Reviews

Audience warmly embraces DCP's 'Miracle on 34th Street'

The only character missing from the 'Miracle on 34th Street' motion picture that we've all seen countless times on cable during the holiday season over the years is that figure in the white vestments who climbs into the pulpit on Christmas eve and reads verses from Isaiah Chapter 9.

But nevertheless you are unlikely to hear a more blatantly Christian sermon than this engaging parable of an eccentric man in a white beard who seems to believe good will and acts of kindness still have currency in our grubby little world.

Although it's challenging ever to top the devilish lack of charm of that department store Santa in Jean Shepherd's insistently secular 'A Christmas Story' who plants his heavy black boot squarely on little Ralphie's face and propels the crestfallen child down the fateful chute of glittery capitalism, this play is a safer and more reassuring gamble for those who understandably choose to cling to the promise of faith, hope, and charity.

Actually, you won't be gambling at all when you see DCP Theatre's stage adaptation of 'Miracle', if the audience huddled together in that cozy, rebuilt auction house in Telford, PA for this enduring little tale last Friday evening is a fair barometer of its appeal. 

Packed is a more telling word than 'huddled' because that place seems never to lack row after vacuum-sealed row of enthusiastic and devoted patrons who had no trouble expressing their simple pleasure and unbridled joy from the first minute of the show.

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Munopco's 'White Christmas' a merry, foot-tapping celebration of all things right and good

Munopco's production of the stage adaptation of Irving Berlin's "White Christmas", currently playing at Scottish Rites Cathedral in Allentown, PA, is a merry, foot-tapping celebration of all things right and bright about our regional musical theater scene.... hordes of seasoned singers and enthusiastic dancers thundering, with novice performers firmly in tow, across an expansive, colorfully lit stage while lobbing nothing but good cheer into a house of 700 clapping hands, 350 smiling faces, and an equally respectable number of genuine laughs.

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Harry Connick Jr.'s jazz-flavored musical "The Happy Elf" comes to colorful life at Pa Playhouse

Harry Connick Jr.'s jazz-flavored musical "The Happy Elf" comes to colorful life on stage at Pennsylvania Playhouse.

The Grammy-winning singer-songwriter wrote the song "The Happy Elf" in 2003 which became the inspiration for his musical comedy which debuted in 2012 at Pennsylvania Youth Theatre. Bill Mutimer who directed that first production, is back for the show's return to the Lehigh Valley.

The show features a backing track with Connick's voice as the narrator and accompaniment by Connick's band. Unfortunately the night we attended there were technical problems with the recording towards the end, but the cast gamely sang acapella.

The story follows Eubie, the titular happy elf who wants to be part of Santa's sleigh team and help deliver presents. When he discovers everyone in a town called Bluesville is on the naughty list, he decided it will impress Santa if her can bring them over the the nice list.

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"Peter and the Starcatcher" at DeSales University is a wildly inventive production

Act 1's "Peter and the Starcatcher" at DeSales University is a wildly inventive production filled with whimsical performances that provide non-stop laughs.

The play with music is based on based on the 2004 children's book "Peter and the Starcatchers" by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, which was a prequel to J.M. Barrie's "Peter Pan."

James "Bo" Sayre steals the show as the pirate Black Stache, who will one day become Captain Hook. Sayre plays the character in a hilariously over-the-top fashion,  complete with an outrageous oversized stuck-on mustache. His stentorian delivery commands the stage and he gets many of the funniest lines, which he delivers with glee.

The show relies heavily on word play for much of its humor and it ranges from sophisticated to juvenile. Puns abound and Black Stache habitually mispronounces words to humorous effect. He is ably aided by his partner in crime "Smee" played with great comedic timing by Kailey Edwards.

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Cedar Crest's delightful "Charlotte's Web" faithful to the book

"Charlotte's Web" is a beloved childhood story and Cedar Crest College Performing Art's production of a full-length play last weekend, stays true to the original 1952 book from which it is adapted.

The enchanting tale about an unlikely friendship between a little pig and a spider has touched hearts over the years and this production continues that tradition.

Kiana Clarke hits all the right notes as Charlotte the spider "who is a true friend and a good writer," making her gentle, kind and clever as she moves quietly and smoothly around her web in the barn.

Alexis Macatangay is her physical opposite as a boisterous, playful and fun-loving Wilbur. Macatangay embodies the little pig from enthusiastic grunts and snorts to running energetically around the pen.

Giselle Tavarez is determined and heartfelt as Fern, the little girl "up before dawn, ridding the world of injustice" who saves the runt pig from her father's hatchet. Read more...

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.

Read more...

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.

Audience warmly embraces DCP's 'Miracle on 34th Street'

The only character missing from the 'Miracle on 34th Street' motion picture that we've all seen countless times on cable during the holiday season over the years is that figure in the white vestments who climbs into the pulpit on Christmas eve and reads verses from Isaiah Chapter 9.

But nevertheless you are unlikely to hear a more blatantly Christian sermon than this engaging parable of an eccentric man in a white beard who seems to believe good will and acts of kindness still have currency in our grubby little world.

Although it's challenging ever to top the devilish lack of charm of that department store Santa in Jean Shepherd's insistently secular 'A Christmas Story' who plants his heavy black boot squarely on little Ralphie's face and propels the crestfallen child down the fateful chute of glittery capitalism, this play is a safer and more reassuring gamble for those who understandably choose to cling to the promise of faith, hope, and charity.

Actually, you won't be gambling at all when you see DCP Theatre's stage adaptation of 'Miracle', if the audience huddled together in that cozy, rebuilt auction house in Telford, PA for this enduring little tale last Friday evening is a fair barometer of its appeal. 

Packed is a more telling word than 'huddled' because that place seems never to lack row after vacuum-sealed row of enthusiastic and devoted patrons who had no trouble expressing their simple pleasure and unbridled joy from the first minute of the show.

Read more...

Cedar Crest's delightful "Charlotte's Web" faithful to the book

"Charlotte's Web" is a beloved childhood story and Cedar Crest College Performing Art's production of a full-length play last weekend, stays true to the original 1952 book from which it is adapted.

The enchanting tale about an unlikely friendship between a little pig and a spider has touched hearts over the years and this production continues that tradition.

Kiana Clarke hits all the right notes as Charlotte the spider "who is a true friend and a good writer," making her gentle, kind and clever as she moves quietly and smoothly around her web in the barn.

Alexis Macatangay is her physical opposite as a boisterous, playful and fun-loving Wilbur. Macatangay embodies the little pig from enthusiastic grunts and snorts to running energetically around the pen.

Giselle Tavarez is determined and heartfelt as Fern, the little girl "up before dawn, ridding the world of injustice" who saves the runt pig from her father's hatchet.

Read more...

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.

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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.

Read more...

Upcoming Shows

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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'Moving Stories' dance concert showcases innovative work by student choreographers in a nationally acclaimed program

Allentown, Pa. (Oct. 25, 2017) — Muhlenberg 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. 9-11 in the College's Baker Theatre.

Artistic Director Randall Anthony Smith says the program will generate "deep conversations about the complexities of being human."

"These choreographers are not only taking risks with their unique creative perspectives as artists, but also are challenging audiences to look beyond the moving body," Smith says.

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Concert production of Sondheim's 'Sweeney Todd' at Cedar Crest

A concert production of Stephen Sondheim's dark musical masterpiece "Sweeney Todd" will be presented at 2 and 7 p.m. Nov. 18 at Cedar Crest College's Samuels Theatre in Allentown, PA.

The production, being billed as a concert event, is the first time the Friends of Cedar Crest Performing Arts will present a full-length musical. FCCPA, a group formed to support the performing arts at the college, has previously presented musical concerts involving both students and the community.

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Christmas City Follies XVIII in December

Bethlehem, PA - Touchstone Theatre presents the latest in their Christmas City Follies series, the theatre's annual holiday-themed vaudeville show, filled with jolly mischief, merry melodies, and holiday cheer.

Christmas City Follies XVIII runs November 30 - December 22, 2017 at Touchstone's home theatre at 321 East Fourth Street in Southside Bethlehem.

A favorite of Lehigh Valley residents past and present, many locals and tourists alike have come to count Christmas City Follies as part of their holiday tradition, coming out to Touchstone's cozy black box theatre for an evening of original sketches, characters, songs, and more.

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Munopco presenting 'White Christmas' in December

Family holiday classic brings singing, dancing and lots of holiday cheer to the MunOpCo stage. 

Munopco Theatre Company is excited to present its 2017 holiday show, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas . The musical will run Dec. 2nd and 9th at 8:00PM and Dec.3rd and 10th at 2:00PM. Tickets for the holiday classic can be purchased online at: https://app.arts-people.com/index.php?ticketing=munop

 Based on the 1954 Technicolor film starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen, this sparkling musical will dazzle audiences with big dance numbers and the unforgettable music of Irving Berlin. Veterans Bob Wallace and Phil Davis have a successful song-and-dance act.

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Harry Connick, Jr.'s 'The Happy Elf' at Pa Playhouse

The Pennsylvania Playhouse is thrilled to present the holiday musical The Happy Elf, running Friday, December 1st through the 17th.

The Happy Elf is a musical comedy by the Grammy Award-winning and Tony Award-nominated composer and lyricist, Harry Connick, Jr.

The Happy Elf tells the tale of Eubie the Elf, a lovable fellow who wants to spread Christmas joy throughout the town of Bluesville.

Eubie, the happiest elf at the North Pole, longs to be a part of Santa's sleigh team.

Instead, he's stuck checking the naughty-or-nice lists.

Then, one Christmas Eve, he finds that in the whole town of Bluesville not a single person has been nice! Can he turn a whole town of naughty children nice in just one day?

Read more...

Series of short plays to feature classic Ionesco play, world-premiere coming-of-age superhero comedy, on Muhlenberg's Studio Theatre stage, Nov. 29 – Dec. 3

Allentown, Pa. (Nov. 15, 2017) — Muhlenberg's Theatre & Dance Department continues its "New Voices / New Visions" series Nov 29 through Dec. 3, with an evening of short experimental productions. The series showcases the talents of up-and-coming playwrights and directors, in a venue that encourages artistic risk-taking and experimentation.

In this edition, Brydon Geisler directs Eugène Ionesco's iconic absurdist play "The Bald Soprano." Irene Martinko directs "Conform," a world premiere play by Joe McNaney about a teenager with Tourette Syndrome and superhero fantasies.

In "The Bald Soprano," what begins as a thoroughly mundane conversation between two couples devolves into a struggle to stay sane. Ionesco's iconic 1950 masterpiece depicts a shifting reality, in which secrets are revealed and time is ultimately an illusion.

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