first in her family to attend college on the mainland — and, like Nina in “In the Heights,” she almost gave it up after her freshman year. Department chair Charles Richter talked her into staying.
“‘We need you here,’ he told me.”
Rivera and Martínez were the only two Latino students in the theater program at the time. Neither of them ever had the chance before now to play a Latino character on the Muhlenberg stage — and the opportunity is what drew them back. Both of them have worked steadily as actors since graduating — Rivera in 2009, and Martínez in 2010 — but they have had to be flexible in order to do it.
“I’ve spent my entire professional career praying to see a casting call saying ‘ethnically ambiguous — slash — Latino,'” Martínez says. “We were the only two Latino kids in our class, and now there are lots of kids, and this is their first professional gig, and we’re just so happy for them to start out this way, that these kids are having this opportunity.”
Rivera echoes his enthusiasm.
“This department has really embraced students of color and encouraged their talents, and really raised them up,” she says. “I’m very proud of this college and to be an alumna of this college, and I just hope it continues to grow.”
Martínez and Rivera’s deep connection to “In the Heights” is a common thread through the entire cast, Peck says.
“When people have a chance to be part of a show that speaks to their own experience, they make a significant personal investment in that show,” he says. “It’s rare that these stories get told, and when people have the chance to be a part of these stories, they grab onto that chance.”
In fact, Rivera’s connection to the show runs so deep that she got a tattoo of one of its lyrics, “Paciencia y fe,” a song sung by Abuela Claudia. The lyric reminds her of her own abuela, who died in January.
“It’s heartbreaking to lose that matriarch of a Latin family,” Rivera says. “She’s the stone and we’re all the ripples of what she leaves behind. It holds weight, I think, in this world, that we remember who we are and where we’re from. Gabe and I are very lucky that we have that image of our parents and remember the struggle.”
The actor who plays Abuela Claudia in the production — jazz vocalist, scholar and activist Roberta Meek — agrees. Meek had only one grandparent growing up, and ike Abuela Claudia — and like Rivera and Martínez’s abuelas — she was the keeper of the family’s stories.
“My grandmother was literally the historian of the family,” Meek says. “Her father was born into slavery, and he had been searching for his mother ever since. My grandmother was the griot,” the person who maintains the oral history tradition in many West African cultures. “You came to her for school.”
“In the Heights” is Meek’s first musical theater performance, although she has been performing as a jazz vocalist in the Lehigh Valley for more than 20 years. She also contributed stories and songs to the Touchstone Theatre project “Another River Flows: a Celebration of the Lehigh Valley Black Experience.”
One of the things that “In the Heights” gets right, Rivera says, is the sabor — the flavor of Latin culture and of the Washington Heights community.
“This show is packed full of sabor,” she says.
Some of that flavor is visual; much of it comes from the rhythm and choreographic energy that choreographer Samuel Reyes has brought to the project.
“The blend of salsa, hip-hop and contemporary movement is very exciting for me as a choreographer — and we have found such a dynamic, crazy talented cast,” Reyes says. “This show is going to punch a hole in the wall, both visually and emotionally. I’m just so damn proud to be part of it.”
“In the Heights” plays July 13-31 at Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre. Performances take place in the Dorothy Hess Baker Theatre, in the Trexler Pavilion for Theatre & Dance. Showtimes are Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Ticket prices for the first four performances are $33 regular admission; seniors, $29; students and children, $18. Prices for the rest of the run are $39 regular admission; seniors, $36; students and children, $20.
Tickets and information are available at http://www.muhlenberg.edu/smt or 484-664-3333.
The Lehigh Valley Arts Council announces to the community the release of the new ARTix Passport to the Arts, a buy-one, get-one-free ticket to eighteen arts and cultural venues through June 30, 2017. Dance, musical, theatrical, and historical offerings are just some of the travel destinations offered by the passport.
“This year marks the 18th anniversary of this successful arts marketing promotion,” says Randall Forte, Arts Council Executive Director. “The Lehigh Valley Arts Council is proud to provide regional leadership that advances the arts in this growing community.”
Over the years, the Arts Council has increased the circulation of ARTix and opened the door wider for all people to enjoy the arts. Real estate and corporate relocation offices give passports to new residents relocating to the Valley. Local health networks encourage volunteers to enjoy the arts as part of a healthy lifestyle. Additionally, the social service sector offers ARTix to their clients with disabilities, allowing them affordable access to disability-friendly events. There is definitely something for everyone to enjoy—from symphonic to folk music, fine arts to vintage cars, Shakespeare to Broadway musicals—fun and entertainment for the entire family.
The most direct way to receive your very own ARTix Passport to the Arts is simply join the Arts Council. An Individual Membership is reasonably priced at $40 annually. With passport in hand, start planning your itinerary today and build your circle of arts friends. Members also receive discounts to workshops and conferences, subscriptions to the bimonthly Inside the Arts, / Arts Calendar and Lehigh Valley Style, and free admission to the annual spring and fall membership receptions.
ARTix Passport is made possible through the support of Christmas City Printing, The County of Lehigh, and The Harry C. Trexler Trust.
Allentown, PA —For the past two seasons, the theatre company Doppelskope has created world-premiere musicals for young audiences at the Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre. In 2014, they presented “Gruff!” a troll’s eye view of the story of the three billy goats Gruff, and last season it was “Grimm!” a tale of the storytelling Brothers Grimm and their quest to chase down their escaped stories with the help of a rambunctious little girl.
This season, MSMT and Doppelskope will complete the “Grilogy” with another new show, “Growl!” — playing June 29 through July 30. “Growl!” brings Doppelskope’s energetic, innovative puppetry, lively music, and interactive theatrical spirit to the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
Co-authors Ora Fruchter and Christopher Scheer describe “Growl!” as a “zany reinvention” of the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, in which a group of woodland creatures has come together to solve a series of break-ins by a certain mysterious blonde figure. They are led by an imaginative young bear who likes to be known as Danger Bear, and who has no time for breakfast while the world needs a hero to make freedom sing in the hearts of all animal-kind.
“Our inspiration always comes from a lot of different sources,” Scheer says. “For ‘Growl!’ we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what made us laugh as children, and what still makes our inner-children laugh now. So as we got ready to write the show, we spent some time researching the cartoons we grew up watching — Chip and Dale, Roadrunner, Bugs Bunny, and lots of other classic cartoons. We like to create comedy that works on at least two levels, so that we can engage adults just as much as we engage kids.”
The eight-member cast of “Growl!” plays an ensemble of woodland animals, who in turn present the story of Goldilocks and the Bear family through puppetry. The cast members also play all the music themselves, on instruments ranging from washboard and stand-up bass to banjo and accordion — all while selling the audience a variety of woodland merchandise such as Hats, Buckets, Porridge, and Four-Month Energy Drink (the alternative to hibernating).
“We want our audiences to laugh in a deep, satisfying way,” Fruchter says. “And we want them to walk away amazed by the possibilities of live theater, puppetry and imagination.”
“Growl!” features a script by Fruchter and Scheer, with music composed by Tony Singer, who also serves as musical director. Fruchter, Scheer and Singer also made up the core creative team for both “Gruff!” and “Grimm!” The team’s show has evolved from recorded musical accompaniment, the first year, to live piano accompaniment last year, to this year’s approach of letting the actors accompany themselves.
“Toby has created this super-catchy, playful score for us,” Scheer says. “And because of our actor-musicians, we’re able to have fantastic live music throughout the show.”
Scheer says that the group’s puppetry has also evolved, both in the design and in performance. The show uses both tabletop puppets, created by Fruchter, and detailed shadow puppetry, projected on giant screens to create “surprisingly cinematic moments” throughout the show.
“We’re really exploring and innovating what’s possible with puppetry on stage,” he says. “We’re learning quite a lot as we experiment, with some really exciting results. Ora’s puppets are beautiful and hilarious. They’re like cartoon characters come to life, and they create this fantastic connection with the audience.”
Young audiences members can participate in a free 45-minute Imagination Workshop, following every performance of “Growl!” Participants will join members of the cast to explore the themes of the show through movement, storytelling, and creative play. Participants can register in advance through the box office or on the MSMT website.
Cast members are available after the show to meet the audience and sign autographs.
A Sensory-Friendly Performance of “Growl!” will be presented on Saturday, July 23 at 1 p.m. The performance will be followed by an interactive Imagination Workshop. Sensory-friendly performances are designed for children with autism and other sensory challenges. At these performances, sound levels are reduced, and startling sounds are avoided; lights remain on at a low level during performance, and strobes and other flashy lights are omitted; patrons are free to talk or leave their seats during the show; and attendance is limited. Social stories will be available in advance from the MSMT website, and the theater staff and cast will receive special training in meeting the needs of patrons with autism and sensory issues.
American Sign Language interpreters will interpret the 10 a.m. performance on Saturday, July 23. The interpreters will be available prior to the show and following the show at the meet-the-cast session and Imagination Workshop. All patrons are welcome to attend.
“Growl!” runs June 29 through July 30 in the Studio Theatre, Trexler Pavilion for Theatre & Dance. Performances are Wednesday through Saturday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. All tickets to “Growl!” are $10 for June performances and $12 for July performances.
Tickets and information are available at http://www.muhlenberg.edu/SMT or 484-664-3333.
Allentown, PA — Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre’s 2016 season will feature some familiar faces for fans of last summer’s “Hello, Dolly!” Mia Scarpa and Jarrod Yuskauskas return this summer for “Gypsy,” the beloved musical the New York Times calls “the greatest of all American musicals.” The show runs June 15 through July 3.
“Gypsy” kicks off a summer season that will also feature the 2008 Tony Award-winning Best Musical, “In the Heights,” by Lin-Manuel Miranda, composer of the current Broadway smash “Hamilton,” playing July 13-31. The season also features the world premiere family musical “Growl!” an irreverent adaptation of the story of Goldilocks and the three bears, created by the theatre company Doppelskope. “Growl!” plays June 29 through July 30.
Arguably one of Broadway’s most beloved musicals, “Gypsy” adapts burlesque star Gypsy Rose Lee’s sensational autobiography into a sultry, campy tour-de-force about show business, ambition, and motherhood. The score, with music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, features such classics as “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” and “Together Wherever We Go.”
Mia Scarpa returns to the MSMT stage to play Mama Rose, the most notorious of all stage moms, after an acclaimed run in the title role of last summer’s “Hello, Dolly!” She plays opposite Jarrod Yuskauskas in the role of Herbie. Last summer, The Press Newspapers noted that “the repartee between Scarpa and Yuskauskas is priceless.”
In the starring role of Louise — based on Gypsy Rose Lee herself — recent Muhlenberg graduate Lillian Pritchard takes the stage following a turn as Roxie Hart in this season’s sold-out run of “Chicago” on the Muhlenberg stage.
The production also features MSMT mainstay Neil Hever, returning to the role of Pop that he first played in the 1993 MSMT production of the show.
Also featured in the cast are six young actors from the Lehigh Valley Community: Jenna Seasholtz as Baby June; Anna Edwards as Baby Louise: and ensemble members Elijah Albert-Stein, Aaron Finkle, Robert Pierno, and Robert Stinner.
“Gypsy” also reunites the production team from “Hello, Dolly!” — director Charles Richter, choreographer Karen Dearborn, and musical director Michael Schnack. Richter, the founding artistic director of the Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre, is in his 36th season with the festival.
Audio Description and Open Captioning will be available at the Sunday, June 19 performance of “Gypsy.” Call 484-664-3087 for tickets in the accessible section of this performance. Open Captioning displays lyrics and dialogue via electronic text display visible to the side of the stage, for the benefit of patrons with hearing loss. Audio Description uses the natural pauses in the play to provide a narrative that translates the visual image into an audible form for patrons who are blind or low-vision. Patrons use headsets to hear the audio description.
“Gypsy” runs June 15 – July 3; “In the Heights” runs July 13-31. Performances are Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Both productions are in the Baker Theatre, Trexler Pavilion for Theatre & Dance.
Ticket prices for both “Gypsy” and “In the Heights” are as follows. For the first four performances: $33 regular admission; seniors, $29; students and children, $18. For the remaining 11 performances: $39 regular admission; seniors, $36; students and children, $20. Subscriptions to both shows are available.
“Growl!” runs June 29 through July 30 in the Studio Theatre, Trexler Pavilion for Theatre & Dance. Performances are Wednesday through Friday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m, and Saturday at 10 a.m. only. All tickets to “Growl!” are $10 for June performances and $12 for July performances.
Tickets and information are available at www.muhlenberg.edu/SMT or 484-664-3333.
LEHIGH VALLEY, PA – The Lehigh Valley Arts Council is presenting 3 complimentary workshops in Lehigh, Northampton and Carbon counties in effort to support applicants in the planning stages of the 2016-2017 Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts (PPA) Project Stream grant application process.
“The PPA Project Stream is a critical source of state and federal funding for eligible individuals, community groups and nonprofit organizations interested in conducting arts projects with a clear public component,” stated Randall Forte, Executive Director of Lehigh Valley Arts Council. “As our region’s partner, we have accepted as many as 60 requests in any given year, awarding grants to community projects including, but not limited to exhibitions, films and performances that impact a wide range of constituents from young children to senior citizens, regardless of ability, ethnicity, culture or socioeconomic status.”
The keys to successfully navigating the Project Stream application process lie in a deeper understanding of content, format and fiscal expectations set forth by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. By attending one of the following workshops, applicants will gain a thorough understanding of review criteria, suggestions for constructing compelling and comprehensive narratives and guidance in building detailed project budgets.
Applicants are encouraged to RSVP and attend one of the following workshops:
May 10, 2016 | 4:00 – 5:30 p.m.
Lehigh Valley Arts Council; 840 Hamilton Street, Allentown, PA
May 12, 2016 | 4:00 – 5:30 p.m.
Anita Shapolsky Art Foundation; 20 West Broadway, Jim Thorpe, PA
May 24, 2016 | 4:00 – 5:30 p.m.
Touchstone Theatre; 321 E. Fourth Street, Bethlehem, PA
Allentown, PA — Now in its third year, the student-directed Muhlenberg Circus Workshop will take the stage again this spring with another original contemporary circus performance. Running April 21-24, “VOD” takes up the story of Pandora’s Box, in the setting of a post-World War II traveling circus.
Written and directed by two of the Circus Workshop cofounders, seniors Noah S. Dach and Henry Evans, “VOD” will showcase the talents of 14 aerialists, acrobats, dancers, jugglers, actors, tappers, and acrobats. New in this year’s production is a performance featuring Chinese pole dancing. Another senior, Tyler Holoboski, choreographs the production.
This year’s production will be presented in Muhlenberg’s 120-seat Studio Theatre, a blackbox style space with flexible seating. Dach says the audience will enter to an empty space, and then witness its dramatic transformation into a 1940s circus tent.
“‘VOD’ is the story of humanity’s modern Pandora’s Box,” he says. “It’s set in the period when mankind developed and atomic bomb — the moment when we acquired the ability to extinguish ourselves and our world.”
The production follows the success of last season’s sold out circus production “Atlas,” a contemporary circus adaptation of the Alice in Wonderland story. The group operates under the artistic supervision of Muhlenberg’s Dance Program chair, Karen Dearborn.
“Karen has gone above and beyond for her students and has given everyone that has been a part of the Circus Workshop an unforgettable and truly life altering opportunity,” Dach says. “Without her inspiring vision, care, and dedication, this program would not be where it is today.”
Dach, Evans, and other graduating members of the Workshop have plans to go pro after graduating this spring. They spent spring break this year scouting locations and laying the groundwork for the Atlas Circus Company. The company seeks to create a new kind of narrative circus performance, catalyze circus education around the country, and build a home for circus artists in America. They further describe their plans at http://www.atlascircus.com
“VOD” runs April 21-24 in the Studio Theatre, Trexler Pavilion for Theatre & Dance, Muhlenberg College, 2400 Chew St., Allentown.
Performances are Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday at 3 and 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m., and Sundy at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults, $8 for patrons 17 and under, and $8 for students, faculty and staff of all LVAIC colleges. Tickets and information are available at 484-664-3333 or http://www.muhlenberg.edu/dance.
Allentown, PA — “Ulysses,” James Joyce’s 1922 epic widely regarded as one of the most important works of modernist literature, takes the stage at Muhlenberg College, in an adaptation that director James Peck describes as “weird, sexy, and a little dangerous.” “Ulysses in Nighttown” plays April 27-30 to conclude the Muhlenberg Theatre & Dance Department’s mainstage season.
Peck says the production employs vivid imagery, unconventional storytelling techniques, and Joyce’s own spectacularly vivid language to capture “a journey into the unconscious.” The play excerpts one lengthy episode of the novel (known to Joyce aficionados as the Circe episode), taking place mostly in the red-light district of Dublin, Ireland.
“The play gives shape to the desires of the three characters at the heart of ‘Ulysses,’” says Peck, a professor of theater at Muhlenberg. “It is surreal, stream-of-consciousness — we go inside the minds of the characters, experience their hallucinations and their faltering sanity. The play is coherent, but it’s coherent in the way that dreams are coherent.”
Aching for fellowship, middle-aged ad salesman Leopold Bloom pursues the alienated young novelist Stephen Dedalus on a late-night bender through Dublin’s red light district. There they find themselves confronting their feverish fears and passions, haunted by their transgressions and fetishes. Full of portent and hallucination, Joyce’s sprawling text takes a dark turn in this episode, which playwright Marjorie Barkentin has adapted as a stand-alone narrative, with context derived from the rest of the novel.
At a fundamental level, Peck says, “Ulysses in Nighttown” is the story of a friendship between two men dealing with loss — Stephen with the loss of his mother, and Bloom with the death of his child and the disintegration of his marriage to Molly, who he knows has taken to pursuing affairs with other men. But the play, like the novel, hardly lends itself to simple synopsis.
The production will feature an original musical score by percussionist Douglas Ovens, a professor and former department chair of music at Muhlenberg, who has previously provided music for “Orlando,” “The Other Shore,” “The Possibilities,” and other plays at Muhlenberg. Ovens will play the score himself in performance.
Peck says he was moved to direct the play by its storytelling challenges and by Joyce’s linguistic virtuosity — but also for more personal reasons.
“I hadn’t done anything strange for a while, and I wanted to do something strange,” he says. “I also think this is some of the most evocative English language that has ever been written. I wanted to delve into that language in the way that creating a production for the stage forces you to do.”
He continues: “I think when I was in my 20s, when I first read ‘Ulysses,’ I identified with the character of Stephen. Now in my 50s, I feel like I identify more with Bloom. When you’re younger, you feel like the world of possibilities is wide open. Then as you get older you find that as many doors are closed to you as are open. I think the play delves very deeply into that maturation, that sense of gain and simultaneous loss that comes with maturity.”
“Ulysses in Nighttown” plays April 27-30. Showtimes are Wednesday through Saturday at 8 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 can be purchased online at http://www.muhlenberg.edu/theatre or by phone at 484-664-3333. Performances are in the Empire Theatre, Baker Center for the Arts, Muhlenberg College, 2400 Chew St., Allentown.
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Allentown, PA — Muhlenberg College dancers tell their stories through movement, as the Muhlenberg Theatre & Dance Department presents “Dance Emerge,” a showcase for dance works created by emerging choreographers, April 13-16 in the College’s Studio Theatre. Jeffrey Peterson is the artistic director for the concert.
“Choreographers in this year’s ‘Dance Emerge’ are honoring their own unique voices as they create personal dances which celebrate the joys of life and unearth the depths of their souls,” Peterson says. “The journey for the audience will undoubtedly juxtapose the human experience with quirky character-driven studies and more intimate work — all blending physical skill with choreographic imagination.”
“Dance Emerge” will showcase 8 choreographers and 60 dancers from the department’s dance program, which is among the most highly regarded programs of its kind. The concert features costume and lighting designs by the department’s acclaimed professional staff.
The eight original dances include contemporary jazz, dance theater, and modern works that investigate such topics as aging, censorship, and the individual vs. the whole. Choreographers drew inspiration from such diverse sources as dance history, travel, personal relationships, and college experiences.
Muhlenberg College’s Theatre & Dance Department offers one of the top-rated college performance programs in the county, according to the Princeton Review rankings. Muhlenberg is a liberal arts college of more than 2,200 students in Allentown, Pa., offering Bachelor of Arts degrees in theater and dance. It has been named annually among The Fiske Guide to Colleges’ top 20 small college programs in the United States, and the American College Dance Festival Association has consistently recognized dances premiered on the Muhlenberg stage for excellence in choreography and performance.
“Dance Emerge” runs April 13-16 in the Studio Theatre, Trexler Pavilion for Theatre & Dance, Muhlenberg College, 2400 Chew St., Allentown.
Performances are April 13-16: Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday at 8 p.m.; Saturday, April 16, at 2 and 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults, $8 for patrons 17 and under, and $8 for students, faculty and staff of all LVAIC colleges. For groups of 15 or more, tickets are $13
Tickets and information are available at 484-664-3333 or http://www.muhlenberg.edu/dance.
Allentown, PA – For more than a millennium, the Bible has been the source of some of the richest veins of theatrical history — a tradition that playwright Sarah Ruhl explores in depth in her 2008 drama “Passion Play.” The play opens March 31 at Muhlenberg College.
“It’s a play about the power of theatricality,” says Muhlenberg theater professor Beth Schachter, who directs the production. “It’s an opportunity to enjoy the ways in which the theatre process can be both funny and an expression of faith — of all sorts — within larger themes of love and forgiveness.”
“Passion Play” plays March 31 through April 3 in the college’s Baker Theatre. Tickets and information are available at muhlenberg.edu/theatre and at 484-664-3333.
Hailed by New Yorker magazine theater critic John Lahr as “extraordinary,” “bold,” and “inventive,” “Passion Play” takes us behind the scenes of three communities attempting to stage the death and resurrection of Christ. From Queen Elizabeth’s England to Hitler’s Germany to Reagan’s America, Ruhl’s exploration of devotion takes a humorous yet unsettling journey filled with lust, whimsy, and a lot of fish.
Ruhl dramatizes a community of players rehearsing their annual staging of the Easter Passion in three different eras: 1575 northern England, just before Queen Elizabeth outlaws the ritual; 1934 Oberammergau, Bavaria, as Hitler is rising to power; and Spearfish, South Dakota, from the late 1960s through Reagan’s presidency. In each era, the players grapple in different ways with the transformative nature of art — and politics are never far in the background.
The production itself is a work of fiction, and not a passion play — but the audience does see segments of the passion story performed in each of the three historical eras, and Schachter says the play approaches the story of the passion with “a certain reverence, as a story that holds a sublime significance for many of the characters.”
Schachter says that, for her, the play’s most interesting question has to do with the role of the individual in determining the course of history — “the responsibility of everyday people.” In 1930s Germany, for example, we see the choices of individuals shaping Hitler’s rise to power, as his fascist ideology creeps up through the population.
“People look for a leader who reassures them and tells them everything is going to be all right,” she says. “And those choices have palpable consequences — consequences that I think are worth examining in the present moment in our own history.”
The production features scenic design by Stephan Moravski, costume design by Liene Dobraja, and lighting design by Gertjan Houben. Muhlenberg senior Alan Mendez serves as musical director and musical dramaturg, and he has found appropriate popular music from each era to accompany the action. Senior Patrick Moren designs sound.
Performances of “Passion Play” are March 31 through April 3: Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for students. The production is intended for mature audiences. Performances are in the Baker Theatre in the Trexler Pavilion for Theatre and Dance at Muhlenberg College, 2400 Chew St., Allentown. Tickets and information are available at 484-664-3333 and http://www.muhlenberg.edu/theatre
On Saturday, March 12, 2016, the Lehigh Valley Arts Council will present Young at Art, a trade show highlighting arts engagement and creative play for families with children (ages four to eighteen years old). Local arts providers will assist parents with selecting the right summer class for their aspiring creatives. Parents will witness first-hand how the arts ignite their children’s imagination, while their kids get the chance to explore their inner dancer, actor, musician, author or visual artist. This inaugural event will be held at Penn State Lehigh Valley, from 9:00 am to 2:30 pm, and admission is free and open to the public.
“Young at Art is a day devoted to curiosity and entertainment,” says Executive Director Randall Forte, “especially after such a lingering winter.” The expo showcases twenty arts and cultural businesses in the region that offer a wide range of children’s programming, both for beginners and for kids at an intermediate level. Among them include Civic Theatre of Allentown, Baum School of Art, Allegro Dance Studio, Montero Violins, and Totts Gap Arts Institute.
The day’s festivities will feature an arts demonstration or performance every fifteen minutes, so kids will have a chance to imagine what kind of artist they want to be this summer. Families will have the opportunity to meet different arts instructors and join in hands-on activities. Young talent from the Junior Strings Orchestra, the Kazka Ukrainian Folk Ensemble and the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Performing Arts will provide additional entertainment and inspiration.
Lunch will be available for purchase, and parking is free. For more information, visit http://www.LVArtsCouncil.org.
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 email@example.com.
Sunday, February 21, 2016
10:30am – 12:00pm
at the home of Dr. Christine Oaklander
Join us on Sunday, February 21, 2016, from 10:30 am to noon, at the home of Dr. Christine Oaklander, arts consultant, historian and curator, for a behind-the-scene glimpse into the world of a curator. Christine has begun a quest to resurrect the reputation of 19th-century Henry Grant Plumb (1847-1930). Since her discovery of a treasure trove of Plumb’s artwork and personal letters last April, she has been researching the international scope of this artist’s life and work. Last June she gave a talk at the artist’s hometown public library in Sherburne, NY and last month lectured on the arts at the National Arts Club. Much of the collection of Plumb’s work that she purchased is on exhibit in her home.
Arts Council Members $15
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|Allentown, PA — The Arts in the Lehigh Valley mean business—and jobs. That is the message being delivered today by Lehigh Valley Arts Council who announced it has joined the Arts & Economic Prosperity® 5, a national study measuring the economic impact of nonprofit arts and culture organizations and their audiences. The research study is being conducted by Americans for the Arts, the nation’s nonprofit organization advancing the arts and arts education. It is the fifth study over the past 20 years to measure the impact of arts spending on local jobs, income paid to local residents, and revenue generated to local and state governments.
As one of nearly 300 study partners across all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Lehigh Valley Arts Council will collect detailed financial data about our local nonprofit arts and culture organizations such as our theater and dance companies, museums, festivals, and arts education organizations. “Many people don’t think of nonprofit arts organizations as businesses,” said Mike Stershic, President of Discover Lehigh Valley, “but this study will make clear that the arts are a formidable industry in our community—employing people locally, purchasing goods and services from local merchants, and helping to drive tourism.”
Lehigh Valley Arts Council will also collect surveys from attendees at arts events using a short, anonymous questionnaire that asks how much money they spent on items such as meals, parking and transportation, and retail shopping specifically as a result of attending the event. Previous studies have shown that the average attendee spends $24.60 per person, per event, beyond the cost of admission. Those studies have also shown that, on average, 32 percent of arts attendees travel from outside the county in which the arts event took place, and that those cultural tourists typically spend nearly $40 per person—generating important revenue for local businesses and demonstrating how the arts drive revenue for other businesses in the community.
Surveys will be collected throughout calendar year 2016. The results of the study will be released in June of 2017.
“Arts are key to the economic development in the Lehigh Valley and have never been more important,” says Randall Forte Executive Director of the Lehigh Valley Arts Council. “Hundreds of creative industries, nonprofit cultural organizations, and thousands of individual artists of all disciplines—dance, musical, theatrical, visual, literary and media arts—are invested in our community.”
The 2010 economic impact study of the Lehigh Valley’s nonprofit arts industry revealed a $208 million industry—providing 7,114 full-time jobs and generating $21 million in state and local taxes annually. “Our Arts & Economic Prosperity series demonstrates that the arts are an economic and employment powerhouse both locally and across the nation,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “Leaders who care about community and economic vitality can feel good about choosing to invest in the arts. Nationally as well as locally, the arts mean business.” Complete details about the fiscal year 2010 study are available atwww.AmericansForTheArts.org/EconomicImpact.
Americans for the Arts’ Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 study is supported by The Ruth Lilly Fund of Americans for the Arts. In addition, Americans for the Arts’ local and statewide study partners are contributing both time and a cost-sharing fee support to the study. For a full list of the nearly 300 Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 study partners, visit www.AmericansForTheArts.org/AEP5Partners.