East Penn Press

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Creativity discovered anew in Young Playwrights' Lab

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

Instead of teaching to the test, the Young Playwrights' Festival reaches for the stage.

The creative process, the writing and the plays' staging are key to its success, says Mary Wright, Touchstone Theatre Ensemble Associate and Young Playwrights Lab Coordinator:

"With schools' budgets getting cut further and further, anytime the arts can get reintroduced to the schools is a big deal."

Playing here in Allentown

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

Everyone saw it on the program: "Allentown."

And when the time arrived to perform the song which landed Billy Joel on the Top 20 charts and in hot water with Allentown officials, piano man Joe Boucher couldn't have put it better.

"I grew up in a factory town. And when I heard this song, it spoke to me," Boucher said in introducing the song from Billy Joel's 1982 "Nylon Curtain" album that reached No. 17 and charted for six weeks in Billboard.

"The song has had a major place in my heart and it's so great to be here and see that Allentown's thriving," Boucher said.

'Oblivion': Cruise drone-alone

Wednesday, May 8, 2013 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

"Oblivion" is a stunning sci-fi thriller that transports you to another world: Earth in the not two-distant future.

The year is 2077, intones Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) in the prologue. An alien invasion has made the planet uninhabitable, he tells us. Surviving humans have fled to Triton, a moon of Saturn.

Harper is a kind of space-age mechanic. Only, instead of repairing cars, he repairs drones, which have been developed into all-purpose super-fast, super-lethal security forces. The drones are like a three-dimensional Pac-Man and they destroy any targets in their path.

THEATER REVIEW Civic's 'Next to Normal' is anything but

Wednesday, May 8, 2013 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

"Next To Normal" is certainly not your normal musical.

It defies the conventions of traditional Broadway fare in several ways.

"Next to Normal," through May 19, Civic Theatre of Allentown, has very few spoken words of dialogue. The story is advanced through songs 17 in act one and 20 (including five reprises) in act two, for a total of 37 production numbers.

This is about double the number of songs in a typical musical. "Chicago," for example, has 11 songs in act one and seven songs (with no reprises) in act two, for a total of 17 production numbers.

'The Place' for fine acting

Wednesday, May 1, 2013 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

"The Place Beyond The Pines" is a complex drama with three parallel plots telling three interlocking stories. Each is about an individual's choice, and the truth or consequences that result, depending on the choices made.

"Pines" is an indie film crime caper that is of chief interest for its clever if somewhat convoluted screenplay and a bevy of stellar performances by some of the United States' best hot young movie stars.

THEATER REVIEW DeSales Act 1 'Chicago' has all that sass

Wednesday, May 1, 2013 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

"Chicago" is as brash a musical as can be expected to be set in America's second-city, where crime, scandals and front-page newspaper headlines are second to none.

The musical, directed stunningly with that brash spirit by Dennis Razze, chair of theater, DeSales University, and Associate Artistic Director, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, continues 8 p.m. May 1 - 4 and 2 p.m. May 4 and 5 on the main stage, Labuda Center for the Performing Arts, DeSales University, Center Valley.

THEATER REVIEW Touchstone's 'Ulysses Dreams' realized

Wednesday, April 17, 2013 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

Vouchsafe it to say that nothing like Touchstone Theatre's "Ulysses Dreams" was going on when the outdoor theater work was being presented for only its fourth performance April 14 at the Bethlehem Greenway Amphitheater no, not in any park, in any city, anywhere in the United States, or in any nation in the whole wide world.

'JP3D': New life in old dinos

Wednesday, April 17, 2013 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

Why would anyone want to see "Jurassic Park" in 3D when director Steven Spielberg's blockbuster 1993 movie has been available in multiple formats for two decades?

Two words: Steven Spielberg.

And you thought I was going to say: T- Rex.

Oh, T-Rex is big and frightening especially in 3D.

However, T-Rex wouldn't exist in "Jurassic Park" if not for Spielberg, perhaps the United States' best contemporary director who can and does direct all genres (for contrast, see "Lincoln").

"Jurassic Park" is "Jaws" of the jungle.

Doug Roth: The other side of D Smash

Wednesday, April 10, 2013 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

It was Dougie Roth's last show.

And, true to form, it was Dougie's show all the way.

Family members recalled a talent raw and near-genius, a personality at once hilarious and often off-putting and, in the end, a brother, a son, an uncle and brother-in-law who, after being a brother in arms seemingly railing against the world achieved an apotheosis of, if not contentment, then peace with family, friends, and so it seemed, himself.