Two things became clear to me in the first few moments of attending “The Lion in Winter” at The Pennsylvania Playhouse, Bethlehem.
First, that some of Bethlehem’s most talented actors were brought in to bring this medieval narrative to life, truly breathing fresh air into some familiar-feeling characters.
Second, The Pennsylvania Playhouse has such a fantastic reputation for a reason.
Director James Peck was always a fan of Stephen Sondheim’s theatrical work, well before he had the chance to present “Sunday in the Park with George,” one of the playwright’s best-known works.
“Sunday in the Park with George” runs Oct. 27 through Nov. 5, Empie Theatre, Baker Center for the Arts, Muhlenberg College, Allentown.
“[Sondheim’s] work has a musical complexity to it that’s rare in theater music,” explains Peck. “Light, rich sounds in a chromatic scale, and the rhythmic structures are complicated.”
Getting into the ‘Act’: Crowded Kitchen Players presents Lehigh Valley debut of drama about Moss Hart, legendary Bucks playwright
For director Ara Barlieb and the Crowded Kitchen Players (CK Players) theater company, “Act One” is a production that everyone wanted to be a part of.
“Like a lot of theater companies, we are drawn to plays about theater,” Barlieb says. “It’s really compelling to do a play about a play.”
Barlieb says that, to the best of his knowledge, “Act One” has never been performed outside of New York City.
For Tyler Connolly, Theory of a Deadman was born from a want to enjoy what life has to offer.
“I don’t know that we knew we had anything. We were just having fun and enjoying music,” says Connolly. “We didn’t play many shows. We just jammed. I had two jobs. We were all just blue-collar dudes getting by, and this was the one thing we could vent our frustrations through.”
Theory of a Deadman performs in concert, 8 p.m. Oct. 13, Sherman Theater, Stroudsburg.
For director William Sanders, choosing “The Secret Garden” as Civic Theatre’s opening production for the theater’s 90th season was a no-brainer.
“Every year we try to find something that is family-friendly, then something that is fun, and then something that would be a little off the beaten path, something a little bit more cutting edge. This [‘Secret Garden’] would be family-friendly,” explains Sanders, Civic Theatre Artistic Director, of how he puts the Civic season together.
For Touchstone artistic director Jp Jordan, the inclusion of “Leaps of Faith and Other Mistakes” into the roster of plays being performed for the 2017-18 season at Touchstone Theater was a no-brainer.
“I’m interested in anything right now that speaks to the goodness of human nature,” Jordan explains. “‘Jakopa’s Processional’ [Touchstone’s summer 2017 outdoors production] spoke to joy and the community.
When Jesse Phillips first met Paul Janeway, it was in the most roundabout of ways.
“He was in an early version of [The Secret Dangers] and I was asked to come in as a substitute player, as someone else couldn’t make it to a performance,” Phillips explains.
“It wasn’t anything initially. He was a nice guy, had a great voice, etcetera. And then we sort of discovered that we had a similar taste in music and became best friends based around that.”
For Tommy Womack, it became clear to him from an early age that music was what made life worthwhile for him.
“At the age of 19 or 20, I decided that if life was gonna suck this bad I was gonna do what I wanted to do, and that was rock ‘n’ roll,” Womack says in a phone interview. “I had no particular talent or knew anyone in the industry, but by the time I finished college, I was determined.”
That’s not to say that this was a stable career choice. Far from it.
As I walked into the Sands Steel Stage area the final day (Aug. 13) of Musikfest in Bethehem, there was electricity in the air, and everyone could feel it. There was a camaraderie to the chatter, a feeling of connection unlike at most other concerts I’ve been to.
Waiting in line for food and drink, other attendees spoke of how the music of Jethro Tull had changed their lives, made them feel at peace. “It takes me to another world,” one person said, a glistening in his eyes, his voice breaking with honesty.
Despite what many are claiming, this year marks Jethro Tull’s 49th anniversary, not its 50th anniversary.
“I come across that all the time. People just seem to want to jump the gun,” says Ian Anderson, lead vocalist, flautist, acoustic guitarist, and founding member of Jethro Tull.
“But honestly, even if it was, this has been just another tour. It’s been just another tour since the beginning. I’m not an anniversary guy. It’s just not on my mind. I don’t think that way.”