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.

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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.

"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

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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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Stuck on 'Crazy Glue'

Touchstone Theatre’s latest presentation is not one of their original productions, but it is a lively representation of the rituals of courtship and marriage.

Crazy Glue, based on a short story by Etgar Keret, was created and performed by Single Shoe Theatre Productions, the off-spring of Filipa Tomas and Bradley Wayne Smith in partnership with The Nursery Theatre, Blue Elephant Theatre, OvalHouse, Marine Theatre and The Pleasance Theatre with support from the National Lottery through Arts Council England. The show has toured in the UK, Germany and Bulgaria and is currently roaming the United States

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Upcoming Shows

Touchstone presents Happenstance Theater in their original show BrouHaHa

Bethlehem, PA - Touchstone Theatre kicks off 2018 with award-winning guest company Happenstance Theater from Washington, D.C. Their show, an absurdist romp entitled BrouHaHa, plays on Touchstone’s stage February 1-4, 2018.

The existential escapade of BrouHaHa follows a troupe of six clowns walking the precipice at the end of the world with pathos and levity. Along the way, they sing, tumble, serve drinks, and find moments of connection. This original show devised by the actors of Happenstance takes its inspiration partly from the dark comedy of Irish playwright Samuel Beckett, famous for his play Waiting for Godot, and from Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini’s late Neorealist-derived film about circus performers, La Strada, as well as Greek mythology, images of fleeing refugees, and Victorian-inspired aesthetics. The show runs 75 minutes with no intermission and will include a brief post-performance talkback with the performers.

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Pocono Mountains Theater Company announces new venue partnerships for performances of Jessica Dickey's "Row After Row" in May in Bethlehem

Mountainhome, PA (1/12/2018) – Pocono Mountains Theater Company has confirmed three performances of Jessica Dickey's "Row After Row" have been booked at Red Stag Pub in Bethlehem. Performances at the Red Stag pub will be Tuesday evenings at 7 PM, May 8th, 15th and 22nd. Row After Row will be the 1st production of PMTC's 2018 season. Red Stag Pub is in addition to the previously announced performances at Siamsa Irish Pub in Stroudsburg. Other venues in Milford, Delaware Water Gap, and Buck Hill Falls are in Development.

Row After Row tells the story of two hard-core Civil War re-enactors who have their traditional post-Gettysburg beer interrupted by a woman with her own battle scars. Straddling 1863 and today, Row After Row is a dark comedy about choosing your cause and finding your courage.

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