Reviews

Act 1's "Godspell" entertaining and satisfying

Act 1's second show of the season at DeSales University is the extremely entertaining and satisfying "Godspell" presented in the intimate Schubert Theatre, a perfect place for this audience-encompassing musical.

The staging of "Godspell" written by "Wicked's" Stephen Schwarz, leaves a lot open to interpretation and director Andrew Kane has crafted a clever and memorable version of this production.

The show which strings together parables and songs based on the gospel according to St. Matthew kicks off with the not-always-done prologue of "Tower of Babble" in which the actors skillfully deliver snippets of philosophies which ultimately descend into a cacophony of counterpoint.

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Intrigue and schemes punctuate historical drama "Lion in Winter"

The intrigues of the 12th century British royals comes to life in "Lion in Winter," a historical drama on stage at Pennsylvania Playhouse through Oct. 22.

The interesting play by James Goldman puts Henry II of England, his estranged and imprisoned wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry's three ambitious sons and his young mistress all together for the holidays at the Plantagenet household.

As you can imagine, tempers flare and plotting is constantly a foot. Read more...

Strong performances make for a memorable "The Secret Garden"

A lovely and uplifting production of the beloved Broadway musical "The Secret Garden" opens Civic Theatre's 90th anniversary season, with a talented cast presenting the show's trademark soaring vocals through Oct. 22 at the Allentown theater.

The production is visually attractive and very well done with powerful performances and strong voices.

Gabrielle Vecciarelli is wonderful as 10-year-old Mary Lennox. Her acting is excellent and her singing is very good as well in the role which is on stage for much of the show.

She especially shines in the early scenes as the angry, entitled young girl who has been suddenly orphaned and sent to live with her uncle Archibald Craven in a lonely and haunted house on the British moors.

Vecciarelli's Mary slowly opens up to the people around her in a natural and completely believable fashion giving the show its emotional center.

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Cedar Crest's "Runaways" powerful and devastating

Heartbreaking and pulsing with energy, Elizabeth Swados's "Runaways" still resonates 30 years after it was first staged at Cedar Crest College in 1987.

All the anger, angst and pain of the damaged title characters are on display in unflinching honesty in the show on stage last weekend at the college's Samuel Theater. "Runaways" most resembles a review, except while there is no linear story to tie it all together, all the characters are young teens who have left difficult home situations for a life on the streets.

The performers move almost as one, as they cavort around the stage which uses scaffolding and graffiti to create a sort of urban jungle gym designed by Roxanne Amico. Director Domenick Scudera has the cast, made up of of Cedar Crest college students as well as some young community members are in constant movement - climbing, running and playing throughout the show as one by one they come forward to tell their stories in song, monologue and verse in a colorful musical collage.

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Act 1 delivers fun, engaging whodunit with "Murder on the Nile"

A plot with plenty of twists and turns, coupled with an entertaining and well-acted cast of characters keep audiences engaged in Agatha Christie's whodunit "Murder on the Nile"at Act 1 at DeSales University through Oct. 8.

An evocative set, lush costumes and crisp direction by Steven Dennis contribute to an enjoyable evening of theater to open Act 1's 48th season.

Dennis has configured the three-act play into a more manageable two-act format with two scenes each. The story is based on Christies 1937 novel "Death on The Nile," which was made into a play in 1944. However Christie, who had tired of her popular detective character Hercule Poirot, wrote him out of the play and replaced him with the sleuthing, although somewhat shady clergyman named Ambrose Pennefeather. The characters also speak a number of different accents including British, Scottish, Irish, French, Egyptian and one of uncertain origins. At times some of the accents are a little difficult to follow, but for the most part are successful, thanks to dialect coach Kathy Logelin.

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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.

Intrigue and schemes punctuate historical drama "Lion in Winter"

The intrigues of the 12th century British royals comes to life in "Lion in Winter," a historical drama on stage at Pennsylvania Playhouse through Oct. 22.

The interesting play by James Goldman puts Henry II of England, his estranged and imprisoned wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry's three ambitious sons and his young mistress all together for the holidays at the Plantagenet household.

As you can imagine, tempers flare and plotting is constantly a foot.

Read more...

Act 1 delivers fun, engaging whodunit with "Murder on the Nile"

A plot with plenty of twists and turns, coupled with an entertaining and well-acted cast of characters keep audiences engaged in Agatha Christie's whodunit "Murder on the Nile"at Act 1 at DeSales University through Oct. 8.

An evocative set, lush costumes and crisp direction by Steven Dennis contribute to an enjoyable evening of theater to open Act 1's 48th season.

Dennis has configured the three-act play into a more manageable two-act format with two scenes each. The story is based on Christies 1937 novel "Death on The Nile," which was made into a play in 1944. However Christie, who had tired of her popular detective character Hercule Poirot, wrote him out of the play and replaced him with the sleuthing, although somewhat shady clergyman named Ambrose Pennefeather. The characters also speak a number of different accents including British, Scottish, Irish, French, Egyptian and one of uncertain origins. At times some of the accents are a little difficult to follow, but for the most part are successful, thanks to dialect coach Kathy Logelin.

Read more...

APT's "Wendy" a playful fresh take on "Peter Pan"

"Wendy, An Adventure in Neverland" Allentown Public Theatre's children's show at St. Luke's Lutheran Church in Allentown turns the story of "Peter Pan" on its ear while still staying true to the playful imagination of childhood.

The original play written by members of APT gives families a head strong main character in Anna Russell's Wendy, who drives the narrative of the story rather than just following Peter Pan around. Russell also directs.

In this version written by Russell, Aaron Fischer, Louise Howard and Willow Reichard-Flynn, Wendy runs away from home (or rather flies away) with Peter after having a fight with her mother, played by Howard.

The playwrights decided to base the play on the very imagination that "Peter Pan" author J. M. Barrie strived to evoke. The set is very simple - only a panel covered with handprints and a a window with a shade that serves as a screen for shadow puppets.

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Players of the Stage's 'Doubt' is a beautifully underplayed triumph

Players of the Stage's production of John Patrick Shanley's 'Doubt', which ran for three days recently at Relevant Church in Allentown, PA, rose and raced but never tripped on the cassock tails of Brian Wendt's beautifully drawn and infinitely disturbing portrayal of Father Flynn, a Bronx parish priest whose private interactions with a young male student furrow the brow of Sister Aloysius, principal at the St. Nicholas School over which Flynn presides.

The never-seen child under discussion happens to be the first black schoolboy admitted to St. Nicholas, and his presence seems to have unleashed all kinds of inhospitable behavior in pupils and staff. His purported effeminacy has even resulted in a beating from his father, much to the heartbreak and helpless anger of his mother.

The staunchly traditional educator, Sister Aloysius, however, sees in the child's suffering, and in the attention paid him by the priest, an opportunity to ward off what she perceives as Flynn's overly progressive mandates.

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Torchlight outwrestles LaBute with sassy 'Some Girl(s)' at Unicorn Theatre

"Some Girl(s)", now playing at chummy Unicorn Theatre in Catasauqua, is a reedy, often tedious, seldom funny, but ultimately irresistible comedy staged with unbridled presumption and  panache by Torchlight Players, one of the many newer troupes to raise its curtain in the Lehigh Valley.

One can think of no good reason any company's selection committee would choose this particularly sordid Neil LaBute tale to showcase its foolhardy young cast.  The play is relentlessly wordy, redundant, and monophonic.  Its lead character is utterly unsympathetic.  The entire affair is doggedly misanthropic.

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Forge Theatre's 'Equus' a precise, concise, and exacting production

Sitting through Forge Theatre's presentation of 'Equus' in Phoenixville on opening night was a harrowing experience, and one can assume that was the company's intention, given that everything about the staging of this play was concise, precise, and exacting.

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Upcoming Shows

Muhlenberg College's Theatre & Dance Department announces the 2017-2018 Mainstage season.

Allentown, Pa. (Aug. 25, 2017) —Muhlenberg College's Theatre & Dance Department announces the 2017-2018 Mainstage season. Running from September through April, the season features six theatrical productions and three dance concerts, including several world premieres.

The season begins Sept. 27 with "New Voices / New Visions" Part 1. Three talented senior directing students will take the helm for an evening of visionary, experimental theater. The evening includes two world premieres: "How I Wonder," by Ashley Malafronte '17 and Kate O'Donoghue '17, directed by Drew Maidment '18; and "In Finite Potential," by Esther Kruman '18, directed by Peri Ganbarg '18. Also on the program: "187" by José Rivera and "Shadow Day" by Steven Dietz, both directed by Genevieve Wall '18. The production runs Sept. 27 – Oct. 2 in the Studio Theatre.

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"THE LION IN WINTER" ROARS INTO THE PENNSYLVANIA PLAYHOUSE!

It's Christmas 1183, and King Henry II is planning to announce his successor to the throne.
 
The jockeying for the crown, though, is complex.
 
Henry has three sons and wants his boy Prince John to take over.
 
Henry's wife, Queen Eleanor, believes their son Prince Richard should be king. Add to this their third son Geoffrey who plots and schemes for his own advantages.
 
Henry has had Eleanor imprisoned for the last ten years since her last failed civil war attempt and his since fallen in love with the young Alais - sister to the King of France - who is attending the Christmas Court to insist on her marriage to Richard (as was promised) or her dowry back. Read more...

"ACT ONE" coming to The IceHouse in October

     Crowded Kitchen Players presents "ACT ONE'  the magical and inspiring tale of young Moss Hart, opening October 13th.  

     Hart was the son of immigrants who lived in a cramped and dilapidated Bronx boarding house in the late 1920s.  He quit school and worked multiple low-paying, futureless jobs to support his extended family. Through sheer force of will, raw talent, and a refusal to surrender his dreams of a playwrighting career, he rose almost overnight from complete anonymity to the very top of the theater world!

    'ACT ONE' is adapted by James Lapine from Hart's incomparable autobiography of the same name and provides a light-hearted yet at times gut-wrenching look at a life in the theater during depression-era America.

   Ara Barlieb directs the Crowded Kitchen Players cast which includes: Ryan McNamara, Brian Wendt, David "Oz" Oswald, Trish Cipoletti, Judy Evans, Ethan Silver, Max Wetherhold, Bruce Brown, Stephanie Steigerwalt, Carla Thew, Tom Harrison,  Susan Burnette, Ryan Lichty and Alexandra Racines.

    "ACT ONE" - October 13, 14, 20 & 21 at 8pm and October 15 & 22 at 2pm at The Charles A. Brown IceHouse, Sand Island, 56 River Street, Bethlehem, PA

   Tickets: $18, Seniors $14, Students $10 

    For tickets, please visit www.ckplayers.com, call 610-395-7176, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

DCP's 'The Neverending Story' opens October 13

DCP's Family Theatre production of The Neverending Story opens October 13th and runs till October 22nd.

The story begins with Bastian, a lonely boy, who stumbles into a bookshop where he discovers a curious book—The Neverending Story.

Bastian hides in the attic of his school and begins to read, and a huge adventure surges into life.

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THIS IS CABARET! A Nightmare Before Christmas Inspired Cabaret

ALLENTOWN, PA - The Nightmare Before Christmas is a 1993 American stop-motion animated musical dark fantasy film directed by Henry Selick, and produced and conceived by Tim Burton. It tells the story of Jack Skellington, a resident from "Halloween Town" who stumbles through a portal to "Christmas Town" and decides to celebrate the holiday, with some dastardly and comical consequences.

Star of the Day's Spotlight Cabaret has been a mainstay of downtown Allentown for nearly ten years. This is Cabaret will include nine, talented singers from the Lehigh Valley and beyond bringing the music from this popular movie to the Allentown Brew Works High Gravity Lounge. Fully costumed, the cast will narrate their way through the music to tell Jack Skellington's tale. Nine singers will portray more than two dozen characters from the movie.

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Reading Community Players and First Street Players present 'The Rocky Horror Show'

Reading Community Players along with First Street Players in a collaboration of two theater's will be bringing to stage on October 20, 21, 27, & 28 The Rocky Horror Show in the Birdsboro Community theater.

RCP  will be having six showings. Four at 8:00pm on Friday and Saturday and Two midnight shows on the Saturdays. The show will have a cast of 20 Rocky Horror enthusiasts and experienced thespians to delight you with their version of RH.

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Muhlenberg presents 'Sunday in the Park with George' in late October

Allentown, PA (Oct. 12, 2017) — "Sunday in the Park with George," Stephen Sondheim's rarely produced musical about art and artists, based on a famous painting by Georges Seurat, opens Oct. 27 on the Muhlenberg College stage. Winner of the 1985 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, "Sunday in the Park" is "perhaps the most intimate and personal work of Sondheim's career," says director James Peck.

The show runs Oct. 27 through Nov. 5 in the college's Empie Theatre. Sondheim wrote the music and lyrics; James Lapine wrote the book. Tickets and information are available at muhlenberg.edu/theatre

"This musical, I think, is one of Sondheim's masterworks," Peck says, "truly one of the great musicals of the last 30 to 40 years. It looks at the lives of great artists, and artists who are trying to be great, and asks whether they can maintain the rigor and intensity that great art demands without destroying everything else in their lives."

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