Reviews

Hilarious farce "Pints, Pounds & Pilgrims" delivers

An original farce about two different theater companies performing at a festival on a remote island in Ireland is filled with just enough unlikely juxtapositions and absurd situations to keep the audience laughing throughout. It's not many shows that can coherently combine a dog who might become stew, leather bondage-type appare,l and an in-shower rendition of the 1970s song "Afternoon Delight" and have it make a crazy sort of sense and be funny as well.

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Act 1's updated "The Crucible" is intense and thought-provoking

A contemporary flair transforms Act 1's "The Crucible" giving it a modern aesthetic while honoring the Arthur Miller's story based on the actual witch trials which took place in Salem in 1692.
Chilling and still relevant, the show at Desales University in Center Valley follows mass hysteria in the small religious town in Massachusetts.
Steven Dennis directs a talented cast of 21 in the intense and shattering production that seems to fly by.
An industrial-style set bookended by visible scaffolding looming ominously in the background created by scenic designer Will Neuert puts the action in a place and time that could be the 17th century as much as it could be now.

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"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

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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Musical Reviews

"The Nightingale" delightfully blends Bach with puppets

The world premiere of "The Nightingale" Sunday at Zoellner Arts Center in Bethlehem, seemlessly blended puppets and Bach in an utterly charming and engaging interpretation of the Hans Christian Andersen tale.

The Bach Choir Family Concert skillfully brought together the renowned chorale group and four-foot-tall puppets hand carved by Mock Turtle Marionettes for an hour-long show that was delightful from beginning to end.

The concert featured the glorious voices of 40 members of the Bach Choir of Bethlehem as well as 21 members of the Bach Festival Orchestra directed by Greg Funfgeld. Virtuoso recorder player Tricia Van Oers provided the lilting voice of the nightingale on multiple recorders.

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"Once on This Island" colorful and charming by Kathy Lauer-Williams

"Once on This Island," on stage this weekend at Cedar Crest's Samuels Theatre is an ultimately uplifting and enchanting fable that deals with class division, the power of love and sacrifice. Directors JoAnn Wilchek Basist and Robin Gershman have their talented cast make this mythic-feeling tale colorful and festive throughout starting with the energetic opening number "We Dance." The plot - a mash-up of themes from "Romeo and Juliet" and "The Little Mermaid" - is put in motion by four Caribbean gods who are calvalier and meddlesome and who gleefully interfere in the life of the young Ti Moune's as if it is a game.

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Dance, Poetry Make Courageous Conversation in “What Lies Within”

In “What Lies Within,” which opened Friday night at Bethlehem's Ice House, DanceLink and Basement Poetry have collaborated to create an affecting and artful production that addresses issues of racial identity and injustice.

This original work was devised by the entire ensemble. It marries poetic speech and movement to describe bits of personal experience, moments of vulnerability and oppression, and emotions that lie under the skin of this diverse cast.

The pairing is effective, as the (mostly) modern dance gives another dimension to the spoken word.

Dance bridges the poems beautifully, so that one number flows into the next, while giving the audience respite to absorb them.

The poetry is accessible almost without exception, and well articulated. The seventeen poems range from monologue to full-ensemble numbers, with a duet and a sort of Greek-chorus quartet to vary the mix.

Musicians Vernon Mobley on keyboard and Moe Jerant on percussion provide pleasing accompaniment. Read more...

'Chaise Lounge' masterfully mixing music and theater at the highest level

Music reviewers call 'Chaise Lounge' a '"jazz sextet'".

This merry troupe of Washington, D.C.-based vertuosi bills itself, economically, "A cadre of musical pros".

To me, they are theater sublime.

Stripped of its many pretensions, theater is simply a profession. It is driven by a mission. That mission impels it to winnow its way into a venue. That venue needs only four walls, a rack or two of folding chairs, and just enough lights so a paying audience member can see and hear a live, colorfully-frocked performer tell a story with a beginning, middle, and end.

Boy, does that description ever fit these guys!

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PA Playhouse's ''1940s Radio Hour" a delightful holiday treat

What could possibly be entertaining about watching a group of entertainers put on a radio show set in 1940's America?

Everything!

“The 1940's Radio Hour” currently at the Pennsylvania Playhouse takes the audience back to the days when “entertainment” was more than just CGI or the latest vlog on Youtube. From the moment you step into the lobby of the theater one is surrounded by both the warmth of holiday decorations and posters from the era reminding you to “Buy War Bonds For Victory!” 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.

George B. Miller and virtuoso mandolinist Kris Kehr join revival of CKP's acclaimed Irish stage comedy

George B. Miller, co-founder/artistic director of Selkie Theatre at Anam Cara Farm, Allentown, PA and esteemed musician Kris Kehr are returning to the stage as members of the Crowded Kitchen Players ensemble in the revival of their hit Irish comedy 'PINTS POUNDS & PILGRIMS' that will run March 10 through March 19, 2007 at The Unicorn Theatre in Catasauqua, PA.

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Touchstone presents new work: The Complete and Authoritative Tour of Holy Stuff

BETHLEHEM, PA – Touchstone Theatre presents a new one-woman show by Ensemble Member Emma Ackerman, entitled The Complete and Authoritative Tour of Holy Stuff.

The show is an abstract exploration of the varied things we consider holy in our lives and runs March 2-12, 2017 in Touchstone’s home theatre on the South Side of Bethlehem.

Part performance art, part post-modern ritual, part magical mystery tour, Holy Stuff originated in 2015 as a ten-minute workshop performance for Ackerman’s Masters dissertation project.

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Upcoming Shows

Touchstone presents new work: The Complete and Authoritative Tour of Holy Stuff

BETHLEHEM, PA – Touchstone Theatre presents a new one-woman show by Ensemble Member Emma Ackerman, entitled The Complete and Authoritative Tour of Holy Stuff.

The show is an abstract exploration of the varied things we consider holy in our lives and runs March 2-12, 2017 in Touchstone’s home theatre on the South Side of Bethlehem.

Part performance art, part post-modern ritual, part magical mystery tour, Holy Stuff originated in 2015 as a ten-minute workshop performance for Ackerman’s Masters dissertation project.

Read more...

George B. Miller and virtuoso mandolinist Kris Kehr join revival of CKP's acclaimed Irish stage comedy

George B. Miller, co-founder/artistic director of Selkie Theatre at Anam Cara Farm, Allentown, PA and esteemed musician Kris Kehr are returning to the stage as members of the Crowded Kitchen Players ensemble in the revival of their hit Irish comedy 'PINTS POUNDS & PILGRIMS' that will run March 10 through March 19, 2007 at The Unicorn Theatre in Catasauqua, PA.

Read more...

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