In Moravian University Theaters production of the coming-of-age musical "The Mad Ones," 18-year-old Samantha Brown grapples with the unknowns of the future.

Its a fitting sentiment for the final show to be produced in the University's Arena Theatre, which will be demolished in January as part of a renovation and expansion of the universitys Haupert Union Building(HUB). The musical runs through through Nov. 19. FINAL

After more than 40 years as the home of Moravians theater students, the Arena Theatre, a small black box theater located in the basement of the HUB, will be removed to make space for an expanded health and counseling center for students.

There is no plan for the university to build another dedicated theater space at this time, says Christopher Shorr, director of theater at Moravian.

"Students have been doing theater at Moravian since 1789. It is part of Moravians heritage," Shorr says. "Just like the character in the musical, theater at Moravian is at a crossroads, facing the unknown. Thats a scary place to be, but its also a place of incredible possibilities. So I think the show is perfect for us at this moment in time."

The Arena Theatre opened in 1981 as the first dedicated space for the Bethlehem schools student theater company. Shorr notes there has been theater at Moravian for nearly 200 years, beginning the first year it became legal to perform plays in Pennsylvania.

In an interview with Moravians student newspaper "The Comenian," university president Bryon Grigsby said the decision was made because the theater program is small and it is not cost effective for the school to support it in the same capacity as other schools with larger theater programs like Muhlenberg College and DeSales University.

"Much of our strengths lie in the facilities we have for STEM, majors like biology, nursing, public health, and health sciences," he told "The Comenian." "As universities need to keep down tuition costs for everyone, it becomes ever more important to focus on what an institution does well with the facilities it has at hand."

Shorr says he will continue to teach theater at Moravian. The schools Master of Fine Arts in Performance Creation offered in conjunction with Touchstone Theater, will not be affected since those students perform mainly at Touchstones South Bethlehem theater.

"Our students will keep doing theater," Shorr says. "I am confident in our students desire to keep something going. We will be finding creative ways to do theater. We will experiment with different spaces and maybe do some performances outside."

Shorr also says there are possibilities for the theater company to perform off campus, such as the the City of Bethlehems Ice House.

He says next semester, a night of one act play readings March 22 and a student cabaret April 19 and 20 will be held in Hearst Hall, a recital space on the universitys south campus.

"There will be plenty of opportunity for performance," Shorr says.

"The Mad Ones," written by Kait Kerrigan and Bree Lowdermilk, tells the story of high school senior Samantha who sits at a crossroads, facing a choice about her future. She is being pulled in different directions by her mother, her boyfriend and her best friend and struggles with the pressure to do the expected and the fear of the unknown.

The 90-minute musical is intimate and nearly sung-through, perfect for the Arena Theatres swan song.

Ava Ferentinos is appealing as Samantha, her high schools valedictorian who has been accepted to Ivy League schools like Harvard and Columbia. Ferentinos ably channels Samanthas angst as she questions her proscribed future, inspired by Jack Kerouacs "On The Road."

Hannah Kolonoski is a burst of irresistible energy as Samanthas free spirit best friend Kelly who encourages her to take chances and throw away the map.

The two performers harmonize well on songs such as "Freedom," "The Made Ones" and "Go Tonight."

As Samanthas high-achieving but paranoid mother, Ry Kral is a domineering presence who struggles to give her daughter the space she needs. Kral is heartfelt on "I Know My Girl" and "Miles to Go."

Sherry Anderson is sweet as Adam, Samanthas loyal and inciteful, but not ambitious boyfriend. Their rendition of the hit song from the show "Run Away With Me," is moving and a highlight of the show.

The set is minimal and director Shorr well utilizes the entire Arena space to tell the story.

A talented orchestra made up of Ryan Anderson, harp; Hailey Belverio, guitar; Karina Bernatowicz , violin and Amal Shokr, piano adds melodic harmonies.

The final show is 2 p.m. Nov. 19.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for seniors. For reservations, email Christopher Shorr: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.