Punk Rock Flea Market

Punk Rock Flea Market

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 general.information@everhart-museum.org or visit everhart-museum.org.

Sir Laugh-a-Lot

Sir Laugh-a-Lot

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.

Back in Action

Back in Action

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.

One-Act Festival
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.

‘Terra Nova’
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
crowd favorite.”
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

The Pallbearers

The Pallbearers

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.

Boys are Back

Boys are Back

‘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.

Year in Preview

Year in Preview

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

Family events
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

Northeast Pennsylvania inspires holiday gifts

Northeast Pennsylvania inspires holiday gifts

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
Topographic Textiles
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.

WaxJunky Candles
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.

ScrantonMade Mugs
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

BEST OF 2016

BEST OF 2016

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
McCarthy Flowers

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
and Grill
Diamond City winner: Fire and Ice on Toby Creek

Best Place To Buy an Engagement Ring
Boccardo Jewelers

Best Place To Buy Lingerie
Victoria’s Secret

Best Wedding Gowns
David’s Bridal

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 New Local CD – “Monsters” — Pat McGlynn

Best All Ages Venue
The Pavilion at Montage Mountain

Best Art Venue
Everhart Museum

Best Casino
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 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
Movies 14

Best Museum
Everhart Museum

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
Legends Saloon

Best Original Band
Clever Clever

Best Party Cover Band
Flaxy Morgan


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

Best Sushi – Osaka Restaurant

Best Ambience
State Street Grill

Best Bagels
National Bakery

Best Bakery
Lynn Sandy’s

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

Best Breakfast
The Eatery by Jessica

Best Brunch
Backyard Ale House

Best Cheesesteak
Cosmo’s Cheesesteaks

Best Chinese Restaurant
China Palace Inn

Best Chocolate
Gertrude Hawk Chocolates

Best Coffee Shop
Zummo’s Cafe

Best Cup of Coffee
Northern Lights Espresso Bar and Cafe

Best Deli
Cara Mia’s Delicatessen

Best Desserts
Market Street Sweets

Best Diner
Glider Restaurant

Best Doughnuts
Krispy Crème

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

Best Hamburger
Five Guys Burgers and Fries

Best Hoagie

Best Hot Dogs
Coney Island Lunch

Best Ice Cream
Manning Farm Dairy

Best Italian Food
Casa Bella

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
Chicano’s Restaurant

Best Lunch on the Go
JJ McNally’s

Best Mexican/Southwestern Restaurant
La Tonalteca, Scranton

Best New Restaurant
Bar Pazzo

Best Patio Dining
State Street Grill

Best Pierogies
Plumpy’s Pierogies

Best Place To Eat Organic
Terra Preta Restaurant

Best Potato Pancakes
Abe’s Deli

Best Restaurant
Electric City winner: Market Street Bar
and Grill
Diamond City winner: Aurants

Best Romantic Restaurant
Electric City winner: POSH at the
Scranton Club
Diamond City winner: Pazzo

Best Round Pizza
Buona Pizza, Inc.

Best Salads
The Loading Dock Bar and Grill

Best Sandwiches
Cara Mia’s Delicatessen


Best Seafood- Electric City winner: Cooper’s Seafood House

Best Seafood
Electric City winner: Cooper’s Seafood House
Diamond City winner: J J Banko’s Seafood

Best Service
Casa Bella

Best Soup
Zuppa Del Giorno

Best Square Pizza
Maroni’s Pizza House

Best Steakhouse
Electric City winner: Carl Von Luger Steak
and Seafood
Diamond City winner: Ruth’s Chris
Steak House

Best Stromboli
Fratelli’s Pizza and Pasta House

Best Sushi
Osaka Restaurant

Best Thai Restaurant
Thai Rak Thai

Best Vegetarian Menu
Eden — a vegan café

Best Wine Menu
Bar Pazzo

Best Wings
Kelly’s Pub and Eatery

Goods & Services


Best Barbershop – Loyalty Barber Shop

Best Animal Hospital Veterinarian
Dr. Robert Noto at Memorial Veterinary Hospital

Best Barbershop
Loyalty Barber Shop

Best Bicycle Shop
Sickler’s Bike and Sport Shop

Best Boutique
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
Spotless Cleaners

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
Everything Natural

Best Jewelry Store
Boccardo Jewelers

Best Local Brewery
Electric City winner: 3 Guys and a Beer’d
Diamond City winner: Susquehanna
Brewing Co.

Best Massage
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
Gerrity’s Supermarket

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 Winery
Maiolatesi Winery

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

Best Cocktails
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
Legend’s Saloon

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

Best Jukebox
The Bog

Best Karaoke
The V Spot

Best-Looking Bar Crowd
Backyard Ale House

Best Margaritas
La Tonalteca, Scranton

Best Martinis
Alfredo’s Pizza Cafe

Best New Bar/Club
Levels Bar and Grill

Best Place To Shake It
Panked! Dance Party

Best Pub Trivia
The Bog

Best Sports Bar
Happy Valley Sports Bar

Best St. Patrick’s Day Parade Bar
The Bog

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
FUZZ 92.1


Health & Recreation

Best Bowling Alley
South Side Bowl

Best Gym/Health Club
Crunch Fitness

Best Pilates
Jaya Yoga

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 Skiing
Elk Mountain

Best Trip Just an Hour Away
Jim Thorpe

Best Yoga
Mission Yoga

Best Zumba
Studio LA



Best Bartender - Brian Craig

Best Bartender – Brian Craig

Best Bartender
Brian Craig

Best Bouncer
Rich DePoley at the Bog

Best Caterer
Electric City winner: Stirna’s Restaurant
and Bar
Diamond City winner: Peculiar Culinary Co.

Best Chef
Electric City winner: Rory Flynn (Ale Mary’s)
Diamond City winner: Gene Philbin
(Peculiar Culinary Co.)

Best Dentist
Dr. Corey Chmil

Best DJ
EJ the DJ

Best Doctor
Dr. Linda Barrasse

Best Local Actor
Conor McGuigan

Best Local Actress
Camille Reinecke

Best Local Author
Joe McGurl

Best Local Blogger
Chris Kelly

Best Local Comedian
Here We Are in Spain

Best Local Dancer
Laura Naro


Best Local Visual Artist – Allison LaRusso

Best Local Filmmaker
Lindsay Barrasse

Best Local Radio Personality
Prospector on Rock 107

Best Local TV News Personality
Ryan Leckey

Best Local Visual Artist
Allison LaRusso

Best Mechanic
Chris Eibach

Best Newspaper Reporter
Patrice Wilding

Best Nip/Tuck
Electric City winner: Dr. Eric Blomain
Diamond City winner: Dr. Ira Krafchin

Best Pet Groomer
Shampooch Grooming Salon

Best Piercer
Eli Gerrity (Electric City Tattoo)

Best Solo Musician
Jackson Vee

Best Stylist
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
and Events)

Best Wedding Singer/Band
Daddy-O and the Sax Maniacs



WTF Moment of 2016

trumpwtf_2_webWinning, 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?!?”

Greenery Meets Machinery

Greenery Meets Machinery

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.

Shoppin’ Around the Christmas Tree

Shoppin’ Around the Christmas Tree

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.

No Day But Today

No Day But Today

‘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.”

ec17_rent_2_webCreated 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.

Arts for All

Arts for All

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

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

College stages light up with new shows

College stages light up with new shows

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.

Going, Going … Gone!: AFA Gallery offers artwork, experiences at annual auction

Going, Going … Gone!: AFA Gallery offers artwork, experiences at annual auction

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.”
—patrice wilding

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.