Some of Scranton’s best actors, producers and directors want to push the limit of what audiences consider theater.
The sixth annual Scranton Shakespeare Festival, which starts Saturday, June 17, brings productions of the Bard and others to new venues as it begins its month of free performances.
According to Festival Artistic Director Michael Bradshaw Flynn, audiences are in for a completely different experience than previous years. The festival offers everything from intimate performances of one-act plays at Olde Brick Theatre, 126 W. Market St., to an immersive performance of baseball-themed musical “Damn Yankees” at PNC Field, 235 Montage Mountain Road, Moosic.
The ballpark spectacle, based on the 1954 novel “The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant” by Douglass Wallop, takes place Friday, July 14, and Saturday, July 15, at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays, July 16 and 23, at 5 p.m. Flynn said the musical production showcases the great dancing abilities of this area in a way past festivals could not.
“I wanted to do a show with more of an all-American feel, a little sexier, but still appropriate for all ages,” Flynn said. “There’s going to be hot dogs, beers, and even a seventh inning stretch. We want to push the limits of what people in this area think of theater.”
Before “Damn Yankees,” the festival kicks off with Shakespeare comedy “Two Gentlemen of Verona,” directed by Randy Rand, at Scranton Preparatory School’s St. Robert Bellarmine Theater, 1000 Wyoming Ave., Thursday, June 29, through Saturday, July 1, and Saturday, July 22, all at 8 p.m., and Sunday, July 2, at 3 p.m.
Next is the Bard’s “Measure for Measure,” (directed by Maura Malloy) also at Scranton Prep, which runs from Thursday, July 6, through Saturday, July 8, and Friday, July 21, all at 8 p.m. and Sunday, July 9, at 3 p.m.
Each show offers a unique casting twist. “Two Gentlemen” features an all-male cast, and “Measure for Measure” an all-female cast.
“An all-male cast (for ‘Two Gentlemen’) is great to explore how ridiculous the scenarios really are in it,” Flynn explained. “And there is a lot a company of all female actors for ‘Measure for Measure’ can explore in a way that hasn’t been done before.”
Considered one of Shakespeare’s more-criticized works, “Two Gentlemen” is quite funny when done with the right cast, Flynn said, which he believes the festival has assembled. As for “Measure for Measure,” known for both its hilarity and dark moments, the play contains relevant themes including justice, social issues and conflicting viewpoints. Flynn acknowledged it is performed more throughout the country due to the current political climate.
“They’re both shaping up to be very multi-layered productions with a lot of comedic and serious moments,” Flynn said.
The festival also brings back its Youth Theatre Lab production, a performance created and written entirely by students with help from company professionals. The performance takes place on Saturday, June 17, at 6 p.m.at Scranton Prep.
The festival’s “second stage series,” as Flynn calls it, of one-act plays “Skin of the Teeth” and “Cheeks,” will be staged at Olde Brick Theatre on Friday, June 23, and Saturday, June 24, at 8 p.m.
The one-person plays garnered international recognition with “Cheeks” heading to one of the world’s largest fringe festivals, Scotland’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, this year, and “Skin of the Teeth” performed in Edinburgh last year.
With such diverse and acclaimed performances featured this season, Tamara Sevunts, director of public relations for the festival, hopes Scranton continues to land on the map of theatergoers.
“The larger vision for the festival is to become an event that draws enough tourism and activity to Scranton to help give the city’s economy a boost to its heyday glory,” Sevunts said. “Anyone who comes out to the shows is able to get something great for free, and it encourages local business.”
And to those who may be hesitant to attend a festival with the Bard’s moniker, Flynn believes the theater company’s lineup can appeal to anyone.
“We want to offer as much of a plethora of options for theatergoers as we can, and we’re always trying to push the line of our programming,” Flynn explained. “We believe theater should be a place for everybody, and we want to program things for people who may not like Shakespeare or musicals.”
— paul capoccia
Scranton Shakespeare Festival
Youth Theatre Lab performance: Saturday, June 17, at 6 p.m. at St. Robert Bellarmine
Theater at Scranton Preparatory School, 1000 Wyoming Ave.
“Two Gentlemen of Verona”: Thursday, June 29, through Saturday, July 1, and Saturday, July 22, at 8 p.m.; Sunday, July 2, at 3 p.m., Scranton Prep.
“Measure for Measure”: Thursday, July 6, through Saturday, July 8, and Friday, July 21 at 8 p.m.; Sunday, July 9, at 3 p.m., Scranton Prep
“Damn Yankees”: Friday, July 14, and Saturday, July 15, at 7:30 p.m., Sundays, July 16 and 23, at 5 p.m., PNC Field, 235 Montage Mountain Road, Moosic
“Skin of the Teeth” and “Cheeks”: Friday, June 23, and Saturday, June 24, at 8 p.m., Olde Brick Theatre, 126 W. Market St.
Tickets are free but reservations for groups are suggested. For reservations or more information, visit www.scrantonshakes.com.
Mention Scranton to James “Murr” Murray, and the memories rush back.
“I’ve spent more time in Scranton than some residents there,” the Tenderloins comedy troupe member and truTV’s “Impractical Jokers” star joked in a recent phone interview. “I’m a huge, huge fan of the city, I’ve spent countless days there and I’m a big fan of the trains.”
Murray returns, not to sightsee or to help his sisters move in or out of the University of Scranton, but with his best friends, the Tenderloins — Joseph “Joe” Gatto, Brian “Q” Quinn and Salvatore “Sal” Vulcano — for their “Santiago Sent Us” tour Friday, June 9, at 8 p.m. at the Pavilion at Montage Mountain, 1000 Montage Mountain Road.
Tickets starts at $28 and are available at
livenation.com or by phone at 800-745-3000.
Formed in 1999 in New York, the Tenderloins originally performed improvisational comedy and did sketch shows for years before moving their act online. After receiving millions of views, their popularity surge ultimately resulted in the group’s success today on “Impractical Jokers.”
“Our friendship on display is the magic of the show because it’s really a buddy comedy,” Murray explained. “It’s what everyone does with their best friends, and this upside-down prank show with the jokes on us instead of the public was enough of a twist to make the show pop.”
Along with his friends and co-stars, Murray is an internationally recognized jokester through the hit comedy TV show. Now in its sixth season, “Impractical Jokers” follows the group’s antics through hidden cameras as they play public pranks on each other.
The magic many see on television comes out during their live shows in a blend of what the Tenderloins have done together for nearly two decades.
“The tour is what you love about our TV show, but live,” Murray said. “We’re all on stage at all times, and it’s kind of like a stand-up show. We’re telling stories, ripping into each other, and we show videos made specifically for the show you can’t see anywhere else.
“There’s a giant screen up behind us, we put up clips and it’s really a rock-concert-meets-a-stand-up-show. And it’s family friendly too,” Murray added.
All the Tenderloins’ years together molded their work into what it is today, a journey best described by Murray as a “ten-year overnight success story.” That story continues across the United States and Europe with a stop once again in Northeast Pennsylvania for an evening of high jinks and laughs.
“If we were stand-up comedians that were not touring together as best friends, I think it’d be a lonely life,” Murray said. “But these guys are my best friends, I’ve known them since 1990. If we weren’t touring together, I know we’d still just be hanging out.”
— paul capoccia
If you go
What: Impractical Jokers “Santiago Sent Us” Tour starring the Tenderloins
When: Friday, June 9, at 8 p.m.; gates open at 6:30 p.m.
Where: The Pavilion at Montage Mountain, 1000 Montage Mountain Road, Scranton
Details: Tickets start at $28 and can be purchased at livenation.com or by phone at
800-745-3000. For more information, visit thetenderloins.com.
The last time folk and blues singer Tom Rush visited Wilkes-Barre, snow covered the downtown region.
“What I remember is that it was winter, there had just been a huge snowstorm that hadn’t been cleared yet and there was no parking for miles,” he recalled in a recent interview. “The show went up quite late, and about half the folks who bought tickets couldn’t get there. But those that did seemed to have a really good time.”
This time, Rush returns as the headlining musical act for the 62nd annual Fine Arts Fiesta on Saturday, May 20, at 7 p.m. on Public Square in downtown Wilkes-Barre, and there’s no sign of snow stopping fans from enjoying the show.
“I’m very blessed to have been able to make a good living doing something I love to do — and would probably do for free, but don’t let that get around,” Rush joked. “I love performing, I love writing songs and discovering little-known songs that others have written. I love recording. The hard part, and getting harder, is the travel, but it’s worth it.”
The 76-year-old musician began performing in the early 1960s while studying English literature at Harvard University, and released two albums while a student. After graduating, Rush’s impact on the American folk music revival exploded, melding his knack for finding wonderful songs to perform along with writing his own.
Many of his folk hits have been reworked into country, heavy metal and rap: a testimony to the widespread appeal of his music and its themes.
“You have to be inventive these days to connect with your audience — there is so much noise out there, so many people yammering for your attention that it’s hard to get anyone to focus,” Rush said.
In order to combat the noise, Rush recently recorded a new album in Nashville, which he said is slated to be released by the fall. To subsidize the project, he set up a crowdfunding platform through PledgeMusic, where people may choose from rewards like the album, old and out-of-print recordings, a Naked Lady guitar like the one Rush plays and even a private concert. Fans interested in participating can find it one his website, tomrush.com.
Although Rush said he experienced too many memories over the years to pinpoint one as a highlight, he agreed that his performance at the Fine Arts Fiesta would be one for the books.
“I’ll be trying out some new songs and doing some of my old favorites, sprinkled with a liberal helping of stories that are all absolutely true, to one extent or another,” he said.
— charlotte l. jacobson
Fine Arts Fiesta Main Stage Performance Schedule
Thursday, May 18
10 a.m. — Wyoming Valley West High School Chorus
11 a.m. — Wyoming Valley West High School Orchestra
noon — Fine Arts Fiesta opening ceremonies
12:30 p.m. — Wyoming Valley West Middle School Jazz Band
1:30 p.m. — Coughlin High School Jazz and Concert Band
2:30 p.m. — Wilkes-Barre Orchestra
3 p.m. — Holy Redeemer Royal Singers
4 p.m. — Wyoming Valley West High School Jazz Band
5 p.m. — Scott Edmunds Jazz Quintet
6:30 p.m. — Fine Arts Fiesta awards ceremony
7:15 p.m. — Perfect Harmony Center for the Arts
Friday, May 19
10 a.m. — Wyoming Valley Middle School Orchestra
11 a.m. — Wyoming Valley West Middle School Chorus
noon — Dallas Middle School Select Chorus
1 p.m. — The Treble Makers
2 p.m. — Anthony Natiello
4 p.m. — Wilkes-Barre Academy Glee Club
5:15 p.m. — Nitya Rhythm Dance Academy
6:30 p.m. — Flaxy Morgan
Saturday, May 20
11 a.m. — Joan Harris Dance Center
noon — YOUniversal Suzuki Strings
1 p.m. — The Mozart Club
2 p.m. — Dance Theater of Wilkes-Barre
3 p.m. — Rising Stars Performing Arts
4 p.m. — Little Theater of Wilkes-Barre
5 p.m. — Conservatory of Dance
7 p.m. — Tom Rush
Sunday, May 21
11 a.m. — The Poetry Society
noon — NEPA Academy of Dancing
1:30 p.m. — Tri-Cities Opera (in memory of Jane Groh)
3:15 p.m. — Keystone Kids
4:15 p.m. — The I-tations — A Tribute to George Wesley
- Sip, Shop and Stroll Milford
On Thursday, May 11, Girls Night Out, in conjunction with participating businesses, hosts Sip, Shop and Stroll Milford.
The event is free to attend and starts at 5 p.m. During the event, Bar Louis at the Hotel Fauchere offers a complimentary glass of wine with store receipts of $30 or more.
Highlights of Sip, Shop and Stroll Milford include complimentary fitness classes at Jen Murphy Fitness, a meet-the-musicians open house at Waterwheel Guitars, a prize drawing from New Mindset Massage, refreshments at various store locations and more.
Girls Night Out is hosted by Milford Presents, a nonprofit organization responsible for producing special community events.
Visit www.milfordpa.us/home.html for more information and to find a map of participating Milford stores.
- Live on Stage, The Rainforest
A tropical rainforest takes over Valley View High School, 1 Columbus Drive, Archbald, on Friday, May 12. Tickets are $5 and are available at the door. The show starts at 6:30 p.m.
“Live on Stage, The Rainforest” presents attendees with the sights and sounds of the Amazon rainforest and features exotic birds, kinkajous, monkeys and snakes.
The roots of the show date back to the 1980s, when the its founder and director, Mike Kohlrieser, became aware of threats to the rainforest. He sought to use his skills as an animal trainer and stage entertainer to educate others on the rainforest and its animals facing possible extinction through the nonprofit Understanding Wildlife Inc. Kohlrieser presents it as a unique comedy animal show.
For more information, visit http://therainforestlive.com/.
- Coaches vs. Cancer of Northeast PA’s Basketball Gala
On Saturday, May 13, Coaches vs. Cancer of Northeast PA’s fifth annual BasketBall Gala raises funds for a good cause in the hotel ballroom at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, 1280 Route 315, Wilkes-Barre.
Tickets are $150 each or $1,500 for a table of ten. The event kicks off at 5 p.m. with a VIP reception for honored guests. Cocktail hour starts at 6, and the night features dinner, live entertainment and a silent and live auction. This year’s gala honoree is Patti Lynett.
Coaches vs. Cancer Northeast PA is part of a nationwide collaboration between the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches, which empowers college basketball coaches as well as their teams and local communities to help fight cancer. The events supports the ACS’s mission, which seeks to eliminate cancer as a major health problem.
To donate or purchase tickets, visit http://gala.acsevents.org.
- Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox
Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox arrives at Peoples Security Bank Theater at Lackawanna College, 501 Vine St., Scranton, with new spins on modern hits on Saturday, May 13.
Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and the show starts at 8. Tickets range from $40 to $45.
The rotating music collective is best known for performing present day pop hits in a vintage style influenced by jazz and swing. Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox has amassed more than 600 million YouTube views, traveled on two international tours and performed on “Good Morning America.”
The group returns to Lackawanna College for the second time as part of Community Concerts at Lackawanna College.
To purchase tickets, call 570-955-1455 or visit the school’s box office or www.lackawanna.edu.
- Parrots of the Caribbean: A Tribute to Jimmy Buffet
Parrots of the Caribbean flocks to Scranton Cultural Center at the Masonic Temple, 420 N. Washington Ave., Scranton, for a tribute to Jimmy Buffet on Friday, May 12.
The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25, or for $35, guests can attend the concert and the Post-Show Parrot Party in the venue’s Grand Ballroom. This includes one free margarita, light fare and a meet-and-greet with the band.
Parrots of the Caribbean is a five-piece group of skilled musicians who bring energy and enthusiasm to their Buffet tribute act. The Ohio-based band has been devoted to the act, touring heavily since formation in 2000. To purchase tickets, contact the box office at 570-344-1111 or visit ticketmaster.com.
Step into a colorful world of acrobatics, magic and more as “Pippin” closes the season for Broadway Theatre League of Northeastern Pennsylvania this weekend.
The league brings in the national tour of the Tony Award-winning musical for four performances from Friday, May 5, through Sunday, May 7, at Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple, 420 N. Washington Ave.
Set around 780 A.D. in the Holy Roman Empire, the show-within-a-show musical focuses on a young prince, Pippin, and his search for the meaning of life through war, murder and love — all told to the audience as a story told by a performance troupe.
“The way I describe it is that you see a young boy who’s trying to find some meaning to his life, and he tries an extraordinary life and then an ordinary life,” said Erica Cianciulli, who plays Pippin’s stepmother, Fastrada. “And it’s very relevant to what’s going on today in the world.”
“Pippin” opened on Broadway in 1972 with a book and choreography by Bob Fosse and music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. Featuring such songs as “Corner of the Sky,” “Magic To Do” and “Morning Glow,” it ran for 1,944 performances and five previews before closing in 1977. Its only revival on the Great White Way came four years ago under the direction of Diane Paulus. That production closed in 2015.
The tour is based on the revival, which picked up four Tony Awards, including one for best revival of a musical. Many of the artistic team members from the Broadway revival worked with the tour at its rehearsals, and Paulus’ assistant directed the production and passed on her plans and vision, Cianciulli said. The show incorporates acrobatics and other circus-style entertainment, from hula hooping to knife throwing, plus Fosse-style choreography.
The acrobats all excel in different things, said Cianciulli, who grew up in Lansdale near Philadelphia.
“We have one girl who she went to school for German wheel. It’s like a big steel wheel, and she goes across the stage rolling through it,” she said. “And there’s all this cool stuff and a lot of two-highs and three-highs — people standing on each other’s shoulders. … And it’s interesting because it all just fits into the show somehow.”
Cianciulli doesn’t have to perform any of the acrobatics, but she does a few magic tricks. And as an understudy for the Leading Player character, she had to learn the trapeze routine just in case.
“It’s scary up there,” she said. “If you’re scared of heights, it’s not the best time.”
The cast has heard that the audience enjoys the acrobatics and magic tricks, Cianciulli said, but the songs draw a response, too. In “Magic To Do,” the Leading Player drops a curtain to reveal the acrobats and open the show.
“It’s just a bunch of colorful costumes and everything, which is pretty cool, which gets people excited for the show,” Cianciulli said.
She called “Corner of the Sky” the show’s biggest number because a lot of people know it and she knows many people who have performed it for auditions. And she pointed to “On the Right Track” and “Extraordinary” as big second-act pieces.
Cianciulli gets her own chance to shine. As the “evil, conniving stepmother” hoping to kill her husband and stay queen forever, Cianciulli said, Fastrada shares her plans in “Spread a Little Sunshine.”
When she comes to Scranton, she may even get to perform it for family members and friends making the trip up from the Philadelphia area. In the meantime, she enjoys sharing “Pippin’s” story across the country in her first theatrical tour, which kicked off in January.
“Of course I love doing the show,” Cianciulli said. “The show hasn’t gotten old for me at all. … I don’t really have a night where I’m like, ‘Eh, I don’t feel like doing the show.’ It’s so much fun and such a special show.”
— caitlin heaney west
If you go
What: “Pippin,” presented by Broadway Theatre League of Northeastern Pennsylvania
When: Friday, May 5, 8 p.m.; Saturday, May 6, 2 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, May 7, 1 p.m.
Where: Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple, 420 N. Washington Ave.
Details: The show runs approximately 2 hours, 20 minutes, and is recommended for ages 13 and older. Tickets are $37 to $59, available through the box office, 800-745-3000 and ticketmaster.com. For more information, visit broadwayinscranton.com.
Ballet Theatre of Scranton sinks its teeth into a classic tale for its latest production.
The troupe’s senior company presents “Dracula” for one night only, Saturday, April 29, at 7:30, in the Theater at North, 1539 N. Main Ave., Scranton.
But preparations for the ballet began in the midst of winter, as the show’s creators, Katya and Arkadiy Orohovsky, ventured to the city from their Mississippi home for nine days to set up the production with the cast.
“It’s been crazy,” Katya Orohovsky said during those rehearsals. “They pick up really quickly, very enthusiastically.”
The couple saw a few ballet versions of “Dracula” through the years, but never any they identified with. Then they heard music from 20th-century Ukrainian composers that incorporated that country’s folk songs, and they developed their own version of the story using that music.
“It’s so appropriate,” Ballet Theatre artistic director Joanne Arduino said. “Some of the melodies are just haunting. It’s really a perfect selection for this ballet. (In) one of the scenes, there’s Romanian folk dance, so it has some very rousing music. It has some beautiful, romantic music.”
The Orohovskys’ production combines elements from Bram Stoker’s classic novel “Dracula” with real history, resulting in what Arkadiy Orohovsky called a “more family-friendly” story — less horror and more heart. The dancers play up the love story between Dracula and young Mina.
“(We) wanted to tell a little bit of the history and a little more of the romanticism,” Katya Orohovsky said.
Arduino called “Dracula” a well-known, timeless story she believes audiences will enjoy because of how Ballet Theatre chose to portray it this time.
“We’re sort of billing it as it’s not the gory story of Dracula that everybody thinks,” she said. “It’s really a haunting love story. Granted, it’s still ‘Dracula.’ There’s still his story, but we are focusing on his love story.”
The tale became more believable and resonated with audiences as a result of those changes, according to Arkadiy Orohovsky. When the couple first staged the show with their studio in Ohio in 2007, they saw how the audience connected to the character.
“A lot of people cried at the end, which was surprising,” Katya Orohovsky said.
The Orohovskys revived the show in Mississippi a few years later with their company there, and this marks the first time the couple staged it for someone else. Katya Orohovsky said “it’s been really nice kind of brushing it off.”
“I’m really happy that our ballet is going to stay alive,” her husband said.
Taking on the lead is professional dancer and Ballet Theatre veteran Colin Bolthouse, while Jerica Tallo, another longtime Ballet Theatre dancer, portrays Mina.
“With the costumes and the lighting and the sets, it’s just going to be exceptional,” Arduino said. “And we’re all excited about it.”
Since the choreography “is not really set in stone,” Katya Orohovsky said, she and her husband could tailor the moves for Ballet Theatre’s dancers. Arduino believes it is good for her crew to work with different choreographers, noting how the Orohovskys brought “some interesting concepts.” The couple fit in well with the Ballet Theatre family, she added, calling Arkadiy Orohovsky “very easygoing.”
“He wants them to just express themselves and have a good time with their roles,” Arduino said.
Arkadiy Orohovsky said he and his wife enjoyed working with Arduino and her team and are happy with how Ballet Theatre took the show forward.
“I think it’s going to be a great ballet,” he said.
Arduino expects Ballet Theatre will bring “Dracula” back to the stage again one day.
“This is a new work; it’s classical yet contemporary,” she said. “There are a few of those that we have done throughout the years at Ballet Theatre that have been loved by the audience but also loved by the dancers, and this, I think, is one of them.”
— caitlin heaney west
IF YOU GO
What: “Dracula,” presented by
Ballet Theatre of Scranton’s senior company
When: Saturday, April 29, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Theater at North,
1539 N. Main Ave., Scranton
Details: Tickets are $25, available at tututix.com. For more information, call 570-347-2867 or visit balletscranton.org or the group’s
Actress Kerry Ipema shares laughs during one-women parody
“Sex and the City” fans rejoice — a one-woman parody is coming to town.
Comedian and actress Kerry Ipema brings her show, “One Woman Sex and the City: A Parody of Love, Friendship and Shoes,” to F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts tonight at 8 as a part of the Live from the Chandelier Lobby series.
Under the creative direction of T.J. Dawe — known for his productions of “One Man Star Wars Trilogy,” “One Man Lord of the Rings” and “PostSecret: The Show” — Ipema takes audiences through a one-woman version of all six season of the smash HBO television show.
Kerry Ipema rehearses her performance of One Woman Sex in the City, her debut show at this year’s Fringe Festival. July 12, 2016 (GREG GALLINGER / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
“I play about 24 characters in the show,” she said. “It sounds exhausting, but it’s quite fun. I play all of the women, their boyfriends and the secondary characters.”
The production, which Dawe and Ipema co-wrote, pulls from each of the series’ 94 episodes and crams the important bits into an hour-and-a-half live display.
Ipema not only jokes her way through the show but also fuels part of it with audience participation. Audience members can write down their “deal breakers” and crazy date stories to give to the comedian, who then reads them live.
“We create this brunch-like atmosphere,” Ipema said. “There is this intimacy of sharing these stories and deal breakers.”
Although Ipema shares the first name of the main character Sarah Jessica Parker portrayed in the TV series with a slightly different spelling, her favorite of the show’s four leading ladies to play is Samantha.
“She is all sorts of fabulous and candor,” Ipema said. “She always has these really incredible one-liners. Every line she gets a big laugh and applause. It’s full of shock value. … She’s pretty sexually progressive, and that comes across. And she uses a lot of puns in the show. … It wouldn’t be a ‘Sex and the City’ parody without a lot of good puns.”
One woman approached her after the show one night to thank her, claiming to feel more empowered after watching the display of strong women. Allowing audiences to revisit the four girls became an outlet for women to laugh along with their favorite characters once more, while also strengthening their friendships, Ipema said.
“One reason I love the show, which is coming clear through touring, is how important ‘Sex and the City’ is to female friendships,” she added. “You see their personal relationships on that show, and it brings to light the importance of female friendships. The show was a huge beacon for women. People saw themselves in those four women — Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte.”
— charlotte l. jacobson
If you go
What: “One Woman Sex and the City: A Parody of Love, Friendship and Shoes”
When: March 23, 8 p.m.; doors at 6:30 p.m.
Where: F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, 71 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre
Tickets: $27.50 in advance; $30 day of show
Two Scranton playhouses present all-male and all-female shows over same run
The all-male “Glengarry Glen Ross” with its female director and the all-female “The Women” with its male director play out on separate Scranton stages starting this week in a theatrical battle of the sexes.
Diva Productions brings David Mamet’s examination of the 1980s cutthroat real-estate business to the Olde Brick Theatre, 126 W. Market St., while Actors Circle tackles female relationships amid a gossipy, catty society in comedic style at Providence Playhouse, 1256 Providence Road. “The Women” opens Thursday, and “Glengarry” follows Friday; both run on weekends through April 2.
Paige Balitski, “Glengarry” director and Diva’s founder, scheduled the show after learning of Actors Circle’s plan to present “The Women.” She knew a play with more than 20 women in its cast meant actresses she might want for a Diva show likely would be unavailable. Balitski always wanted to tackle “Glengarry” and thought now seemed like “the perfect time” to do it.
“First of all, it’s Mamet, and he writes tough and gritty,” she said. “And for men, this is always a play that men want to do, so I knew that if I announced auditions, I would get excellent actors. And, boy, did I ever.”
Diva’s eight-man cast includes T.J. Zale and Casey Thomas as salesmen and Scott Colin as their office manager. Balitski described the characters — businessmen tasked with making deals or else risk losing their jobs — as “men who make or break their careers on closing (deals).”
“Roles like this or shows like this come along so rarely. … When you’re able to sink your teeth into a piece of drama like this, you jump at the chance as an actor,” Colin said.
The Tony-winning “Glengarry” debuted on Broadway in 1984, and an acclaimed film adaptation starring Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon and Alec Baldwin followed in 1992. Colin said the show has endured because “David Mamet is able to turn these characters in a short amount of time into very, very real, conversational people.” Zale called it “excellent modern playwriting.”
“Every character has something going on underneath these words,” he said.
Diva’s cast has impressed Balitski with its ability to learn a tough script with dialogue that often changes direction mid-sentence.
“Mamet writes tough,” she said. “He writes in what I like to call ‘fits and stops.’”
Zale called the frequent swearing in the script “part of the texture of (the characters’) language,” but it “doesn’t mean their human emotions are different than anybody else.”
“They are striving and working really hard to what they got,” Zale said. “It’s the human endeavor. It’s what it’s about to make a living and support your family and do the right thing.”
Focus on relationships
While known mainly for its all-female cast — a vision adaptations take so far as to feature only female children, animals and subjects in artwork — “The Women’s” greater focus falls on the relationships among its characters.
“Women have now — and back in the ’30s, when this is set — they do have a mind of their own,” said Brink Powell, who plays Mary Haines. “They are in charge of their own destinies. (And) particularly in the case of these women, they’re rich society women; they don’t go to work. Their husbands support them. But even in that situation, they’re not letting themselves be defined by men. Women and men and any person need to define themselves and not let themselves be defined by someone else.”
Clare Boothe Luce’s comedy hit Broadway in 1936, and a now-classic film adaptation starring Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford and Rosalind Russell followed in 1939 (another came out in 2008). The story follows Mary, whose husband has divorced her and married Crystal Allen, a social climber he had an affair with, and their interactions with each other and their fellow society mavens.
“It’s a comedy for sure, and what is not more comedic than love?” said Jennifer Frey, who plays Crystal. “We see it being treated seriously, and not that love isn’t serious and marriage isn’t serious, but if you can’t laugh at the tragedy of life, what can you laugh at? And so falling in love, falling out of love having boyfriends … all of these storylines are taken on in ‘The Women.’”
Director Ted LoRusso told the cast to think of the play like a “Real Housewives” show.
“There’s a whole slew of really hilarious, funny characters who just go a mile a minute with all these wonderful one-liners,” he said. “And there’s a catty quality to it.”
Since Powell’s character deals “with some pretty heavy emotions,” she doesn’t get opportunities to be funny. But she said the play nevertheless is a lot fun, with the cast laughing its way through rehearsals.
“You don’t think a play about catty women backstabbing each other could be so hilarious,” she said.
Frey — president of the board of Cinderella’s Closet of NEPA, a nonprofit that takes donated prom and other types of dresses and sells them at affordable prices to girls in need — also helped behind the scenes. Cinderella’s Closet sometimes receives slightly broken or vintage donations, which it cannot use. Instead, the group donates them to different theaters, this time sending the pieces to “The Women,” which Frey said “called for some very dressy dresses.”
“That was one of the issues I did stress out about,” LoRusso said. “We have 22 actresses and 12 scene changes and about 60 costumes. And I thought, ‘How in the heck are we going to do this?”
While the plays run the same weekends, in truth, this battle of the sexes ended before it began. Many cast members know those from the other play from previous productions, and each show plans to take one of its off nights to catch the other in action, even if it’s at a rehearsal. The playhouses sit a mile apart, Balitski said, so “there’s no reason not to help each other out.”
“The theater community is very small,” she said. “There’s a lot of them in the surrounding counties, but we all belong to an organization. We all see each others’ shows and help each other.”
And audiences can experience the “best of both worlds” with the two shows running concurrently, Powell said.
“I hope that people will come to both,” she said. “Have a night of women, and then have a night of men.”
— caitlin heaney west
If you go
“The Women,” presented by Actors Circle
When: Thursdays through Saturdays, 8 p.m., and Sundays, 2 p.m., through April 2
Where: Providence Playhouse, 1256 Providence Road, Scranton
Details: Tickets for Thursday’s show are $8 for general admission and seniors and $6 for students. For remaining dates, tickets are $12 for general admission, $10 for seniors and $8 for students. For reservations, call 570-342-9707 or email email@example.com.
“Glengarry Glen Ross,” presented by
When: Fridays and Saturdays, 8 p.m., and Sundays, 2 p.m., through April 2
Where: Olde Brick Theatre, 126 W. Market St., Scranton
Details: Tickets are $12 for general admission and $10 for students and seniors. For reservations, call 570-209-7766. Seating is limited. The show contains adult situations and strong language.
Rat Pack Tribute Show pays homage to legends
Scranton receives a blast from the past Friday and Saturday as the music of the Rat Pack steps out of the ’60s and into Radisson at Lackawanna Station hotel, 700 Lackawanna Ave.
Organized by JZ Tours, the Rat Pack Tribute Show features Las Vegas-based trio Brian Duprey as Frank Sinatra, Kenny Jones as Sammy Davis Jr. and Mark Verabian as Dean Martin. The show starts at 8:30 p.m., and doors open at 6 for cocktail hour followed by dinner of chicken portabella, short ribs or West Coast sole. Old Forge musician Nicole Rasmus, known for her performances of Patsy Cline songs and pop standards, will perform during cocktail hour. Tickets also are available for just the show.
Verabian, who also fronts the band Mark and His Martinis, decided to start his tribute to the Rat Pack about 15 years ago.
“I’m, by trade, a professional singer,” Verabian said. “And someone walked by one of my shows and said, ‘You know, you look like a young Dean Martin,’ and I said ‘Thank you,’ and that’s how it all got started.”
The tribute group tours worldwide with its live big band, often playing the same haunts as the original group of actors and performers.
Verabian enjoys makes a living playing some of his favorite classic tunes. He stressed the importance of authenticity in his performances.
“To deliver it right, you have to be a fan of the music,” Verabian said.
While members have left, been replaced and returned over the years, interplay and camaraderie between the trio is as important for the group as it was for the original Rat Pack.
“We try to stick together,” Verabian said. “Chemistry is very important for the show.”
The group played at Scranton Cultural
Center at The Masonic Temple about a decade ago, Verabian said, and he is excited to return
to “a great town” and visit friends in the area.
He expects those who come out will enjoy his band’s performance.
“I know there’s a lot of Italians out there, so the show’s gonna be well-received, I’m sure,” Verabian said.
— peter shaver
If you go
What: The Rat Pack Tribute Show
When: Friday and Saturday. Doors open at 6 p.m., dinner at 7 p.m., and show at 8:30 p.m.
Where: Radisson at Lackawanna Station hotel, 700 Lackawanna Ave, Scranton.
Details: Tickets with dinner are $75 for general admission, $95 for the VIP package, $675 for a general admission table and $855 for a VIP table. Tickets for the show only are $39.95 for general admission and $59.95 VIP seats.
First Friday party looks to boost interest in rappelling event
People passing the Bank Towers on Friday may notice an unusual sight: a 6-foot-tall wire figure suspended in motion as it rappels down Scranton’s tallest building.
The sculpture is part of NeighborWorks Northeastern Pennsylvania’s Over the Edge launch party taking place at 321 Spruce St. from 5 to 8 p.m. as part of the First Friday Art Walk. The party seeks to raise awareness about June’s Over the Edge event, during which people can rappel down the building to support the local nonprofit. Friday’s exhibit showcases Plymouth artist Sean Brady’s adventure- and rappelling-themed wire sculptures, which he has made since 1998.
“I was out in Oregon, just playing with wire in a greenhouse that I worked in, and I made a little figure and somebody liked it,” Brady said. “So, I just kept going.”
After returning to the East Coast a decade ago, wire sculpture became Brady’s full-time job. He exhibits throughout the Northeast and sells his work in Philadelphia, New Jersey, at On&On in Scranton and at Earth and Wears in Dallas.
Brady described his work as well-aligned with the launch party’s theme. Portraying sports and action in his art always interested him.
“I lean toward figures with movement, so it’s not so stagnant,” Brady said.
Sandra Snyder, development and events coordinator for NeighborWorks NEPA, described the charity’s focus as “improving neighborhoods through improving individual homes.” The organization offers painting and landscaping assistance to people in need as well as help with critical home modifications, such as walk-in showers, wheelchair ramps and other safety installations.
Last year, the group began Over the Edge to generate attention and support its causes. Along with quickening the pulse of participants, Snyder said, the event aims to better the wellbeing and independence of NEPA’s older residents, specifically supporting “projects that help people remain in their homes as they age.”
The Rev. Jeffrey Walsh of Scranton, a previous attendee, said organizers “invested a lot of effort into making everyone feel comfortable, even though there’s a fear factor in rappelling down twelve flights of a building.” Theresa Collins rappelled at the event and can’t wait to do it again this summer.
“It was awesome,” Collins said. “I mean, I was a little nervous to do it. I’ve never done anything like that before.”
The Over the Edge launch party is free and open to the public, and it offers free wine, snacks and trivia games with prizes. Snyder hopes it attracts anyone interested in NeighborWorks or rappelling for a cause.
“If anyone’s even thinking about it, we’d love for them to come out,” she said.
— peter shaver
If you go
What: Over the Edge launch party
When: Friday, 5 to 8 p.m.
Where: Second-floor lobby, Bank Towers,
321 Spruce St.
Details: Admission is free. Event includes wine, snacks and Game Show Mania trivia play
with DJ Mike Walton for prizes.
First Friday Events
“12 x 12: The Color of Sound,” works by NEPA Design Collective
members; karaoke; the Workshop, 334 Adams Ave.
“Aegean Streets,” works by David Elliott, CameraWork Gallery, 515 Center St.
“Aquarelles: A Collection of European Watercolors,” works by Emily Gibbons, Northern Light Espresso Bar, 536 Spruce St.
“Art for All Seasons,” works by local student artists, The Scranton Times Building, 149 Penn Ave.
“The Art of Antiquing,” works by Bill Naughton, Trinity Studio & Gallery, 511 Bogart Court
“The Art of Michael Lloyd,” with music, Bar Pazzo, 131 N. Washington Ave.
Artist pop-up, works by Dan Sheldon; music by Sugar Ray; Hilton Scranton and Conference Center, 100 Adams Ave.
Cecelia Mecca reading and book signing, Library Express, the Marketplace at Steamtown, 300 Lackawanna Ave.
“Chiaroscuro,” works by multiple artists; music by Tom Murray; STEAMworks, 300 Lackawanna Ave.
“Collage of Color,” student exhibition with works by Tommy Hennigan, Paul Triolo and Mark Pettnati; music by Aiden Jordan; ArtWorks Gallery & Studio, 503 Lackawanna Ave.
“Collective Dissent: Still Constructing a Praxis of Gender,” works by Amy Kizer; music by DJ Honeyman Lightnin’; Terra Preta Restaurant, 222 Wyoming Ave.
Elevate Your Game: Over the Edge Scranton Launch Party; wire sculptures by Sean Brady; music by DJ Mike Walton Game Show Mania; fashions; wine and food; Bank Towers, 321 Spruce St.
“Festival of Bows,” community collaborative project by multiple artists; music by various artists; Globe Gallery, 123 Wyoming Ave.
First Friday Steamtown Market, works by various artists and vendors; music by Gene Badwak, Paul Martin and Tony Halchak Duo; the Marketplace at Steamtown, 300 Lackawanna Ave.
Fly Me Home pop-up shop, with upcycled silverware, jewelry and mixed-media artwork, NOTE Fragrances, 401 Spruce St.
“Home,” handmade furniture, ceramics and decor by Cole Hastings, Oliver Pettinato, Skip Sensbach and more; with music; Electric City Escape and Hnat Designs, 507 Linden St.
Karaoke with DJ Peter Rawstron, Love the Arts! Music, 300 Lackawanna Ave.
Kennedy Creek Strummers ukulele troupe, Green Ridge Om & Wellness LLC, 222 Wyoming Ave.
“Nacirema,” works by multiple artists, Duffy Accessories, 218 Linden St.
illustrations and acrylic paintings by Andrew Riedinger, Loyalty Barbershop, 342 Adams Ave.
Paintings by Matt Montella, Eden — a vegan cafe, 344 Adams Ave.
Perfectly Pinup models; works by Stone Faux Studio and other handmade, repurposed and vintage pieces; On&On, 518 Lackawanna Ave.
Scranton Preparatory School Alumni Art Exhibit; works in various disciplines by multiple artists; music by Kyle Brier; 137 Wyoming Ave.
Sip and shop for the NEPA Youth Shelter, Lavish Body & Home, 600 Linden St.
“Sounds on That Corner,” works by Vince Bonitz and various artists; music by Little Plastic Raleigh; Analog Culture, 349 N. Washington Ave.
“Stella Blue: Music-Inspired Art by Faith Hawley,” New Laundry, 127 N. Washington Ave.
Works by Lisa Forman, Ramona Jan and Alex Tomlinson, AFA Gallery, 514 Lackawanna Ave.
Works by Sam Kuchwara; music by Eric Rudy; Ale Mary’s, 126 Franklin Ave.
Clarks Summit’s Festival of Ice returns this weekend with a theme sure to give you chills — and multiply them.
The 13th annual festival kicks off Friday with a variety of family-friendly activities and attractions. Visitors can check out close to 50 ice sculpture variations on the “Ice, Lights, Broadway!” theme, including homages to “Grease,” “Hamilton,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “West Side Story,” among other beloved musicals.
Admission and parking are free all weekend. For an official map, sculpture list and updates, visit the Facebook event page. Addresses listed below are in Clarks Summit unless otherwise noted.
Noon to 2 p.m.: Live music by Just Us Duo, Citizens Savings Bank, 538 S. State St.
1 to 3 p.m.: Live music by Ken McGraw and Joe Cole, Abington Community Library, 1200 W. Grove St.
2:30 to 3:30 p.m.: Live ice-carving demonstration, MetLife, 1028 Morgan Highway
3:30 to 4:30 p.m.: Live ice-carving demonstration, Toyota of Scranton, 3400 N. Main Ave., Scranton
5 to 6 p.m.: Live ice-carving demonstration, Crystal Cabin Fever, Purdytown Turnpike, Lakeville
5 to 7 p.m.: Live music by Tom Rogo, Golden Coast, 535 S. State St.
5:30 to 7 p.m.: Complimentary trolley tour of the festival with on/off stops at Everything Natural, 426 S. State St.; Depot Street; and First Presbyterian Church of Clarks Summit, 300 School St.
6 to 8 p.m.: Northeast Photography Club art show opening reception, First Presbyterian Church
6:30 to 8:30 p.m.: Family Fun Faire with DJ Jack Martin, storytelling with Chris Archangelo, children’s complimentary face painting by Happy Faces and post-parade juggling performance by Rob Smith, the Gathering Place, 304 S. State St.
7:30 p.m.: Festival of Ice Parade throughout downtown along South State Street
10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: Live music by Mark Woodyatt, Peoples Security Bank & Trust Co., 1100 Northern Blvd., South Abington Twp.
11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: Live ice-carving demonstration, Peoples Security Bank & Trust Co.
11 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Northeast Photography Club art show, First Presbyterian Church
11 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Children’s Art Show (with Northeast Photography Club), Barry’s Art Room, First Presbyterian Church
Noon to 2 p.m.: Photobooth by Dynamic Duo Entertainment, the Gathering Place
Noon to 1:30 p.m.: Live ice-carving demonstration, Frontier Communications, 108 N. State St.
Noon to 5 p.m.: Horse-and carriage-rides, outside the Gathering Place (tickets are $3, available at Clarks Summit borough building, 304 S. State St.)
1 to 3 p.m.: Live ice-carving demonstration plus live music by Von Storch Project, Everything Natural
1 to 3 p.m.: Live music with Mike Waskovich, Clel’s Place, 120 Barrett St.
1:30 p.m.: All About Theatre special adult theater group original play performance, the Gathering Place
2 p.m.: Broadway Musical Revue with Erin Malloy Marcinko, First Presbyterian Church
2:30 p.m.: Jill and Gehred Wetzel dance performance, the Gathering Place
3:30 to 5 p.m.: Live ice-carving demonstration, Toyota of Scranton
4 to 5 p.m. Live ice-carving demonstration, Gerrity’s Market, 100 Old Lackawanna Trail
5 to 7 p.m.: Live music by Lights Out, La Tonalteca Mexican Restaurant, 821 Northern Blvd.
5:30 to 7:30 p.m.: Live ice-carving demonstration, State Street Grill, 114 S. State St.
11 to 12:30 p.m.: Live Broadway Brass with Brass Reflections, the Gathering Place
Noon to 5 p.m.: Horse-and-carriage rides from the Gathering Place (tickets are $3, available at borough building)
1 to 3 p.m.: Drop-in children’s craft, Abington Art Studio, 208 Depot St.
1 to 3 p.m.: Live music by Dixieland All Stars, Gerrity’s Market
1 to 3 p.m.: Live music by Doreen Coleman, Everything Natural
1:30 p.m.: All About Theatre Junior Actors original play performance, the Gathering Place
2:30 p.m.: All About Theatre Senior Actors original play performance, the Gathering Place
3 to 5 p.m.: Live music by Old Man River Band, the Gathering Place
4 p.m.: “Ice, Lights, Cabaret!” performance, First Presbyterian Church
Festival of Ice Golden Ticket Scavenger Hunt: Pick up entry form at any location with an ice sculpture, then visit all nine Festival of Ice zones to find the hidden Golden Ticket. List each ticket location and drop off completed entries by Monday at 5 p.m. at any participating location. Random drawing from completely correct entries will be held after the festival.
Also, check with Clarks Summit-area businesses throughout the weekend for specials and giveaways.
— patrice wilding
Local art, vintage goods available at Punk Rock Flea Market
Iterations of the punk rock flea market popped up in cities across the country, from Philadelphia and Seattle to Asbury Park and El Paso, for many years. So it’s no surprise that Northeastern Pennsylvania wants to join the trend.
The inaugural NEPA Punk Rock Flea Market takes over Wyoming Hose Company No. 2 on Sunday for an all-day event touting dozens of art vendors, live music and more. Entry is $2, and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to support the Walk to Cure Arthritis in New York City.
Although the idea may be recycled from similar events around the country, Mike Campas said the initial response overwhelmed him and fellow event organizer Mike Vee. What started out as a small flea market to be held in Campas’ Larksville glassworking studio quickly grew too large for both that location and Coal City Tavern, the second proposed venue.
“There was immediately a much larger interest than we ever imagined, and the interest continues to grow,” Campas said. “Venue changes have been the bigger challenge. Challenging, but fun and rewarding as well.”
For the first NEPA Punk Rock Flea Market, patrons can expect a wide variety of goods from art and handmade pieces to vintage wares, vinyl records and crafts, among other vendors. Beverages for adults and children, as well as baked goods, will be available for purchase.
Scranton artist Ariell Stewart plans to sell her custom mandala art under the name Mandalas by Ariell. Stewart creates hand-painted mandalas primarily on wood but also on wine glasses, mugs and keychains. She also offers do-it-yourself kits for people to create mandala art on their own.
“I’m always thrilled to be part of the art community and be involved in events like the Punk Rock Flea Market,” Stewart said. “I think any time a group of artists and artisans come together to show their work and skills is amazing.”
Campas, a self-taught glass artist, also intends to set up a booth to sell his glass pieces, including borosilicate glass marbles.
Live entertainment is scheduled throughout the day, including balloon animals for the kids, magician and illusionist Alister Black, music by Janson Harris and comedian Elliott Elliott.
“The best part has been the large interest and response from the local community,” Campas added. “Personally, I’ve reconnected with some old friends, which is great. I love that this started as an idea and manifested into something physical without large expense. Motivation and focus go a long way, and this is an example of such.”
For now, the duo hopes to hold this event on a semi-annual basis, with the next one a two-day market for Memorial Day weekend.
“This event’s focus is creativity and community,” Campas said. “Anyone and everyone is encouraged to engage.”
— charlotte l. jacobson
Comic books reflect culture in Everhart Museum’s latest exhibit
It’s a bird!
It’s a plane!
No, it’s science — the science of superheroes and villains, that is, and the cultural significance behind these characters.
Everhart Museum’s newest exhibit, “Here I Come To Save the Day! The Science, Culture & Art of Superheroes,” opens Friday and looks at comic book classics’ roots in nature and the ways comics affect society and change with the times.
“Comics are seen all over the world, but there is something uniquely American about comic book superheroes,” curator Nezka Pfeifer said. “Comics are a reflection of American culture being more diverse and interesting.”
An exhibition preview and cocktail party takes place Thursday at 6 p.m. with tours starting at 7. Tickets are $75 or $100 for patron level and include themed cocktails and heavy hors d’oeuvres. The exhibit runs through July 17 in the Maslow Galleries.
Most superheroes and supervillains are based on animals or plants found in nature, taking their powers and other dispositions from those origins, Pfeifer said. The exhibit will feature these specimens from the museum’s collection.
“It’s the key characters that we can represent through our collections and the scientific and cultural look behind why and how they were created,” Pfeifer said.
The exhibit explores the development of characters and comics from the 1930s to present day in addition to tracking the impact comics had on society and vice versa. Dave Romeo Jr., owner of city comic book shop Comics on the Green, thinks the combination of science, art and cultural reflection plays a huge role in the public’s interest in comics.
“The best characters always have some tie to the real world,” he said, adding that comic books also promote literacy in young children and follow them through adolescence and adulthood. “There’s cool characters, and they’re also visually interesting. It fuels the imagination more.”
Romeo and local artist Mark Schultz offered their expertise, materials and guidance to the show, Pfeifer said. Aside from specimens, “Here I Come To Save the Day” features pieces from 12 contemporary artists who “all interpret comics in personal and socially interesting ways,” Pfeifer said.
“(The art explores how) we need to be superheroes of our own lives to conquer our own challenges,” she added.
In tandem with the main show, the museum’s Gallery One hosts “Animal Powers Activate,” an exhibition of works by community artists, adults and children who each created a new superhero or supervillain based on an animal.
To completely immerse guests in the superhero and supervillain theme, Pfeifer said, the museum will offer activities that tie in with the exhibit throughout its run. These include a superhero- and supervillian-themed tasting on Thursday, Feb. 23; the annual free Community Day, which will feature superhero-themed activities, workshops and more on Saturday, April 22; and the monthly museum book club, Everhart Reads. The club reads selections related to exhibit subject matter and meets the first Thursday of each month at Library Express, on the second floor of the Marketplace at Steamtown, at 6 p.m. (except for February).
While the exhibition is not a large overview of the history of comics, Pfeifer said it is an interesting and distinct look at a staple of American popular culture.
“Comic book themes and the stories themselves are universal,” she said. “They’re uniquely poised because of their extreme popularity and accessibility to culture.”
— gia mazur
If you go
What: “Here I Come To Save the Day! The Science, Culture & Art of Superheroes “
When: Friday through July 17
Where: Maslow Galleries, Everhart Museum, 1901 Mulberry St.
Details: Exhibit preview and cocktail party takes place Thursday at 6 p.m. with tours starting at 7. Tickets are $75 or $100 for patron level and include themed cocktails and heavy hors d’oeuvres. For tickets or more information, call 570-346-7186, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit everhart-museum.org.
Legendary British actor John Cleese brings ‘Holy Grail’ to F.M. Kirby Center
Comedy legend John Cleese promises to answer more than “these questions three” and allow “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” fans insider access to the movie’s world of humor.
The famed British actor, who co-wrote the Camelot farce and starred as its Sir Lancelot the Brave, appears on stage for a conversation and Q&A following a screening of the 1975 classic on Saturday at F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, Wilkes-Barre.
During a recent phone interview from Los Angeles, where he rested in the sun after an exhaustive 30-city tour with fellow Monty Python co-founder Eric Idle, Cleese revealed why people need a laugh now more than ever. As followers of his Twitter page know, Cleese closely follows world and American politics, and he has engaged in public discourse regarding the results of the recent presidential election.
“Eric and I said it was our jobs as Limeys to cheer the Americans up,” the 77-year-old said. “(President Donald Trump) doesn’t seem to have any of the qualifications. I wouldn’t immediately call him a gentleman, particularly regarding his remarks to women.
“I am worried he’s only taking one security briefing a week when (President Barack) Obama takes six. It’s an unnecessary risk to take.”
His distinct brand of absurdist comedy offers a timely departure from the post-election blues for many, especially those who established a cult following of the Monty Python movies and sketch-show bits.
“They often know the lines better than we do. It’s an extraordinary thought, it really is,” Cleese said. “What a nice bunch of fans we have. They don’t take life too serious. They’re sort of warm and friendly, so you couldn’t play for a better crowd.”
While diehards can quote his most celebrated jokes and lines verbatim, Cleese continues to evolve his comedy through innovative means. Whether it’s adapting his hit BBC show “Fawlty Towers” for the Australian stage or promoting a “Ministry of Silly Walks” app for mobile devices, he learned to rebrand the familiar for new audiences and mediums.
“People actually want to see the old stuff. The irony is, people — artists — always want to do something new, but people who put shows on want something old and familiar,” Cleese explained. “So we’re caught in a bit of a quandary: do stuff you want to do, and we try to find a way of doing some old stuff in a way that’s reasonably new.”
Incorporating the Q&A into his appearances is one way to guarantee a different, quality show every night. That, and getting plenty of sleep beforehand.
“You need to go rested, with energy. That’s how these things work, or else it doesn’t have that bounce,” Cleese said. “It’s much more interesting to interact than to stand and say the same thing you said in the past.
Audience members write out their questions, he added, and “we go through them to pick out the best ones.”
“We go off in all sorts of directions,” Cleese said. “We don’t know where we’re going. What is nice about it is the interaction.
“Some work is hard, some work is a bit of a grind, and some is just downright pleasant. And since I still have to make money, this is the nicest way to do it.”
— patrice wilding
If you go
What: Screening of “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” followed by John Cleese on stage for conversation and a Q&A
When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, 71 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre
Details: Tickets start at $79.50, plus fees, and are available at the box office, online at www.kirbycenter.org and by calling 570-826-110.
Local theaters ready to raise the curtain for winter shows
The frozen air gives way to the heat of stage lights this month as local theater groups return to action after the holidays.
Diva Theater’s fourth annual One-Act Festival, a collection of 10 short plays, takes over the Olde Brick Theatre, 126 W. Market St., from Thursday to Saturday, Jan. 26 to 28, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 29, at 2 p.m.
Diva loves to present original work, founder Paige Balitski said, and “writers feel comfortable” there.
“We appreciate writers in this area,” she said, noting how most of the writers and directors are local. “They love to see new stuff. Let’s face it — we’ve got a Pulitzer Prize-winner in Jason (Miller) and a Pulitzer Prize (finalist) in Stephen Karam. And they had to start somewhere. People are hopeful.”
The lineup includes works by Margo L. Azzarelli, Marnie Azzarelli, Jason Belak, Christopher Conforti, K.K. Gordon, Michael Pavese, John Schugard, Albert Shivers, J. Stewart and Rachel Luann Strayer. They’ve penned a love story, an 1870s-set piece full of what Balitski called “shoot-em-up-cowboy stuff,” a historical tale focusing on four generations, a piece about a man having philosophical conversations with a monkey and much more.
“We’ve got some eclectic stuff,” Balitski said.
Tickets are $10 and $12, and seating is limited in the second-floor theater; call 570-209-7766 for reservations.
January means another chance to tackle Shakespeare for United Neighborhood Centers of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s Youth Department.
UNC again teams up with New York- and Philadelphia-based REV Theatre Company, this time presenting a free production of “Macbeth” on Friday, Jan. 27, at 6 p.m. at UNC’s Oppenheim Center for the Arts, 1004 Jackson St.
Scranton resident Miranda Chemchick takes on the role of the Scottish thane whose play for power ultimately leads to his demise, while West Scranton High School student Kayla Chofey portrays the conniving Lady Macbeth. Fifteen-year-old Kayla aimed for that role during auditions, interested not just because of Lady Macbeth’s overall character but also “everything around her.” Nabbing the lead surprised but thrilled Chemchick, 20, who noted she plays a man who has somewhat of a feminine side and has moments of sanity and insanity.
“It’s all these different emotions,” she said.
REV tends to add unique touches to its shows, too, Chemchick said, and this time opposite sides of the audience will sit facing each other.
“Some of the scenes will be very up close to the audience,” Kayla said.
“I think the audience will like how interesting it will be,” Chemchick added.
For details, call 570-961-1592, ext. 105.
While it might feel like Antarctica in Scranton this winter, Actors Circle transports its audience to the end of the earth in “Terra Nova,” a drama focusing on the fatal British expedition to the South Pole that began in 1911.
For director Robert A. Spalletta, Ph.D., the play marks the fulfillment of a goal he set 34 years ago when he first saw the play.
“I said, ‘I have to do this sometime,’” he recalled. “It feels great. I am having a wonderful time.”
The show runs Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. from Feb. 2 through 12 at Providence Playhouse, 1256 Providence Road. Spalletta presents it with what he called his “dream cast,” featuring Casey Thomas as Capt. Robert Falcon Scott, who led his team to the Pole in the shadow of a rival Norwegian team, led by Roald Amundsen (William Zeranski).
The play was “taken literally from the journals of the Englishmen,” Spalletta said, and deals with the expedition and the British-Norwegian conflict. He noted it shows how people “accept or reject their higher circumstances.”
“You would think that a play in which everybody dies — and you know from the beginning that everybody dies — that it would be a real downer, but it’s not,” he said. “It’s fascinating to see how someone could relate to this. So you also see that they’re going crazy, they’re losing their minds because they’re freezing to death and they’re starving to death.”
Tickets are $6 and $8 for the Feb. 2 show and $8, $10 and $12 for remaining dates. For details, visit actorscircle.com or the group’s Facebook page, call 570-342-9707 or email tickets@
‘The Wizard of Oz’
Act Out Theatre Group, 408 N. Main St., Taylor, heads to the Emerald City in its latest show, “The Wizard of Oz.” It runs Feb. 3 to 12 with shows Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m.
The show closely resembles the beloved 1939 film adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s story about a young girl, Dorothy (played this time by both Kendall Joy and Isabella Snyder), who ends up in a faraway land of witches, Munchkins and magic. Audiences will hear favorite songs such as “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead.”
Act Out typically presents a family-friendly show this time of year and wanted to do the musical for a while, founder Candice Rowe said.
“It’s just one of those classics that I feel like the people just love it,” she said. “It’s a real
Older high-schoolers make up the majority of the cast, although some younger kids fill in the Munchkin roles. Act Out double-cast the leads, so each performer does three of the six shows.
“It’s always nice when we do a big, family-friendly show to get new people in and see what we do here,” Rowe said. “Live theater is just so important.”
— caitlin heaney west