Act 1 DeSales University Performing Arts Presents: Dancing At Lughnasa

Saturday ◊ February 28, 2015 ◊ 8:00 p.m.
Main Stage of the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts
2755 Station Avenue
Center Valley, PA 18034

By Brian Friel • Directed by Dennis Razze

“The poetry of this play…like the most fragrant music, strikes deep chords that words cannot begin to touch.” –The New York Times

This extraordinary Irish drama, set in the Autumn of 1936 near Ballybeg, Ireland, is a memory play about the five brave Mundy sisters and their older brother Jack, who has just returned home after 25 years as a missionary priest in Africa. As the sisters prepare to celebrate the festival of the God Lugh they erupt into a wild dance celebrating their way of life before it changes forever. Ages 13+

View a preview of the show on YouTube

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Tesla’s Plans For Lehigh Valley Mall Supercharger Station Stall

Tesla Motors Inc. has scrapped plans to build a supercharger station at Lehigh Valley Mall in Whitehall Township.

Township commissioners approved the project in August and Tesla hoped to begin welcoming motorists last fall, but couldn’t get around a roadblock put up by J.C. Penney, according to Mayor Ed Hozza Jr. and a PPL Corp. spokesman.

The station was slated for property in the parking lot west of the Grape Street mall entrance near J.C. Penney. In order to supply the station with power, PPL needed to run an underground electrical line through the lot, a section of which is owned by the department store.

J.C. Penney rejected the utility’s request for an easement to put in the line, PPL spokesman Paul Wirth said Tuesday. PPL proposed an alternate route for the line, but hasn’t heard back from Tesla on how to proceed.

Read more:

http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/lehigh-county/index.ssf/2015/02/tesla_lehigh_valley_mall.html

Act 1DeSales University Performing Arts Presents: Dancing At Lughnasa

Friday ◊ February 20, 2015 ◊ 8:00 p.m.
Main Stage of the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts
2755 Station Avenue
Center Valley, PA 18034

By Brian Friel • Directed by Dennis Razze

“The poetry of this play…like the most fragrant music, strikes deep chords that words cannot begin to touch.” –The New York Times

This extraordinary Irish drama, set in the Autumn of 1936 near Ballybeg, Ireland, is a memory play about the five brave Mundy sisters and their older brother Jack, who has just returned home after 25 years as a missionary priest in Africa. As the sisters prepare to celebrate the festival of the God Lugh they erupt into a wild dance celebrating their way of life before it changes forever. Ages 13+

Click Here to Buy
Last Minute Discount
RUSH Tickets
for ONLY
$9.99!
Price of Regular Ticket at the door $24.00
Rush Tickets available online only

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Muhlenberg College is a liberal arts college of 2,200 students in Allentown, Pa. The college offers Bachelor of Arts degrees in theatre and dance. The Princeton Review consistently ranks Muhlenberg’s production program in the top 15 in the nation, and the Fiske Guide to Colleges lists both the theatre and dance programs among the top small college programs in the United States.

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

Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre Announces Open Audition Dates

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

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

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

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

All auditioners must register in advance and schedule an audition. Auditioners should send an email to SMTcompany@muhlenberg.edu before Friday, Feb. 20, indicating available dates and times within the scheduled audition, and providing a mobile phone number where the auditioner can be reached with questions.

Those without access to email should call the Muhlenberg Theatre & Dance office at 484-664-3087, during regular office hours before Thursday, Feb. 19. Voice messages should contain all of the above information.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Auditioners should bring two copies of their resumes and headshots.

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

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

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

Costco, Whole Foods Shopping Center Tenant Roster Almost Full; Project Set For Spring 2016 Opening

LOWER MACUNGIE TOWNSHIP, PA – The Hamilton Crossings tenant roster is almost full, project developers Tim Harrison and Jeremy Fogel said Tuesday.

Nearly 100 percent of the retail and restaurant space available at the 570,000-square-foot shopping center has been leased, they said during a presentation organized by Commercial Real Estate Women Network Lehigh Valley.

“There are people that, personally, I’d like to fit, but we just don’t have the room,” said Harrison, of Staten Island, N.Y.

The Lower Macungie Township complex will feature several Lehigh Valley firsts — Costco, Whole Foods and Nordstrom’s Rack — but declined to name retailers or restaurants that have not previously been announced.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/lehigh-county/index.ssf/2015/01/hamilton_crossings_lower_macun.html

Lehigh Valley Arts Council Announces Arts Alive 2015 Series

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Audio-Description Training For The Performing Arts

February 20 & 21, 2015
10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Lehigh Valley Arts Council
Butz Corporate Center
2nd Floor Conference Room
840 Hamilton Street
Allentown, PA 18101

As the Lehigh Valley Arts Council prepares for the 25th anniversary and yearlong celebration of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, we are offering a two-day audio-description training workshop to the performing arts community. By becoming more disability-friendly, a cultural venue can also increase its capacity to attract a larger audience. Theatre practitioners from all walks of life—actors, students, volunteers—are invited to enroll in the upcoming audio-description training session and acquire new performance skills. The training also prepares performing arts groups to participate in the Arts & Access Celebration and to receive recognition and promotion in the Lehigh Valley for creating a more inclusive region.

Audio description assists patrons who are blind or low-vision to access the visual elements of stage productions through live narration provided by trained describers. Patrons use headsets to hear the audio description.

The Arts Council has contracted Mimi Smith, Executive Director of VSA Pennsylvania, and Steve Smith to provide the training over the course of two days, February 20 & 21, 2015. The Smiths have been describers for more than two decades, and are the founders of Amaryllis Theatre Co., a professional Philadelphia theatre that regularly includes artists with disabilities. They will introduce the class to the foundational skills—Observe, Analyze and Communicate— necessary to audio describe a play.

Typically, this workshop would cost $590. Thanks to the underwriting support of an anonymous donor, the Arts Council is able to offer it at a very reasonable price: $50 per person.

The workshop also includes admission to an audio-described performance of Dancing at Lughnasa at the Labuda Performing Arts Center on Thursday, February 19, 2015, at 8:00 p.m.

Reservations required, for more information and to reserve your spot:

Call: 610-437-5915
Email: operations@LVArtsCouncil.org
Web:http://www.lvartscouncil.org/Access/default.html#events
Tickets:http://www.etix.com/ticket/online/performanceSearch.jsp?performance_id=7941980&cobrand=lvartsboxoffice

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

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

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

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

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

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

English: View of Allentown City from east side

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fall Chocolate Festival Sweetens Saturday At Allentown Brew Works

Calling all chocoholics.

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

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

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

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

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

Logo of Muhlenberg College

Logo of Muhlenberg College (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Muhlenberg College is a liberal arts college of 2,200 students in Allentown, Pa. The college offers Bachelor of Arts degrees in theatre and dance. The Princeton Review consistently ranks Muhlenberg’s production program in the top 15 in the nation, and the Fiske Guide to Colleges lists both the theatre and dance programs among the top small college programs in the United States.

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

‘Moving Stories’ Dance Concert Showcases Innovative Work By Student Choreographers In Muhlenberg’s Nationally Acclaimed Program

Logo of Muhlenberg College

Logo of Muhlenberg College (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Allentown, PAMuhlenberg College dancers tell their stories through movement, as the Muhlenberg Theatre & Dance Department presents “Moving Stories,” a showcase for dance works created by emerging choreographers, Nov. 6-8 in the College’s Baker Theatre.

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

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

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

“Moving Stories” will showcase over 50 dancers from the department’s dance program, which is among the most highly regarded programs of its kind. The concert features costume and lighting designs by the department’s acclaimed professional staff.

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

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

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

Muhlenberg College’s Theatre & Dance Department offers one of the top-rated college performance programs in the county, according to the Princeton Review rankings.  Muhlenberg is a liberal arts college of more than 2,200 students in Allentown, Pa., offering Bachelor of Arts degrees in theater and dance. It has been named annually among The Fiske Guide to Colleges’ top 20 small college programs in the United States, and the American College Dance Festival Association has consistently recognized dances premiered on the Muhlenberg stage for excellence in choreography and performance.

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

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

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

Allentown Could Be Blueprint For New Development

English: City of Allentown from east side

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

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

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

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

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

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

Muhlenberg Celebrates 50th Anniversary Of Sondheim’s ‘Anyone Can Whistle’

Logo of Muhlenberg College

Logo of Muhlenberg College (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Allentown, PA – Stephen Sondheim’s rarely produced musical comedy “Anyone Can Whistle” will get a Fiftieth Anniversary production at the Muhlenberg College Theatre & Dance Department, Oct. 24 – Nov. 2. An absurdist satire about insanity, conformity, miracles, and local government, the 1964 musical is also a great love story, according to director Beth Schachter, and has become a cult classic among musical theater fans.

“The music is quite lovely,” says Schachter, a member of the theater faculty at Muhlenberg, and the chair of the Theatre & Dance Department. “The humor is also very enjoyable. The show is witty in a way that many musicals are not.

“Anyone Can Whistle” plays on the stage of the Empie Theatre, Baker Center for the Arts. Tickets and information are available at http://www.muhlenberg.edu/theatre and 484-664-3333.

The show tells the story of a bankrupt town with a corrupt mayoress, in which the only business still thriving is Dr. Detmold’s Sanitarium for the Socially Pressured — known locally as The Cookie Jar. The town needs a miracle — which is precisely what it gets when a local girl licks a rock and water gushes out. Bingo! A modern-day Lourdes, with the tourist trade to boot. (The miracle was staged by the mayor’s cronies, of course.)

Things get even more complicated when the Cookie Jar patients get mixed up with the pilgrims, and no one can tell who’s crazy and who isn’t — not that it was entirely clear to begin with.

The show satirizes issues and attitudes that are still very much germane 50 years later, Schachter says: issues of gender norms and gender equality, questions of individuality and conformity, social protest and civil disobedience.

“The show argues for standing up for change and not waiting for the people in charge to change things for you,” she says. “That’s something that appeals to me, as the people of Hong Kong flood the streets with their umbrellas in support of democracy.”

Schachter says the show offers a particularly sophisticated and compelling depiction of women, with two powerful female characters in Fay, a nurse who works at the Cookie Jar, and Cora, the town’s mayor.

“The show is interested in women, in their desires, ambitions, and wishes,” she says, “which is part of the reason I like it so much.”

Senior Samantha Simon, from Hawthorne, N.J., plays the central role of Cora — a villain of the piece, but a complicated character nevertheless. Simon appeared last fall as Rosa Bud in “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.”

“Samantha is having a terrific time playing this hilarious villainess,” Schachter says. “She is a powerful presence on stage. She really takes over.”

Sondheim wrote “Anyone Can Whistle” very early in his career as a composer. He had contributed lyrics to the hits “West Side Story” and “Gypsy,” but had only written the score for one Broadway show, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.” The show closed after nine performances, but went on to become a cult favorite among musical theater fans, particularly Sondheim-philes. The show offers a preview of the complex melodies and innovative structures that characterize the composer’s later shows.

“‘Whistle’ marks the beginning of Sondheim’s distinctive voice and style,” Schachter says. “He develops that style much further in his mature work, but it’s fascinating to see this early expression of his talents as a composer.”

Tim Averill designs the scenery, which has “a zany, cartoony, fairy-tale feel to it,” Schachter says. “We were inspired by the set of ‘Laugh-In,’ with its bright colors and crazy angles.” The choreography, by Lynn Wiener, is similarly outlandish, highlighted by a comic ballet in which the ballerinas play deputies in an epic chase scene — on pointe.

“It’s a total hoot,” Schachter says. “But it’s a hoot with something to say, and what it has to say is still interesting and relevant 50 years later. It has been a revelation for me.”

Muhlenberg College is a liberal arts college of more than 2,200 students in Allentown, Pa. The college offers Bachelor of Arts degrees in theater and dance. The Princeton Review ranked Muhlenberg’s theater program in the top twelve in the nation for seven years in a row, and Fiske Guide to Colleges lists both the theater and dance programs among the top small college programs in the United States. Muhlenberg is one of only eight colleges to be listed in Fiske for both theater and dance.

Performances of “Anyone Can Whistle” are Oct. 24 – Nov. 2. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, with an additional 2 p.m. show on Saturday, Oct. 25. Regular admission tickets are $22. Tickets for youth and LVAIC students and staff are $8. Group and season subscription rates are available.

Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.muhlenberg.edu/theatre or by phone at 484-664-3333. Performances are in the Empie Theatre, Baker Center for the Arts, Muhlenberg College, 2400 Chew St., Allentown.

Allentown Developer Announces New Project, Possible Rooftop Restaurant

English: City of Allentown from east side

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Allentown’s Americus Hotel Revitalization Suffers Major Blow

English: City of Allentown from east side

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dig in!

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

Here’s your outlook this weekend:

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

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

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

Allentown Police Hire New Officers, Implement New Training

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

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

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

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

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

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

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