Pottstown, PA – Classical Guitarist Russell Ferrara begins the 2016 fall season with 3 formal and informal performances in Pottstown. He will perform for the Steel River Playhouse Gala on Saturday September 10 at 7:00 PM, for Pottstown FARM on High Street on September 15 with sets interspersed throughout the 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM event. On September 24 he will present informal performances as well as pop up classes on guitar and ukulele at the Pottstown Latin Festival. Information and
tickets to the Steel River Playhouse Gala are available at steelriver-playhouse.org. Pottstown FARM and the Pottstown Latin Festival are free and open to the public.
These performances mark the end of a highly productive summer for Ferrara, who has been performing and teaching in and around Pottstown since the opening of Steel River playhouse in 2008. He began the summer with a 10 day trip to Georgia to perform, teach and direct guitar ensembles with his flute playing partner Kim Robson. Upon returning from Georgia he taught ukulele classes and workshops at Pottstown Middle School and Steel River Playhouse, made his first appearance at Pottstown FARM and went immediately into rehearsals for the Wings of Hope benefit concert at the Colonial Theater in Phoenixville. From there he and Robson began sessions for their completed but as yet unreleased album. He took time away from the studio only to do a run in the pit band of “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” at the SALT theater in Yellow Springs.
Ferrara begins this month presenting the class “Ukulele Fun” at Steel River Playhouse. Designed to provide an introduction to playing string instruments, “Ukulele Fun” uses music familiar to everyone to build solid playing skills. The format of the class is ensemble based with everyone playing together in a fast-paced fun environment. Ferrara brings his years of experience performing and directing guitar ensembles to the design and format of the class. Further information can be found at steelriver-playhouse.org.
|MESSAGE FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: What I Did This Summer
This summer I have been out front in the Lehigh Valley more than usual, surveying audiences at various arts events. The study, Arts & Economic Prosperity V, is part of a national study to determine the economic impact of the nonprofit arts industry.
Sounds dry, doesn’t it? Actually, it’s been fun to mingle with arts patrons and bump into old friends at the theatre or a concert. It is too early to tell, but attendance at these events seems very strong.
The data collection continues through 2016, and the results of the analysis will be released in Spring 2017 at a public forum, Whose Business is the Arts? For the past twenty years, the Lehigh Valley region has enjoyed double-digit increases that are far above the national average. The previous study in 2012 determined that arts and culture was a $208 million industry. It will be fascinating to see what the numbers tell us this time. Maybe I am turning into a data-geek!
Allentown, PA — Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Award-winning musical “In the Heights” — the precursor to his blockbuster Broadway hit “Hamilton” — runs July 13-31 as the second production of the Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre season. The show tells a story that many of its cast hold close to their hearts: the story of families and cultures that have been transplanted from far away.
Many of the show’s 20 actors and dancers can tell you a story about their families coming to the mainland United States from Puerto Rico, or Cuba, or the Dominican Republic. For some, that story is not so long in the past. Wilma Rivera, for example, is a professional actress, a Muhlenberg College alumna, and a first-generation American. She says “In the Heights” is the story of her family.
“When I saw ‘In the Heights’ on Broadway, there was this moment when the music of the first number started, and it captured so beautifully the experience of what it’s like to be a Latino,” says Rivera, who plays Camila. “It’s that struggle to maintain an identity and also to assimilate — especially in New York City.”
“In the Heights” was a hit when it opened in 2008, running more than a thousand performances and bringing its composer, Lin-Manuel Miranda, to the attention of theatergoers. Miranda’s innovative score melded the rhymes and rhythms of hip-hop with the Latin-style music of salsa and merengue, and, together with Quiara Alegría Hudes’ book, captured the sights, sounds and stories of the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City.
The show won the Tony Award for Best Musical and was short-listed for a Pulitzer Prize the following year. Miranda also won the Tony for Best Score. Choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler and musical director Alex Lacamoire also won Tony Awards for their Latin- and hip-hop-inflected choreography and orchestrations. The three would reunite with director Thomas Kail to create “Hamilton.”
“Miranda is deeply versed in ’90s hip-hop,” says James Peck, who directs the production for Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre. “He picks up beats and rhythm structures and song structures from hip-hop, and he incorporates salsa, merengue, and other Latin styles — but he’s also a musical theatre fanboy from the age of five. The results are really a musical tour-de-force.”
MSMT’s production features choreography by Samuel Antonio Reyes and musical direction by Ed Bara. John Raley designed the set, Lex Gurst designed costumes, John McKernon designed lights, and Patrick Moren designed sound.
Peck credits choreographer Reyes as a driving force behind bringing the show to the MSMT stage.
“Sammy is a hip-hop dancer, a theater artist, and a Puerto Rican. He has a deep understanding of the cultural dynamics at work in this piece,” Peck says. “I wouldn’t have had the temerity to the play without him. It was Sammy saying, ‘I’ve got to do “In the Heights”‘ that made it come together.”
“In the Heights” tells the universal story of a vibrant community in New York’s Washington Heights neighborhood — a place where the coffee from the corner bodega is light and sweet, the windows are always open and the breeze carries the rhythm of three generations of music. It’s a community on the brink of change, full of hopes, dreams and pressures, where the biggest struggles can be deciding which traditions you take with you, and which ones you leave behind.
Miranda himself was born in Washington Heights, and grew up in Linwood, one neighborhood over. His parents had moved to New York from Puerto Rico, and every summer, he visited his grandparents back on the island.
Wilma Rivera’s classmate at Muhlenberg, Gabe Martínez, also remembers feeling like he was watching his own family’s history on stage when he first saw “In the Heights.” Martínez saw the show for the first time a year to the day after his grandmother passed away.
“The actress who played Abuela Claudia was the spitting image of my abuela,” says Martínez, who stars as Usnavi, the role that Miranda played on Broadway. “As soon as she walked out on stage, my father and I started weeping. We were at the matinee; I bought the cast recording on the way home and had it memorized by the time I went to bed.”
Martínez’s grandparents moved from Puerto Rico to New York in the 1940s, shortly after his grandfather returned from service in World War II.
“They wrote to each other every day, planning their move to New York, the American dream,” Martínez says. “When the war was over, he hadn’t been home a week when they bought a plane ticket and headed to the Bronx.”
Rivera has a similar connection to the material. Her father immigrated to the United States from Cuba in the early 1970s. Her mother was born in East Harlem, but moved to Puerto Rico as a small child. Both came from poverty, she says. Her mother was the only one in her family to go to college. When Rivera went off to Muhlenberg to study acting, she was the first in her family to attend college on the mainland — and, like Nina in “In the Heights,” she almost gave it up after her freshman year. Department chair Charles Richter talked her into staying.
“‘We need you here,’ he told me.”
Rivera and Martínez were the only two Latino students in the theater program at the time. Neither of them ever had the chance before now to play a Latino character on the Muhlenberg stage — and the opportunity is what drew them back. Both of them have worked steadily as actors since graduating — Rivera in 2009, and Martínez in 2010 — but they have had to be flexible in order to do it.
“I’ve spent my entire professional career praying to see a casting call saying ‘ethnically ambiguous — slash — Latino,'” Martínez says. “We were the only two Latino kids in our class, and now there are lots of kids, and this is their first professional gig, and we’re just so happy for them to start out this way, that these kids are having this opportunity.”
Rivera echoes his enthusiasm.
“This department has really embraced students of color and encouraged their talents, and really raised them up,” she says. “I’m very proud of this college and to be an alumna of this college, and I just hope it continues to grow.”
Martínez and Rivera’s deep connection to “In the Heights” is a common thread through the entire cast, Peck says.
“When people have a chance to be part of a show that speaks to their own experience, they make a significant personal investment in that show,” he says. “It’s rare that these stories get told, and when people have the chance to be a part of these stories, they grab onto that chance.”
In fact, Rivera’s connection to the show runs so deep that she got a tattoo of one of its lyrics, “Paciencia y fe,” a song sung by Abuela Claudia. The lyric reminds her of her own abuela, who died in January.
“It’s heartbreaking to lose that matriarch of a Latin family,” Rivera says. “She’s the stone and we’re all the ripples of what she leaves behind. It holds weight, I think, in this world, that we remember who we are and where we’re from. Gabe and I are very lucky that we have that image of our parents and remember the struggle.”
The actor who plays Abuela Claudia in the production — jazz vocalist, scholar and activist Roberta Meek — agrees. Meek had only one grandparent growing up, and ike Abuela Claudia — and like Rivera and Martínez’s abuelas — she was the keeper of the family’s stories.
“My grandmother was literally the historian of the family,” Meek says. “Her father was born into slavery, and he had been searching for his mother ever since. My grandmother was the griot,” the person who maintains the oral history tradition in many West African cultures. “You came to her for school.”
“In the Heights” is Meek’s first musical theater performance, although she has been performing as a jazz vocalist in the Lehigh Valley for more than 20 years. She also contributed stories and songs to the Touchstone Theatre project “Another River Flows: a Celebration of the Lehigh Valley Black Experience.”
One of the things that “In the Heights” gets right, Rivera says, is the sabor — the flavor of Latin culture and of the Washington Heights community.
“This show is packed full of sabor,” she says.
Some of that flavor is visual; much of it comes from the rhythm and choreographic energy that choreographer Samuel Reyes has brought to the project.
“The blend of salsa, hip-hop and contemporary movement is very exciting for me as a choreographer — and we have found such a dynamic, crazy talented cast,” Reyes says. “This show is going to punch a hole in the wall, both visually and emotionally. I’m just so damn proud to be part of it.”
“In the Heights” plays July 13-31 at Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre. Performances take place in the Dorothy Hess Baker Theatre, in the Trexler Pavilion for Theatre & Dance. Showtimes are Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Ticket prices for the first four performances are $33 regular admission; seniors, $29; students and children, $18. Prices for the rest of the run are $39 regular admission; seniors, $36; students and children, $20.
Tickets and information are available at http://www.muhlenberg.edu/smt or 484-664-3333.
LET’S GET READY TO RUUUMBLE!!!!!
Thousands will descend on Memorial Park in Pottstown this weekend for the Annual Pottstown Rumble Grass Volleyball Tournament. One of the largest such events in the country.
Memorial Park is located off King Street, along the Manatawny Creek, and can be easily reached from Routes 422 and 100. Spectators are welcome and there are food vendors for your convenience.
More information: https://pottstownrumble.com/index.php
Blue Bell, PA — Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) will host the Tri-County Concerts Association’s 74th Annual Youth Festival Concert on Saturday, June 11, at 7 p.m. in the Science Center Theater, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell. Tickets cost $10 and will be available at the door; students and children are admitted free of charge.
The Tri-County Concerts Youth Festival is one of the area’s most prestigious competitions for aspiring young classical musicians living in Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties. Since 1943, the festival has been a stepping-stone to achievement for many emerging young artists, several of whom are now current and retired members of the Philadelphia Orchestra. This year, Festival participants will perform works by Bach, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Ravel and Tchaikovsky, among others.
Many Montgomery County students won top prizes in this year’s Tri-County Youth Festival and will perform at the concert.
Alto saxophonist Jeremy Wang of Collegeville, in 10th grade at Methacton High School, won first place in the Senior Winds Division. Another alto saxophonist, Patrick Li of Audubon, in 7th grade at Arcola Middle School, won first place in the Junior Winds Division. Sisters Kara and Sophia Yoo of Souderton, who are home-schooled, both won second place in the Senior Ensemble Division as a flute and violin duo.
Many other Montgomery County students won honorable mention at the auditions. They include:
· Junior String Division: Cellist Aidan Bolding of Telford, in 7th grade at Indian Crest Middle School;
· Junior Ensemble Division: The Con Brio Trio with pianist Allison Fu of Fort Washington, in 8th grade at Sandy Run Middle School;
· Junior Voice Division: Lloyd Yoo of Souderton, who is an 8th grade home-schooled student;
· Senior Ensemble Division: The Quiller Quartet with violinist Catelyn Huang and cellist Jason Shu of Blue Bell, who attend Wissahickon High School;
· Senior Piano Division: Caleb Watt of Audubon, a 10th grader at Methacton High School; and
· Senior Winds Division: Clarinetist Allison Yang of Lansdale, a 9th grader at Pennfield Middle School.
For information about the concert, contact Eleanor James at 610-986-3555, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.tricountyconcerts.org. For more information about Montgomery County Community College’s Lively Arts Series, visit http://www.mc3.edu/livelyarts.
|Saturday 6/25 (10-4pm) Through simple forms we will create music from within and develop skills in listening and playing with others. Lots of music making!
(5-9pm) Celebration The local community is invited to join us for a potluck, music making, dance and badminton playing party. You can perform Open Mic style on the stage, dance, socialize, jam in the back rooms, eat and play Badminton!
($20 Sat night only or $10. if you bring a dish)
SMASHVILLE ARTS AND BADMINTON CENTER
310 E High St. Pottstown, PA 3rd floor
|Music and Well Being Sunday 6/26 10-1pm
Improvisation skills utilized with Soundhealing techniques exploring: voice, instruments, Tibetan bowls and a Sound bed.
Healing Arts Studio
125 Prospect St. Phoenixville, PA. ($40. Sunday only )
This yearly event is a fun-filled day with activities for all ages including games, music, dancing, and crafts. Tucker’s Tales Puppet Theatre will present interactive puppet shows and will also provide festive historic music around the grounds during the event. Signora Bella will delight audiences with her acrobatic feats. Colonial conjurer Levram the Great will perform historically-themed magic shows and entertain visitors with pocket magic tricks throughout the day. Members of the Tapestry Historic Dance Ensemble will demonstrate authentic English country dances. As always, visitors will be invited to join in and dance around the maypole to help open and close the fair!
In addition to the entertainment, a variety of early American crafters and demonstrators will be on hand to display historic skills and trades and sell their wares. Young visitors will have the chance to meet colonial farm animals, watch a blacksmith at work, see how candles were made, play with colonial toys, try an 18th-century bat-and-ball game, dance around a child-size maypole, help churn butter, and more! New this year, the site will also be offering free make-and-take crafts for kids.
The first floor of colonial ironmaster John Potts’ 1752 manor house will be open for self-guided tours during the fair. Visitors will also be able to shop at the manor’s museum shop for colonial games, books, and unique gifts. MMG Concessions will offer a variety of refreshments for sale, including burgers, cheesesteaks, hot dogs, sausages, sandwiches, fries, hand-rolled pretzels, and fresh-squeezed lemonade.
The fair coincides with the third annual “Pow-Wow on Manatawny Creek,” celebrating the culture and traditions of the Lenni-Lenape Native Americans. The pow-wow will be taking place during the hours of May Fair and will be held at Memorial Park, less than a block from Pottsgrove Manor. The public is encouraged to visit both events for an experience that spans time periods and cultures!
For a schedule of the day’s activities and a list of vendors and craftspeople that will be at the fair, please visit http://www.montcopa.org/1421/Annual-Colonial-May-Fair.
A donation of $2.00 per person is suggested for this event. Visitors can park for free at the Carousel at Pottstown building, 30 West King Street. Limited overflow parking is available at the Pottstown Quality Inn across the street from the Manor. Paid parking is also available in the “shop & park” lot at High and Hanover Streets in downtown Pottstown. There will be free trolley rides during the fair between the carousel parking lot, the pow-wow at Memorial Park, downtown Pottstown, and Pottsgrove Manor.
Handicapped parking is available in the museum’s parking lot.
Pottsgrove Manor is located at 100 West King Street near the intersection of King Street and Route 100, just off Route 422, in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. Pottsgrove Manor is operated by Montgomery
County under the direction of the Parks, Trails, and Historic Sites Division of the Assets and Infrastructure Department. For more information, please call 610-326-4014, or visit the website at www.montcopa.org/pottsgrovemanor. Like Pottsgrove Manor on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pottsgrovemanor.
|Date of Event:||4/16/2016|
|Time of Event:||1:00 PM – 3:00 PM|
|Description:||Join us on Saturday, April 16 from 1-3 pm on the grounds of Pottstown High School for this free event! PEAK, Pottstown’s school readiness initiative is partnering with Pottstown YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day. Fun family activities and resources from more than 40 community organizations are being planned along with music from D.J. Steve, moon bounce, celebrated mascots, and Pipper the Clown to name a few. The YMCA will be providing fitness activities and more. We thank Pottstown Memorial Medical Center http://www.PottstownMemorial.com for once again being the main sponsor for April’s PEAK Month of the Young Child events. For more information contact Jane Bennett – email@example.com or 610-256-6370, http://www.peakonline.org.|
|Location:||Pottstown High School
750 N. Washington St
Pottstown, PA 19464
Lehigh Valley Arts Council
The STRIVE Initiative & The JT Dorsey Foundation present “Go For The Goal” an inspirational song and video created by mentors and students to highlight the importance of setting goals and achieving them! Along the process we documented not only the video but also the journey and how the students along with the mentors collaborated to create a masterpiece of expression! Please Share & Donate @http://fundly.com/go-for-the-goalto help us continue youth development! #goforthegoalpa
To learn more click on their website: http://striveinitiative.org/
Allentown, PA — Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre will hold open auditions on Feb. 28 and 29. Performers will be cast for the season’s mainstage productions: “Gypsy,” performing June 15 – July 3, and a second show performing July 13-31.
The following audition details can also be found online, at muhlenberg.edu/smt. A performance rights agreement prevents SMT from announcing the title of the second production at this time, but full details are available on the website.
For the second production of the season, actors of color are particularly encouraged to audition.
Children may audition for “Gypsy” on Sunday, Feb. 28, from 1 to 3 p.m. They should be ages 8 to 12, both boys and girls, under 5 feet 2 inches in height. They should prepare a vocal audition as described below, and will be taught a dance combination.
Preliminary dance and vocal auditions will be held for both productions on Sunday, Feb. 28, from 3 to 11 p.m., and Monday, Feb. 29, from 5 to 11 p.m. All auditions will take place at Muhlenberg College, at the Baker Center for the Arts and the Trexler Pavilion for Theatre & Dance.
All auditioners must register in advance and schedule an audition. Auditioners should send an email to SMTcompany@muhlenberg.edu by Friday, Feb. 26, indicating available dates and times within the scheduled audition, and providing a mobile phone number where the auditioner can be reached with questions.
Those without access to email should call the Muhlenberg Theatre & Dance office at 484-664-3087, during regular office hours before Thursday, Feb. 25. Voice messages should contain all of the above information.
For “Gypsy,” performers ages 16 and up are encouraged to audition. There are several roles for older actors. As indicated above, a separate audition will be held Sunday afternoon for children. All auditioners should prepare a 32-bar up-tempo song selection from a Broadway musical written before 1975. Please no rock or pop selections. Some roles do not require singing, but everyone interested in being in the production should prepare a vocal audition. Bring properly marked sheet music. An accompanist will be provided.
All females auditioning for the production will be required to do a short dance audition. All males auditioning for the production under the age of 30 will also be required to do a dance audition. No preparation is required. Males over the age of 30 need not do a dance audition.
For the second production the director will be casting actors ages 15 and up. Actors of color are especially encouraged to audition. Please prepare a 32-bar cut of a song from a contemporary musical. Bring properly marked sheet music; an accompanist will be provided. All actors will also be required to do a dance audition.
Auditioners may audition for both productions. People who are auditioning for both shows should prepare two different songs.
All actors participating in Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre productions are paid a stipend. Out-of-town actors are provided with free housing. We will consider casting Equity members on guest artist contracts.
Auditioners who live too far away from the Allentown area or who are unable to attend auditions may submit a preliminary video audition. The video should consist of a comedic monologue not more than two minutes in length, one song (see guidelines above), and a 90-second dance solo. Please send a ling to a video hosted on the internet; e.g., YouTube or Vimeo. Do not send attached files via email. You may also submit a DVD following the same guidelines, which should be received prior to the audition dates.
Auditioners who receive a callback must attend in person to be considered for a role. Callbacks will include acting auditions, reading from the script.
Auditioners should bring two copies of their resumes and headshots.
“Gypsy” will be directed by Charles Richter, with choreography by Karen Dearborn and musical direction by Michael Schnack. Rehearsals are May 24 through June 14, Tuesday through Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 11 p.m. Young actors will not be called during school hours and will generally be released by 9 p.m. Performances are June 14 through July 3, Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
The second production will be directed by James Peck, with choreography by Samuel Antonio Reyes and musical direction by Ed Bara. Rehearsals are June 21 through July 12, Tuesday through Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m and 7 to 11 p.m. Performances are July 13-31, Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. A performance rights agreement prevents SMT from announcing the title of the second production at this time, but full details are available on the website.
Non-performing opportunities are available for technicians and costumers. Carpenters, electricians, props technicians, light board and sound board operators, and stage crew are needed for productions. Costumers, first hand, stitchers, and wardrobe running crew are needed in the costume shop.
High school stage management internships are available for those who will be at least 16 years old by the time they begin working for MSMT. Interns work alongside college students and professionals from the College, and guest artists from New York, learning valuable skills that they can take back to their high school programs. Interns receive a $400 stipend for the summer.
The application deadline for technicians, costumers, and administrative personnel is March 9. Applications can be found online at muhlenberg.edu/smt. Completed applications can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Allentown, PA — The Arts in the Lehigh Valley mean business—and jobs. That is the message being delivered today by Lehigh Valley Arts Council who announced it has joined the Arts & Economic Prosperity® 5, a national study measuring the economic impact of nonprofit arts and culture organizations and their audiences. The research study is being conducted by Americans for the Arts, the nation’s nonprofit organization advancing the arts and arts education. It is the fifth study over the past 20 years to measure the impact of arts spending on local jobs, income paid to local residents, and revenue generated to local and state governments.
As one of nearly 300 study partners across all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Lehigh Valley Arts Council will collect detailed financial data about our local nonprofit arts and culture organizations such as our theater and dance companies, museums, festivals, and arts education organizations. “Many people don’t think of nonprofit arts organizations as businesses,” said Mike Stershic, President of Discover Lehigh Valley, “but this study will make clear that the arts are a formidable industry in our community—employing people locally, purchasing goods and services from local merchants, and helping to drive tourism.”
Lehigh Valley Arts Council will also collect surveys from attendees at arts events using a short, anonymous questionnaire that asks how much money they spent on items such as meals, parking and transportation, and retail shopping specifically as a result of attending the event. Previous studies have shown that the average attendee spends $24.60 per person, per event, beyond the cost of admission. Those studies have also shown that, on average, 32 percent of arts attendees travel from outside the county in which the arts event took place, and that those cultural tourists typically spend nearly $40 per person—generating important revenue for local businesses and demonstrating how the arts drive revenue for other businesses in the community.
Surveys will be collected throughout calendar year 2016. The results of the study will be released in June of 2017.
“Arts are key to the economic development in the Lehigh Valley and have never been more important,” says Randall Forte Executive Director of the Lehigh Valley Arts Council. “Hundreds of creative industries, nonprofit cultural organizations, and thousands of individual artists of all disciplines—dance, musical, theatrical, visual, literary and media arts—are invested in our community.”
The 2010 economic impact study of the Lehigh Valley’s nonprofit arts industry revealed a $208 million industry—providing 7,114 full-time jobs and generating $21 million in state and local taxes annually. “Our Arts & Economic Prosperity series demonstrates that the arts are an economic and employment powerhouse both locally and across the nation,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “Leaders who care about community and economic vitality can feel good about choosing to invest in the arts. Nationally as well as locally, the arts mean business.” Complete details about the fiscal year 2010 study are available atwww.AmericansForTheArts.org/EconomicImpact.
Americans for the Arts’ Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 study is supported by The Ruth Lilly Fund of Americans for the Arts. In addition, Americans for the Arts’ local and statewide study partners are contributing both time and a cost-sharing fee support to the study. For a full list of the nearly 300 Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 study partners, visit www.AmericansForTheArts.org/AEP5Partners.