East Penn Press

Monday, February 18, 2019
PRESS PHOTO BY PAUL WILLISTEINFrom left: Jacob Williams (Doug), Upper Saucon Township; Marsha Dietlein Bennett (Venus), New York City, and Daniel Roebuck (Bill Jankowski), Los Angeles and Bethlehem native at press conference for the feature film, “Getting Grace.” Roebuck co-wrote, directed and produced “Getting Grace,” which has its Lehigh Valley premiere March 3. PRESS PHOTO BY PAUL WILLISTEINFrom left: Jacob Williams (Doug), Upper Saucon Township; Marsha Dietlein Bennett (Venus), New York City, and Daniel Roebuck (Bill Jankowski), Los Angeles and Bethlehem native at press conference for the feature film, “Getting Grace.” Roebuck co-wrote, directed and produced “Getting Grace,” which has its Lehigh Valley premiere March 3.
PRESS PHOTO BY PAUL WILLISTEINParticipants at “Getting Grace” press conference Jan. 30 at Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts, Bethlehem. PRESS PHOTO BY PAUL WILLISTEINParticipants at “Getting Grace” press conference Jan. 30 at Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts, Bethlehem.

Lehigh Valley ‘Getting Grace’: Daniel Roebuck film premiere to benefit area nonprofits

Friday, February 9, 2018 by Paul Willistein pwillistein@tnonline.com in Focus

The Lehigh Valley is “Getting Grace.”

“Getting Grace,” written, directed and produced by and starring Bethlehem native Daniel Roebuck, will have its Lehigh Valley debut March 3 at three venues in a benefit for several area nonprofits.

Roebuck made the announcement at a Jan. 30 press conference, punctuated by his trademark Roebuckian wit, at Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts, Bethlehem, where he was joined by some of the film’s actors, producers and crew, as well as Lehigh Valley tourism and business officials.

Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber Senior Vice-President for Bethlehem, Lynn Collins Cunningham said nonprofits benefiting from the “multi-venue day-long charity celebration” are the Pediatric Cancer Foundation of the Lehigh Valley, three community-based theaters (The Pennsylvania Playhouse, Civic Theatre of Allentown, MunOpCo) and Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts.

Screenings March 3 will be at the Roxy Theater, Northampton, and SteelStacks and LV Charter Arts, both Bethlehem.

Tammy Roebuck, one of the “Getting Grace” producers and Roebuck’s wife, who was unable to attend the press conference, said in a statement: “Danny really wanted to do something unique for the area and do it in a way that’s never been done before.

“It will be a one-day, multi-venue premiere across the Valley at which everyone who supports the event, and these charities, can walk the red carpet and meet the film’s cast. Essentially, we are bringing the Hollywood experience to Danny’s home town,” stated Tammy Roebuck.

The charity premiere includes original music featured on the film’s soundtrack performed by area musicians who created it.

At the press conference in the black box theater at LV Charter Arts, Daniel Roebuck announced that Hanover House will distribute “Getting Grace” nationally starting March 23 in about 50 theaters with the hope of expanding the film to more movie theaters, followed by availability on other platforms by Sony Entertainment Distribution.

On March 4, the day after the Lehigh Valley premiere and which happens to be Roebuck’s birthday, he and cast members will hit the road to attend “Getting Grace” screenings in movie theaters in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.

The beginning

“Someone had to believe in this from the beginning,” Roebuck said at the press conference, recounting how the film project began more than two years ago when he first saw a screenplay for “Spoon Benders” (the film’s original title), written by Jeff Lewis.

Roebuck cowrote the screenplay with Lewis in what would become “Getting Grace,” a comedy-drama about Grace (Bethlehem-born actress, Madelyn Dundon), a teen girl dying of cancer. At a funeral home, she asks funeral director, Bill Jankowski (Daniel Roebuck) about what happens after she dies.

“He wrote this amazing script and brought it to me,” said Marsha Dietlein Bennett (Venus, Grace’s mother, in “Getting Grace”). “I had been here [Bethlehem] for one of his [Robebuck’s] weddings, wedding Number Two.”

“The third time’s the charm,” Roebuck quipped. Roebuck’s wife, Tammy, is a “Getting Grace” producer through hers and Roebuck’s Magic Bean Entertainment.

“I’m from a small town in Ohio,” Deitlein Bennett continued. “So I thought, ‘What a great idea to return to your hometown to produce a movie.’” Deitlein Bennett, who lives in Manhattan, and Roebuck have been friends going back to when she appeared on TV’s “Matlock,” in which Roebuck co-starred with Andy Griffith.

Roebuck, a Bethlehem Catholic High School graduate who got his start in acting at The Pennsylvania Playhouse and Civic Theatre of Allentown, didn’t have to go far to find producers for “Getting Grace.” Samantha Edwards and her brother, Mike Molewski, through their Moed Productions, are “Getting Grace” executive producers. It’s their first feature-film production.

Roebuck marveled at how the production team came together. “God’s hand is firm. And his reach is long,” said Roebuck.

‘Passion Project’

“About two years ago, we wanted to create a passion project,” said Edwards, of Upper Saucon Township, who has worked for 10 years as Technology Integration Specialist at Parkland High School. “We didn’t have to go to California. We can make our own passion project right here,” Edwards said.

“I had a connecting flight and I changed seats and I sat right next to Dan Roebuck,” said Molewski, of Lower Saucon Township, who is Principal, Captrust, Strategic Advisor Group.

“Dan introduced himself to 66 friends on the plane,” Molewski joked. “I thought, ‘Just my luck. I’m sitting next to ‘Rainman.’

“We became business partners over a table and a cup of coffee,” Molewski added.

“Getting Grace” executive producers include Mick Trombley, Robert “R. J.” Morris, Melanie Molewski, and Zach Tran.

Getting Grace” producers include Mark Rupp, Tammy Roebuck, Daniel Roebuck, Brian Glassford, Cory Geryak, Chris Monte, and Davie Cabral.

Director of Photography is Cory Geryak. Music is by Alex Kovacs. The film was edited by Chris Monte. Production Design is by Jacob Wetzel.

“Getting Grace” was filmed in the Lehigh Valley. Locations included Monocacy Park, the Herron-Sell Funeral homes in Allentown and Bethlehem, The Moravian Book Shop, The Burnside Plantation, Pete’s Hot Dogs and St. Luke’s Hospital.

Directorial debut

“Getting Grace” is Daniel Roebuck’s feature film directorial debut. Roebuck’s three-decade acting resume includes blockbuster films (“The Fugitive”), children’s movies (“Agent Cody Banks”), horror films (“Halloween 2”) and television series (“Matlock,” “Lost”).

Madelyn Dundon, a Bethlehem Catholic High School graduate, makes her feature film leading character debut in “Getting Grace.” Dundon’s stage roles include Anne Frank in “The Diary Of Anne Frank.” She studied jazz vocals and classical voice at Moravian College, was a Choral Scholar with the Bach Choir of Bethlehem, and is a theater major at West Virginia University.

Marsha Dietlein Bennett made her screen debut starring in “Return of the Living Dead: Part II” and has appeared in other films, TV shows and stage shows.

“Getting Grace” includes veteran actors Dana Ashbrook (Ron Christopher) and Duane Whitaker (Reverend Osburn); Jacob Williams (Doug), of Upper Saucon Township, a LV Charter Arts senior in his film acting debut, and Diane Wagner (Mary), Artistic Director of Theatre at the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts.

Artwork featured in “Getting Grace” is in “Celebrating 15 Years,” on exhibit through March 20, Corpora Gallery, LV Charter Arts. Ana Raiola, Charter Arts alumnae, was “Getting Grace” Visual Fine Artist, commissioned to create two pieces of art featured in the film. Roebuck sought out other local artists to provide artwork for a scene at Burnside Plantation that featured an art exhibit.

Participating artists include Charter Arts Alumni Ana Raiola, Ariel Posh and Bria Pickel and community artists Kay Frederick, Eric Rodriguez, Benjamin Rader, Joseph Babos, Ana Hamilton, Andi Grunberg, Melissa Perhamus, and Christine Dewhurst.

“We didn’t only put the art in the movie. We put the artists in the movie,” said Roebuck.

Next film

In the lead-up to filming “Getting Grace,” Roebuck said he was greeted with open arms when he met with Bethlehem Mayor Robert J. Donchez.

That’s one reason Roebuck plans to shoot his next feature film, “The Hail Mary,” this summer in the Lehigh Valley.

“‘Getting Grace,’ Roebuck stated in a press release, “will only be the first of many movies I hope to make here in the Lehigh Valley. We have the most beautiful locations, great actors, great young crew members, and the support of my fellow Pennsylvanians, which is heartwarming for a filmmaker.”

“Getting Grace” has garnered positive audience response and last year received awards at film festivals.

Dundon received Best Actress, Roebuck received Best Director and “Getting Grace” received Audience Choice at the first film festival in which it was entered, the Northeast Film Festival, Teaneck, N.J. During the film’s run at its second festival, The Adirondack Film Festival, “Getting Grace” received the top prize, “Best Of The Best.”

In a testimonial reel shown at the Jan. 30 press conference, a movie-goer described “Getting Grace” as “the funniest sad movie or the saddest funny movie I ever saw.”

Said Roebuck, “We especially chose the widest audience to test this film on.

“The movie is about faith, but we’re not dictating what type of faith that is, just that there’s something more,” Roebuck said.

“‘Getting Grace’ has changed us all,” said Edwards. “Now we have this opportunity to get this film out there and change other people’s lives.”

That begins with “Getting Grace” March 3 in the Lehigh Valley.

March 3 screenings

Frank Banko Alehouse Cinemas

ArtsQuest Center, SteelStacks,

101 Founders Way, Bethlehem

10 a.m.: Musician Alyssa Garcia performs

10 a.m. - 11 a.m.: Red Carpet to meet the stars

11 a.m. - 1 p.m.: “Getting Grace” screening

Roxy Theatre

2004 Main St., Northampton

1:30 p.m.: Musician Heidi Ott performs

1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.: Red Carpet to meet the stars

2:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.: “Getting Grace” screening

Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts

321 E. Third St., Bethlehem

7 p.m.: Musicians Bosco Oliver and Damian Righi perform

7 p.m. - 8 p.m.: Red Carpet to meet the stars

8 p.m. - 10 p.m.: “Getting Grace” screening

Tickets: gettinggracecharitypremiere.eventbrite.com;