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

Go Behind the Scenes of Spamalot

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

Dorothy H. Baker Theatre, Trexler Pavillion

Muhlenberg College

2400 W. Chew Street

Allentown, PA 18104

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

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

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

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

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

RESERVE YOUR SPOT TODAY! 

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Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre Embarks On 34th Theatrical Season

Logo of Muhlenberg College

Logo of Muhlenberg College (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Broadway Musical – Spring Awakening Sept 26 – Oct 13 At Steel River Playhouse

Picture 577Contains mature themes, sexual content, and adult language

Winner of 8 Tony Awards including Best Musical, 4 Drama Desk Awards, and 4 Olivier Awards including Best Musical, “Spring Awakening” explores the journey from adolescence to adulthood with a poignancy and passion you’ll never forget.  It’s a powerful celebration of youth and self-discovery in a world of unresponsive adults.  A rock and folk musical adaptation of the Frank Wedekind’s 1891 expressionistic play about the trials, tribulations, and exhilaration of the teen years, Spring Awakening features “the most gorgeous Broadway score this decade”. (Entertainment Weekly)

For more details, click here.

New Offerings! Open House & Registration – Sept 7 & 8 At Steel River Playhouse

Picture 577We’ve changed things up but kept your favorites!  Join us Saturday, Sept 7 and Sunday, Sept 8 from 12 noon to 3:00 pm.  Meet the teachers, try a sample class, tour the facility, enjoy refreshments!

NEW THIS FALL: STAGE COMBAT, MUSICAL THEATER AUDITION WORKSHOPS, COMMERCIAL ACTING FOR TV, GUITAR CALISTHENICS, SONGWRITING, CONTEMPORARY PIANO, GROUP GUITAR, TEEN SCENES WITH ROBB, ACTING/MUSIC THEATRE COLLEGE PREP, and so much more!

For our 2013-14 Education Calendar, CLICK HERE.

For more information about Group Classes, CLICK HERE.

For more information about Private Lessons, CLICK HERE.

Steel River website: http://www.steelriver.org/

Broadway Cabaret – Lyric Fest On September 14th At Steel River Playhouse

Cabaret-Poster-smallA great evening out for only $29!  For tickets click  http://www.steelriver.org/current-season/2013-14_cabaret/ or contact the box office at 610-970-1199.

Steel River Playhouse Presents La Cage Aux Folles – Broadway Hit Musical!

Picture 577Thursdays thru Sundays, June 6 – 23

Contains comedic sexual references.  Please note – children under 4 will not be admitted to the performance.  

Best known as the feature film, The Birdcage, starring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane.  Tony-awarding winning musical from legendary Jerry Herman (Hello, Dolly!Mame) and the irrepressible Harvey Fierstein (HairsprayTorch Song TrilogyMrs. Doubtfire).  It’s the classic “guess-who’s- coming-to-dinner” set-up, but with a few complications!

Talk-backs with the cast and crew following the performance (Sundays 6/9 & 6/16).

Sponsored by Exelon Generation.  Tickets: $15 – $26

www.steelriver.org or 610.970.1199

Steel River Playhouse Annual Gala

Picture 577Join us for The event of the season!!

Annual Gala

June 7, 2013

6:00 PM

This dynamic event will honor Susan and Scott Bentley, local philanthropists and prinicpal owners of the high tech company, VideoRay.  We will also be recognizing our Artistic Director, Deborah Stimson-Snow, recipient of the 2013 Advocacy For Equal Opportunity Award from the PA Human Rights Commission.

Event includes live entertainment, wonderful refreshments from local food establishments including Sly Fox Brewery, Clique Vodka, Lindt Chocolates, Cutillo’s, Baird’s, Moyer’s and many more, a performance of the hit Broadway musical, La Cage aux Folles, and a grand light show and musical reprise outside on High Street.  It will once again be the “event of the season”!

$75 per person (price includes ticket to La Cage aux Folles)

$50 per person (Gala only)

Space is limited to so make your reservations now! Email Gala Invitation

SPONSORSHIPS:

Your sponsorship will provide much-needed programming and operations support for our current and upcoming season. Sponsor acknowledgement will appear in theatre programs throughout our 2013-14 Season, and include many other exciting perks.

We are very grateful for your support of Steel River Playhouse through the sponsorship of our Annual Gala. Every sponsorship level includes tickets to our Season Finale production of the Broadway hit musical, La Cage aux Folles running June 6 – 23.  Your sponsorship will make this and many more programs possible at Steel River Playhouse.

Sponsorship opportunites are now available!  Annual Gala Sponsorship Package

marybeth@steelriver.org or call Mary Beth Kerekes at 216-577-0269.

“Hairspray” At The Steel River Playhouse In Pottstown Is Not To Be Missed!

I had the great pleasure of attending today’s matinee performance of Hairspray at Pottstown’s Steel River Playhouse (formerly the TriPAC).  The theater was full for a Sunday afternoon show!

I saw Hairspray on Broadway and wasn’t sure if this would live up to that experience.  As usual the performance was stellar!  I enjoyed Hairspray just as much in Pottstown as I did on Broadway.  That’s saying something.

If you aren’t familiar with the story, this comedic musical takes place in Baltimore, circa 1962.  Overweight teenager, Tracy Turnblad wants to dance on the Corny Collins ShowThe story demonstrates the social injustice of racism in pre-Civil Rights Act America and speaks about society’s disdain for people who are calorically challenged.  This is done mostly through humor and song.   There are some poignant moments as well but you don’t feel “preached at”.  You also realize how much has not changed since 1962!

There are some veteran Steel River actors in this show: Gregory Kasander, Bill Kiesling, Matt Kiesling, Donna Dougherty and Alexa Morefield.  The mostly youthful cast does an outstanding job!    The Director and Choreographer, Zuhairah McGill gets major kudos for another top-notch production!  As always the live orchestra is superb as were all other aspects of the production: costumes, lighting, sound, scenery etc… 

All the main characters are excellent.  Gregory Kasander nails the Corny Collins role with a lounge lizard meets Ted Baxter from the Mary Tyler Moore Show interpretation.  Matt Kiesling is very believable as Link Larkin, teenage heart-throb and love interest of Tracy Turnblad.  Donna Dougherty’s Velma Von Tussel is the character you love to hate!

Nicole Bright gives a standout performance as our heroine, Tracy Turnblad.  She embodies everything her character is supposed to represent.  Tracy’s parents, played by Bob Goretski and Bill Kiesling are hysterical.  Some very famous actors have played Edna Turnblad (Harvey Fierstein and John Travolta to name a few).  A male always plays the Edna Turnblad role.  Bob Goretski may not be famous yet, but he did the role justice.

The other two actors I would like to mention are Willie Garner who plays Seaweed J. Stubs and Britney Leigh Hines who plays Motormouth Maybelle.  Their acting, singing and dancing are exceptional.

This production is well worth the price of admission!  Congratulations and thank you to Marta Kiesling and the entire staff at Steel River Playhouse for bringing quality entertainment to the Greater Pottstown area!  I hope many people take advantage of having this gem in Pottstown!

Hairspray at Steel River runs from June 7 – 24, 2012.  For dates, times, ticket prices and to buy tickets online, click here: http://www.steelriver.org/2012/05/hairspray/ or call the Box Office at 610-970-1199.

Pottstown Designer Awaits Tony Awards Night

To create the set for the Broadway smash Newsies, Pottstown resident Tobin Ost served multiple masters: a choreographer who needed space for his performers to dance, a director who envisioned a jungle-gym effect, a writer who moved the action from scene to scene, and producers who worried about the box office.

So the scenic designer crafted a tiered, tic-tac-toe metalscape that separates, recedes and rotates. Performers dance up, down, and through it during a musical set in turn-of-the-century New York.

For his efforts, Ost has been nominated for a Tony Award.

“I tried hard to ignore it when the announcements were coming out. I just didn’t want to have any assumptions,” Ost, 38, said of hearing the news “Then, my partner called and he was crying for joy.”

Read more: http://www.philly.com/philly/entertainment/20120528_Pottstown_designer_awaits_Tony_Awards_night.html#ixzz1wBN7Cnqs
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Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre Presents A Joyful, Celebratory ‘Godspell,’ July 13-31

The music and the message are the focus in this production of the Broadway hit by ‘Wicked’ composer Stephen Schwartz.

Accessible performance July 17 will feature Audio Description and Open Captioning for visually and hearing-impaired patrons.

Allentown, Pa. (June 27, 2011) – Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre will present “Godspell,” Stephen Schwartz’s upbeat retelling of biblical parables, as the second Mainstage production of its 2011 season. Directed by Francis X. Kuhn, the show will run July 13-31 in the College’s Baker Theatre, Trexler Pavilion for Theatre & Dance.

“‘Godspell’ is a celebration,” Kuhn says. “People should come to the theater ready to celebrate and enjoy themselves.”

Based on the Gospel according to St. Matthew, “Godspell” is one of the biggest Off-Broadway and Broadway successes of all time. Featuring a beloved and sparkling score, in a variety of musical styles from pop and folk rock to gospel and vaudeville, “Godspell” boasts a string of familiar songs, led by the international hit “Day by Day.”

The show was conceived and originally directed by John-Michael Tebelak with music and new lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, the Tony Award-nominated composer of “Pippin” (1972) and “Wicked” (2003). Drawing from various traditions such as clowning, pantomime and song-and-dance, “Godspell” is a groundbreaking and unique reflection on philosophy and faith—with a message of kindness, tolerance and love.

“The story is about the discovery of divine play within ourselves,” Kuhn says. “‘Godspell’ may be a story about Jesus but the play is really a celebration of what is divine in all of us and how we can all become better human beings.”

Kuhn last directed at Muhlenberg in the summer of 1979. He has directed plays, musicals, and operas for theater and opera companies throughout the country, and he is currently an associate professor of theater at The College at Brockport (SUNY) in western New York.

Muhlenberg senior Andrew Clark, who plays Jesus, says that he appreciates the chance to play a role like this because it is different from any other character he has played.

“I’m not really what you would picture when you picture Jesus,” Clark says. “Theater is a way to subvert the norm, and I think that is the essence of ‘Godspell.’ In the show Jesus acts as a storyteller, and we are learning about the stories for their moral values and not necessarily the religious aspects.”

To emphasize the stories, set designer Curtis Dretsch and Kuhn wanted to take the look of their “Godspell” in an unusual direction. Dretsch co-founded Summer Music Theatre 31 years ago and has designed more than 100 sets for Muhlenberg.

“‘Godspell’ is usually overlaid with a notion of specificity — for example street people or a circus setting,” says Dretsch. “For our production we wanted to create a flexible, malleable, obviously theatrical environment.”

Kuhn and Dretsch want the text and the music to be the main focus. The set is very flexible and designed primarily to respond to light. Changes in atmosphere is accomplished through lighting changes.

“This is a much more straightforward, presentational version of the show,” says Dretsch. “The set is there to support, nurture, and present the play.”

The set and lighting also provide a showcase for the choreography by alumnus Will Porter, returning to Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre for the first time since graduating in 2008. Porter will be headed to Tokyo in August as part of the national tour of “A Chorus Line.”

“Returning to Muhlenberg is a blessing,” says Porter. “It’s like a breath of fresh air.”

Porter and Kuhn want to give the show a contemporary look and feel liberated from its 1970s roots and specifically Christian context.

“Personally, I am Buddhist,” Porter says, “But I find many parallels among religions in the songs and stories in ‘Godspell,’ and I am using that as a jumping off point for the choreography.”

The Sunday, July 17, performance at 2 p.m. will feature Open Captioning (OC) for patrons who are deaf or hard of hearing and Audio Description (AD) for patrons who are blind or visually impaired. Open captioning provides the audience with an unobtrusive electronic text display to the side of the stage, displaying lyrics and dialogue in real time. Audio Description is a form of audio-visual translation, using natural pauses to insert narrative that translates the visual image into an audible form. Patrons use headsets to hear the audio description. This performance is sponsored in part by the Tri-County Accessible Arts Coalition.

“We are excited to bring the first audio described and open captioned performance to the Lehigh Valley community,” says Jess Bien, general manager of Muhlenberg’s Theatre and Dance Department. “By offering these types of performances, we are hoping to provide a whole new audience with the opportunity to experience live theater and some of America’s greatest musicals.”

To purchase audio described and open captioned tickets for the July 17 performance only, please call Jess Bien at 484-664-3087 or email boxoffice@muhlenberg.edu.

“Godspell” runs July 13–31, Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Performances are in the Dorothy Hess Baker Theatre, in the Trexler Pavilion for Theatre & Dance, Muhlenberg College, 2400 Chew St., Allentown.

Tickets for July 13-16 are $32; seniors age 65 and up, $28; students and children, $18. Tickets for July 17-31 are $38; seniors, $35; students and children, $20.

Sundays are Family Matinee day; tickets for children ages 5-18 are just $10 when purchased with a full-price or senior ticket. (Limit two discounted tickets per full-price ticket.) Discounts are available for subscriptions to “The Music Man” and “Godspell” and for groups of 15 or more. More information online.

Also featured in MSMT’s 31st season: “Cinderella,” a movement-theater production for families, June 22 – July 30.

Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre performance information and tickets are available at 484-664-3333 or www.muhlenberg.edu/SummerMusicTheatre

Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre – Accessible Performance Of “Godspell”

Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre

to present accessible performance of

Godspell

 

July 17 performance of “Godspell” at Muhlenberg

will feature Open Captioning and Audio Description

for hearing impaired and visually impaired patrons


Allentown, Pa. (June 13, 2011) – Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre will present a performance of “Godspell” at 2 p.m. on Sunday, July 17 with Open Captioning (OC) for patrons who are deaf or hard of hearing and Audio Description (AD) for patrons who are blind or visually impaired. This performance is sponsored in part by the Tri-County Accessible Arts Coalition.

“The Tri-County Accessible Arts Coalition is working to accomplish several goals,” says Jessica Bien, general manager of Muhlenberg’s Theatre and Dance Department. “The first is to educate local organizations about the need for accessible performances and events in the region. The second is to educate the communities that the accessible performances will serve. Since many individuals have not ever experienced an open captioned or audio described performance, they need to understand what the performance will be like. Finally the Coalition is hoping to be able to secure the necessary equipment for these services so that any organization in the area may borrow the equipment to offer audio description or open captioning.”

Prior to the performance, there will be a tour and reception for audience members utilizing the services. The performance will be held in the Baker Theatre in the Trexler Pavilion for Theatre and Dance on the Muhlenberg College campus in Allentown, Pa.

“We are hoping that this performance provides the chance for other theaters and organizations in the Lehigh Valley to experience audio description and open captioning so that they can begin to offer these types of performances as well,” Bien says.

“Godspell,” Stephen Schwartz’s upbeat retelling of biblical parables, is one of Broadway’s biggest successes, featuring a beloved and sparkling score—including the international hit “Day By Day.” The show will run July 13-31.

“We are excited to bring the first audio described and open captioned performance to the Lehigh Valley community,” says Bien. “By offering these types of performances, we are hoping to provide a whole new audience with the opportunity to experience live theatre and some of America’s greatest musicals.”

Audio Description is a form of audio-visual translation, using the natural pauses in dialogue or between critical sound elements to insert narrative that translates the visual image into an audible form that is accessible to individuals who otherwise lack full access to live theatre. Using a single earpiece connected to an infrared headset, patrons who are blind or have low vision can listen to trained audio describers give live, verbal descriptions of actions, costumes, scenery, and other visual elements of a performance.

Open captioning provides the audience with an electronic text display to the side of the stage which displays what the actors are saying or singing in real time. The display also describes sound effects on stage.

To purchase tickets for the July 17 performance of “Godspell,” call Jess Bien at 484-664-3087 or email boxoffice@muhlenberg.edu. The number of headsets available for Audio Description is limited so it is suggested that reservations be made early. Tickets are only $10 for hearing impaired and visually impaired patrons and one companion can also purchase a ticket for $10.

Each year, Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre mounts major original productions of Broadway musicals featuring the work of accomplished directors, designers, performers and musicians. Tickets are still available for all three Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre shows – “The Music Man,” running June 15 – July 3; “Cinderella,” our children’s theatre show, running June 22 – July 30; and “Godspell.”

Tickets for regular performances can be purchased online at muhlenberg.edu/tickets, by calling 484-664-3333, or by visiting the box office located on the lower level of the Trexler Pavilion for Theatre and Dance, Mon.-Sat. from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For more information contact Scott Snyder, at 484-664-3693 or scottsnyder@muhlenberg.edu.

 

Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre Alumni Are Back For More In ‘The Music Man’

Familiar faces in the first show of the SMT season will include Broadway star David Masenheimer, opera singer Lauren Curnow

Allentown, Pa. (May 25, 2011)—Harold Hill, the central figure in Meredith Willson‘s classic “The Music Man,” is a con artist—a stranger in town. But when the musical opens this year’s Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre season, the man playing Hill will be anything but a stranger. In fact, the production will be a homecoming of sorts for several of Muhlenberg College‘s best-known theater alumni.

This year, in its 31st season, the college’s popular summer theater festival will welcome back two alumni with international reputations as performing artists: Broadway star David Masenheimer as Hill, and opera singer Lauren Curnow as Hill’s love interest, Marian Paroo. Also joining the cast are MSMT veterans and Muhlenberg alumni Neil Hever and Gabriel Martínez.

 “The Music Man” runs June 15 through July 3. Charles Richter, Summer Music Theatre’s co-founder and artistic director, will direct the show; Karen Dearborn and Ed Bara will provide choreography and musical direction, respectively. All three are Muhlenberg faculty members.

“It will be wonderful to have some familiar folks—some very talented folks—joining us for this production,” Richter says. “There will be some serious star power on stage. We’re very fortunate.”

Masenheimer, a 1981 Muhlenberg graduate, starred in more than 1,000 performances of Broadway’s “Les Misérables” as Inspector Javert. Other Broadway credits include “Ragtime” and “Sideshow.” Curnow, a 1996 graduate, has appeared on opera stages around the world, including The Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Teatro Maggio Musicale in Florence, Italy, the Wolftrap Opera, and the Santa Fe Opera. A lyric mezzo-soprano, Curnow holds master’s degrees from The Juilliard School and the Curtis Institute of Music.

 “The Music Man” tells the story of Harold Hill, a fast-talking con artist who comes to River City to make a fast buck, selling his phony dreams of a splendiferous town marching band. But then he meets the town librarian (and her kid brother), and finds himself transformed by the power of love. The score features several of Broadway’s best-known songs, including “Seventy-Six Trombones,” “(Ya Got) Trouble,” “Till There Was You,” and “The Wells Fargo Wagon.” The production won five Tony Awards in 1957, including Best Musical.

“In fact,” Richter points out, “this is the show that beat out ‘West Side Story’ for Best Musical. Willson did some incredibly innovative things with the score, and it took him five years to develop as a result.

“This is our third production of ‘The Music Man,’ and I believe our most exciting,” he says. “It is the first in our very intimate Baker Theatre, and that space will be very well suited to this talented cast.”

DAVID MASENHEIMER: A RETURN TO THE STAGE

David Masenheimer’s career as an actor began before college, when he spent vacations in summer stock productions. He acted regularly at Muhlenberg, arriving just a year after the opening of the Baker Center for the Arts, in the first days of the Theatre Department, arriving at the college a year before department founder Charles Richter.

Masenheimer started as a science major, but soon realized he had other interests to pursue. He got the lead in the student musical his freshman year, playing the Emcee in “Cabaret,” and that pointed him in a different direction—in a couple different directions, actually.

“I had some carpentry skills thanks to Muhlenberg,” he says. “I was a work-study carpenter and eventually was the technical director for the MTA,” the student-run Muhlenberg Theatre Association, which produced the plays. “I was not very popular in my fraternity, because I basically lived in the Center for the Arts.”

After graduation, Masenheimer went on tour in a number of shows, including “Les Misérables,” then in 1995, took on the role of Javert in the Broadway production. Other Broadway appearances have included the original cast of “Side Show” (1997) as well as roles in “The Scarlet Pimpernel” (1999), Ragtime (1999), and “The Wild Party” (2000).

For the most part—give or take a concert or two—Masenheimer gave up performing professionally about seven years ago. He now mostly pursues that other direction, building custom furniture and merchandising fixtures—and the occasional piece of theatrical scenery—with his carpentry company, Rampart Productions. He says the life of the performer got to be too much.

 “I’m so glad I did what I did when I did it,” he says. “But while I was packing up to come to Allentown, it occurred to me, if I was really in this business, I’d be packing up and going on tour for a year, and that’s just completely unappealing to me. I wanted some control over what I was going to do and when I was going to do it.”

Masenheimer says “The Music Man” is among his favorites. He played Harold Hill in high school and feels a connection to the show and the character. After 34 years, he still remembers the lyrics to “(Ya Got) Trouble,” the show’s notoriously difficult patter song: “… right here in River City, with a capital T, and that rhymes with P and that stands for ‘pool.'”

“The show is a really well written piece of Americana,” he says. “The music is lovely, and I just love all the characters; it’s such a great ensemble piece.”

So does “The Music Man” signal a possible return to the stage for Masenheimer?

“No, this is it,” he says. “This is about Muhlenberg, and being back at Muhlenberg. I’m really looking forward to this whole process, though. It’s kind of a vacation.”

LAUREN CURNOW: A RETURN TO ROOTS

“The Music Man” marks Lauren Curnow’s first foray into Broadway-style musical theater since her student days, when she starred as Laurey in a 1995 Muhlenberg Theatre Association production of “Oklahoma!”

Since graduation, she has concentrated strictly on opera. She got a job in an opera chorus right out of college, then a paid apprenticeship at the prestigious Lyric Opera Company of Chicago, then graduate-level study at Juilliard and the Curtis Institute. Since then, she has worked consistently as a performer, with opera companies around the world.

In a way, “The Music Man” marks a return to roots for Curnow.

I started out being musical theater all the way,” she says. “But from the time I started at Muhlenberg, I was taking lessons with Jeremy Slavin,” A Muhlenberg faculty member and MSMT co-founder, who just retired this spring. “And he started training me classically. So I started thinking about myself as a singer in a different way.”

Curnow said the biggest adjustment for her as an opera singer will be to incorporate dialogue in her performance.

“Going back and forth between singing and speaking is something I’m not as used to as I was,” she says. “You really have to pace yourself. You have to think about how you’re projecting on the stage, so that when it’s time to sing, you’re ready to go.”

This role will be unusual for Curnow in another way, as well. As a mezzo-soprano, she says she gets to play mostly supporting characters—the “compremario” roles. “The Music Man” gives her an opportunity to play the romantic lead for a change.

“I don’t often get to be the ingenue, which will be fun,” she says. “In opera, the lovers are usually more in the soprano range, for some reason. We mezzos get to be the best friends and funny maids.”

A SUMMER THEATER HOMECOMING

Neil Hever, Muhlenberg Class of 1982, played alongside Masenheimer, back in that first Summer Music Theatre season, 31 years ago. He has been a fixture on the MSMT stage ever since—most recently starring in last season’s “The Mikado.” He will play Charlie Cowell in “The Music Man.”

“I’ve seen MSMT grow and evolve into a very professional and high quality program over time,” Hever says. “The adult actors and Muhlenberg teaching staff I worked with as a student at the very beginning were a great source of inspiration. I hope that now, as an adult, I am helping today’s students grow and improve as actors by example.”

Another familiar face, of a more recent vintage, is Gabriel Martínez, the 2010 grad who played William Barfée (rhymes with “parfait”) in last season’s “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” Before that, he appeared in 2009’s “Forever Plaid” and 2008’s “A Year with Frog and Toad” and “The Who’s Tommy.” This year, he’ll play Marcellus Washburn.

The production will also welcome another MSMT prodigal: conductor Donald Spieth, best known locally as the conductor of the Lehigh Valley Chamber Orchestra, although he has conducted numerous ensembles in the Lehigh Valley region and beyond. Spieth conducted the orchestra for MSMT’s first season, 31 years ago, and returns to the orchestra pit for “The Music Man.”

Prominent cast members who are not Muhlenberg alumni include two longtime members of the Lehigh Valley theatre community: veteran MSMT performer and director Bill Mutimer, as Mayor Shinn, and Arts Ovation Award winner JoAnn Wilchek Basist, as Eulalie Shinn.

The show will feature scenic design by Campbell Baird, whose last MSMT assignment was the east-meets-west costume design for last season’s “The Mikado.” “The Music Man’s” costume designer is Kevin Thacker. Lighting designer is MSMT veteran John McKernon.

“The Music Man” runs June 15 through July 3, Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Performances are in the Dorothy Hess Baker Theatre, in the Trexler Pavilion for Theatre & Dance, Muhlenberg College, 2400 Chew St., Allentown.

Tickets for June 15-18 are $32; seniors age 65 and up, $28; students and children, $18. Tickets for June 19 through July 3 are $38; seniors, $35; students and children, $20.

Sundays are Family Matinee day; tickets for children ages 5-18 are just $10 when purchased with a full-price or senior ticket. (Limit two discounted tickets per full-price ticket.) Discounts are available for subscriptions to “The Music Man” and “Godspell” and for groups of 15 or more. More information online.

The rest of the MSMT season for 2011 will feature “Godspell,” July 13-31, and “Cinderella,” a movement-theater production for children, June 22 – July 30.

Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre performance information and tickets are available at 484-664-3333 or www.muhlenberg.edu/SummerMusicTheatre.

Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre

Auditions for MSMT 2011 season—’The Music Man,’
Godspell,’—will be held Feb. 27 and 28.

Children’s auditions for ‘Music Man’ scheduled for March 1-2

Technical positions and high school internships also available.


Allentown, Pa. (Feb. 10, 2011) — Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre will hold open auditions for adult performers on Feb. 27 and 28, and for children ages 6 to 13 on March 1 and 2. Performers will be cast for both of the season’s mainstage productions: Meredith Willson‘s “The Music Man,” June 15 – July 3, and Stephen Schwartz’s “Godspell,” July 13-31.

The following audition details can also be found online, at www.summerbroadway.org.

Vocal auditions for adults (ages 16 and up) will be held Sunday, Feb. 27, from 2 to 7 p.m., and Monday, Feb. 28, from 6 to 11 p.m. Auditions will be held in the Empie Theatre, Baker Center for the Arts, on the Muhlenberg College campus. Vocal audition appointments are three minutes.

Dance auditions for adults only will be held Sunday, Feb. 27, from 12 to 2 p.m. and Monday, Feb. 28, from 6 to 8 p.m., in the Dance Studio Theatre, Trexler Pavilion for Theatre and Dance. Dance auditions will take about half an hour. Auditioners will be taught a short dance sequence, which they will then perform. No preparation is required.

Children ages 6 to 13 will be cast for the ensemble of “The Music Man” in a special audition, Tuesday, March 1, and Wednesday March 2, from 5 to 7 p.m, in the rehearsal hall in the Trexler Pavilion for Theatre and Dance. There is no dance audition for children. Children must be under five feet tall in order to audition. Auditions are in three-minute appointments.

All auditioners must register in advance and schedule an audition. Auditioners should send an e-mail to boxoffice@muhlenberg.edu before Friday, Feb. 25, 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 e-mail should call the Muhlenberg Theatre & Dance office at 484-664-3087, during regular office hours before Thursday, Feb. 24. Voice messages should contain all of the above information.

All adult auditioners will be assigned a time for both a dance audition and a vocal audition, and should plan to dance and sing, even if they concentrate in just one area. It is possible for a performer to be cast based on a strong audition in just singing or just dance.
Auditioners for both shows—including children ages 6 to 13—should prepare a memorized vocal selection of 16 to 32 bars. Adults should sing something from a classical Broadway show other than “The Music Man,” from about 1980 or earlier. Women should not use a belt voice or mix; men interested in the role of Marcellus may belt.

In the children’s audition, girls should sing a ballad in the style of “The Music Man”; no belting, please. Boys should prepare an up-tempo number, also in the style of the show; belt voice is okay.

The musical directors request that you do not sing from the “The Music Man” or “Godspell” scores. An accompanist will be provided for the vocal audition. You must bring sheet music in the key in which you would like to sing, with your 16- to 32-bar selection indicated and any cuts clearly noted.  Please no accompaniment tapes.

The directors are looking for a wide range of ages and types for each production, and community members are strongly encouraged to audition.

Callback auditions will be held March 17-21, and will include acting auditions, reading from the script. Details will be provided as necessary, but auditioners should hold the dates if possible.
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 1. Applications can be found online at www.summerbroadway.org. Completed applications can be sent to boxoffice@muhlenberg.edu.

Pajama Game at Muhlenberg‏

With a full orchestra, no microphones,
and a distinctly 1950s sensibility,
The Pajama Game’ captures the jazzy,
snazzy spirit of Broadway’s Golden Age

Allentown, Pa. (Oct. 15, 2010) — When “The Pajama Game” opens Oct. 29 on Muhlenberg College’s Empie Theatre stage, director Charles Richter wants audiences to feel as though they’ve been transported to the Golden Age of the Broadway musical.

Like the show’s original 1955 production, Muhlenberg’s “The Pajama Game” will feature a full 22-piece orchestra, big voices, and no artificial amplification. Along with musical director Ken Butler and choreographer Karen Dearborn, Richter says he has been coaching the cast to adopt the “sort of spirited style” they will need to make sure their performance reaches the back row.

“This show conveys a wonderful sense of nostalgia,” Richter says. “Our aim is to recreate the experience of the Golden Age musical in a way that few productions really do — that touring companies just can’t accomplish. I want our audiences to be able to understand what made the American musical great.”

The second production in the Muhlenberg Theatre and Dance Department’s 2010-2011 mainstage season, “The Pajama Game” plays Oct. 29 through Nov. 7 in the College’s Baker Center for the Arts. Because of the College’s Family Weekend activities, tickets will be scarce for performances Nov. 5-7.

The score of “The Pajama Game” features the hit songs “Steam Heat,” “Hernando’s Hideaway,” and “Hey There,” classics of the Broadway repertoire. The show is heavily jazz-influenced, though it features numbers in a wide variety of styles, from tango to country and western.

“Every song’s a hit,” Richter says. “These are some of the best songs ever written for the stage. The score is extraordinarily rich and robust.”

Based on the novel “7 ½ Cents,” by Richard Bissell, “The Pajama Game” tells the story of love behind the picket lines. Conditions at the Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory are anything but peaceful, as sparks fly between new superintendent Sid Sorokin and Babe Williams, the leader of the union grievance committee. Their stormy relationship comes to a head when the workers strike for a seven-and-a-half-cent pay increase, setting off not only a conflict between management and labor, but a battle of the sexes as well.

“It’s a massively romantic musical,” Richter says. “All the main characters are looking for love, or finding love, or in tumultuous relationships. The show features a depth of characterization and storytelling that contemporary musicals tend to lack.”

“The Pajama Game” was the first of two collaborations between composer/lyricists Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, and playwright/director George Abbott. The following year, they had another hit with the baseball musical “Damn Yankees,” but Ross died suddenly of lung disease, just a few months after it opened. He was 29.

“As good as it is, ‘The Pajama Game’ for me is about unfulfilled promise,” Butler says. “I can only imagine what another 20 years of Adler/Ross collaborations might have produced.”

Both productions won Tony Awards for best musical, and the 2006 Broadway revival of “The Pajama Game” won another Tony for best revival. “The Pajama Game” also featured the first stage choreography by Bob Fosse, arguably the most influential choreographer in musical theater history.

“Karen (Dearborn) has done a terrific job of building dances that convey the scope and energy of the show and the spirit of Fosse’s work,” Richter says.

The production features a scenic design by Curtis Dretsch, which he describes as “lighthearted, flexible, fluid, and colorful.” The centerpieces of his set design are eight 20-foot fabric swatches, in a variety of wild pajama-like patterns, which are moved about the stage to define playing spaces. Dretsch says he has broadened his color palette to capture the spirit of the show and the era.

“The set is marginally representational, but not at all literal,” he says. “I don’t think I have ever in my life used this much color on stage.”

Chris Szczerbienski (Class of 2011) designs lights for the production. Constance Case designs the costumes. Veteran conductor Vincent Trovato will lead the 22-piece orchestra. Emma Pressman (Class of 2012) is the production stage manager.

“The Pajama Game” plays Oct. 29 through Nov. 7 in the Empie Theatre, Baker Center for the Arts, Muhlenberg College, 2400 Chew St., Allentown. The production is suitable for all ages.

Performances are Friday and Saturday, Oct. 29-30, at 8 p.m.; Sunday, Oct. 31, at 2 p.m.; Wednesday through Friday, Nov. 3-5, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 6, at 2 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, Nov. 7, at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults, $8 for patrons 17 and under. For group of 15 or more, tickets are $15.

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

Muhlenberg Theatre and Dance Department

Allentown, Pa. (Sept. 6, 2010) – The Muhlenberg Theatre and Dance 2010-2011 Season opens Oct. 6. The season will include six theater productions and three dance concerts. Highlights include the mainstage musical “The Pajama Game,” opening Oct. 29, and a new dance theater adaptation of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” opening March 31, 2011.

“It’s an exciting, diverse season,” says James Peck, chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance and associate professor of theater, who will direct the final show of the season. “It spans a broad range of styles and genres, from intimate black-box productions to large-scale song-and-dance musicals, and from student-choreographed explorations to professionally created, formal dance compositions. I hope you’ll join us.”

The season is as follows:

Theater:
– “Polaroid Stories” — Oct. 6-10
– “The Pajama Game” — Oct. 29 through Nov. 7
– “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot” — Dec. 1-5
– “La Dispute” — Feb. 24-27
– “The Tempest” — March 31 through April 3 (a dance theatre production)
– “Orlando” — April 28 through May 1

Dance:
– “Moving Stories” — Nov. 18-20
– “Master Choreographers” — Feb. 10-12
– “Dance Emerge” — April 14-17

Polaroid Stories
Oct. 6-10, 2010

Studio Theatre, Trexler Pavilion for Theatre and Dance
By Naomi Iizuka
Directed by Zach Trebino, Class of 2011

Times: Wednesday through Friday, Oct. 6-8, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 9, at 2 and 8 p.m.; Sunday, Oct. 10, at 2 p.m.
Tickets: Adults, $15; youth 17 and under, $8. For mature audiences.
   
A visceral blend of classical mythology and real-life stories told by street kids, “Polaroid Stories” journeys into a dangerous world where myth-making fulfills a fierce need for transcendence, where storytelling has the power to transform a reality in which characters’ lives are continually threatened and devalued. Not all the stories they tell are true; some are lies, wild yarns, clever deceits, baroque fabrications. But whether or not a homeless youth invents an incredible history for himself isn’t the point, explains one diarist-of-the-street: “All these stories and lies add up to something like the truth.” Inspired in part by Ovid’s “Metamorphoses,” “Polaroid Stories” takes place on an abandoned pier on the outermost edge of a city, a way-stop for dreamers, dealers and desperadoes. The play is their story — heartbreaking and celebratory, all at once.

The Pajama Game
Oct. 29 through Nov. 7, 2010

Empie Theatre, Baker Center for the Arts
Music and Lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross
Book by George Abbott and Richard Bissell
Based on the Novel “71/2 Cents,” by Richard Bissell
Directed by Charles Richter
Choreographer, Karen Dearborn
Musical Director, Ken Butler

Times: Friday and Saturday, Oct. 29-30, at 8 p.m.; Sunday, Oct. 31, at 2 p.m.; Wednesday through Friday, Nov. 3-5, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 6, at 2 and 8 p.m.; Sunday, Nov. 7, at 2 p.m.
Tickets: Adults, $20; youth 17 and under, $8. For all ages.
   
From Broadway’s Golden Age comes a classic song-and-dance musical by the creators of “Damn Yankees,” about love behind the picket lines.

Conditions at the Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory are anything but peaceful, as sparks fly between new superintendent Sid Sorokin and Babe Williams, leader of the union grievance committee. Their stormy relationship comes to a head when the workers strike for a 7-and-a-half-cent pay increase, setting off not only a conflict between management and labor, but a battle of the sexes as well.

Winner of three Tony Awards in 1955, including Best Musical, and two more in 2006, including Best Revival, “The Pajama Game” features such memorable hit songs as “Steam Heat” and “Hernando’s Hideaway.” But every number makes a splash in this jazzy, snazzy musical.

Moving Stories
Nov. 18-20, 2010

Baker Theatre, Trexler Pavilion for Theatre and Dance
Artistic Director, Sarah Carlson

Times: Thursday and Friday, Nov. 18-19, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 20, at 2 and 8 p.m.
Tickets: Adults, $15; youth 17 and under, $8.

“Moving Stories” features original choreography by the department’s senior dance majors, in every genre and style. This is dance as storytelling, narration in human form, addressing themes as broad-ranging as the students’ own diverse backgrounds. Some of their pieces are introspective, some lighthearted, some cheerful, some profound; all represent the work of talented students finding expression in collaboration and movement.

The American College Dance Festival Association has consistently recognized dances premiered on the Muhlenberg stage for excellence in choreography and performance. Witness the creations of talented young choreographers from one of the top collegiate dance programs in the country.

The Last Days of Judas Iscariot
Dec. 1-5, 2010

Studio Theatre, Trexler Pavilion for Theatre and Dance
By Stephen Adly Guirgis
Directed by Beth Schachter

Times: Wednesday through Friday, Dec. 1-3, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 4, at 2 and 8 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 5, at 2 p.m.
Tickets: Adults, $15; youth 17 and under, $8. For mature audiences.
   
In the precinct of Hope, in downtown Purgatory, a trial has begun to determine the culpability of one of our most notorious villains: the betrayer of Jesus himself, Judas Iscariot. A parade of famous and infamous figures takes the stand: Mother Theresa, Sigmund Freud, Satan, Pontius Pilate (who pleads the Fifth). They debate with the two lawyers — defense attorney Fabiana Aziza Cunningham and prosecutor Yusef El-Fayoumy — arguing their points with a ferocious combination of biblical metaphor and urban trash-talk.

Guirgis’ scathing examination of faith, free will, and forgiveness explodes with unforgettable characters – cultural icons that appear not as figures in a storybook but as folks trying to cope with the big questions, when no big answers are forthcoming.

Master Choreographers
Feb. 10-12, 2011

Empie Theatre, Baker Center for the Arts
Artistic Director, Karen Dearborn

Times: Thursday and Friday, Feb. 10-11, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 12, at 2 and 8 p.m.
Tickets: Adults, $15; youth 17 and under, $8.

A spectacular evening of ballet, contemporary dance, tap and jazz, “Master Choreographers” showcases exciting new dance works choreographed by nationally and internationally acclaimed guest artists and faculty.

This season’s “Master Choreographers” concert will feature works by: Charles O. Anderson, artistic director of the Philadelphia-based dance theatre X; Heidi Cruz-Austin, alumna of the Pennsylvania Ballet; Corrie Franz Cowart, co-artistic director of Co-Art Dance; Shelley Oliver, director of Shelley Oliver Tap Dancers; Trinette Singleton, protégé of ballet icon Robert Joffrey; and New York-based multidisciplinary performance artist Nicole Wolcott. The evening also will feature a live musical performance by the David Leonhardt Jazz Group.

La Dispute
Feb. 24-27, 2011

Baker Theatre
By Pierre de Marivaux
Directed by Francine Roussel

Times: Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 24-26, at 8 p.m.; Sunday, Feb. 27, at 2 p.m.
Tickets: Adults, $15; youth 17 and under, $8. For mature audiences.

What would happen if you raised four children, two boys and two girls, in complete isolation from each other and the rest of the world — and then introduced them to one another? Would they fall in love? Promise their loyalty? How long would it take before the betrayals began? And who would be first to stray: — the women or the men?

Just such an experiment is at the heart of Marivaux’s mischievous 1744 comedy “La Dispute.” Things start out well enough; the four subjects pair off, fall in love, and swear their eternal devotion. But all too soon, the couples face their first temptations. Marivaux’s philosophical tale is wild and charming, profound and subversive, with a wit and flair for language that delights modern audiences.

The Tempest
March 31 through April 3, 2011

Empie Theatre, Baker Center for the Arts
By William Shakespeare
A new dance theatre adaptation by Charles O. Anderson & Troy Dwyer
Faculty Performance Spotlight: Holly Cate as Prospero

Times: Thursday, March 31, through Saturday, April 2, at 8 p.m.; Sunday, April 3, at 2 p.m.
Tickets: Adults, $15; youth 17 and under, $8.

Shakespeare’s fantasia of magic, power and revenge finds new inspiration in this world premiere dance theatre adaptation. Twelve years ago, the sorceress Prospero was overthrown and cast adrift by her rapacious brother, Antonio. She washed up on the shore of a remote island, with just three souls for company: her beguiling child Miranda; Ariel, a mischievous sprite; and the bitter “monster” Caliban. When Antonio strays near the island, Prospero conjures a perfect storm to wreck his ship and exact her vengeance. But the vessel crashes ashore bearing much more than Prospero could have anticipated.

The creative team behind 2009’s groundbreaking “Caw” reinvent one of the great stories of the theatre, featuring some of Shakespeare’s most memorable characters in a bold and incisive new dance theatre production.

Dance Emerge
April 14-17, 2011

Dance Studio Theatre
Artistic Director, Corrie Cowart

Times: Thursday and Friday, April 14-15, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, April 16, at 2 and 8 p.m.; Sunday, April 17, at 2 p.m.
Tickets: Adults, $15; youth 17 and under, $8.

The intimate Dance Studio Theatre is the backdrop for some of the most innovative, imaginative, explorative dance you’ll see. Spanning every genre from classical to hip-hop, “Dance Emerge” showcases the ideas and talents of our brightest young choreographers. This concert provides students the opportunity to demonstrate their mastery of dance composition, as well as exploring themes of culture, society and life in the medium of dance.

The choreographers whose work is chosen for “Dance Emerge” spend a semester devoted to finding and polishing the essence of the pieces they will present. The work that arrives on the stage is mature, insightful, proficiently crafted and expertly performed.

Orlando
April 28 through May 1, 2011

Baker Theatre, Trexler Pavilion for Theatre and Dance
By Virginia Woolf
Adapted by Sarah Ruhl
Directed by James Peck

Times: Thursday through Saturday, April 28-30, at 8 p.m.; Sunday, May 1, at 7 p.m.
Tickets: Adults, $15; youth 17 and under, $8.

“It is enough for us to state the simple fact: Orlando was a man till the age of thirty, when he became a woman and has remained so ever since.” Virginia Woolf’s acclaimed, vaguely autobiographical novel defies easy description, but this is its premise. After a couple hundred years at the edges of history, an English nobleman awakens one morning to discover that he has become a woman.

Adapted by MacArthur Award-winning playwright Sarah Ruhl, “Orlando” spans four centuries in pursuit of its memorable central figure. Funny and bittersweet, literate but highly accessible, the play examines the options available to men and women in the arenas of literature and romance, and invites us to ask what we mean when we talk about identity, gender, poetry, and love.

Guest artist performances:

Je Suis Dead
By Fool’s Proof Theatre
Tuesday, Sept. 21, at 8 p.m.

Baker Theatre, Trexler Pavilion for Theatre and Dance
Free Admission

Fool’s Proof Theatre is an international company based in Liverpool, founded in 2005 by Ben Phillips (UK), Britt Jurgensen (Germany), and Mary Pearson (USA). “Je Suis Dead,” which they will present Sept. 21 at Muhlenberg, is the company’s second piece in a proposed trilogy about identity and the invisible ties that bind us.

Three modern day people are thrown together in the aftermath of a near fatal train crash. Yet unbeknown to them the crash also brings back to life other parts of themselves, which manifest as strange characters from the past each with their own story to tell. In the midst of it all the three strangers are forced to deal with their rapidly changing perceptions of reality.

“Je Suis Dead” is a thought provoking exploration of the multiple selves existing in each of us, and the interconnectedness of the stories we contain. Recommended for ages 16 and up.

Urban Bush Women
Monday, March 14, 2011, at 8 p.m.

Empie Theatre, Baker Center for the Arts
Tickets: $15

Urban Bush Women, founded in 1984 by choreographer Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, seeks to bring the untold and under-told histories and stories of disenfranchised people to light through dance. They do this from a woman-centered perspective and as members of the African Diaspora community in order to create a more equitable balance of power in the dance world and beyond. They do this by facilitating the use of art as a means of addressing issues of social justice and encouraging civic engagement.

This year, Muhlenberg is proud to host Urban Bush Women as Baker Artists-in-Residence. The company will serve as guest artists for the American College Dance Festival, Northeast Regional Conference, on campus March 9-12.

Box Office Information

Subscription rates are available for tickets to four or more performances in the season, at a price of $12 per ticket. For the entire nine-show season, the price is $99 for adults, $63 for youth ages 17 and under.

Group rates are available for groups of 15 or more, at $15 for “The Pajama Game” and $13 for all other shows. Group leaders should contact boxoffice@muhlenberg.edu or 484-664-3087. Payment in full is due two weeks before the show.

The box office is open Monday through Friday from noon to 6 p.m, for sales by phone, at 484-664-3333, or in person, in the box office lobby of the Trexler Pavilion for Theatre and Dance. Tickets can be purchased online 24 hours a day, at http://www.muhlenberg.edu/tickets.