Reviews

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...

Muhlenberg scores with a smart, thoughtful, moving, and well-done production of "Sunday in the Park with George"

Muhlenberg College has staged a smart, thoughtful and moving musical with its well-done production of Stephen Sondheim's "Sunday in the Park with George."

This visually fascinating musical is brought to life with outstanding performances by the cast which tackles Sondheim's demanding music with aplomb.

Director James Peck has tied together the various parts into a ultimately satisfying whole.

The show, Sondheim's love letter to the challenges of creating art, is inspired by the French post-Impressionist painter Georges Seurat's painting "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte," which is recreated on the stage.

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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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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.

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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Compelling rendition of 'The Miracle Worker' at Pa Playhouse

Set in the hazy countryside of post-Civil War Alabama, William Gibson's classic story about Helen Keller and her teacher, Annie Sullivan, is sure to warm the heart. Pennsylvania Playhouse’s production of Gibson’s script does not fail to deliver.

The play depicts the turmoil of a family in need of a miracle – both for their seemingly-unreachable daughter, and for their own tired, worn-down selves. What they do not bargain for, however, is when this miracle shows up on their doorstep in the form of a stubborn, tenacious young woman intent on teaching Helen to speak for herself.

Both Hannah Kurczeski as Helen and Jenna McBreen as Annie are extremely well cast. The prolonged physical struggles between the two characters and their efforts to physically communicate are fascinating to watch, not to mention (I’m sure) challenging to portray. One of the best scenes in the play is a long segment between the two characters in which McBreen (Annie) attempts to get Kurczeski (Helen) to remain seated at her place at the dinner table and to use a spoon to eat her dinner; almost no words are spoken throughout the entire scene, but every intention is clear. It is at these moments that the play really comes alive, and we begin to “see” the world from Helen’s point of view. Our sense of verbal communication as primary falls away, and we begin to understand meaning in different terms. One could say that by the end of the play, the audience finds their own “miracle”: as Helen learns to understand the concept of communication in words, we begin to understand the concept of communication without them.

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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?

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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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