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CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Pan (Jp Jordan), CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Pan (Jp Jordan), "The Pan Show: In Pan We Trust," Oct. 4 -13, Touchstone Theatre, Bethlehem.

Mr. 'Pan' goes to Touchstone

Wednesday, October 3, 2012 by PAUL WILLISTEIN Focus Editor in Focus

Pan traveled halfway around the world for Touchstone Theatre's latest paean to Pan.

"The Pan Show: In Pan We Trust," a musical political satire featuring the Greek god Pan, premieres Thursdays through Saturday nights, Oct. 4 -13, Touchstone Theatre, 321 E. Fourth St., Bethlehem.

Touchstone Artistic Director Jp Jordan again assays the stage as Pan. "The Pan Show: A Cautionary Tale," premiered for Touchstone's 2010-'11 season. Jordan and Touchstone Ensemble Affiliate Christopher Shorr, in his fifth year running Moravian College's theater program, wrote both "Pan" shows.

Recalls Jordan: "As soon as we finished the first one ['Pan' show], Chris and I sat down and said, 'Where does Pan go from here?' We went to our normal writing spot, which is Hometown Heroes [a north side Bethlehem restaurant]."

So, Pan, aka Jordan, along with Shorr, headed east.

Says Shorr, "Last May [2011], Jp and I traveled to Central and Eastern Europe to attend several theater festivals. We were in Romania, Bolivia, Hungary, Czech Republic. In addition to seeing a lot of great theater, we also got steeped in the history of regime change.

"I have a history with that part of the world," Shorr says. "I lived and worked in Prague. I've sent productions to a theater festival in Romania and worked with a theater company in Serbia.

"When we came back," Shorr continues, "we were thinking about all of the political changes, various leaders, dictators, presidents. And we started thinking about that in terms of 'Pan,' and wondering how we might tell a story about the American political system through that lens."

A grant from Moravian backed Shorr's travels. Touchstone professional development funds backed Jp, who notes, "Touchstone is looking at 2014 with the possibility of having an international theater festival in Bethlehem. We're talking with key partners and writing grants to make that happen."

The storyline for "In Pan We Trust," says Shorr, who is directing, is that "a coalition of nations decides to try to liberate America, and recruits Pan to lead the charge."

Returning from the first "Pan" show are Touchstone General Manager Emma Chong and former Touchstone Apprentice Zach Kanner. Also in multiple roles are Touchstone Apprentices Kayla Prestel, Kathryn Krull, Gary Warren and Kyle Lewis.

There's recorded original music by Jp and Shorr, along with animation by Alexander Clare in the one hour, 30 min. (with no intermission) six-person show.

"It's a pretty direct political satire," says Shorr. "We're not lampooning specific candidates, but we are sending up the political party system. This has a much stronger political undercurrent [than the first "Pan' show], but retains the same comic sensibilities.

"We're confident that we're going to deliver a very good time for the audience," Shorr says.

In keeping with the show's "party," political or not, atmosphere, a Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board special events license allows serving adult beverages at the show, which is recommended for mature audiences.