Reviews

"Getting Sarah Married" - a sweet, nutty romantic treat for Valentines Day

As the beloved (or bemoaned) Valentine’s Day holiday approaches, the less-well-scheduled of my gender are only now beginning to sweat the dreaded “plans” questions (or at least, they should be).

Questions such as: “What are our plans?” “Have you made plans?” “Have you thought about making plans?” “Why haven’t you made the plans yet?” and “How about you and your lack of plans find somewhere else to sleep?” 

 

Rejoice, my fellow play-by-ear types! A Valentine’s Day Weekend gift has arrived in the form of Getting Sarah Married: a funny-but-not-ironic, kinetic-but-not-frenetic and sweet-but-not-saccharine meltaway of a romantic comedy. This delightful live stage charmer had its debut Saturday night at the Unicorn Theatre in Catasauqua, PA to a nearly-full but fully entertained house.

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Join 'The Explorers Club' at the Pennsylvania Playhouse

The time? 1879. The place? London, dripping with old-fashioned clothing and speech patterns. The people? Some of the most important (if only to themselves,) and epic explorers of our time. Or just before our time, as it were. Here, we find ourselves welcome in attendence of a meeting of 'The Explorers Club,' the latest presentation from the Pennsylvania Playhouse. Written by Nell Benjamin, this comedy promises to keep you on your toes.

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"Down of a Thistle" is layered, twisted, and deliciously funny.

If you are looking for an alternative form of Christmas entertainment, you can do no better than The Crowded Kitchen Players' production of "The Down of a Thistle" appearing at The Unicorn Theatre in Catasaqua.

How many times can can a human being listen to Paul and Linda McCartney warble through "Wonderful Christmastime?"  How about watch the same holiday movies over and over again every year?  Spoiler alert, Clark Griswold gets the lights on and Bill Murray gets his Christmas spirit back.

This being a murder mystery,  set in an Adirondack Mountains lodge on Christmas Eve, you won't get many plot points out of this reviewer. It would be a heinous disservice.

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DCP's 'Sherlock Holmes' an epic, sprawling adventure

Sherlock Holmes is a superhero. His superhuman ability of deductive reasoning and intelligence have delighted readers for generations. The triumphs and travails of bringing a superhero like this to life on stage are as mighty as they are many, so cheers to Dutch Country Players for succeeding in an adept excecution of such deceptively difficult source material.  Rightfully and vigorously, they were applauded for their fine work during the crowded matinee performance I attended on Sunday the 6th of November. What remains for us here, dear Watson, is a listing of the causes of this success.

That there is a degree of difficulty in presenting Holmes live on stage is owed first to the nature of Holmes' unique superpower: his power of instantaneous deduction is so perfect, so never wrong as to be a forgone conclusion. This infalliable assuredness, however, threatens to rob live theatre of its vital essence: the excitement of dramatic conflict that rises during uncertain circumstances. With Holmes, nothing is uncertain but for the amount of time it takes the world and the audience to catch up to him.

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CKP at IceHouse Tonight: We All Win With This “November”!

Friends, are you as tired as I am of the current political season, with its sub-ground level Presidential campaigning? 

So where’s a political junkie, or even just a civic-minded gal or guy, to go these days for a breather and a few laughs? Luckily, I have the perfect answer.

Take yourself and cohorts the the Ice House on Sand Island in Bethlehem, while you still have five more chances to see David Mamet’s “November”, a searing political satire about a hilarious presidential campaign and the lengths to which its candidate will go to win.

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Musical Reviews

Dance, Poetry Make Courageous Conversation in “What Lies Within”

In “What Lies Within,” which opened Friday night at Bethlehem's Ice House, DanceLink and Basement Poetry have collaborated to create an affecting and artful production that addresses issues of racial identity and injustice.

This original work was devised by the entire ensemble. It marries poetic speech and movement to describe bits of personal experience, moments of vulnerability and oppression, and emotions that lie under the skin of this diverse cast.

The pairing is effective, as the (mostly) modern dance gives another dimension to the spoken word.

Dance bridges the poems beautifully, so that one number flows into the next, while giving the audience respite to absorb them.

The poetry is accessible almost without exception, and well articulated. The seventeen poems range from monologue to full-ensemble numbers, with a duet and a sort of Greek-chorus quartet to vary the mix.

Musicians Vernon Mobley on keyboard and Moe Jerant on percussion provide pleasing accompaniment. Read more...

Delightful expressions of the sole at Muhlenberg's "Master Choreographers' concert

At the outset, and in the interest of full disclosure, I must tell you I don't know a thing about dance concerts. (I actually thought they were called 'recitals' until I looked up the difference in terms.)

I generally like them, populated as they are by superior-looking humanoids bounding across a shadowy stage, chiseled torsos and rubbery limbs twisting and waving like tree branches in a hurricane, their hair trailing behind them like the fluttering fins of an Angelfish evading a ravenous Betta at lunchtime.

The one I attended in Allentown, PA last night, ---Muhlenberg College's 'Master Choreographers' dance concert--- had a 'gymnastics tournament' feel to it, with lots and lots of lissome undergrads cart-wheeling and leaping and balancing on tippy toes. 

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'Chaise Lounge' masterfully mixing music and theater at the highest level

Music reviewers call 'Chaise Lounge' a '"jazz sextet'".

This merry troupe of Washington, D.C.-based vertuosi bills itself, economically, "A cadre of musical pros".

To me, they are theater sublime.

Stripped of its many pretensions, theater is simply a profession. It is driven by a mission. That mission impels it to winnow its way into a venue. That venue needs only four walls, a rack or two of folding chairs, and just enough lights so a paying audience member can see and hear a live, colorfully-frocked performer tell a story with a beginning, middle, and end.

Boy, does that description ever fit these guys!

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PA Playhouse's ''1940s Radio Hour" a delightful holiday treat

What could possibly be entertaining about watching a group of entertainers put on a radio show set in 1940's America?

Everything!

“The 1940's Radio Hour” currently at the Pennsylvania Playhouse takes the audience back to the days when “entertainment” was more than just CGI or the latest vlog on Youtube. From the moment you step into the lobby of the theater one is surrounded by both the warmth of holiday decorations and posters from the era reminding you to “Buy War Bonds For Victory!” Read more...

'The Producers' a raucous, riotous evening at MunOpCo

It's not often you get to enjoy a horrible play.

But that is exactly what the cast and crew of Munopco's “The Producers” strive for with their production of Mel Brook's hit musical “The Producers” currently playing at the Scottish Rite Cathedral through September 25th.

If you are a fan of the 1968 Mel Brooks' movie (which I am) the musical will seem familiar to you – but this does not detract from the amusement and pure joy the actors on stage put into every aspect of the show.

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Stage News

Winners announced in Original Playwright Series contest

Each year the Shawnee Playhouse encourages local playwrights to submit their original and unpublished works for a chance to win our annual Shawnee Original Playwright Series contest.

This spring, each submission was read by volunteer actors over several weeks. The public was invited to listen to the readings of the original plays and had a chance to vote and comment on each work. When our Executive Committee reviewed the ratings, the tabulations revealed that three plays scored closely, so it was decided all three full length winners as well as the six short play winners would be produced and performed by Worthington Players in 2016. Read more...

Shawnee Playhouse readings of contest entries

Each year, Worthington Players produces and performs an original work at Shawnee Playhouse by an area playwright, chosen by our Executive Committee from among submissions received in an open contest.

Stage readings are held in the playhouse to help determine the winner.

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Crew Calls

Call for Director Applications at Pa Playhouse

Pennsylvania Playhouse is accepting applications for director of their 2017 Christmas show "The Happy Elf" by Harry Connick, Jr.

Performances are scheduled Dec. 1 through Dec. 17, 2017.

To apply to direct please forward your contact information and a resume of your theatrical experience (particularly directorial experience) to Beth Breiner at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Deadline to submit applications: Oct. 27, 2017.

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Upcoming Shows

Muhlenberg's 'Master Choreographers' concert in February

Allentown, Pa. (Jan. 11, 2017) — The Muhlenberg College dance program will showcase two iconic re-stagings and one original piece from three world-renowned choreographers, as well as four world-premiere works by accomplished returning contributors, in its annual "Master Choreographers" concert, Feb. 9-11.

This year's "Master Choreographers" features restagings of "Radical Severance," choreographed by Cristina Perera, and "When We Fly," choreographed by Orion Duckstein. The concert also features an original balletic piece, "Without Words," by Trinette Singleton, as well as new works by four Muhlenberg dance faculty: Heidi Cruz-Austin, alumna of the Pennsylvania Ballet; Shelley Oliver, director of Shelley Oliver Tap Dancers; Randall Anthony Smith, répétiteur and assistant to choreographer Donald McKayle; and Jeffrey Peterson, former dancer with Danny Buraczeski's Jazz dance.

"This concert presents a spectacular evening of dance," says Karen Dearborn, founding director of Muhlenberg's dance program, and the concert's artistic director. "We are thrilled to showcase new work from Trinette Singleton and guest works by Cristina and Orion, as well as our fabulous faculty choreographers."

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Touchstone Theatre presents Jakopa’s Punch Bowl A concert fundraiser in support of its upcoming summer street theatre spectacular

BETHLEHEM, PA – Touchstone Theatre presents a new concert fundraiser entitled Jakopa’s Punch Bowl on Saturday, February 18 from 7-10pm at the Charles A. Brown Ice House. This Mardi Gras-themed evening of eclectic music by three local bands, New Orleans-style lite fare, beer, and wine supports Touchstone’s upcoming The Jakopa’s Punch Processional, an outdoor, free-to-the-public, spectacle-based performance premiering summer 2017.

The Jakopa’s Punch Processional summer show—a part circus, part rock concert, part parade, and part puppet show outdoor spectacle—follows the musician characters from the Jakopa’s Punch band in a traveling performance running along the South Bethlehem Greenway behind Touchstone’s home theatre. The Processional premieres July 14-15, 2017 and promises to be an adventure unlike any other.

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Lehigh Valley performance premiere “What Lies Within: Dancing with Race and Identity” promotes racial understanding and healing Artistic Direction by Sarah Carlson & Chloe Cole Wilson

2016) — The IceHouse Tonight presents “What Lies Within: Dancing with Race and Identity”, a collaborative performance by DanceLink and Basement Poetry at the Bethlehem Ice House on Friday and Saturday, February 10 & 11th at 8pm. Sarah Carlson and Chloe Cole-Wilson, the Artistic Directors of DanceLink and Basement Poetry respectively, team up to create an original performance that unpacks the complex issues of racial identity and injustice. Tickets are $20/$15 student (cash or check at the door) Reservations recommended: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

In an age of increasing societal division, "What Lies Within" seeks to explore identity, examine oppression and initiate conversations that lead towards racial understanding and healing. The show will involve a mix of improvisational movement and poetry that arises from creatively unpacking the question of race and racial injustice from within a mixed race community. Live musicians Moe Jerant and Vernon Mobley will accompany the program.

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Touchstone presents new work: The Complete and Authoritative Tour of Holy Stuff

BETHLEHEM, PA – Touchstone Theatre presents a new one-woman show by Ensemble Member Emma Ackerman, entitled The Complete and Authoritative Tour of Holy Stuff.

The show is an abstract exploration of the varied things we consider holy in our lives and runs March 2-12, 2017 in Touchstone’s home theatre on the South Side of Bethlehem.

Part performance art, part post-modern ritual, part magical mystery tour, Holy Stuff originated in 2015 as a ten-minute workshop performance for Ackerman’s Masters dissertation project.

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Fall in Love All Over Again at the Pines!

Allentown, Pa. – The Pines Dinner Theatre, 448 N 17th St, Allentown, will be presenting I Love You, You're Perfect Now Change  February 10 through March 19, 2017.

Pines Dinner Theatre continues its 2017 season bringing Off-Broadway's award winning and second-longest running musical I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change to the stage.

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