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.”
Much as the title implies, the Muhlenberg Summer Music Theater (MSMT) production of ‘Wild” is wildly unlike any other play I’ve seen to date, and for all the best reasons.
“Wild” continues through July 29, Studio Theatre, Trexler Pavilion for Theatre & Dance, Muhlenberg College, Allentown. Showtimes are 10 a.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 1 p.m. Friday, and 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
Touchstone Artistic Director JP Jordan was in Peru when he first decided to create the Jakopa’s Punch Band.
“I was in Peru when I got word that David Bowie had passed,” Jordan explains, “and I was told that The Lesson Center planned to host a benefit for leukemia patients in honor of Bowie.
“Now, I didn’t have a band at the time, but I asked if I could play a set if I could pull a band together in time, and they said sure. So we ended up getting together this group of musicians.”
The name of the band stems from Jordan asking his niece what she thought “JP” stood for.
“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.”