“12ness” may be a play that recounts the history of two influential musicians, but it may also help to shape the future of theater in the Lehigh Valley.
“This is an original piece,” explains the play’s director George B. Miller. “It has not been produced, presented, or performed anywhere before.”
Miller is the first person invited to direct a Crowded Kitchen Players (CKP) play, the company having presented 70 plays prior.
Of all the performance venues on ArtsQuest’s SteelStacks campus in Bethlehem, director Lynnie Godfrey finds that her favorite is the Fowler Blast Furnace Room.
“It’s a great space. I feel like I have to say I created the space that you see,” she says, laughing. “It’s a general room to hold weddings, receptions, corporate meetings, and so on. When we use it for these sorts of performances, we rebuild the stage and black out parts of the room and create an intimate setting.”
Sabrina DeWeerdt and Joe Ferraro are no strangers to theater.
Ferraro has performed with The Associated Mess, the Lehigh Valley-based improvisational comedy troupe, and in a handful of Touchstone Theatre’s “Christmas City Follies” shows.
DeWeerdt received a BA in theater from Muhlenberg College.
So it came as no surprise to either them how much hard work they would need to dedicate to Touchstone’s “Fresh Voices,” June 2 and 3, the annual celebration of new theater, featuring original works-in-progress by the 2016-17 Touchstone Apprentices.
For many students, the “Young Playwrights’ Festival” may be the best way to present their creative talent to their peers.
“The schools look at their students a little differently,” explains Mary Wright, Young Playwrights’ Lab coordinator.
“They may not always be as successful in a classroom setting, but they really flourish in this program. So, seeing teachers and principals get it, that’s exciting for them, and for us.”
It all started at a Renaissance fair.
“Daniel Singer was a Renaissance fair geek in 1981 in North California, and he thought it would be fun to put on a 20-minute abridged performance of Hamlet,” Austin Tichenor, Reduced Shakespeare Company co-writer and co-director, explains in a phone interview.
“It was all very fast and physical, much like our shows today. They did this for love, youthful passion and a lacking of showers for extended periods of time. Luckily, I joined shortly after this time period.”
We so often see theater performed on the stage or in a formal setting that we forget just how magnificent a stage nature can be. Allentown Shakespeare in the Park works to remind audiences of this.
Following its productions of "Romeo And Juliet" (2006), "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (2007), "As You Like It" (2009), "Much Ado About Nothing" (2010), "Macbeth" (2012), "Twelfth Night" (2013) and "Othello" (2014), Allentown Shakespeare in the Park presents five free performances of Shakespeare's first comedy, "The Comedy Of Errors," directed by New York director Erik Pearson.
For many, "Jekyll and Hyde" is a classic piece of literature and theater that transcends time and tells the gripping story of a rather torn man who struggles with his own identity.
But for Rody Gilkeson, director of the Notre Dame Summer Theatre-Revelations Productions' "Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical," July 24 - Aug. 2, Notre Dame High School, Bethlehem Township, it also stands as an exciting opportunity.
In the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival's (PSF) 24 seasons, "Henry V" has only been produced once, in 2002.
"Henry V" previews July 16 and 17, opening July 18 and continuing through Aug. 2, Main Stage, Labuda Center for the Performing Arts, DeSales University, Center Valley.
"This one's been on the docket for a while," says Matt Pfeiffer, "Henry V" director and long-time PSF artist.
"Avenue Q," which opens the 35th season of Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre (MSMT), is a cute albeit raunchy take on "Sesame Street," with puppet and human characters singing about pornography and racism.
However, the musical ultimately has a sweeter and more meaningful message than one would expect at first glance, focusing on identity and finding oneself.
The story follows a group of 20-somethings, people and monsters alike, as they struggle to find their purpose in big-city life and the world at large.
It's not easy selecting plays for the Young Playwrights' Festival.
For this year's festival, 100 scripts written by children were submitted to be performed. Six were chosen.
"It was hard," says Mary Wright, Young Playwrights Lab' Coordinator. "Not only do we have to pick what showcases the schools and students, but what plays will work together for a festival."