Actor Tim McDermott likes to be challenged when it comes to taking on a theatrical piece, and Gaslight Theatre Company’s latest production does just that for him.
“I keep finding things about my character, like certain lines or the way he says things,” McDermott said. “It’s more than just jokes. The more I read it, the more layers I find for me and the other characters.”
Audiences can discover the layers of the black comedy, “The Pallbearers,” beginning tonight at 8 p.m. in the East End Centre, with performances through Jan. 29.
The play, written by Miners Mill native B. Garret Rogan, takes place amidst the country’s opiod epidemic, with a bit of gallows humor sprinkled in the mix. It explores the lives of a group of high school friends and their struggle to connect with a drug-addicted classmate in a cynical manner.
Director Dave Reynolds warned that the production is suitable only for mature audiences, but that should not alienate people from attending based on taste.
“I would want people to come see the show because, A) it’s funny, topical and unique to NEPA. Well it’s not unique to here; actually, it’s an epidemic,” Reynolds said. “It certainly seems like everyone is touched by (addiction). I haven’t seen or read anything that treats this subject matter the way this does. … I love (Rogan’s) writing. He’s extremely funny in a dark way. It’s very irreverent, but poignant.”
“It’s funny, funny, funny — then he hits you with a profound truth, and you’re like, ‘Oh, I didn’t think of it that way,’” McDermott added. “So I think that will appeal to audiences.”
Gaslight Theatre Company gives local playwrights the chance to produce their shows in front of an active audience. Rogan wrote for Gaslight’s “Playroom” series previously, but this is his first full-length play to be performed there.
Anne Rodella, who plays Clara, said she was most excited to be part of the show’s original cast.
“I don’t know that I was ever in an original piece before where no one had performed it yet,” Rodella said. “Bringing a show that the area has never seen, where a local writer worked on (it), is neat. Our parts are ours. If this is done somewhere else and they cast someone as Clara, I still played Clara first.”
The last few weeks of rehearsals coincided with the release of an NBC News article identifying heroin as a major cause of unhappiness in Wilkes-Barre and the surrounding region.
“Addiction in general, it’s like people get off one and hop on to another,” McDermott said. “Everyone has that need to fill the void.”
For Reynolds, Northeast Pennsylvania’s influence was clear.
“The show is not blatantly set in NEPA, but it’s definitely set in NEPA,” he said. “It’s very here, with a church and a bar on every corner.”
Having the area as the background created an easier connection for the actors, most of whom grew up in and around the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton region.
“This character is the most similar to me,” Rodella said. “A lot of it rings true from what she says to what she does, and what people say about her. Clara is like the audience, because she’s an outsider. She comments the most on other people and learns about them at the same speed as the audience.”
In addition to guaranteed belly laughs, the play is structured to speak to its viewers to force them to think more deeply about the context.
“Gaslight thrives on shows that don’t really end at the end of the performances,” McDermott said.
— charlotte l. jacobson
If you go
Where: Gaslight Theatre Company, 200 East End Centre, Wilkes-Barre Twp.
Dates: Jan. 19 to 29; Thursdays to Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.
Details: Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for students and seniors, available on ticketfly.com or at the door. Visit gaslight-theatre.org or the group’s Facebook page for more information.
‘Jersey Boys’ returns to Scranton
Cultural Center for eight shows
It seems “Jersey Boys” can’t take its eyes off Scranton for too long.
The national tour of the Broadway sensation about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons returns to the city almost three years after drawing in crowds during a nearly two-week run. Broadway Theatre League of Northeastern Pennsylvania again brings the musical to Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple, 420 N. Washington Ave., this time for eight shows starting Tuesday, Jan. 17.
“People love the music, but one of the great things about ‘Jersey Boys’ is it’s so well written. … They just put something together that is really entertaining in that it’s like an episode of ‘The Sopranos’ but with music,” said Keith Hines, an Oklahoman who plays Four Seasons member Nick Massi. “It’s a gangster story, and that’s entertaining. On top of that, (it’s) a story about blue-collar guys achieving extreme stardom.”
Valli — who often visited his maternal grandmother in Dunmore as a child — formed his iconic singing group in New Jersey along with Massi and the other two “seasons,” Tommy DeVito and Bob Gaudio. They achieved stardom with the 1962 hit “Sherry” and followed with such now-classics as “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Walk Like a Man.” Personal troubles eventually broke up the original quartet, but Valli and a new lineup continued to find success through the years.
The musical based on the group’s experiences opened on Broadway on Nov. 6, 2005, and closes this Sunday after more than 4,600 performances and four Tony awards, including best musical. Featuring many of the group’s biggest hits, “Jersey Boys” attracted a devoted following and was turned into a feature film in 2014.
“We’ve all worked our whole lives in musical theater and (were) not used to seeing people getting up out of their seats and dancing in the aisles,” Hines said. “When we go back to other shows like ‘Carousel’ and ‘Oklahoma,’ it’s going to be a culture shock.”
The only original member of the Four Seasons no longer living, Massi broke from the group in 1965. But he left a legacy in his bass solos, said Hines, who has been with the show for three years.
“It’s very specific and it’s unique, and people hear it and … even though they might not know the name, the voice is very identifiable,” he said.
Hines called the singer a loving, caring “musical genius” who, even in the Four Seasons’ early days singing on the street, “was designating all the harmonies just off the cuff.”
“He wasn’t using any sheet music, and he could hear them all,” Hines said. “Even when they got into the studios … (songwriter Bob Crewe) was amazed with Nick. He just had a knack for music.
“And I think outside of music, he was struggling to find an identity, so he did a lot of womanizing and a lot of drinking, and that didn’t fulfill him. And he eventually kind of made his way away from the group and surrounded himself with family.”
While Hines’ favorite moment in the show changes from night-to-night, he enjoys performing “Cry for Me,” the first song the Four Seasons sing together on stage. “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” often gets a standing ovation, he added, and audiences really seem to love when the stars perform the group’s iconic songs for the first time.
“It’s palpable,” Hines said. “You can feel people lean forward in that moment.”
Hines described “Jersey Boys” as an underdog story that inspires people and gives them excitement and hope.
“It’s a great lesson for people who dream big, that if you dream big and work hard, you can do it,” he said. “You can make your dreams come true.
“In addition to that, I think it’s a magical experience to walk into a theater and leave your worries and concerns outside and allow yourself to be taken away and entertained by people who are actually in the room.”
— caitlin heaney west
If you go
What: “Jersey Boys,” presented by
Broadway Theater League of Northeastern Pennsylvania
When: Tuesday through Thursday, Jan. 17 to 19, 7:30 p.m.; Friday, Jan. 20, 8 p.m.; Saturday, Jan. 21, 2 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, Jan. 22, 1 and 6:30 p.m.
Where: Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple, 420 N. Washington Ave.
Details: Because the show contains “profane Jersey language,” gunshots, smoke and strobe lights, it is recommended for ages 12 and older. It runs about 2 hours, 35 minutes, including intermission. Tickets are $37 to $82, available at the box office, 800-745-3000 and ticketmaster.com. Visit broadwayinscranton.com.
A look at the year ahead in local entertainment
Some of Broadway’s most beloved shows drop into Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple, 420 N. Washington Ave., in 2017, starting with Tony-winning musical “Jersey Boys.” Broadway Theatre League of Northeastern Pennsylvania presents the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons from Jan. 17 to 22. Then follows “Cinderella,” which features a new book by Northeast Pennsylvania native Douglas Carter Beane, from March 17 to 19; “The Illusionists” magic show April 22 only; and “Pippin” from May 5 to 7.
Among community theater troupes, Actors Circle presents “Terra Nova” from Feb. 2 to 5 and 9 to 12, “The Women” from March 23 to 26 and March 30 to April 2, and “The Uninvited” from May 25 to 28 and June 1 to 4 at Providence Playhouse, 1256 Providence Road, Scranton.
Diva Theater, 126 W. Market St., Scranton, presents its fourth annual program of original one-act plays, featuring 10 shows from five directors, from Jan. 26 to 29.
At the Dietrich Theater, 60 E. Tioga St., Tunkhannock, the After School Players present “Third Class” on March 4 followed by a community production of “George Washington Slept Here” from April 28 to 30.
F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, Wilkes-Barre, hosts four major theatrical performances this year, starting with the ABBA musical “Mamma Mia!” on Sunday. Neil Simon’s “Last of the Red Hot Lovers” takes the stage Feb. 17, presented by Philadelphia’s Walnut Street Theater. Iconic musical “Annie” visits Feb. 23 followed by the quintessential backstage musical comedy, “42nd Street,” on March 29.
— caitlin heaney west and charlotte l. jacobson
Leesa Bailey, 17, of Binghamton, N.Y., is surrounded in a sea of people as she watches Scranton band Motionless in White perform on Monday during the Vans Warped Tour 16 held at Montage Mountain in Scranton. Butch Comegys / Staff Photographer
The concert calendar already is filling up with a range of genres at venues across the region.
Scranton native rockers the Menzingers celebrate their newest album, “After the Party,” with a free, all-ages release show and meet-and-greet Feb. 4 at Gallery of Sound, 186 Mundy St., Wilkes-Barre.
Soul singer and Broadway veteran Morgan James shares songs from her full-length debut album, “Hunter,” during a March 31 show at Peoples Security Bank Theater at Lackawanna College, 501 Vine St., Scranton.
F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts in Wilkes-Barre ushers in a year of robust talent, starting with a trio of tribute acts: Elvis Lives on Feb. 1, in honor of the King; God Save the Queen on Feb. 3, paying homage to Queen; and “Rain: A Tribute To the Beatles” on March 26.
The Kirby also welcomes country superstar Martina McBride on March 11 and bagpipe-playing rock band Red Hot Chilli Pipers on March 25. Blues group Alexis P. Suter Ministers of Sound celebrates the release of a live album with a performance March 31, while Brian Wilson of Beach Boys fame brings his “Pet Sounds: The Final Performances” tour May 2.
The NEPA Philharmonic’s chamber concerts include “The Enchanting Harp” on Jan. 19; “Meet Laura Gilbert,” March 2; and “Unbuttoned Dvorak,” April 20, all at Sordoni Theater at WVIA, Pittston. The Pops series continues with “A Night at the Oscars” on Feb. 4, and “The Piano Men” on April 1, both in Keystone Grand Ballroom at Mohegan Sun Pocono, Plains Twp. The Masterworks concerts resume with “Orchestra Spotlight: Passion” at Lackawanna College on March 4 and wrap up with “Season’s Grand Finale: Heroes. Passion. Inspiration.” on May 5 at the Kirby.
Grammy-winning country star Dwight Yoakam supports the recent release of his first bluegrass album with a show on Feb. 3 in Keystone Grand Ballroom at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The country craze continues with Brad Paisley on Feb. 16 and Thomas Rhett on March 9 at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, Wilkes-Barre Twp.
Cove Haven Resort, Lakeville, also offers a year of diverse musical talent, starting with Ja Rule and Dru Hill on March 5. Summer welcomes country singer and “The Voice” champion Cassadee Pope on June 25, while Grammy-winning band Blues Traveler arrives Sept. 3.
Vans Warped Tour plays Scranton again July 10, according to its website, although a venue was not announced.
— charlotte l. jacobson and patrice wilding
After a year that left many feeling pretty down, locals could use a few good laughs. The region serves up some big names and variety with comedy shows in 2017.
Superstars Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy are ready to get ’er done at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, Wilkes-Barre Twp., on Friday, Jan. 20, at 7:30 p.m. as part of their “We’ve Been Thinking” tour.
Comedy legend John Cleese engages his audience in a Q&A after a screening of “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” at F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, Wilkes-Barre, on Saturday, Jan. 28, at 7:30 p.m.
The next night, Jan. 29, catch “America’s Got Talent” judge and “Bobby’s World” creator Howie Mandel at Cove Haven Resort, Lakeville.
Just for Laughs’ Stand-Up Comedian of 2016, Sebastian Maniscalco, stops by F.M. Kirby Center on Feb. 11 at 7 and 9:30 p.m.
Stand-up comic Kathleen Madigan takes her “Bothering Jesus” tour to Peoples Security Bank Theater at Lackawanna College, 501 Vine St., Scranton, on Friday, March 10, at 8 p.m. as part of the Community Concerts series.
Wisecrackers, meanwhile, continues to host comedians on Friday and Saturday nights at Mohegan Sun Pocono, Plains Twp.
— patrice wilding and charlotte l. jacobson
Whether for food or fun, a number of festivals take place around the region each year.
Enjoy the wonders of the Lackawanna River during Shiverfest on Jan. 14, then head to Dietrich Theater, 60 E. Tioga St., Tunkhannock, for two film festivals featuring foreign, independent and art films. Winter Fest runs Feb. 17 through March 2, and the Spring Film Festival then takes place April 7 through 27 with special activities on each opening night and free post-festival discussions March 3 and April 28.
Clarks Summit hosts the Annual Festival of Ice from Feb. 17 to 20. Join one of the biggest events in downtown Wilkes-Barre, the annual Fine Arts Fiesta on Public Square, from May 18 to 21. On May 27, celebrate a Midvalley tradition, St. Ubaldo Day and Race of the Saints, in Jessup over Memorial Day weekend.
The region celebrates its love of food with the fourth annual Edwardsville Pierogi Festival, June 9 and 10; the Pittston Tomato Festival, Aug. 17 to 20; and Plymouth’s annual Kielbasa Festival, the second weekend of August.
Labor Day weekend offers the chance to commemorate the area’s rich locomotive history during Railfest at Steamtown National Historic Site and its Italian heritage at La Festa Italiana on Lackawanna County Courthouse Square.
— charlotte l. jacobson and gia mazur
Families have a wide selection of events in the area this year, from parades to children’s theater, sports events and circus acts.
At Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, Wilkes-Barre Twp., events include “Disney on Ice: Passport To Adventure,” Jan. 12 to 16; “Monster Jam,” Feb. 24 to 26; and the Harlem Globetrotters, March 12.
F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts on Public Square, meanwhile, hosts several free children’s events, including “Doktor Kaboom Live Wire! The Electricity Tour” on Jan. 12; Bill Blagg’s “Science of Magic,” Feb. 13; “Story Pirates” interactive stage show, April 7; and “Elephant and Piggie’s We Are in a Play,” May 16.
In addition to the free shows, family-friendly productions coming to the Kirby Center include Cirque du Soleil-type show “Cirque Zuma Zuma,” Feb. 16; percussion sensation “Stomp,” March 15 and 16; “Odd Squad Live,” March 24; Bindlestiff Family Cirkus, April 1; and rhythmic circus “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now,” April 30.
Back in Scranton, families can get into the Irish spirit with the city’s 56th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, set for March 11.
At Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple, 420 N. Washington Ave., see a favorite TV shows come to life with “Paw Patrol Live! Race To the Rescue” today at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. and “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Live!” on March 22 at 2 and 5:30 p.m.
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins play at the arena through April, with the next home game occurring Friday against the Hershey Bears, and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders hold their home opener April 10 against Lehigh Valley at PNC Field, Moosic.
— charlotte l. jacobson and caitlin heaney west
Home is where the heart is, but for many local artisans, it’s also where the market resides.
For area natives who feel homesick or current residents simply bursting with hometown pride, products that feature the names, images and memories of Northeast Pennsylvania make great gifts.
Here’s a helping of creative, NEPA-inspired items sure to please everyone on your holiday list this year. Support local artists, lavish your loved ones, and recall what makes Scranton and surrounding towns so special with these Pennsylvania-themed presents.
Tig and Cooney’s
Lisa Malsberger designs a variety of products that feature the names and geographies of cities, towns and boroughs throughout NEPA. Her napkins stamped with Scranton, Abingtons and Moscow areas retail for $18 each, two for $35 and four for $60; handkerchiefs with Scranton or the Abingtons run $20 each; and bandanas depicting Scranton, Abingtons, Moscow, Mid Valley and Valley View areas are available in limited quantities for $20 each.
“We all have a story of where we’ve come from, and we have pride in our story and our hometown,” Malsberger explained. “Maps tell that story, and they are timeless. Even though a specific place or person may change, the map stays the same. It’s a comforting constant.
“I specifically use vintage maps (from the ’60s and ’70s). These gifts are unique but also are for anyone; they’re not gender- or age-specific,” she added. “I’ve given these gifts to my 88-year-old grandmother, who will recall an area on the map where she went to school or walked over a bridge to her friend’s house. And I’ve also given them to my (almost) 10-year-old nephew, who our family will show where his mother and father grew up when they were his age. Everyone can appreciate an area on a map and point out a place that brings back a memory.”
Buy it: Online at www.tigandcooneys.com or at Lavish Body & Home, 600 Linden St., Scranton, and the Waverly General Store, 1201 North Abington Road, Waverly Twp.
Made in small batches and poured into hand-cut, repurposed bottles, these soy wax candles are produced in Scranton and feature familiar names and brands, such as Crystal Club, Mid-Valley Quality Beverage, B-1, Dixie Spring Beverage and Finn’s Beverages. Prices range from $10 for small sizes to $22 for the largest.
“So many of the older, big brands were designed with great bottles and logos. But there were also local smaller brands,” said Andrew Planey, who sells WaxJunky. “At one time, every area had a local bottling company that made all kinds of different flavors. These company logos and descriptions were super cool.
“The bottles were also made to last. With thick glass and screen-printed labels, the bottles would last through hundreds of refills,” he added. “These bottles deserve a second life. They are just made to be repurposed. Not everyone wants to put a bottle on their shelf — but everyone likes candles.”
Buy it: Online at www.waxjunky.com or at On&On, 518 Lackawanna Ave.
Valerie Kiser Designs
Scranton-based artist Valerie Kiser brands high-end pillows, sweatshirts, T-shirts, baby onesies and ornaments with her spin on the iconic “Electric City” sign that illuminates the downtown each night.
Items range in price from $15 to $75 for men’s, women’s and children’s apparel, and $16 to $85 for house and lifestyle items.
“(My company) is founded on creating clean and simple designs that are unique — but familiar — for hand-printed clothing, accessories and home decor, with a niche market for custom design for individuals and businesses,” Kiser said. “I feature local icons in my design because I was looking for a way to be more connected to myself and my community.”
Buy it: Online at www.valeriekiserdesign.com or at Lavish Body & Home, 600 Linden St.
Whether you spent your childhood in the Electric City or you simply know a fan of the familiar Scranton skyline, ScrantonMade’s mugs keep hometown memories warm and close at hand.
Mugs are $12 each or $20 for a pair.
“ScrantonMade celebrates all things local, and we like to show our Scranton pride with assorted merchandise like the best-selling cityscape mugs,” said Cristin Powers, the company’s founder. “They are the perfect gift for anyone that was born and raised here. Or, for those who have moved on to another city: we know your heart is still in Scranton.”
Buy it: Online at www.scrantonmade.com.
Steamtown souvenirs and collectibles
The sounds of trains chugging and whistling their way through the Lackawanna Valley remain a welcome sensory memory for many NEPA natives. Visitors to Steamtown National Historic Site can pick up souvenirs at the park, but online shoppers, too, have the opportunity from afar to purchase collectibles that depict the region’s railroad heritage.
Magnets, patches, pins, mugs, books and DVDs are among the cache of Steamtown-themed items available, as are wooden train and Union Pacific “Big Boy” 4012 ornaments. Everything on the site, including an album of historic railroad songs and a Steamtown pocket watch, retails for less than $20. Proceeds from online sales are donated to the National Park Service.
Buy it: Online at eparks.com (search for Steamtown), visit the Museum Shop and Bookstore at the park (350 Cliff St.), or call 570-340-5213.
For history and trivia buffs
The Times-Tribune teamed up with local organizations, including Lackawanna Historical Society, in the past year to market a pair of items that explore Scranton’s roots and idiosyncrasies and celebrate the city’s 150th anniversary.
“You Live Here! You Should Know This!” Trivia Quest, Scranton and Lackawanna County edition, makes learning fun with a board game the whole family can enjoy. It’s priced at $19.95, and proceeds benefit the historical society.
Buy it: Online at www.TriviaQuestScranton.com or at local businesses, such as Everything Natural in Clarks Summit and Library Express in the Marketplace at Steamtown, Geisinger Community Medical Center, Nina’s, Gerrity’s supermarket, POSH at the Scranton Club, Duffy Accessories and Southside Seafood, all in Scranton.
Gift-givers also can pick up copies of the hardcover coffee table book “Scranton, the First 150 Years: 1866-2016,” which includes archival newspaper and submitted photos that show life in the Electric City over the last century and a half. The books are $44.95, plus tax.
Buy it: During regular business hours at The Scranton Times Building, 149 Penn Ave. For more information, call 570-348-9100.
— patrice wilding
The Best of the Best
It’s time to announce Electric City’s Best of 2016 Readers’ Poll winners.
Each year, we highlight the fantastic people, places and things we love in Northeast Pennsylvania. Voters registered online at www.the570.com, created a user profile and filled out their online ballot. Each category started completely blank, and users entered the names of nominees in each category. Once a name was entered, it became part of the ballot. Voters then cast their ballots for favorites within nine categories: Love and Romance, Eats and Drinks, Goods and Services, Arts and Entertainment, Nightlife, Media, Health and Recreation, and Superstars. We also wanted our readers to let us know their WTF Moment of 2016. Online voting kicked off early in the morning on Nov. 4, and the votes kept flooding in until noon on Nov. 18. This year’s voting smashed previous records with votes tallying in at more than 245,000. And now the results are in.
Congratulations to all the winners and a sincere thank you to all of the readers who took the time to cast their votes.
We hope to see you at our annual Best of Bash, taking place Wednesday Jan. 11, at 7 p.m. at The Backyard Ale House, 523 Linden St., Scranton. It’s always a legendary party with a room packed full of winners celebrating the best of the best our area has to offer.
Keep on reading Electric City every week as we continue to provide you with exclusive features, photo galleries, columns, a robust calendar of local events and so much more. – tom graham, managing editor
Love & Romance
Best Place To Buy an Engagement Ring – Boccardo Jewelers
Best Flower Shop
Best Limo Service
Nasser Limousine Service
Best Place for a Bachelor Party
Mohegan Sun Pocono
Best Place for a Bachelorette Party
Mohegan Sun Pocono
Best Place for a First Date
Electric City winner: Market Street Bar
Diamond City winner: Fire and Ice on Toby Creek
Best Place To Buy an Engagement Ring
Best Place To Buy Lingerie
Best Wedding Gowns
Best Wedding Registry
Live with It by Lora Hobbs
Best Wedding Venue
Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple
Arts & Entertainment
Best New Local CD – “Monsters” — Pat McGlynn
Best All Ages Venue
The Pavilion at Montage Mountain
Best Art Venue
Mohegan Sun Pocono
Best Concert Venue
Electric City winner: The Pavilion at Montage Mountain
Diamond City winner: The F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts
Best Dance Company
Dave Ragnacci School of Dance
Best Local Band Name – Clever Clever
Best Theater Production – “Hamlet” — New Vintage Ensemble
Best Local Festival
Electric City winner: La Festa Italiana
Diamond City winner: Pittston Tomato Festival
Best Movie Theater
Electric City winner: Cinemark 20 and XD
Diamond City winner: RC Wilkes-Barre
Best New Event
Best New Local CD
“Monsters” — Pat McGlynn
Best Ongoing Cultural Event
Electric City winner: First Friday Scranton
Diamond City winner: Fine Arts Fiesta
Best Open Mic
Best Original Band
Best Party Cover Band
Best Original Band and Best Band Name – Clever Clever
Best Place To Shoot Pool
The V Spot
Best Theater Production
“Hamlet” — New Vintage Ensemble
Eats & Drinks
Best Sushi – Osaka Restaurant
State Street Grill
Best Beer Menu
Electric City winner: Backyard Ale House
Diamond City winner: Sabatini’s Bottleshop and Bar
Best Boneless Wings
Electric City winner: Nina’s Restaurant
Diamond City winner: The Tipsy Turtle
The Eatery by Jessica
Backyard Ale House
Best Chinese Restaurant
China Palace Inn
Gertrude Hawk Chocolates
Best Coffee Shop
Best Cup of Coffee
Northern Lights Espresso Bar and Cafe
Cara Mia’s Delicatessen
Market Street Sweets
Best Food Truck
Electric City winner: The Bitemobile by Nina’s
Diamond City winner: Peculiar Culinary Co.
Best French Fries
Five Guys Burgers and Fries
Best Frozen Yogurt
Manning Farm Dairy
Five Guys Burgers and Fries
Best Hot Dogs
Coney Island Lunch
Best Ice Cream
Manning Farm Dairy
Best Italian Food
Best Italian Ice
Rita’s Italian Ice
Best Japanese Restaurant
Electric City winner: Osaka Japanese
Diamond City winner: Mirakuya Japanese Restaurant
Best Liquid Lunch
Backyard Ale House
Best Long Lunch
The Loading Dock Bar and Grill
Best Lunch on a Budget
Best Lunch on the Go
Best Mexican/Southwestern Restaurant
La Tonalteca, Scranton
Best New Restaurant
Best Patio Dining
State Street Grill
Best Place To Eat Organic
Terra Preta Restaurant
Best Potato Pancakes
Electric City winner: Market Street Bar
Diamond City winner: Aurants
Best Romantic Restaurant
Electric City winner: POSH at the
Diamond City winner: Pazzo
Best Round Pizza
Buona Pizza, Inc.
The Loading Dock Bar and Grill
Cara Mia’s Delicatessen
Best Seafood- Electric City winner: Cooper’s Seafood House
Electric City winner: Cooper’s Seafood House
Diamond City winner: J J Banko’s Seafood
Zuppa Del Giorno
Best Square Pizza
Maroni’s Pizza House
Electric City winner: Carl Von Luger Steak
Diamond City winner: Ruth’s Chris
Fratelli’s Pizza and Pasta House
Best Thai Restaurant
Thai Rak Thai
Best Vegetarian Menu
Eden — a vegan café
Best Wine Menu
Kelly’s Pub and Eatery
Goods & Services
Best Barbershop – Loyalty Barber Shop
Best Animal Hospital Veterinarian
Dr. Robert Noto at Memorial Veterinary Hospital
Loyalty Barber Shop
Best Bicycle Shop
Sickler’s Bike and Sport Shop
The Daisy Collective
Best Car Dealership
Toyota of Scranton
Best Car Wash
Wizard Car Wash
Best Cigar Shop
Big House Tobacco
Best Comic Book Store
Electric City winner: Comics on the Green
Diamond City winner: Rubber Mallet Comics
Best Day Spa
Alexander’s Salon and Spa
Best Dry Cleaner
Best Farmers Market
Farmers’ Co-Op Market
Best Garden Store
Jerry’s for All Seasons
Best Animal Hospital Veterinarian – Dr. Robert Noto at Memorial Veterinary Hospital
Best Hair Salon
Hez Studio Salon and Spa
Best Health Food Store
Best Jewelry Store
Best Local Brewery
Electric City winner: 3 Guys and a Beer’d
Diamond City winner: Susquehanna
Electric City winner: Alexander’s Salon and Spa
Diamond City winner: The Sapphire Salon
Best Men’s Clothing Store
Burlap and Bourbon
Best Grocery Store
Best Pet Supply Store
Pet Supplies Plus
Best Pipe Shop
Headdies Pipe and Vape Shop
Best Place To Buy Beer
Electric City winner: Backyard Ale House
Diamond City winner: Sabatini’s Bottleshop and Bar
Best Place To Buy Music
Joe Nardone’s Gallery of Sound
Best Shoe Store
Scranton Running Co.
Best Ski Shop
The Ski Corner
Best Women’s Clothing Store and Best Boutique – The Daisy Collective
Best Store for Music Equipment
Electric City winner: Magdon Music
Diamond City winner: Rock Street Music
Best Tanning Salon
Tanfastic Sun Tan Center
Best Tattoo Parlor
Electric City Tattoo
Best Unique Gift Shop
Willow Tree Shop
Best Vintage Clothing Store
On & On
Best Women’s Clothing Store
The Daisy Collective
Best Bar in a Restaurant
Backyard Ale House
Best Bar You Can Smoke In
The V Spot
Best Bike Night
Thirst T’s Bar and Grill
Billy B’s Martini Bar and Restaurant
Best College Bar
Electric City winner: The Green Frog
Diamond City winner: Senunas’ Bar & Grill
Best Corner Bar
The Roosevelt Beer Garden
Best Drink Specials
Best Gay/Lesbian-Friendly Bar
Electric City winner: 12 Penny Saloon
Diamond City winner: HEAT
Best Happy Hour
Backyard Ale House
Best Happy Hour Food
Ale Mary’s at the Bittenbender
The V Spot
Best-Looking Bar Crowd
Backyard Ale House
La Tonalteca, Scranton
Alfredo’s Pizza Cafe
Best New Bar/Club
Levels Bar and Grill
Best Place To Shake It
Panked! Dance Party
Best Pub Trivia
Best Sports Bar
Happy Valley Sports Bar
Best St. Patrick’s Day Parade Bar
Best Strip Club
The Grandview Gentlemen’s Club
Best Venue To Hear Live Music at
Electric City winner: O’Leary’s Pub
Diamond City winner: Breakers at Mohegan Sun Pocono
Best Young Professionals Bar
Ale Mary’s at the Bittenbender
Best Local Filmmaker – Lindsay Barrasse
Best College Radio Station
Marywood VMFM 91.7
Best Local Website
Best Morning Radio Show
Prospector on Rock 107
Best Radio Station
Health & Recreation
Best Bowling Alley
South Side Bowl
Best Gym/Health Club
Best Place To Picnic
Electric City winner: Lackawanna State Park
Diamond City winner: Kirby Park
Best Place To Go Camping
Ricketts Glen State Park
Best Trip Just an Hour Away
Best Bartender – Brian Craig
Rich DePoley at the Bog
Electric City winner: Stirna’s Restaurant
Diamond City winner: Peculiar Culinary Co.
Electric City winner: Rory Flynn (Ale Mary’s)
Diamond City winner: Gene Philbin
(Peculiar Culinary Co.)
Dr. Corey Chmil
EJ the DJ
Dr. Linda Barrasse
Best Local Actor
Best Local Actress
Best Local Author
Best Local Blogger
Best Local Comedian
Here We Are in Spain
Best Local Dancer
Best Local Visual Artist – Allison LaRusso
Best Local Filmmaker
Best Local Radio Personality
Prospector on Rock 107
Best Local TV News Personality
Best Local Visual Artist
Best Newspaper Reporter
Electric City winner: Dr. Eric Blomain
Diamond City winner: Dr. Ira Krafchin
Best Pet Groomer
Shampooch Grooming Salon
Eli Gerrity (Electric City Tattoo)
Best Solo Musician
Thomas Frable (Alexander’s Salon and Spa)
Best Tattoo Artist
Tyler Pawelzik (Black Casket)
Best Travel Agent
John Madden of Travel World
Best Wedding DJ
Mike Walton Entertainment
Best Wedding Photographer
Amanda Krieg Photography
Best Wedding Planner
Kelly Trapper (Constantino’s Catering
Best Wedding Singer/Band
Daddy-O and the Sax Maniacs
WTF Moment of 2016
Winning, at least here, in the popular vote, by a landslide, Donald J. Trump and his controversial rise to the oval office is the WTF Moment in Electric City’s Best of 2016 Readers’ Poll. Coming in at a close second were the presidential campaigns — including the debates and scandals — of both Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Honorable mention once again goes to two of our repeat offenders: Disgraced former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane — sentenced to 10 to 23 months in prison for her conviction on charges she leaked grand jury information then lied about her actions — and the ever-frustrating traffic, accidents and construction on Interstate 81.
And last but not least, congratulations to the creepy killer clowns who did their best to scare up media attention while roaming dark city streets and wooded areas throughout the country. Your fleeting 15 minutes of fame may have ended, but you still made Electric City readers think, “WTF?!?”
Festival of Trees mixes old-fashioned technology with sci-fi to create steampunk theme
Gear up for Christmas with the merry mechanics of a steampunk-inspired festival.
The annual Festival of Trees this year takes on the genre that mixes old-fashioned technology with sci-fi, asking people and groups from across the region to decorate or create Christmas trees with a steampunk theme.
“I think the (planning) committee was thinking we have such a great kind of industrial-era Victorian past here, so I think we’re hoping to see people get into that industrial side of things,” said Maureen McGuigan, deputy director of arts and culture for Lackawanna County.
That means visitors can expect to see trees incorporating elements such as gears, clocks and steam power, which ties in with Scranton’s railroading history. McGuigan said she hopes people will research the steampunk aesthetic and come up with unusual takes on the trees, which she noted could incorporate “elements of the fantastical.”
“I think the color tones are a little bit more gray and brown and stuff, but I think people will be very creative,” she said. “I think we’ll see nontraditional-type trees.”
This year’s exhibit runs from Friday, Dec. 9, through Monday, Jan. 9, in the former Express store across from Santa Claus at the Marketplace at Steamtown, 300 Lackawanna Ave. (From Monday to Sunday, Dec. 12 to 18, the trees will be displayed by a temporary, indoor ice-skating rink.)
Exhibit admission is free except during the Dec. 9 opening reception, which runs from 5:30 to 8 p.m. and costs $20. Proceeds from the show and reception benefit the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program.
Tree participants like to give to Toys for Tots and put a lot of effort into the trees because it helps families in need, McGuigan said. The holidays are especially important to children, she said, but some families are not in a position to buy such gifts. That’s where Toys for Tots steps in.
“This group has helped people have a wonderful holiday season, because that’s important to growing up and having those good, positive memories about the season,” McGuigan said. “I think it always pulls at our heartstrings. We don’t want to think of any child not having a toy at this time of year.”
Organizers plan to set up a collection box for toy donations during the opening reception, which also includes music and a steampunk costume contest.
“We usually have the Marine Corps (Reserve) speak on behalf of Toys for Tots,” McGuigan said. “We usually have a band, but I think this year we’re going to do a fun steampunk playlist and make it more like a dance party. … (Steampunk) has this particular sound. It’s different-type music.”
She estimated that about 32 or 33 individuals and groups — from businesses to churches to schools — sponsored and decorated trees last year, and she hopes to get about that same number this year. People start calling her as early as August to find out the year’s theme, she said, and “each theme brings some new people who are interested in that topic as well.” She thinks the program lets participants put their personalities and visions into a tree while also getting their names out there.
“I think it just gets addicting,” McGuigan said. “It’s a chance to use your imagination, your creativity.”
The exhibit remains up further into January than last year because organizers learned “people were still trying to come way past the first week of January” to check out the trees, she said. It also opens a week later than last year.
“We want people to experience the trees,” McGuigan said. “People put a lot of time into it.”
— caitlin heaney west
If you go
What: Annual Festival of Trees
When: Friday, Dec. 9, through Monday, Jan. 9;
opening reception Dec. 9, 5:30 to 8 p.m.
Where: Marketplace at Steamtown, 300 Lackawanna Ave.
Details: Tickets for the opening reception are $20; admission for remaining dates is free. Proceeds benefit the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program.
Holiday Marketplace ignites nostalgia at old Globe Store
For ScrantonMade, home is where the holiday marketplace is.
The marketplace changed venue again this year, moving from Marketplace at Steamtown to the former Globe Store on Wyoming Avenue. The event stretches across three days this year, Friday, 5 to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Globe Store building soon will convert to Lackawanna County offices, but in the meantime, ScrantonMade’s Cristin Powers said, her group saw a chance to bring life into an old building — especially one locals associate with Christmas magic.
“We’re hoping that the nostalgia will get people out,” said Maureen McGuigan, the county’s deputy director of arts and culture, which partners with ScrantonMade on the event.
For a full throwback experience, youngsters can visit Santa Claus or walk through Make-A-Wish Wonderland, a play on Santa’s Workshop from the Globe’s heyday. Children can buy small, affordable gifts for their family and friends in a shopping area, too.
Valley View and Scranton High School choirs perform starting at 5 p.m. in a ceremony to kick off the marketplace. Organizers then flip the switch to light up the Globe Store on Friday at 5:30 p.m.
In conjunction with the First Friday Art Walk, a trolley will make multiple stops throughout downtown Scranton, including one right in front of the holiday marketplace. Carolers will roam downtown and sing holiday tunes, and guests can ride a horse and carriage around the city.
With more than 150 vendors inside the marketplace, shoppers can snag something for everyone on their list. In recent years, Scranton-centric art and gifts popped up more frequently at the marketplace, and those items will be on hand this weekend as well.
“More artists saw people come through who wanted Scranton merchandise,” Powers said.
“I think more (vendors) have jumped on board with that.”
Hungry guests can drop by Terra Preta’s pop-up restaurant for small plates and cocktails each night. Local musicians provide entertainment all three days, and a large model train and scenery display by Anthracite High-Railers Club begins in the foyer and travels through part of the marketplace.
In the four years since its inception, the marketplace cemented itself as a one-stop destination for shopping, food and holiday activities.
“(When it started), we knew it was going to be a unique event and you were going to go and experience something really special,” McGuigan said. “People are finding a real interest in Scranton and Lackawanna County again, and we wouldn’t be able to (continue this event) without that support.”
Shoppers can give back this holiday season, too, at a food and essentials drive inside the market. Scrantonmade, along with Valerie Kiser Designs and the Century Club of Scranton, will collect items for local food pantries and charity organizations. Non-perishable items like peanut butter and canned tuna or chicken will be accepted, as well as toothpaste, soap, hats, gloves and socks.
Holiday Marketplace welcomes change each year to better serve guests. Though, ScrantonMade never loses sight of why the event began.
“The goal is to support local artists, crafters and designers, and branch out to regional (ones),” Powers said. “We’re excited about it and that people want to buy local and support their community.”
— gia mazur
If you go
What: Scrantonmade Holiday Market at the Globe Store
When: Friday, 5 to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: The former Globe Store,
123 Wyoming Ave., Scranton.
Details: The first 200 shoppers on Saturday will receive a free goodie bag. For more information, visit www.scrantonmade.com or the event’s Facebook page.
‘Rent’ 20th anniversary tour comes to Scranton Cultural Center
The cast and crew of “Hamilton” earned praise for bringing to Broadway a musical that broke into new territory with its subject matter and musical styles. Twenty years ago, the same was said about “Rent.” The musical helped define the Bohemian culture of late 20th-century New York City and the struggles of its residents as HIV/AIDS devastated communities. It brought those stories into the mainstream when it moved to the Great White Way in 1996 after selling out shows nightly off-Broadway. Now it celebrates its 20th anniversary with a national tour that comes to Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple, 420 N. Washington Ave., for four shows from Friday through Sunday. And audiences of all ages have turned out already, a nod “to how enduring the show is,” Katie LaMark, who plays Maureen Johnson, said recently by phone. “We get a lot of really wonderful people who say they saw the show on Broadway when it came out 20 years ago. … Most of our audience members are between 15 and 20 years old, who weren’t even alive when the musical was written,” the Boston native said. “There’s also people who come to see the show because they’re very moved by it because it’s something they’ve lived through.”
Created by Jonathan Larson, who died of an aortic aneurysm the day before his legacy began previews at the New York Theater Workshop, the show is based on Puccini’s classic opera “La Bohème.” It focuses on a group of impoverished artists who struggle to survive and maintain hope and happiness in the midst of love and loss. The musical won the Pulitzer Prize for drama and four Tony Awards, including best musical. The musical touches on ideas of police brutality and sexual identity, topics LaMark noted remain relevant today. But “Rent” endures because it makes a point about how “you can say goodbye to all those things.” It focuses on the importance of love and brings up questions about what you would do if you learned you only had a year to live. “My character does not have AIDS … but (when you) have to go through the trauma of losing half of your friends in a year (to AIDS), you sort of have to set aside all of your personal issues and realize that connecting with other people is the only way you’re going to get by,” LaMark said. In Ms. LaMark’s case, other characters talk about Maureen throughout the first act, so all the information about her comes through the lens of others. They share how she cheated on her now ex-boyfriend and has since entered into a relationship with a woman “who just can’t seem to get a leash on her,” LaMark said. Then Maureen shows up and gives the audience a chance to form its own opinion. “I would say that it’s exciting because then Maureen can be very different, depending on who plays the role,” she said. “I think you’re always going to have a Maureen who’s free-spirited, and … for me I think it was about finding where is the fun and where is the joy in laughing with her and maybe at her a little bit, because she does take herself so seriously. You don’t really get to play many roles like this as a female in musical theater. This is a pretty unique opportunity.” Audiences also “really seem to have a strong reaction to” Maureen’s song “Over the Moon,” which LaMark said always flatters her because of the challenges the piece poses. She said audiences seem to like her co-star, Aaron Harrington, who plays Tom Collins and whose reprise performance of “I’ll Cover You” after a character dies leaves no dry eyes in the house. “Aaron is a gifted performer and gifted singer,” LaMark said. The musical “totally changed the landscape” when it debuted, she said, and she encourages people to come see one so outside the norm as “Rent” is. “I think there are very few opportunities where you get to see characters sing in their own musical styles,” LaMark said. “So the show is written in 1996, so it’s music of 1996, and I think regardless of even any information you have about the plot, to have the opportunity to be on the receiving end of something really visceral about that is a great experience. I think it’s why ‘Hamilton’ is such a success. … This was 1996’s ‘Hamilton.’” — caitlin heaney west
IF YOU GO What: “Rent,” presented by Broadway Theatre League of Northeastern Pennsylvania When: Friday, 8 p.m.; Saturday, 2 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 p.m. Where: Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple, 420 N. Washington Ave. Details: Tickets are $37 and $59, available at the box office, by calling 570-344-1111 and online at ticketmaster.com. For more information, call 570-342-7784 or 570-344-1111 or visit broadwayscranton.com.
Everhart Museum’s free Community Day offers programs, relaunches gift shop
Aurore Giguet wants to change the notion that museums are stuffy.
The executive director of the Everhart Museum, its staff and volunteers welcome all to its upcoming free Community Day, set for Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m., filled with presentations, workshops, a re-launch of the museum’s gift shop and more.
“People perceive museums to be static spaces,” said Giguet, who assumed her new role in July. “Having presenters, educators, people in the gift shop really brings the space alive.”
Community Day, possible through a Lackawanna County Arts Engage grant, started as a partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters. The organization still participates and will have a sign-up for prospective Bigs at the event, but the day also offers interactive crafts, visual art and story workshops, a magic potion scavenger hunt and guided tours of museum exhibits for the entire community.
Artist Mark Ciocca will draw caricatures, Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple’s youth theatre program will perform scenes from “Shrek the Musical Jr.,” and stylists from Alexander’s Salon & Spa will braid hair into Rapunzel-inspired designs.
Amy Everetts, Aurore Giguet, Dawn McGurl, Anthony Grigas, Michael Sorrentino, Elizabeth Davis, Stephanie Colarusso, Jen Shoener, Miranda Morgan, Zak Zavada, BethBurkhauser, JoAnna McGee, Valerie Kiser, Tiffany Rose Harris and Mary Ann Kapacs are participants of Community Day at Everhart Museum gather inside the gift shop that is in the final stages of renovation. MIchael J. Mullen / Staff Phtoographer
“It’s a day to show what the Everhart has to offer all year round, and it’s a showcase of all of the different organizations, businesses and people in the area we partner with for these programs,” said Stefanie Colarusso, director of interpretive programs. “The day is all of what makes up the Everhart coming together.”
The museum will unveil a new shopping experience for visitors, too. During the gift shop’s re-launch Saturday, guests can shop body products, accessories, home goods and more from vendors, which will change every few months.
“You can purchase items from artists who may not have storefronts, and (Community Day) is an opportunity to meet these artists,” said Amy Everetts, director of development and marketing.
Exclusive items from Valerie Kiser Designs will there, too, as well as ornaments by fine artist Jack Puhl. Puhl will sign ornaments, unveil some new designs and bring some old favorites. The ornaments then will be available in the gift shop, with all proceeds going to the museum.
“(Everhart Museum) is amazing to a child, but as you get older, you appreciate the artworks and understand a little more about culture and diversity and how art relates to your life,” Puhl said. “It’s so wonderful to me, professionally and personally, to give back to that.”
This event kicks off a year-long transformation of the museum, which also offers 200-plus educational, all-ages programs that take place regularly, Giguet said. Pending grants, the Everhart plans to add more dynamic programming, exhibits and events.
“You think because you’ve been here when you were a kid that that’s what it is, but we’ve really grown and will continue to grow,” Giguet said.
— gia mazur
If you go
What: Community Day and gift shop relaunch
When: Saturday, 1 to 4 p.m.
Where: Everhart Museum, 1901 Mulberry St.
Details: Admission is free, but some workshops require reservations. There will be a Fidelity Bank tote bag giveaway for the first 350 people.
For more information, visit
Blood-sucking plants and businessmen scrambling for stand-in wives don’t seem to share similarities, but this weekend local theater lovers can see both stories on college stages.
The horror comedy musical “Little Shop of Horrors” will rock the Wilkes University theater, while “Whose Wives Are They Anyway?” will leave audiences in stitches at King’s College.
When choosing the farce, “Wives” director Sheileen Godwin wanted to pick a show that wasn’t “overdone” in the region.
“I don’t remember how I stumbled upon ‘Whose Wives Are They Anyway,’ but when I read it, the pure ridiculousness of the show gave me a lot of crazy ideas I could incorporate,” she said. “As farce is extremely difficult to direct and perform, I knew it would be a challenge, and that is an absolute must for me.”
Michael Parker’s play follows the story of two vice presidents of the Ashley Maureen Cosmetics Co. on a weekend vacation to relax before their new CEO arrives. With both of their wives on a shopping spree in New York City, the duo checks into a country club. When their new boss unexpectedly shows up at the club insisting on meeting their wives, the two scramble to produce partners to introduce to the CEO.
In order to grasp the components of farce, surprise and sight gags, Godwin workshopped the cast throughout its rehearsal process.
“What many don’t understand is that farce needs to be played seriously,” she explained. “Farce needs actors who can play tragedy, but also they must have the technique, the stamina, the precision and the dexterity that farce demands. Farce is teamwork. You can’t have selfish actors pulling attention at the wrong moment. The characters must be believable.”
Meanwhile, students at Wilkes University have rehearsed the Alan Menken musical about a hapless florist who raises a plant that feeds on human blood and flesh. The show is based on the low-budget 1960 black comedy film of the same name, with added music in the style of early ’60s rock and roll, doo-wop and early Motown. Some well-known tunes include “Skid Row (Downtown),” “Suddenly, Seymour” and “Feed Me (Git It).”
“The script is pretty clear on what the point of the play is — don’t feed the plants — which is the key,” director Teresa Fallon said. “What are the plants though? My feeling is that it is a story of what happens to good-hearted people in a cruel world.”
The cast of 16 students worked tirelessly on the family show to create a snappy and fun production anyone could enjoy. Aside from technical challenges with the plant, props and costumes, Fallon said the group had a blast working on the show.
“I have to say thank you to the cast; they have done a tremendous amount of work and done an amazing job with it,” Fallon said. “I think it’s because they’ve enjoyed it. If the people on stage are having a good time, it’s easy for the audience to enjoy it.”
And the cast of 10 over at King’s College certainly enjoyed its time with creating a perfect farce, Godwin said.
“The laughter that resonates when things go right, when things go wrong or when we don’t even know what happened,” she added. “When you have students who will run around and risk looking ridiculous and acting ridiculous without giving it a second thought, you know you have something special.”
— charlotte l. jacobson
Little Shop of Horrors
When: Nov. 11 to 20; Fridays and Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays 2 p.m.
Where: Dorothy Dickson Center for the Performing Arts, Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre
Details: Tickets are $10 for general admission, $5 for students and seniors and free for Wilkes students and staff. For more information, call 570-408-4540.
Whose Wives Are They Anyway?
When: Nov. 10 to 19; Thursdays to Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.
Where: George P. Maffei II Theatre, King’s College, Wilkes-Barre
Details: Tickets are $12 for general admission, $7 for senior citizens and $5 for King’s alumni and non-King’s students. Call 570-208-5825 for more information.
Art can be more than a framed piece hanging on an office wall or a handcrafted design displayed in a home.
Art can be an immersive experience.
Organizers of the 28th annual Holiday Art Auction drew upon this philosophy to enhance the offerings available during the bidding war set for Saturday, Nov. 19, at AFA Gallery, 514 Lackawanna Ave.
In addition to the variety of pieces of fine art donated from members, which include sculptures, photography, woodworking, batik and watercolor, oil and acrylic paintings and prints, supporters placed service items on the auction block this year.
Among them are a year’s access and use of Moscow Clayworks’ studio, plus participation in the open studio sessions; a garden landscape tour and opportunity for sketching and photography on the picturesque property belonging to Gretchen Ludders, who also will provide the winner with gourmet picnic fare; a visit to Crystal Earth Studio hosted by Bill Tersteeg, plus discussion, demonstration and refreshments there; a series of drawing classes by Rick Huck; and a 90-minute portrait session and five prints from KAE Imagery.
“That is the most exciting part of the auction this year,” said Melissa Carestia, gallery coordinator. “Almost all are fun, group activities.”
Visitors can view the artwork up for auction during this week’s First Friday art walk from 6 to 9 p.m. at AFA, and the pieces then remain on display during regular gallery hours.
“People think of art as monetary investments, which it is, but at the same time, it’s to collect things that really make you happy,” Carestia said. “People looking to start collections, such as young couples who just purchased a home, can get well-known artists’ (works) for possibly less than it usually goes for and support a great organization at the same time. Take a look around and figure out what really speaks to you so the night of the auction you know what you need to have.”
Thirty-year-old Dunmore resident Allison LaRussa provided the featured raffle piece for the auction, an oil-on-canvas painting titled “Wild” that one of her many nature hikes inspired.
“Basically, I like creating these places that are very peaceful, places you can escape reality from,” LaRussa said. “I always am inspired by nature, and I add my own flare to it.”
AFA’s primary fundraiser for the year, the auction begins with a cocktail reception at 6 p.m. followed by the live bidding at 7, guided by Ken Rivenburg. Proceeds benefit general operations of the gallery, including rent and utilities, as well as programming, such as the weekly life drawing classes.
“AFA is just a great place for people to support each other,” LaRussa said. “They’re always doing different events and trying to bring the community together, so I think it’s important that everyone gives back to them.”
Guests will enjoy hors d’oeuvres, desserts, Champagne, open bar and live music with their $25 admission, which guests can pay at the door or in advance through AFA members. Raffle tickets are three for $5.
“It’s a really fun evening. You’re able to come down to the gallery, and the live auction is very exciting,” Carestia said. “It’s usually how we are able to keep our doors open.”
If you go
What: 28th annual Holiday Art Auction
When: Saturday, Nov. 19; cocktails begin at 6 p.m. The art also is on display starting with the First Friday art walk, Friday, 6 to 9 p.m.
Where: AFA Gallery, 514 Lackawanna Ave.
Details: Admission to the gallery is free during First Friday and regular business days. Auction admission is $25 at the door or through AFA members. Raffle tickets are three for $5. For information and reservations, call 570-969-1040.
First Friday activities
Obscured Faces: Works by Alex Seeley with music by Aiden Jordan, ArtWorks Gallery & Studio, 503 Lackawanna Ave.
Grand opening celebration: Featuring various
artists and dancers, 8 Count Dancewear, 534 Lackawanna Ave.
Art by Sam Kuchwara: With handmade, vintage and repurposed pieces by various artists, On&On, 518 Lackawanna Ave.
Unique home decor and style accents: Works by the Bhakti Collective, NOTE Fragrances, 401 Spruce St.
Be Your Best Self jewelry and accessories: Outrageous Pop-up Shop, 349 N. Washington Ave.
Printed Matter: Works by Abraham Camayd and Cliff Prokop, Laura Craig Galleries, 307 Linden St.
A.R.T. (Active Random Thoughts): Works by Eliud Nieves, Eden — A Vegan Cafe, 344 Linden St.
Norton: Recent Works in Mixed Media and Landscape Painting: Works by Sam Kuchwara with music by DJ Honeyman Lightnin’, Terra Preta Restaurant, 222 Wyoming Ave.
2016 Globe Store ornament release: Works by Valerie Kiser, Lavish Body & Home, 600 Linden St.
Harvest Festival: Rosa’s Southern BBQ, 414 Spruce St.
Organic Abstract Symmetry: Works by Michael Lloyd with music by Fake Uncle Jack, Ale Mary’s, 126 Franklin Ave.
’90s Flashback Friday: Works by NEPA Design Collective, the Workshop, 334 Adams Ave.
Do You See What I Hear? A Visual Symphony: Works by Dominic Cioffi with music by Jimmy Carro, Bar Pazzo, 131 N. Washington Ave.
Stage Portraits: Works by Jason Riedmiller, the Bog, 341 Adams Ave.
Group show: Works by stained glass students, Tammy’s Stained Glass Treasures, 350 Adams Ave.
Young Artist Showcase: Featuring Skylar Conway, Phoebe Sebring and Carolyn Lyon, the Post Home and Body, 344 Adams Ave.
Oil paintings: Works by Cathy Bianchi Arvonio, Bella Faccias Personalized Chocolates & Gifts LLC, 516 Lackawanna Ave.
First Friday Steamtown Winter Market: Featuring various vendors and artists, the Marketplace at Steamtown, 300 Lackawanna Ave.
Cultures from around the world have contributed not only to Scranton’s history but also to today’s Halloween traditions.
As the holiday nears, the sixth annual Bonfire at the Iron Furnaces celebrates many of those pastimes and people. On Saturday night, the Scranton Iron Furnaces, 159 Cedar Ave., alight with a towering bonfire and activities for all ages from 6 to 10 p.m. Proceeds benefit the Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum.
Maureen McGuigan, Lackawanna County deputy director of arts and culture, said the bonfire offers high-quality entertainment and education that honors the city’s earlier immigrants as well as its newer ones.
“Every year I love seeing how it evolves,” she said. “It just keeps getting better, and it’s really a testimony to the (organizing) committee. The public, I think, we’re getting more new people coming out. … I really like seeing the people enjoy it. As one of the organizers, that’s one of the best parts, to see the people having fun.”
This year, organizers expanded the activities into Bonfire Week, whose activities, art exhibits, food and more focus on not just fire but also cultural heritage, the harvest and industry.
Bonfire Week kicked off with the First Friday Art Walk and includes bonfire-themed specialty drinks and treats available through Saturday at city venues Adezzo, Bar Pazzo, Café Sveda, Terra Preta, the Keys Beer & Spirits, POSH at the Scranton Club, the Bog, Radisson at Lackawanna Station hotel, Whiskey Dick’s and Zummo’s Cafe.
Several businesses — including Duffy Accessories, Lavish Body and Home, Nibbles & Bits, Note Fragrances, On & On and the Post Home and Body — also offer seasonal deals, and some will display bonfire-inspired windows. The Radisson features a special Bonfire Week package that includes two tickets to the bonfire.
“The goal behind it is to kind of capitalize on that fun and energy (of the bonfire) and kind of spread it around downtown,” Ms. McGuigan said.
Other Bonfire Week activities include a sugar skull paint night Thursday from 6 to 9 at Adezzo, 515 Center St. On Friday, The Leonard Theater, 335 Adams Ave., hosts the Boss Lady Mixer and Costume Party, a women’s networking event, from 7 to 9 p.m., and the artists of Bogart Court will hold their grand opening Friday and Saturday.
“October’s a busy month, and maybe not everyone can get to the bonfire, but we still want the people to get into the party,” Ms. McGuigan said. “It’s the reason for adding other activities.”
Organizers always try to weave different cultures into the festivities, Ms. McGuigan added. They had not previously focused on German culture, which she said had a large presence in Scranton and especially in the neighborhood around the iron furnaces, so this year’s activities draw in some of that country’s traditions.
With Germany’s strong fairy tale background thanks to the Brothers Grimm, the group partnered with the Everhart Museum, which showcases a fairy tale-themed exhibit through Dec. 31, for a fairy tale display and activity. Fairy tales for all ages will be shared on the Firebowl Stage from 6 to 7:30 p.m., and the band Schützengiggles plays traditional brass oom-pah music on the main stage from 7:30 to 8:15. The West Scranton High School German Club, meanwhile, will conduct a lantern-making activity with children. Ms. McGuigan said it calls back to German tradition on St. Martin’s Day, the Nov. 11 commemoration in which children make lanterns and carry them in a procession to a bonfire.
Other features of the cultural tent include the Day of the Dead ofrenda, which draws on Mexican culture; a harvest display by the Greenhouse Project of Nay Aug Park; and jack-o’-lanterns, a Halloween tradition based on an Irish folk tale and custom.
In addition to the lighting of the bonfire, which takes place from about 8:15 to 8:30 p.m. and includes a short procession down the hill to the iron furnaces, the event also offers food from a few local restaurants plus traditional Mexican tamales, spiced cider, hot chocolate, beer and wine.
Artist Brian Murray of Reclamation Industrial Furnishings will present a large-scale art-installation that highlights the site’s blast furnace. Other activities include face painting and tarot card readings, and a fire hooper, a fire spinner, fire twirlers, balloon artists and stilt walkers also will entertain the crowd.
“We had one stilt walker last year, but this year we’re going to have a core of stilt walkers,” Ms. McGuigan said. “They’re going to perform in the procession and up on top (of the iron furnaces) before the fire.”
On the main stage, meanwhile, Symmetry Dance performs original choreography from 6 to 6:30 p.m., Colleen Bender and Jimmy Reynolds sing from 6:30 to 7:30, and the band Light Weight plays from 8:30 to 10.
Admission is $15 in advance online and $20 at the gate and includes $5 in “Bonfire Bucks,” which guests need to use for food, beverages and activities (more tickets will be available for purchase at booths that night). Children 12 and younger enter for free, Ms. McGuigan said, because organizers want everyone to be able to access the bonfire.
“There’s something very beautiful and primal about (the bonfire), really,” Ms. McGuigan said. “I do think there’s something for everyone. All of the activities the family can enjoy, a person in their 30s can enjoy. It’s just a fun fall night. I think people love fall naturally, and it’s nice to be outside. (There is) this big fire and a sense of community, but you’re also learning things in a fun way.”
— caitlin heaney west
If you go
What: Sixth annual Bonfire at the Iron Furnaces
When: Saturday, 6 to 10 p.m.
Where: Scranton Iron Furnaces, 159 Cedar Ave.
Details: Tickets are $15 in advance online and $20 at the gate and include $5 in “Bonfire Bucks.” Admission is free for children 12 and younger. Visit scrantonbonfire.com for more information.
Life, Death and Poetry
Brian Fanelli launches “Waiting for the Dead to Speak”
Brian Fanelli has saved some of his poems just for Scranton.
The poet and city native will read selections from his new book, “Waiting for the Dead To Speak,” at a launch party Friday, Oct. 7, at 7 p.m. at the Olde Brick Theatre, 126 W. Market St., Scranton.
“There’s poems very specific to this area that I’m saving for this launch party, because I think that this audience will be able to relate to them. … And it’s just going to be fun,” Fanelli said. “We’re going to have a fun time and just allow people to be able to connect to the poems.”
Published by New York Quarterly Books, the book is Fanelli’s second full-length collection. It includes poems about not only Northeast Pennsylvania and his experience growing up in Scranton but also broader issues and recent events, such as economic inequality and the troubles in Ferguson, Missouri.
Fanelli described the poem that gave its name to the collection as “one of the hardest poems I’ve ever written.” It drew on the death of his father, Frank Fanelli, and “some of the anger I felt after he passed away when I was a young guy in college, trying to process that grief and also … these big questions we ask: What is my faith? What do I actually believe in?”
He began crafting the poem while at a workshop in Binghamton, New York. He doesn’t remember what the prompt was, but he knows he cranked out the poem and “that it pushed me in places that maybe I wouldn’t have gone otherwise. I’m grateful I got it out of this workshop.”
“That poem I think is really one of the most confessional, exploratory poems I’ve ever written,” Fanelli said. “It was really difficult to write.”
He looks at his new book as a response to his first full-length collection, which came out in 2013.
“It’s been a span of time, but I wanted to make sure that they fit well together and I wasn’t just throwing something together to have another book out,” he said. “I think I really took my time with this.”
His first book helped Fanelli land readings in New York City, New Jersey and Philadelphia and put him in touch with “the broader literary community in the tri-state area.” He’ll build on that with his new tour, which will take him back to New York and Philadelphia plus Boston, Harrisburg, Reading and Lancaster.
Poetry’s oral tradition traces back to Homer in ancient Greece, Fanelli pointed out, and he believes writers today need to share their work at readings, too.
“I love getting out there and reading in front of people,” he said. “Poems can work one way on the page, but I think they work totally different when spoken aloud.”
He looks forward to showing others “that there is a lot going on in the Scranton area and (that it has) a strong literary community. We really do have a wonderful art community.”
“It’s going to be a busy fall into the winter, but I’m so excited,” Fanelli said. “It’s really great to get out there and connect with other people and represent our area.”
Friday’s launch party also will feature drinks and food, and Fanelli will have copies of his book available for $15. People also can buy it at Library Express in the Marketplace at Steamtown and through online retailers including Barnes & Noble and Amazon.
Fanelli expects that people who attend his readings will learn more about his upbringing, some of his beliefs and a little bit about his past relationships. He said he wanted the launch party “to be a fun, engaging experience.”
“I just hope that they enjoy it, and … most of all I want them to realize that poetry can be fun and can be accessible,” he said.
— caitlin heaney west
IF YOU GO
What: “Waiting for the Dead To Speak” reading and launch party
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: Olde Brick Theatre, 126 W. Market St., Scranton
Alternative performance artists require unique platforms to express their messages.
Scranton Fringe Festival returns for its second year Thursday through Sunday, Sept. 2 to Oct. 2, to fulfill these needs at various venues throughout the Scranton area.
Admission to performances costs $10 each, with tickets available at venues or online at scrantonfringe.org. Festival buttons are $5 and allow for $7 admission at events.
The weekend kicks off with a free preview party on Thursday, Sept. 29, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple, 420 N. Washington Ave. The weekend concludes Sunday, Oct. 2, at 8 p.m. with a wrap party at AFA Gallery, 514 Lackawanna Ave.
Festival co-founders Conor O’Brien, who acts as executive director, and Elizabeth Bohan, who serves as managing director, said about 3,000 people attended last year’s festival.
Fringe festivals date back to 1947 in Edinburgh, Scotland, and feature diverse sets of shows, such as comedies, musicals, dance, short stories, visual exhibits and more.
O’Brien formerly participated in several fringes throughout the country as an actor and writer. He and Bohan decided Scranton should participate to bring artists and the community together.
Guests can expect to see more than 50 acts this year, ranging from improv comedy to Shakespeare interpretations and many more. The full schedule can be found on the festival’s website.
“The festival represents performers from nine different U.S. states,” O’Brien said. “We’re very proud to be hosting national friends and artists.”
He added that Scranton Fringe also features the talent of artists in the local community, and that while the directors provide the platform, it is really the artists who promote themselves and their talent.
For Cody Clark, Scranton Fringe Festival provides a valuable opportunity.
The recent University of Louisville graduate and Kentucky native is a full-time magician and autism self-advocate. Clark hopes to inspire audiences with his show “Cody Clark: A Different Way of Thinking.”
Clark enjoys the thrill of performances and likes fringe festivals in particular, because he meets all different kinds of people. He aims to influence audiences through his love of magic and by incorporating living with autism in his shows.
“I hope to share that, for me, autism is simply a different way of thinking,” Clark said. “It’s nothing for you to be scared of. Through my love of magic, I’ve learned to embrace who I am.”
Clark’s performance is slated for Saturday, Oct. 1, at 7 p.m. at Scranton Cultural Center. He’ll also perform “Conductor Cody,” a children’s magic character based on railroading, earlier that afternoon at 3 p.m. at Lackawanna County Children’s Library, 520 Vine St.
Scranton Fringe offers an eclectic mix of talent and ideas that appeal to diverse patrons from all walks of life, organizers said.
“I hope that people take away the fact that Scranton is full of passionate, dedicated people who are interested in art,” Bohan said.
— emma silva
If you go
What: Scranton Fringe Festival
When: Thursday through Sunday, Sept. 29 to Oct. 2; times vary
Details: Tickets for each performance cost $10 and are available at the door or online at scrantonfringe.org. Festival buttons are $5 and give wearers $7 admission to each show. For buttons, visit Fringe headquarters at 222 Wyoming Ave. For a complete schedule, visit the festival’s website.
Hoist a stein, don the lederhosen, grab the nearest wiener dog or just enjoy some beer at this year’s PA Oktoberfest, Friday through Sunday, Sept. 16 to 18. The festival has become a fixture to kick off the fall — organizers boast it’s one of the nation’s top 10 Oktoberfest celebrations.
Festival organizer Tim Holmes promises another enjoyable festival for returning visitors and seasoned veterans alike. According to Holmes, the early ticket sales indicate this year’s festival will bring sizeable crowds to Mohegan Sun Pocono in Plains Twp. With buy-one, get-one free tickets available at Shur Save locations, he said, fans are taking advantage of a bargain.
“Everything is coming together beautifully. Tickets are selling well at Shur Save,” Holmes said. “Once we get beyond Labor Day, people really start thinking about Oktoberfest. We have more than 70 beers, great food vendors and, of course, the award-winning Alpine Wurst and Meat House.”
Alpine is a tradition at PA Oktoberfest since the festival’s inception in 2011. The Honesdale-based sausage maker was awarded multiple medals earlier this year at the DFV-AAMP Quality Competition for Sausage and Ham, juried in part by The German Butchers’ Association. Oktoberfest visitors will have an opportunity to purchase some of Alpine’s gold-medal krainerwurst, bratwurst and Braunschweiger liverwurst as well as other traditional German dishes.
Some of PA Oktoberfest’s visitors are a different, four-legged type of wiener. Many fans return year after year to attend the wiener dog races that have brought smiles to both dachshund owners and spectators. According to Holmes, more than 200 dogs will participate in races throughout the weekend.
“There are a few who have asked to be in extra races; there are more than ever,” Holmes said. “We had a preview at PNC Field with ‘Aug-toberfest’ where 25 of the dogs came up and raced, so they got a little training in this year.”
Colorful and humorous costumes as well as on-field hijinks and mishaps punctuate the wiener dog races. Holmes said they’ve become an integral part of the weekend-long celebration of German beer, food and heritage.
For 2016, Holmes said festival organizers have other “Oktivities” planned, including the return of stein hoisting as well as new competitions from NEPA Cornhole, which hosted its inaugural cornhole tournament at PNC field earlier this summer.
“We contacted them and asked if they’d like to set up shop,” Holmes said. “We’re basically going to have mini tournaments throughout the weekend. We’re not looking for a grand champion or anything. It’s basically going to be eight teams in a mini tournament. They’ll all be playing for new PA Oktoberfest leder-steins. It’s a cool way for them to get engaged. It’s a cool new addition.”
Strong-armed visitors will also get a chance to hold a title for stein-hoisting sponsored by Sam Adams.
“Stein-hoisting competitions have been going on throughout bars and restaurants in Northeast Pennsylvania over the last couple of weeks,” Holmes said. “People are qualifying to participate in the official stein-hoisting competition at Oktoberfest all weekend.”
Sports fans won’t miss out on the big games while touring PA Oktoberfest. Last year’s sports tent is getting a sizeable update for 2016.
“The ESPN/Flying Fish sports and beer tent sits right at the 50-yard line of the wiener dog track,” Holmes said. “The cool thing with that is we introduced the ESPN tent last year with a bunch of TVs so people can watch college football on Saturday and the NFL on Sunday; it’s basically something people watch all weekend. We didn’t have beer last year, but we now have beer, and it’s a great addition from Flying Fish.”
While the weather forecast can sometimes put a damper on festivities, this year is shaping up for mild weather. Regardless, PA Oktoberfest’s 50,000 square feet of tent will keep guests out of the sun or rain.
Alp horns will punctuate moments throughout the festival, bringing a traditional flair to the atmosphere, and festival favorite Romy returns with traditional music and an upbeat, crowd-energizing attitude. PA Oktoberfest will mirror Munich’s own, original Oktoberfest. The Munich festival kicks off Sept. 17, and Holmes said organizers are happy to be in sync with the festival’s German cousin. Oktoberfest fans from throughout the region have begun to recognize PA Oktoberfest as a true companion to the original festival, according to Holmes.
“There’s always a lot of flurry and frenzy online as it gets closer,” Holmes said. “We’re selling more tickets in stores than we did last year, which was the first time we did buy-one, get-one. People now know that’s a value and are buying tickets out there. People are tuned into it for sure.”
Returning visitors are welcome to bring mugs and pitchers from past PA Oktoberfests — even heirlooms are welcome.
“People can walk in with steins and pitchers from previous years. They can’t bring one full of beer, that’s for sure, but they’re welcome to bring an empty one,” Holmes said. “Some folks come and bring old steins their grandparents brought over from Germany. It’s really cool.”
Other PA Oktoberfest special events include the Lederhosen 5K race Sunday, the Crystal Lederhosen homebrew competition award ceremony Saturday and entertainment throughout the weekend on the main stage.
Holmes said visitors are encouraged to plan ahead for safe rides. PA Oktoberfest has partnered with Uber to provide a first ride up to $15 free with the code PA2016.
“We’re looking forward to another great year celebrating Oktoberfest right here in Northeast PA.,” Holmes said. “Every year, we see between 20,000 and 35,000 thousand people, and we want to continue the legacy of food, beer, wiener dog races and everything folks have come to love from the festival. It’s truly a unique event for our area, and we are delighted that people have made it a tradition. We want everyone to have a safe and enjoyable time.”
— tucker hottes