Scranton wrestler bring fearless persona to Shamrock Shakedown
By day, Brianna Spindler uses scissors, a blowdryer or bleach to do her job. At night, she’s more likely to pick up a table, ladder, chair — or another person. The Scranton resident and lead stylist and color specialist at the city’s Salon a Go Go is making her mark in the professional wrestling world, competing in matches in Northeast Pennsylvania as well as across the state. Decked out in metallic black and silver gear, Spindler goes by the ring name Adena Steele, an out-of-this-world persona based on her own platinum hair and tattoos that adorn most of her body, plus her interest in astrology and the moon, stars and space. “I was playing around with a couple (ideas), and it kind of just clicked into place,” Spindler said. “I wanted it to have that kind of vibe — just a strong, badass, fearless chick.”
Spindler will soar into the ring during United Wrestling Revolution Presents: Shamrock Shakedown on Saturday, March 16, inside the Casey Ballroom at Hilton Scranton and Conference Center, 100 Adams Ave. The show also features Chris Masters, known for his work with World Wrestling Entertainment and Total Nonstop Action. Doors open at 6 p.m. with bell time at 7. Tickets to the family-friendly show cost $15 for general admission and $5 for children 10 and younger. Ringside tickets cost $20. Spindler’s decision to chase her wrestling dream sprung from her interest in fitness and her childhood pastime. She watched wrestling as a kid and always held the idea in the back of her mind but never realized she could make it a reality. After a friend saw an open tryout for Back Breakers Training Center, Archbald, she convinced Spindler to go. Spindler earned a spot to train as the only woman in the class. “I was comfortable with it, but I think it took a little to get everyone else to get comfortable,” she said, laughing. “Fighting a girl goes against everything you’re ever taught. It’s awkward, but once we all got used to it, that strangeness wore off.”
After she graduated, Spindler had to adapt and get used to wrestling with women but found support in those she’s met in the industry. It’s nice to find someone to relate to in certain aspects of wrestling, she said, and it’s also cool to see women getting into the ring. They not only display their hard work and talent but also inspire others to follow in their footsteps. Management at Salon a Go Go supports Spindler’s career. While she’s still works as a stylist during the week, she has Saturdays off for wrestling shows. Crowds have been receptive to her, incorporating her name into chants, such “Steele the show,” and Spindler is working on developing her signature moves. This includes her finisher, the “Steele force,” a nod to Knoebels’ rollercoaster and her NEPA roots.
Right now, she’s working her way up in an industry built on paying one’s dues. Spindler tries to get out in front of as many people as possible and show off her skills. The physicality and mental aspects of the sport can be brutal, but it’s all a part of the ride. “I’m always going to go where I need to go and put in the effort,” she said. “This is just life. Why not try to do something you want to do? What do you have to lose? I’d rather try it now than look back and regret it.”
Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with events and activities across region
The region’s St. Patrick’s parades have come and gone, but that doesn’t mean Northeast Pennsylvania has packed away its green just yet. With St. Patrick’s Day this Sunday, March 17, the area has plenty more ways to celebrate all things Irish this month.
Music Catch the Celtic Rebels Band on Friday, March 15, from 5 to 8 p.m. for a St. Patrick’s Celebration at Kildare’s, 119 Jefferson Ave., Scranton. (kildarespub.com/scranton or 570-344-4030) Members of a Harrisburg pipe-and-drum band formed a band known for its high-energy Celtic sound, the Kilmaine Saints. It’ll play March 15 at 8 p.m. at Mauch Chunk Opera House, 14 W. Broadway, Jim Thorpe. Tickets cost $18. (mcohjt.com or 570-325-0249) Kluster Phunk and Static in the Attic will perform at the Cooperage’s St. Patrick’s Day Party on Saturday, March 16. Doors open at 6 p.m. at 1030 Main St., Honesdale, with music following at 7. The show is open to all ages, and Wallenpaupack Brewing Co. will have beer for guests 21 or older to buy. Tickets cost $7 and are available at Players Row Music Supply, 221 Main Ave., Hawley; through members of the bands; and online at facebook.com/ klusterphunk. They also can be purchased at the door. (thecooperageproject.org, 570-253-2020 or klusterphunk email@example.com)
Eats and drinks
Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar, 7011 Shoppes Blvd., Moosic, presents its Irish Whiskey Dinner on Thursday, March 14, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. The meal costs $69, plus tax and gratuity, and includes multiple courses and whiskey pairings. Seating is limited, and reservations are required. (harvestseasonalgrill.com or 570-342-3330)
Italian restaurant Armetta’s Pizzeria & Pub, 2092 Route 848, New Milford, turns Irish for the weekend when it serves Corned Beef and Cabbage, Corned Beef and Cabbage Pizza, and Mint Grasshopper Martinis on March 15 and 16 from 4 to 10:30 p.m. (570-465-5492)
Kol Steakhouse at Hotel Anthracite, 25 S. Main St., Carbondale, offers Irish-style drinks and specials from March 15 through 17. The menu includes Colcannon Soup, Irish Lamb Stew, Corned Beef and Cabbage, and more. Tickets cost $39. (hotelanthracite.com or 570-536-6020)
Dine on an Irish-style dinner including Ruben Stew, Corned Beef and Cabbage, Shepherd’s Pie, Lamb Chops and Soda Bread plus drink specials at Boulder View Tavern, 123 Lake Harmony Road, Lake Harmony, from March 15 through 17. (boulderview
tavern.com or 570-722-9696)
Glass — Wine Bar Kitchen at Ledges Hotel, 119 Falls Ave., Hawley, serves Irish-style specials March 15 from 5 to 11 p.m. Kevin Campion will provide live music. Reservations are suggested. (ledgeshotel.com/glass-wine-bar-kitchen or 570-226-1337)
At Gravity Restaurant & Bar, 40 Gravity Planes Road, Waymart, $14.95 gets you all-you-can-eat Corned Beef, ham, Shepherd’s Pie, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, salad, bread and cake on March 16 from 4 to 9 p.m. (gravityinn.com or 570-488-6918)
Molly O’Shea’s at Mohegan Sun Pocono, 1280 Route 315, Plains Twp. will offer drink specials, Irish-themed mixed drinks and build-your-own whiskey flights at its St. Patrick’s Day Celebration running from March 15 through 17. Entertainment includes Mama’s Black Sheep on March 15 from 9 p.m. to midnight; Chasing Ashlee Duo, March 16, 9 p.m. to midnight; and a DJ and karaoke, March 17, 8 to 11 p.m. (mohegansun
pocono.com or 570-831-2100)
All three Cove Haven resorts — Cove Haven Resort, 194 Lakeview Drive, Jefferson Twp.; Pocono Palace Resort, 206 Fantasy Road, Middle Smithfield Twp.; and Paradise Stream, 6213 Carlton Road, Paradise Twp. — will offer drink specials and entertainment at the St. Patrick’s Day Celebration from March 15 through 17. And at Pocono Palace Resort, guests can enjoy Guinness and Irish whiskey tastings and a cooking class featuring traditional Irish dishes. (covepoconoresorts.com or 877-500-2080)
At Wallenpaupack Brewing Co., 73 Welwood Ave., Hawley, the St. Patrick’s Day Celebration on March 16 starting at noon features a “leprechaun” pouring the brewery’s St. Patrick’s Day Green Cream Ale, Black & Tan, and Nitro Red IPA. There also will be draft and food specials, and festively attired guests 21 and older can compete in the Lucky Charm Challenge at 4 p.m. for a chance to win a prize pack. Then, on March 17, the brewery will offer a St. Patrick’s Day brunch along with food and drink specials.
(wallenpaupackbrewingco.com or 570-390-7933)
The annual Society of Irish Women St. Patrick’s Day Dinner this year features Scranton author Barbara Taylor as the guest speaker March 16 at Radisson at Lackawanna Station hotel, 700 Lackawanna Ave., Scranton. For reservations, call Mamie Eckenrode at 570-498-8363. Tickets will not be available at the door.
Fiddler’s Green Irish Pub, 259 E. State St., Larksville, hosts its annual Pie-Eyed All Paddy’s Eve on Saturday, March 16, at 9 p.m. There is no cover for the event that includes music by the Pie-Eyed Preachers plus food and drinks.
greenirish or 570-714-3220)
Guests at the Jive, 113 Van Brunt St., Moscow, will find Celtic dishes such as Corned Beef along with music, drinks and prizes for the best costumes on March 16 and 17. (570-843-6673)
Wear green and find all-day specials plus dishes such as homemade Ham and Cabbage at Carey’s Pub, 147 Division St., Kingston, on March 17 starting at noon. Special events include music by the Malloy Brothers Bagpipes at 3 p.m., happy hour from 9 to 11 and karaoke at 9:30. The kitchen will stay open until 12:30 a.m. (570-718-1818)
Failte Irish Pub & Steak House, 1492 Route 739, Delaware Twp., marks the holiday with Irish food, drinks and music by the Tara Minstrels on March 17 from 5 to 9 p.m. (failtepa.com or 570-828-6505)
Enjoy live music by the Blarney Boys while you dine on Irish-style specials at the Settlers Inn, 4 Main Ave., Hawley, on March 17 from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. (the
settlersinn.com or 570-226-2993)
For all ages
Indoor cycling studio Back Mountain Revolution, 106 S. Lehigh St., Shavertown, hosts the “St. Patrick’s Day Ryde” on March 15 at 5:45 p.m. The ride will include Irish music, and the studio recommends wearing green and reserving a bike in advance. Beginners are welcome. (backmountain
revolution.com or 570-760-4554)
On March 16, Leprechaun Lore features storyteller Hal Pratt sharing such details as how to catch a leprechaun. The free, all-ages program starts at 11 a.m. at the Dietrich Theater, 60 E. Tioga St., Tunkhannock. (dietrich
theater.com or 570-996-1500)
For the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins’ St. Patrick’s Day Celebration, the hockey team will wear special shamrock-themed jerseys at its March 16 game against the Providence Bruins, which it then will auction off that night. Live Irish entertainment will be on hand, too. The puck drops at 7:05 p.m. at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, Wilkes-Barre Twp. (wbspenguins.com or 800-745-3000)
The free St. Patrick’s Day Family Party on March 16 runs from 10 a.m. to noon at Waverly Community House, 1115 North Abington Road, and includes crafts, games and raffles. (waverlycomm.org or 570-586-8191)
On March 17 starting at 9 a.m., bowlers at Chacko’s Family Bowling Center, 195 N. Wilkes Barre Blvd., Wilkes-Barre, can pick a prize from a “pot of gold” when they’re done. (chackosfamilybowlingcenter.com or 570-208-2695)
Contact the writer:
firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9100 x5107;
@cheaneywest on Twitter
The official start of spring is still a few days away, but Northeast Pennsylvania will be awash in green again this weekend. The St. Patrick’s Parade Day Association of Lackawanna County presents the annual St. Patrick’s Parade in Scranton on Saturday, March 9, and businesses throughout the city and beyond will mark the occasion. Things kick off Saturday with a Parade Day Mass in St. Peter’s Cathedral, 315 Wyoming Ave., Scranton, at 10 a.m., followed by the Brian P. Kelly Memorial St. Patrick’s Parade 2-Mile Footrace at 11 a.m. The course, run entirely on the parade route, starts and ends in front of Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple, 420 N Washington Ave. Registration that day will run from 9 to 10:30 a.m. at Lackawanna College Student Union Center, 600 Jefferson Ave. Pre-registered runners can pick up their packets Friday, March 8, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Scranton Running Co., 3 W. Olive St. Registration costs $12 in advance and $15 that day.
The parade steps off at 11:45 a.m. at Mulberry Street and Wyoming Avenue. Marchers head toward Linden Street and then make a left onto Lackwanna Avenue, which bends onto Jefferson Avenue, before turning left onto Spruce Street. After a final right turn onto North Washington Avenue, the parade passes the reviewing booth near North Washington Avenue and Linden Street, ending at North Washington Avenue and Vine Street. This year’s dignitaries include Grand Marshal William “Buddy” Cosgrove, Honorary Grand Marshal Patrick J. Dempsey, Parade Marshal Christopher O’Neill McGrath, Honorary Parade Marshal John J. Lynady and President Timothy W. Lynady. The parade is dedicated to the late Dave Clark and James Ormsby. Streets close by 9:30 a.m. the day of the parade, so guests should arrive early to find parking. The parade is estimated to run slightly under three and a half hours. As of press time, AccuWeather forecasts predicted ** conditions and temperatures in the **. For updates and more information, visit stpatparade.com or the Scranton St. Patrick Parade Facebook, Twitter (@StPatParade) and Instagram pages (@StPatParade).
The days before
Keystone College, La Plume, kicks off the weekend with a free performance by the Quietmen band Thursday, March 7, at 7 p.m. in the campus’ Theatre in Brooks. The band plays traditional and contemporary Celtic music. For details, call Elena O’Connor at 570-945-8160 or visit keystone.edu.
Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum, 22 Bald Mountain Road, McDade Park, Scranton, hosts a Parade Day Eve Bash on Friday, March 8. From 6 to 9 p.m., guests can enjoy entertainment by bagpiper Bill Hetherson, the Emerald Isle Step Dancers and the Quietmen, along with raffles. Tickets cost $25; call the museum at 570-963-4804.
Carbondale hosted the first St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Lackawanna County on March 17, 1833, and so in 2018, the Pioneer City started a new tradition to commemorate that — a nighttime
Lighted St. Patrick’s Parade. This year, the event occurs Friday, March 8, at 7 p.m. Participants line up at 6 on Main Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues and then march along Main Street for about five blocks.
Scranton early-bird Parade Day specials
Center City Wine Cellar, 300 Lackawanna Ave., invites parade-goers to the second floor of the Marketplace at Steamtown to warm up and grab a drink from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Beer is half-off for guests who bring bartenders green beads.
Enjoy the St. Paddy’s Day Bash at Goodfellas Bar, 1212 Mulberry St., starting at 7 a.m. Features will include green beer, live music, a free pizza buffet and drink specials.
Stalter’s Cafe, 872 Providence Road, serves egg sandwiches and Irish coffees starting at 7 a.m., with “McGriddles” by Lady A at 10 a.m. and Borgia Brunch at 1 p.m. Bagpipers stop in around 4, while the Holmes Family Dance Party featuring Jamie Callen gets underway at 7.
Cooper’s Seafood House, 701 N. Washington Ave., serves an all-you-can-eat breakfast starting at 8 a.m. The menu includes omelette and Belgian waffle stations along with Danishes, muffins, juice, coffee, tea and more for $15 (including tax and tip) per adult and $10 per child 10 and younger. Walk-ins are welcome, though reservations are very strongly suggested; call 570-346-8049 or visit coopers-seafood.com. Cooper’s also will offer live music by Jack Bordo and Jim Cullen on the restaurant side; EJ the DJ will entertain in the ship at 9 a.m., followed later by the Wanabees.
Waldorf Park Social Club, 13 Waldorf Lane, opens at 9 a.m. to serve breakfast for $12, which includes draft beer and mimosas. Bagpipers will make an appearance, and DJ Pat Dougher will entertain starting at 4 p.m. There is no cover for members, while guests pay $5 at the door.
Rhythm Fitness LLC, 206 N. Main Ave., hosts Top of the Yoga to You. Host Leah Mohan guides the class, which costs $5, from 9 a.m. to noon.
Downtown Scranton events Backyard Ale House, 523 Linden St., opens at 9 a.m. with $5 admission, which increases to $10 after 10 a.m. Domestic beer specials run from 9 to 11 a.m., and the day’s entertainment includes Ale House Funk Band, Light Weight, Mace in Dickson, Digger Jones, Tom Graham and DJs. The Bog, 341 Adams Ave., opens at 9 a.m. with a $10 cover and features live entertainment by SaturBae, Indigo Moon Brass Band and Idol Hands as well as appearances by pipe bands throughout the day. The newly remodeled Irish Wolf Pub, 503 Linden St., has music by the Boastfuls from 9 to 11 a.m.; Graces Downfall, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Always Undecided, 1 to 3 p.m.; and a DJ, 3 to 6 p.m. and in between band sets. Kildare’s Irish Pub Scranton, 119 Jefferson Ave., hosts indoor and outdoor parties from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Inside, guests can catch Laura Lea + Yep Fabulous, while Giants of Science plays outside. At night, Flaxy Morgan takes over, and DJs spin throughout the day. Radisson at Lackawanna Station hotel, 700 Lackawanna Ave., hosts two parties. Admission is $25 to the indoor Trax VIP Party, which runs from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and features music by Tribes and DJ Nino Blanco plus a view of the parade from the patio. Tickets are available by calling 570-558-3919. Outdoors, Shamrockfest goes from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and costs $15, with a performance by Nowhere Slow, fresh food for purchase and a 60-foot bar. Tickets will be available at the door. When Whiskey Dick’s, 308 N. Washington Ave., opens its doors at 9 a.m., guests can enjoy a happy hour through 11 a.m., plus entertainment by DJ Elite all day. Harry’s cocktail bar, 302 Penn Ave., opens from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with drink specials and entertainment by the Barrel Chested Beer Bellies. Levels Bar & Grill, 519 Linden St., has music starting at 10 a.m. by groups such as Another Day Dawns, Tommy Guns Band, Kristen and the Noise, and Flip Like Wilson. At 3 p.m., find a concert and meet-and-greet with Jake Miller and Logan Henderson; for tickets, visit eventbrite.com.
Parade Day outside center city Haggerty’s Tavern, 421 N. Main Ave., Scranton, opens at 9 a.m. in West Side. Finnegan’s Irish Rock Club, 514 Ash St., Scranton, which opens at 10 a.m., presents live music all day, including DJ Famous from noon to 2 p.m.; Bliss, 3 to 7; and Pink Slip, 7 to 10. McNally’s, 217 E. Market St., Scranton, opens from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. with food specials that include Irish poutine and Brett’s Famous Irish Potato Chowder. Drink specials include Jen’s Jell-O shots and the Tropical Leprechaun. Alyssa Lazar provides entertainment at night; bagpipers also will make an appearance.
Morgan’Z Pub & Eatery, 315 Green Ridge St., Scranton, opens at 11 a.m. with no cover charge. A heated patio is available all day, as is a special St. Patrick’s Day-themed menu. Holy Sardine plays from 3 to 7 p.m. West Scranton Community Development at the Club hosts a Parade Day Celebration at the Angry Irishman, 1259 Bryn Mawr St., Scranton, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. A $10 donation at the door includes entertainment, bracelet and traditional dinners, such as ham and cabbage, Shepherd’s pie and other Irish favorites. All proceeds from the cover benefit West Scranton community development. Bud’s Bar & Grill, 402 N. Main St., Archbald, opens from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. with Miller Lite pounders for $2.50 all day and $2 shots from 8 to 10 p.m. There is no cover, and visitors can hear music by a DJ and the Greater Scranton Black Diamonds Pipe Band. The kitchen stays open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. McGrath’s Pub & Eatery, 112 E. Main St., Dalton, opens at 11 a.m. with a happy hour that stretches to 3 p.m., after which there is a $5 cover. Corned beef reubens will be served all day. Music by Jonny D starts at 3 p.m., followed by the Edward P. Maloney Memorial Pipe Band at 7 and Mace in Dickson at 8. The Tauras Club,106 W. Market St., Scranton, serves classic ham-and-cabbage dinners for $8 from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Music by Back Flash begins at 6 p.m. Thirst-T’s Bar & Grill, 120 Lincoln St., Olyphant, celebrates with drink specials as it broadcasts the live telecast on 11 big-screen TVs. Live music begins at 3 p.m. and includes Blind Choice, Erich & Tyler Music Co. and the Greater Scranton Black Diamonds Pipe Band. Andy Gavin’s Eatery & Pub, 1392 N. Washington Ave., Scranton, opens at noon and offers live music by the Fab 3 outside, weather permitting, in the afternoon, plus entertainment by the band Drive at night. It serves traditional Irish fare throughout the day; $1 of the $6 cover charge will be donated to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Dunn’s Tavern, 905 S. Main Ave., Scranton, opens at noon with drink specials, including featured shots and Jell-O shots, as well as a jukebox, pool, darts and shuffleboard. Stage West, 201 N. Main Ave., Scranton, opens at noon with a $7 cover and presents live music from the Boastfuls from 3 to 7 p.m., followed by DJ Von Wheeler from 7 to 10.
Honeychilds’, 109 E. Drinker St., Dunmore, opens at 2 p.m. and hosts live music by Ron Morgan and Co. from 4 to 7 p.m.; Qualia at 8; and Mathew James and Co. in its second-level bar from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Kenny’s Pub, 153 Spruce St. Archbald, hosts a Parade Day Party featuring hot ham and cabbage dinners starting at 4 p.m. Guests can enjoy live, traditional Irish music all night from acts including Dr. Clair Kenny, Kerry Kenny, Mickey Spain and Leo Schott on bagpipes. For reservations, call 570-904-1095. Catch live music by Jason Weiss at 3 Jacks Burger Bar, 233 E. Drinker St., Dunmore, from 5 to 7 p.m. Lost Dogs, the Pearl Jam tribute band, plays at Villa Maria II, 1610 Washburn St., Scranton, starting at 6 p.m. The cover charge is $5. Fraternal Order of Eagles 314, 493 Meridian Ave., Scranton, will be the site for the day-ending St. Patty’s Parade After-Party from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. Specials include ham and cabbage dinners (available from 3 to 7 p.m.), ham sandwiches with chips, and specialty drinks. Entertainment with TruBluXM Productions, featuring music and karaoke, runs from 7 to 11 p.m. There is no cover. Waldo’s Tavern, 406 Green Ridge St., Scranton, opens at 7 a.m. and features $1.50 Coors Light pints and no cover charge throughout Parade Day. Music by the Third Nut starts at 10 p.m. Family-friendly The 10th annual St. Patty’s Day Stache Bash returns to POSH at the Scranton Club, 404 N. Washington Ave., from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. to raise money for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. It features a gourmet breakfast buffet and open draft bar, DJ, dancing, Irish bagpipes, games and mustache awards plus a view of the parade. Tickets, available through eventbrite.com, cost $37 for the breakfast and bar option, $23 for the non-alcoholic breakfast and $15 for kids 12 and younger. Children 5 and under enter for free. Scranton Cultural Center at the Masonic Temple, 420 N. Washington Ave., invites the public into its Grand Ballroom for all-ages fun from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., featuring music by Old Friends Celtic Band as well as special guests from along the parade route. Admission is free, with food and drinks available for purchase. Lackawanna County Children’s Library, 520 Vine St., welcomes families from noon to 4 p.m. to make a St. Patrick’s Parade Drop-by Craft, with no registration required.
The day after
Try a little hair of the dog during a Hangover Brunch from noon to 5 p.m. at Ale’s Mary’s at the Bittenbender, 126 Franklin Ave., Scranton.
It’s an exciting time to be Mandy Rose. And according to the World Wrestling Entertainment Superstar, it’s an exciting time to be a woman in sports entertainment in general. “Every place women are just taking over. It’s only up from here,” Rose said during a recent phone interview. “Women keep achieving new milestones and breaking down barriers.” Fans can see Rose and other Superstars on “SmackDown Live!” on Tuesday, March 5, at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, 255 Highland Park Blvd., Wilkes-Barre Twp. Tickets start at $20 and are available at ticketmaster.com and the arena box office and by calling 800-745-3000. There is a $10 fee to park in the arena’s lot. Rose, aka Amanda Saccomanno outside the ring, entered WWE universe in 2015 through the reality TV show “Tough Enough.” She placed second and was signed to the company’s developmental property that same year. In 2017, Rose debuted on the main roster alongside Superstar Paige with fellow “Tough Enough” alum Sonya Deville.
While Rose didn’t dream of being a pro wrestler since childhood like some, she decided to take a leap of faith into the industry. After earning a degree in speech-language pathology, Rose started to participate in fitness competitions, which “opened up so many opportunities” and helped her find herself. It wasn’t long after that she auditioned for “Tough Enough” and decided to pursue a new path. “It was something I was doing for myself,” she said. “Seeing the progress in myself and working hard to attain that goal was something I really loved.” Rose’s advice to young women looking to make it in the sports entertainment world or in any capacity reflects her own journey. “Always chase your dreams and don’t doubt them,” she said. “Follow your heart. You never know where it might take you.” The chance she took years ago put her on biggest stage of her life. Her time on the main roster has included several firsts — for her and the other women of WWE. Rose participated in the first women’s Royal Rumble match last January and the first all-women’s pay-per-view, “Evolution,” in October. “The crowd was just electric,” she said. “Being there in that moment was an unforgettable experience.”
Last week, Rose and Deville competed in an Elimination Chamber match to claim the Women’s Tag Team Championships, where they made it to the final two. Days later, Rose defeated SmackDown Women’s Champion Asuka. While she’s on the road to the largest event of the year, “WrestleMania,” which takes place in April, Rose still stops to take it all in along the way. “We are having so much fun,” Rose said. “It’s amazing. It’s an exciting time.”
Julia Carter had just one month to prepare to be a contestant on CBS’s “Survivor,” which filmed last year in the Mamanuca Islands of Fiji. “With only a month, I knew I wouldn’t get into stellar shape so I thought about the best ways to use my time,” said Carter, a 2011 graduate of Hazleton Area High School. Carter wasn’t allowed to discuss the show’s outcome, but she recalled how she went into the season not knowing anything about it or who she would be playing with. She found out right away that she would be playing a very different game. “As soon as we got there, (host) Jeff Probst lets us know that it was Survivor Season 38 ‘Edge of Extinction,’” Carter recalled. “‘Edge of Extinction?’ I thought, ‘What the heck does that mean? Who’s becoming extinct? What does that mean?’ He didn’t explain it.” The daughter of Catherine Carter and stepdaughter of Douglas Keen, Wilkes-Barre, Carter now works as a medical assistant in Bethesda, Maryland. To prepare for the show, which debuted last Wednesday on CBS, she studied episodes from the previous 37 seasons. She took notes and tried to determine which strategies worked best, and which contestant’s personality was most like her own. Like in previous seasons of “Survivor,” 18 contestants are taken to a remote location where they must provide food, water, fire and shelter for themselves. They also compete in challenges for rewards and for immunity from elimination. Contestants then are voted out by their fellow castmates until only one remains.
But in this installment of the show, a person isn’t eliminated for good. The ousted player receives two options: he or she can quit or get on a boat and continue the game. The show features newbies such as Carter along with four contestants from past seasons. A longtime fan of the show, Carter recognized the repeat players. Carter initially applied to the show about three years ago, recording a two-minute video to talk about her life and why she wanted to play. “And then I submitted it off into the universe,” she said. She didn’t hear anything, so a year later, she attended a “Survivor” casting call in Wilkes-Barre. “I thought I might as well go to double my chances,” she said. In April 2018, she received a call from CBS. At first, she “thought it was a joke” and fired off questions to the caller. “I had to make sure it was legit,” Carter said with a laugh. Sure enough, she shipped out to the South Pacific in May. “Fiji is beautiful. It’s very tropical,” Carter said. “Overall, it had a moderate climate and a typical kind of island vibe. It was very hot, but it wasn’t the rainy season there, so it wasn’t too bad as far as any storms.” The experience, however, came with a transition.
“Although you’re on a beautiful island, you have to realize that you’re actually in the game,” she said. “You have limited resources, limited food, and you’re really exposed to the elements.” And, Carter said, you’re surrounded by strangers. “You’re not sure if you can trust them,” she said. Carter joked that she plans to watch the show “more times than you can imagine.” It airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. “I am going from being a fan to a player to a fan again,” she said.
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Matthew West looks at concerts as a time of connections. Hearing the crowd sing songs back to him never gets old, explained the singer-songwriter behind hit Christian rock music. It tells him that a song means something to them or maybe helped them through a tough time, and that’s why he gets so excited to go out on stage. “There’s a distance when you write a song and you release it on the radio,” West said by phone recently from Nashville. “They’re connected to the song. … But then (I can) be with that crowd in person and have a moment in time when everyone’s lives kind of collide that one night.” One such collision is set to happen Saturday, Feb. 23, at 6 p.m. when West brings the Roadshow Tour to Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, Wilkes-Barre Twp. Tenth Avenue North and Matt Maher will join him for the night, which also will feature worship with special guest Michael W. Smith and Leanna Crawford.
West has earned four Grammy nominations and a Primetime Emmy nomination for original music and lyrics, received the Billboard Music Award for top Christian artist in 2014 and was named Billboard’s Hot Christian Songwriter of the Year in 2016. He has sold more than 1.6 million albums, with his most recent, “All In,” released in 2017. “I would say first and foremost, I’m passionate about the craft of songwriting, and I take the lyrics and the music and putting the music together very seriously,” West said. When he performs at the arena, the audience can expect to hear a mix of new and old songs. “We’ve been doing a tribute to (the) Rev. Billy Graham, who passed away last year,” West said. “Billy Graham had a profound impact on my life. We’ve got a really powerful video presentation that goes along with that song that the crowd has really been responding to in a powerful way. … I say that’s been one of the special moments.” As a father, West said, trying to find music with suitable messages and that he feels comfortable with his children listening to is a challenge. But Christian music offers uplifting messages, he added. “You can fill your stomach with health food or junk food, and you can fill your ears with the same things. … This show’s going to bring it,” West said. “It’s going to be high-energy and tons of fun, but it’s going to be a positive message. “People come to these concerts, and so many people are literally going through the fight of their lives. And the chance … that I get to encourage them? That’s a tremendous honor for me and all the other artists.” West also said he sees concerts as “mountaintop experiences.” “It’s a moment, it’s a night in your life where … there’s a chance to press that pause button and be reminded that there’s something bigger happening and that there’s someone who loves us enough to say … ‘be refreshed,’” he said. “When people walk out of that concert, that road show, (I want them to) be reminded that whatever they’re going through, it’s too big for them, but it’s not too big for the God who loves them. And that’s the message.”
If you go What: Compassion LIVE’s “The Roadshow Tour,” featuring Matthew West, Tenth Avenue North, Matt Maher and worship with Michael W. Smith and Leanna Crawford When: Saturday, Feb. 23, 6 p.m. Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, 255 Highland Park Blvd., Wilkes-Barre Twp. Details: Tickets start at $20, plus fees, and are available at the box office, ticketmaster.com and 800-745-3000.
Sam Kuchwara has exhibited art around Scranton for many years and is a regular First Friday Art Walk participant. His exhibit, “Recent Works in Painting and Mixed Media,” is on display at the Giving Tree Wellness Center on Penn Avenue in the city’s downtown through the end of February, and he will be part of an art exhibit at Adezzo, 515 Center St., Scranton, during March’s First Friday. A graduate of Scranton Preparatory School, Kuchwara studied studio art and psychology at Boston College. The Dickson City resident and avid runner works for Scranton Running Co.
Meet Sam Kuchwara…
Q: Describe your style as an artist. A: I gravitate toward landscapes. I really like landscapes because you can commemorate a place, not only a place you like, but you think about what you remember from the place while you’re making it. Especially if it’s a sentimental place, painting is a good time to just sit and think about it. I think a big part of my style is incorporating the mixed media. It’s partly just me using what I have and trying to add an extra purpose of practicality. It also brings a lot of texture, color and makes some edges more prominent. I always get told I’m an impressionist. That’s just my tendency. I get into this groove where I just keep my hand moving the whole time. A lot of people say my work has a pattern or rhythm to it.
Q: Much of your work seems inspired by the city of Scranton. What about the city inspires you? A: It’s partly because I live here and it’s what I see and I’m more attached to it, but I think the architecture here is so beautiful. It’s something special. I’m obsessed with it even without knowing much about it. I grew up two blocks from Nay Aug Park, so it was basically my backyard. If I was going to go outside, it was always there.
Q: You’ve been a longtime First Friday participant. Why do you enjoy the event? A: I love it. The first one I did was after my freshman year of college. It gave me motivation to draw over the summer. It was exciting and gave me adrenaline wondering who would come. I knew I wanted to keep doing it. For me, especially with bigger paintings that tend to take longer, they might as well be somewhere other than my garage. I also like the involvement with different venues and getting to know the owners and people who come in. It’s become a way to connect with all the new and old places around.
Q: One of your recent projects is a joint effort with NOTE Fragrances creating candles that feature your artwork. How did that come about? A: It was last fall, and the Christmas holiday market was coming up. I was already doing the Scranton mural prints, and they were popular gifts. I was trying to think of what else I could add (that) wasn’t just art — it was something people could use. One of my friends is friends with the people at NOTE Fragrances and suggested I get my work printed on candles. They helped me pick out some scents and names for them. They let me choose what scents I wanted to go with my artwork. People really liked them, and I liked the process, too, of picking scents. They do an awesome job making them, but I enjoyed curating things and picking a match.
Q: You run Electric City Boogie at the Bog. Tell me about that. A: It’s a project that I do with my friend Justin Padro. I used to always go to Panked! (dance parties), and they announced they were going to stop doing it after 10 years. One day I asked if they’d let Justin and I pick it up. We wanted to do a continuation of Panked! but make it our own. We did our first one on a weekend in June two years ago, and it was a super fun, and a ton of people came out. We’ve been doing it ever since. It’s a combination of dance music that is popular and everybody knows; sometimes SaturBae plays, and on weeknights we can experiment and do our own thing. Justin does most of the deejaying, and I’ll do more of the dance stuff and promote it. There is a lot of overlap with that and art. I design posters for it, and it’s become a graphic design project for me.
Q: Running is a big hobby of yours. How does it fit into your life? A: In grade school, I knew I wanted to and should do some sport. I started cross-country. It wasn’t much in grade school, but it was still my thing. I continued into high school. Between cross-country and track, I was with the same kids all year, and we became very close-knit. In college, I didn’t run, but I realized I had a life-long interest in running, and I was in a city that is super running-oriented with the Boston Marathon. It was inspiring to be there. I’m happy I decided to keep running on my own as opposed to running for four years in college and then not knowing what to do with myself when it ended.
Q: Talk about the development of having your Scranton mural featured on the blanket that was given to all of the Scranton Half-Marathon participants. A: It made me really happy. It didn’t happen all at once. I was working at Scranton Running Co. My boss said we needed the logo done, so I painted the logo at the store. Later, he wanted something on the wall and asked if I could do a view of Scranton. It was a long process of working on and off on it when the store was slow. I looked on Google Earth and at satellite images to make a map of Scranton on the wall. It didn’t look like much until the very end (when) it all came together. A while later someone suggested we should get prints made. At the half approached, someone asked if it could be used on the blanket, and that was awesome. Sometimes running and art work apart, and sometimes they work together and sync up. Running sometimes gets me into the mood to paint.
Q: Have you had a moment or time in your life that helped shape the person you are today? A: There are two things I’ve discovered through art. Art is something that can make me feel good. I know when I’m getting too far away from it. I know that I’m going to be really happy when I’m doing art. Also with the big projects, it’s taught me that I need to make a commitment to it. There will be days that I need to just show up when I don’t feel like it and start doing it. I know I’ll be reminded all over again of why I do art. This is a part of what I do now. It’s more than just a hobby, and there are layers of interest to it. Sometimes it’s fun to work just a little, but if I do more and work harder, I’m going to feel a lot better. It’s not 100 percent my job, but I’m learning more and more to treat it as a job and enjoy it at the same time.
Q: The final word is yours. A: Coming back home and doing more shows, most of my friends are connected in some way. Some of them aren’t artists, but so many of my close friends are somehow connected. Through these shows, I’ve met so many awesome people and made so many close friends, and that’s been inspiring and so supportive. Even just seeing some of my friends’ work makes me want to paint.
Photos by Emma Black, taken at The Giving Tree Wellness Center on Penn Avenue in Scranton, and submitted photos by Sam Kuchwara.
In the borough of Lehighton in the heart of Carbon County, folks are glad to see Another Day Dawns. The alternative/hard rock band has gained steam and a loyal following for its energetic live shows in the past few years, and was a finalist in the national “neXt2rock” contest, taking the young group to Los Angeles. Though Another Day Dawns didn’t take home the top prize, the band earned even more attention, this time from industry heavyweights, such as songwriter Desmond Child, who has written hits for Aerosmith, Bon Jovi and more. With a debut EP being released on Saturday, Feb. 23, marked by a show at One Centre Square in Easton, Another Day Dawns remains busy, as it also shoots a music video with Brian Cox of Flarelight Films, who previously directed videos for Good Charlotte, Starset, Hollywood Undead, and more. Singer Dakota Sean recently went On the Record and shared that while the band is excited about where it’s headed, it never forgets where it comes from.
Q:How did the band form? A: The band started as me, lead guitarist Tyler Ritter and drummer Nick McGeehan in a cover band playing a couple times a week. As we matured, we began to take our roles/instruments more seriously. We began writing our own music, took the name “Another Day Dawns,” and added Livi Dillon on bass.
Q: Tell us about how being a finalist in the “neXt2rock” contest changed the band’s fortune. A: That helped us out in so many ways. We got a trip to L.A., made some great connections, became close friends with Desmond Child and also got hooked up with John Phillips, our now current manager.
Q: What can listeners hear on the new EP? A: We expect listeners to hear a change of pace. It’s been a long time in the making for us to finally release a solid EP with a lot of the different influences and backgrounds we all have. But on this we felt it all flowed together perfectly and should be able to please listeners of all of the rock spectrum and all ages.
Q: How did growing up and living in Northeast Pennsylvania influence your work ethic? A: It’s tough in our area; you have to put in twice the amount of work to make the connections or breakthroughs rather than you would in L.A. or something with a bigger market.
Q: What is a live performance by Another Day Dawns like? A: Honestly, it’s a crazy experience. We keep the crowd going no matter if you’re head banging with us or just vibing with the atmosphere that’s all around. We always stress the elements of what makes each song unique, to keep each song at the right level of emotion while keeping the energy constant. Q: What’s in store for the EP release show? A: We have all new merchandise available, which we are really excited about. We have brand new songs we will be performing, and basically just taking our show and turning it up to 11.
Another Day Dawns Established: 2016 Genre: Alternative/hard rock Members: Dakota Sean, vocals; Tyler Ritter, lead guitar; Livi Dillon, bass; Nick McGeehan, drums For fans of: Highly Suspect, Breaking Benjamin, Asking Alexandria Online: anotherdaydawns.com
Steve Martin and Martin Short on their own have amassed millions of fans, earned numerous industry awards and gained status as legends of the comedy world. And now, audiences have the unique opportunity to catch the pair together in their latest comedy tour, “Now You See Them, Soon You Won’t.” Coming to Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, Wilkes-Barre Twp., on Friday, Feb. 15, at 8 p.m., the duo will perform alongside Grammy-winning bluegrass group the Steep Canyon Rangers and Paul Shaffer, former band leader for David Letterman’s show.
“I think our initial goal (when) we started out, it was more of a lark, interviewing each other at a comedy festival in Chicago,” Short explained in December by phone from Los Angeles, joined in the call by Martin in New York. “And we were reminded of this kind of chemistry we have, and it was so much fun. We did it again and said, ‘Hey, this should evolve into a show.’ I think the show has evolved terrifically.” Short and Martin have appeared together in several films during their long careers, including the pair of “Father of the Bride” films in the 1990s and 1986’s “¡Three Amigos!” They also filmed a stop on their first version of their comedy tour, “Steve Martin and Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget For the Rest of Your Life,” available on Netflix. When asked why they seem to have such a strong chemistry together, Martin stepped right up. “Chemicals,” he joked. “I think the audience is aware that our friendship, our kidding around, our insulting each other, is all in great affection for each other,” Short added on a more serious note. Martin said they wanted to preserve their show through Netflix, but they also knew “it was time to move away from some of that material” and update it. While Martin said the new show follows “very much the same formula” — mixing comedy, music and personal stories — audiences can expect new material in this stop. “We’ve changed it up quite a bit,” he said.
When they first put the tour together, Martin said finding the right balance was trial-and-error, with them ending up picking the best elements. Short said he hopes that sharing personal stories makes the audience feel as though they were having “a dinner party with us and everybody’s telling stories with us that’s loose and casual and more personal in that respect.” And since he and Short are both musical, Martin said, incorporating music into the show is “so natural.” “Marty’s a great, great singer,” Martin said. “I mean, people don’t even know, and Marty’s very sensible about it.” While it is hard to say what bits gain the biggest responses from the audience without giving away the show, Martin said, “I think the rule of thumb in this show is that if something doesn’t get a big response from the audience comedically, it gets cut. So we’re trying to keep a level where the laughs continue from beginning to end.” While Martin spent much of his early career as a stand-up comic, he moved away from that for many years. But getting back out there on stage with a live audience has “really been great,” he said, adding that he thinks of a live show as “analog.” “I mean, (when) you’re on Twitter or something like that, everything can go wrong with just (a) word,” Martin said. “And here, you know … they paid the money for the ticket. It’s an almost two-hour show, and I don’t know, it feels much more comfortable to me to appeal to 30,000 people in a room than 20 million on the internet.”
If you go What: “Steve Martin and Martin Short: Now You See Them, Soon You Won’t,” featuring the Steep Canyon Rangers and Paul Shaffer When: Friday, Feb. 15, 8 p.m. Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, 255 Highland Park Blvd., Wilkes-Barre Twp. Details: Tickets start at $44.50, plus fees. For tickets, visit the box office or mohegansunarenapa.com or call 800-745-3000.
Imagine a concert uniting the solo careers of the members of one of history’s most legendary bands, and you’ll have just what the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic plans to offer at its next pops concert. The orchestra will present “Imagine: The Beatles Solo Years” on Saturday, Feb. 16, at 8 p.m. in F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, 71 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre. Guests artists Joe Boucher, Christopher Eastburn, Gary Backstrom and Steve Hodgkin will join the philharmonic for the night, conducted by Mélisse Brunet, interim music director. “There’s a lot of Beatles tribute bands out there, and none of them have really focused on this music,” said Nancy Sanderson, the philharmonic’s executive director. “And there’s just such good music that this particular group that’s coming in to perform with the orchestra decided it was time to (do) that approach to looking at the Beatles. There’s so many wonderful titles that will be performed.” Those songs include Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed” and “Live and Let Die” (which he performed with his other group, Wings), Ringo Starr’s “Photograph,” John Lennon’s “Imagine” and George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord,” among many others. When it came to bringing in Portland Symphony Orchestra-affiliated Boucher and his group, Sanderson said, the orchestra knew a good thing when it saw one. “He did the ‘Piano Men’ (concert) two years ago here, and that featured the music of Billy Joel and Elton John,” she said. “People went wild. They just loved him.”
The concert comes just a couple days after Valentine’s Day, too, making it an opportunity for audience members to include it in a belated celebration. “What’s great is that there are so many restaurants nearby that either before or afterward it could just be a wonderful date,” Sanderson said. The audiences for the orchestra’s pops and masterworks concerts tend to differ, Sanderson said, but the pops concerts can help the orchestra grow its audience for future shows. “Some of the people who come to the pops concerts say, ‘Wow, I didn’t realize I liked live symphonic music so much,’ and then they start coming to the masterworks concerts,” she said. “The pops concerts, in addition to being great entertainment, are a way to expose this music to more audience members.” Things also have been going well for the orchestra this season, its first since suspending operations for 2017-18 so it could develop a plan to stay financially viable, Sanderson noted. “We are definitely back on our feet, and we have a five-year strategic plan that has been working so far,” she said. “We’ve been able to address some of our debts, and by the end of year two of the strategic plan, we will have addressed all of our debts. “The strategic plan really has been designed so that every step of the way we can determine how big of a season this community can support. And what’s been really encouraging is that community members and businesses have not withdrawn their support. They’re really stepping up and sticking with us, and so the message that we’re getting is that people want the orchestra here.”
When country superstar Justin Moore brings his road show to Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza on Thursday, Feb. 14, the Wilkes-Barre Twp. audience will serve as a litmus test for the crooner’s latest tour formula. “One of the fun parts is putting a new show together,” Moore said during a recent call from his home in Arkansas. “We definitely have obvious mainstays that we’ve been successful with over the last decade or more, but it’s always fun as an artist to have new music coming out to also add. “We’ll use you guys as one of the guinea pigs,” he joked. With a roster of two platinum albums, a gold album, seven No. 1 singles and three No. 1 country albums, Moore has plenty to pull from in his extensive catalog to create fresh set lists each time he tours. His newest concert series will include songs from his upcoming fifth album, including the heart-wrenching single “The Ones That Didn’t Make It Back Home.” But a big part of knowing what works in a show comes down to the fans in attendance. “The crowd has a lot to do with that,” Moore said. “They kind of energize us, so we rely on them and their enthusiasm. All the things that we do in our jobs — writing to recording to interviews — the (most fun) part of it is getting on stage and playing it. ‘That’s what we look forward to, and we try to go out and make sure people know it,” he added. “We make it obvious. I’ve learned over the course of my career that if we have a good time on stage, that’s infectious. You have to connect with the crowd, whether you’re playing in a club or arena.” And every crowd is different, Moore explained. Each night from the stage, he tries to “figure out what buttons to push” to ensure that the tour leaves all his guests satisfied. “It’s a different thing that turns a crowd on every night, whether it’s songs that tug on your heartstrings, rocking guitars in one song, or something I say or do,” Moore said. “At the end of the day, we understand — me and all my guys (in the band) — that we’re in the minority as far as people who have the opportunity to do it and make it a living. We certainly try not to take that for granted.” While loaded arenas certainly indicate success, Moore still looks for other signals that his faithful fans are getting what they paid for. “My favorite part is the moment when the lights go out and we walk out on stage. And when everybody is standing up, that’s always a good sign,” he said. “The obvious one is seeing fans sing every word to songs that just started as some silly idea in my head in my bedroom or something. The connection overall with the audience is why (I) do it.”
If you go What: Justin Moore When: Thursday, Feb. 14, 7:30 p.m. Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, 255 Highland Park Blvd., Wilkes-Barre Twp. Details: Tickets start at $39.75 and are available through the box office, ticketmaster.com and by calling 800-745-3000.
The weather outside may be cruelly cold, but the feelings that make up February are warm and fuzzy.
From family dances to romantic rendezvous to female friendship celebrations, Weekend Times has you covered with a roundup of Valentine’s (and Galentine’s) Day-themed events for all ages and relationship statuses.
For kids and families
Family Valentine’s Dance: Hosted by West Scranton Community Development at the Club, featuring a DJ, crafts, games and bake sale for kids in elementary school; older siblings welcome; Friday, Feb. 8, 6 to 8 p.m., 1018 Lafayette St., Scranton; $10 per family. Visit the Facebook event page.
Annual Family Valentine Party: Featuring crafts, games and bake sale; Saturday, Feb. 9, 10 a.m. to noon, Waverly Community House, 1115 N. Abington Road; free, with donations of pasta and canned goods accepted at the door for United Neighborhood Centers of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Visit the Facebook event page or call 570-586-8191.
Valentine’s Open Studio: Create a Valentine’s Day collage or painting; Tuesday, Feb. 12, 3 to 7 p.m., Spirited Art Scranton, 253 Scranton/Carbondale Highway, Dickson City; ages 5 and older, $25. For information and to choose order, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Valentine Party: Featuring stories, songs and special Valentine’s craft for ages 2 to 8; babies and siblings welcome; Tuesday, Feb. 12, 5:30 p.m., Nancy Kay Holmes Library, 1032 Green Ridge St., Scranton; free, but registration is required by calling 570-207-0764. Visit the Facebook event page.
Danger Club: My Bloody Valentine: Kids in grades three to five create a model showing the different components of blood; Thursday, Feb. 14, 6 to 7 p.m., Lackawanna County Children’s Library, 520 Vine St., Scranton; free, but registration is required by visiting lclshome.org. Visit the Facebook event page or call 570-348-3000.
Valentine Party: Featuring free dessert bar with chocolate fountain, crafts, games, contests, and music for kids and teens; Friday, Feb. 15, 6 to 9 p.m., Act Out Theatre Group LLC, 150 E. Grove St., Dunmore; $5. Email email@example.com or visit the Facebook event page. Celebrate with gal pals Grrrls Night Returns: Galentine Edition: Featuring 10-minute individual performances in comedy, poetry, theater and music by more than a dozen local women; Friday, Feb. 8, 8 to 11 p.m., Ale Mary’s, 126 Franklin Ave., Scranton; free and for all ages, though pieces may contain strong content and language. Visit the Facebook event page. Galentine’s Day: Featuring take-home craft, mimosa bar, chocolate treats and pictures taken by professional photographer; Saturday, Feb. 9; 40-minute time slots available from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Chippy White Table, 5 E. Tioga St., Tunkhannock; $40 per person, and free for children under 3. For reservations, visit the Facebook event page or chippywhitetable.bigcartel.com. Galentine’s Day: Wednesday, Feb. 13; refreshments, chair massages, tarot card readings and make-your-own-massage-oil instruction, 5 to 8 p.m.; Slow Flow and Restore Yoga with TRYBE Boutique Fitness Studio, 8 to 9 p.m.;the Giving Tree Wellness Center, 311 Penn Ave., Scranton; $60. Visit the Facebook event page and, to register, visit thegivingtree.simpletix.com. Galentine’s Day: Featuring mini tarot card readings by Janine, calligraphy lettering class by StoneFawx Studios, gourmet chocolate by Nibbles & Bits Pop-up Shop and gourmet cupcakes by Zummo’s; Wednesday, Feb. 13, 7 to 9 p.m., Zummo’s Cafe, 918 Marion St., Scranton; BYOB; $35, plus fees, at eventbrite.com. Visit the Facebook event page. Galentine’s Day: Wednesday, Feb. 13, 6:30 to 9 p.m., Spirited Art Scranton, 253 Scranton/Carbondale Highway, Dickson City; $30, ages 16 and older. Visit the Facebook event page. SaturBae’s Galentine’s Day Gala: Dance party featuring an hour of song requests and dedications, plus sticker and button sale celebrating sisterhood by Second Banana; Saturday, Feb. 16, 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., the Bog, 341 Adams Ave., Scranton; $5, ages 21 and older. Visit @SaturBaeScranton on Instagram and Facebook. For couples, or anyone Speed Dating: Find Your Valentine: Social features drink specials; Friday, Feb., 8, 7 to 10 p.m., Tomato Bar & Bistro, 7 Tomato Fest Drive, Pittston; $15, benefits Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Roller Derby league. Visit the Facebook event page.
L Is for Love: A Valentine Revue: Featuring complimentary dessert bar and performances by Julia Cirba, Kalen Churcher, Jen Kozerski, Liv Anderson, Tony Thomas, Frank Carey, Emily Carey, Allie Katz, Sam Lipperini, Dan Pittman, Caelan Baden, Lorcan Baden, Rocco Pugliese, Sarah Pugliese and Kim Pugliese; Friday, Feb., 8, and Saturday, Feb. 9, 7:30 p.m., Act Out Theatre Group LLC, 150 E. Grove St., Dunmore; $10 individual/$15 per couple. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Facebook event page. Inaugural Valentine’s Spectacular: Gerard Mayer and John Lewis perform golden oldies and love songs; Saturday, Feb. 9; doors open, 5:30 p.m.; buffet dinner, 7 p.m.; dancing, 7 to 10 p.m.; Lucca Restaurant & Catering, 802 S. Main St., Taylor; BYOB; $35. Call 570-499-4904. Annual Valentine’s Dance: Saturday, Feb. 9; buffet dinner with beer and soda, 7 to 8 p.m.; dancing to music by the Jeffrey James Band, 8 p.m. to midnight; St. Stanislaus Polish National Catholic Church Youth Center, 530 E. Elm St., Scranton; $35. Call Jake Stankowski at 570-341-0986 or visit the Facebook event page. Valentine’s Day Sweetheart Dance: Featuring semi-formal dress code and entertainment by DJ Optimum; Saturday, Feb. 9; cocktail hour, 6 to 7 p.m.; dinner by JustFred Custom Catering plus cash bar, 7 p.m.; Pittston Knights of Columbus Home Association, 55 S. Main St., Pittston; $30. Visit the Facebook event page. Dance for Hearts: Hosted by Swingin’ in NEPA; Saturday, Feb. 9; lesson, 7 to 8 p.m.; dancing, 8 to 11 p.m.; Radisson at Lackawanna Station hotel, 700 Lackawanna Ave., Scranton; $20 advance/$25 at door/$15 students; benefits Jacks of Hearts PA, which supports local pediatric cardiac patients and families. Visit the Facebook event page or nepaswing.com or call 570-335-2445. Valentine’s Day Dinner Benefit: featuring raffles and prizes, plus 20 percent of guests’ dinner bills will be given to Tracey’s Hope Hospice Care & Rescue for Domestic Animals Inc., Tuesday, Feb. 12, 4 to 9:30 p.m., Lucca Restaurant & Catering, 802 S. Main St., Taylor.
For the Love of Dogs: Donation-based Yoga Benefit: Features a 75-minute, all-level vinyasa yoga class led by Kelly Bedford, plus meet-and-greet with dogs available for adoption; Thursday, Feb. 14, 5:30 p.m., Mission Yoga, 1440 Capouse St., Scranton; $10 suggested donation accepted at the door to benefit the Misfits Dog Rescue PA. Visit the Facebook event page. Sexual Health and Wellness Forum: Co-hosted by Queer NEPA and Caring Communities, event features a moderated discussions on topics including LGBT+ positive sex education, sexually transmitted disease testing, consent, intersection of disability and sexuality, and more; Thursday, Feb. 14, 6 to 7:30 p.m., Osterhout Free Library, 71 S. Franklin St., Wilkes-Barre. Call 570-829-2700 or visit the Facebook event page. Valentine’s Day Restorative: Featuring 60-minute yoga class; Thursday, Feb. 14, 7:30 to 8:30 p.m., Yoga West LLC, 311 Adams Ave., Scranton; $12. Visit the Facebook event page. Eighth annual Valentine’s Day Dance Party: Includes refreshments, dinner and dancing; Friday, Feb. 15, 6 to 9 p.m., Coal City Tavern, 75 Main St., Luzerne; $10 by Tuesday, Feb. 12. Call ballroom dance instructors Andrew McGee at 570-406-0748 or Amy Zavaskas at 570-574-8873. Visit the Facebook event page.
It’s been three years since Taylor native and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alum Mrs. Kasha Davis first shared the story of her ascension to drag diva in a one-woman show that pays homage to her Northeast Pennsylvania roots. Since then, the Riverside Junior-Senior High School and Marywood University graduate has returned to Scranton numerous times to wow local audiences with the stage persona that has earned her a loyal fanbase around the world. This weekend marks another homecoming for Davis, who will present an updated version of “There’s Always Time for a Cocktail” on Friday, Feb. 1, at POSH at the Scranton Club. The 90-minute show, which begins at 8 p.m., serves as a partial fundraiser for Ballet Theatre of Scranton, where Davis (then known by the given name Ed Popil) got her start in dance. The new version of her cabaret-style performance updates those in attendance on everything that has happened in the years since she first enjoyed breakout success following her television appearances on the RuPaul-hosted reality show. Since then, Davis has traveled across the states and to numerous other countries to perform, finally making drag her full-time work (with support from her husband, Steven, who helps behind-the-scenes at shows).
“Thankfully, as life would have it, things continue to evolve and change in terms of my story,” Davis said. “When I first started doing drag, it was a lot about impersonation and lip synch, but after doing ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race,’ I started seeing how many girls do cabaret. “With my background in theater at Marywood and dance at Ballet Theatre, I started doing this. It tells my coming-out story and my coming-to-accept-and-genuinely-love-myself story,” she said, adding with a laugh, “Shout out to Schiff’s meat market and Old Forge pizza, because of course they had to be in there.” This isn’t the first time Davis has donated to Ballet Theatre, but it’s a generosity she’s happy to continue extending to the studio, which was formative to the development of her drag character and the person she became offstage as well. “They really taught me the first lesson of just being myself. I was a little ashamed to admit how much I loved dancing,” Davis said. “When I started with their production of ‘The Nutcracker,’ they helped me find how to move and be proud of the way my body moved. “Between there and Marywood, those foundations of working hard and developing characterization, plus strong friendships, were built and are still going to this day.”
Davis noted that some of her biggest supporters hail from her hometown and high school, and not just at shows but also on social media, where she has grown her audience and expanded her outreach to other LGBTQ+ people. She recalled the watershed moment that occurred last year when her father attended one of her drag performances in Scranton for the first time, just a few months before he died. “Even though it’s 2019 and it’s mainstream to do drag or come out, people still have to face those demons with their families. If I can provide an example, then I’m doing something that wasn’t done for me,” Davis said. “It just wasn’t the way it was back then.”
Davis even went on to write a children’s book called “Little Eddie P. Wants to be a Star,” a semi-autobiographical story about a unique youngster who longs to be in the spotlight. She regularly reads to kids during Drag Story Hour in Rochester, New York, where she lives. It all comes down to helping families understand how to greet someone who’s different with kindness and tolerance, and shifting outdated attitudes of intolerance. It’s not entirely lost on her then, the irony that she portrays a tongue-in-cheek version of a stereotypical 1950s housewife when in drag. “I’m proud to be an example — some people call it ‘basic’ — of that traditional life, that old-school drag, that shows real-life scenarios,” Davis said.
George Conrad is a Scranton native who discovered a love for acting. After being homeschooled, he went on to earn a degree in human services after taking classes at Lackawanna College and online through Purdue University. He is a customer service associate at Cigna Insurance Co. and won Electric City’s award for best actor in 2018. Now, he is working to build his own theater group, C4 Studios.
Meet George Conrad…
Q: Tell me a little about yourself. A: I didn’t really start acting until 10 years ago. My four siblings and I were homeschooled, and we were allowed to do some extra-curricular activities at Scranton High School. They invited me to come to their show to audition. My mother used to perform. One day I thought, “Hey, what if I go and do the drama stuff?” So I auditioned.
Q: Tell me about your work at Cigna. A: I answer calls from people from all over the U.S. I work in the dental department. I love it. Cigna is a fantastic place to work. Some of the people there I have performed with or know through performing. I just started in August.
Q: What is C4 Studios? A: C4 is a theater group. It stands for Conrad Four, which is me; my brother, Jacob; and my sisters, Kayla and Rebekah. We all decided we wanted to do some stuff on our own. We wanted to do musicals and have adults and kids of any color, size, shape and race be in them in an inclusive group. We did a show this past Fringe Festival, and it was really cool. We like to give back to the community. Around Christmas, we took a small group of people and Christmas caroled for the people at the St. Joseph’s Center.
Q: What recent shows or theater groups have you been part of? A: I did stuff with Phoenix Performing Arts Centre in Duryea. I did stuff with Act Out when that was just starting up and Actors Circle for the majority. I’ve done stuff with Diva Theater. Each group had its own individual type of thing. I started at Scranton High School. I did the musical review with Act Out before it was Act Out. After that, I found out about Phoenix, and my entire family did “Cats.” That was a lot of fun. Last year, I did “Sherlock Holmes” with Actors Circle; that was one that I really enjoyed. I also directed my first show last year, “The Diary of Anne Frank.” It was a big accomplishment for me. I’ve always wanted to direct and thought I could see myself doing that.
Q: Was acting something you always knew you wanted to do? A: Yes and no. It’s something that I loved, but I never knew I really wanted to do it until I got older. It ran in my blood, with my mom being a performer. My dad, after he met my mother, they did church plays together.
Q: What is it like to do acting with your entire family? A: I love it. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I love my family, and they’re one of the reasons I do it. With our busy schedules, now that we’re older, we all have work. We try to sit down and eat dinner each night, but if someone is out doing something or has work, this is the one place where we can all get together and be with each other.
Q: What is it like to take elements of New York City, such as Broadway shows, and bring them to this area? A: Just bringing all of that from the city to here, where you’re standing there and performing these pieces, it’s just really nice. Every night is different with the audience. Some audiences are dead, but you’ll stand there afterwards and they tell you how fantastic you did. Other audiences come out crying. Some audiences of older crowds see something that they loved when they were a kid, and they tell you they feel like a kid again. It’s diverse, the group of people that comes to see shows. Just to see the difference you can make in a person’s life, even for an hour or two, whether it be a good difference or a bad difference, it makes a difference in you, too. You see their faces when they’re walking out the door and if they enjoyed it or not.
Q: What do you most enjoy about acting? A: Probably that (above comment) and just being with my family. Seeing the different types of people who come out to see shows and seeing people connect. It’s people who may not agree on a daily basis over politics or other stuff, but they can sit next to each other in the theater and have a great time.
Q: If you could play any character from a movie, TV show, Broadway show, etc., who would it be and why? A: Very easy question. Bob Gaudio from “Jersey Boys.” I’m a huge Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons fan. I have been since I was about 16. I fell in love with the music. I ended up really connecting with Bob Gaudio’s character. He was a really fantastic man and a musical genius. I actually got to meet the guy who plays Bob Gaudio. He gave me some really good advice. His name is Quinn VanAntwerp. He said to me, “Don’t be afraid to try something. Do everything, even if it’s something you’re not 100 percent comfortable with or good at, do it anyway and do the best that you can at it.” To get that from someone who has toured on shows and performed on Broadway before meant a lot.
Q: What is something about you that would surprise a lot of people? A: I’m an avid “Lord of the Rings” fan. From my first show, I’ve had the one ring, and I’ve had that with me for just about every single show I’ve been in. If it’s not in my pocket or on me, it’ll be in my bag. It connects me to where it all started.
Q: What other hobbies or interests do you have? A: I like music. I am not the world’s greatest player, but I can play piano and guitar a little and read sheet music. I write. I don’t tell a lot of people. I published a book when I was 16. I’m still working on a sequel.
Q: Have you have a moment or time in your life that helped shape who you are today? A: My family, for the six of us, the past 10 years that we’ve been doing theater, it was our escape from things going on in our lives. Things which are sometimes very hard to talk about. We went through a lot in the last 10 years, and without saying too much, it was tough. Now, 10 years later, our lives are starting to look better and get back on track. My entire family was affected, and a lot of people who know us know some of the things we’ve gone through. There were those moments where we stopped and we didn’t know what we were going to do. One day, we woke up and we knew everything was going to be OK again. Now, looking back, it made me who I am today. It was our escape to become someone who we weren’t. We loved it, and it helped us get through the hard times we had.
Photos taken by Emma Black at Mary Mother of God Parish at Holy Rosary Church
Charles Brandt spent five years interviewing Frank Sheeran, the longtime Teamsters union official, confidant of Mafia chieftain Russell Bufalino — and the man who confessed to killing notorious union leader Jimmy Hoffa. In March, Brandt will discuss his book, “I Heard You Paint Houses: Frank ‘The Irishman’ Sheeran and the Inside Story of the Mafia, the Teamsters & the Last Ride of Jimmy Hoffa,” and the upcoming star-studded film based on his work at the Northeast Pennsylvania Film Festival, coming to downtown Scranton and Waverly Twp. from Friday, March 22, through Sunday, March 24. The festival announced its lineup Monday at the Ritz. “After the book came out, I spent a fair amount of time in Northeast Pennsylvania,” Brandt recalled recently by phone from his home in Idaho. “I had not been there while I was researching with Frank Sheeran or while I was writing the book, but afterward I got invited over the course of the years to many functions there, and (I) have developed a rapport with an awful lot of people. … I became kind of adopted by the locals, and that’s how they got me for the film festival.”
Film festival screenings will take place at Waverly Community House, 1115 North Abington Road, Waverly Twp.; the Ritz Theater, 222 Wyoming Ave., Scranton; and PNC Auditorium in Loyola Science Center at University of Scranton. “We’re so excited and grateful for the support of the local filmmaking community,” said Maria Wilson, executive director of the Comm, whose F. Lammot Belin Arts Foundation supports the festival. More than 50 films will screen during the festival, which will hold a kickoff gala that Friday at the Comm. Dallas film producer, writer and director Robert May will receive the F. Lammot Belin Award for Excellence in Cinema that night, and the festival will show his 2003 film, “The Station Agent,” followed by a question-and-answer session. Also that night, Waverly Twp. native and Abington Heights High School alumna Lisa Marie Stetler, who produced the 2017 animated feature “Ferdinand,” will receive the festival’s Vision Award. She also will lead a panel brunch discussion, “Pitch, Fund, Cast,” alongside Mountain Top filmmaker Chris Fetchko and casting agent and Old Forge native Mia Cusamano that Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at POSH at the Scranton Club, 404 N. Washington Ave.
Brandt’s talk, “When Scorsese Calls,” will take place Saturday, March 23, at 3:30 p.m. in the private event space at the Bittenbender Building, 126 Franklin Ave., Scranton. Books will be available for purchase for Brandt to sign. Also on Saturday, the festival will screen the documentary “The Pretender,” about Scranton native Mike Kunda as he pursues his dream of becoming a Rocky Balboa impersonator. That will begin at 7 p.m. at the Ritz Theater. Kunda noted that the “Rocky” part of his life — as not only an impersonator but also manager of “Rocky”-based tours in Philadelphia — didn’t move forward until about 10 years ago, when he was 40. “For me, if anyone ever had a dream, it’s never too late to go back,” Kunda said of his goal for the film’s message. And at 9 that night, festivalgoers can catch Fetchko’s film “All in Time,” which was shot almost entirely in NEPA. On Sunday, the action shifts to PNC Auditorium, where guests can watch student films, catch a panel discussion and see the results of the Mystery Box Challenge.
‘Cold-blooded killer’ For Brandt, the path from page to screen began when the attorney took on Sheeran as a client, trying to gain Sheeran’s release from prison because of a medical condition. Sheeran mentioned that he had read one of Brandt’s books behind bars and told him he was “tired of being written about in all the books on Hoffa as one of those who participated in Hoffa’s murder,” Brandt said, “and he wanted to tell his side of it, and he wanted me to write it.” Brandt said he knew Sheeran actually wanted to confess. “And so I met with him,” Brandt said. “And boy did it pour out of him.” But when Brandt showed Sheeran what he had typed up, the gangster was appalled. With Bufalino still alive at the time, Sheeran balked at making his thoughts public. Brandt told Sheeran to come back if he ever changed his mind. It took eight and a half years, but Sheeran eventually returned. Bufalino had died by then, Brandt noted, and Sheeran wasn’t afraid. “I Heard You Paint Houses” came out in 2004, just a few month’s after Sheeran’s death. It details Sheeran’s interactions with Hoffa as well as Bufalino, who lived in Kingston and may have ordered Hoffa’s assassination. A former Teamsters president, Hoffa disappeared July 30, 1975, and his body has never been found. Brandt said he hopes readers take away from his book “the humanity of people.” “This is a cold-blooded killer, Frank Sheeran, who was formed by his 411 combat days (in World War II), but he never stopped feeling remorse,” Brandt said. “He was ordered to do things that if he hadn’t done them, they’d have gotten done anyway, and he’d have been dead. “Ultimately, this man that determined the life expectancy of many others determined his own life expectancy and committed suicide by stopping eating. And he returned to his religion, his Catholicism, and sought forgiveness for what he had done. And that’s what drove him to confess to me over the five years we spent together.” This year, Netflix will release “The Irishman,” the Martin Scorsese-directed adaptation of the book that stars Robert De Niro as Sheeran, Al Pacino as Hoffa and Joe Pesci as Bufalino. Bobby Cannavale, Anna Paquin, Jack Huston, Harvey Keitel, Sebastian Maniscalco and Ray Romano round out the cast. It all comes after De Niro’s office called Brandt’s publisher way back in 2007 to see if the film rights to the book were available. “There’s an old saying: ‘Dear Lord, give me patience, but give it to me right now,’ and that was the philosophy my wife and I had about it,” Brandt said of the 12 years between that call and the film’s release. “We just knew it (that) there was a lesson of patience in there somewhere, and what we were waiting for was the most special thing any writer could hope for. To say it was worth the wait is an understatement. And to be waiting for Martin Scorsese to direct a book that you wrote — holy cow.”
A long journey After the initial contact in 2007 and then providing material for the film in 2009, Brandt heard nothing about the movie until 2016, when De Niro got in touch about meeting. Brandt met several times with the film’s creators, read the script (penned by Steven Zaillian, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of “Schindler’s List”) and provided notes. “The last script they gave me, I emailed them back that I had no notes, that this was Frank Sheeran’s journey and this captures the Frank Sheeran that I knew,” Brandt said. The movie began filming in 2017, and Brandt visited the set, which included New York City’s Roosevelt Hotel, where one of Brandt’s uncles was once head of room service, and outdoors in Queens’ Ridgewood neighborhood, where Brandt grew up. “It was wonderful to be there,” Brandt said. Brandt said he never doubted the truth of what Sheeran told him. And when it comes to the film, Brandt wants audiences “to be entertained more than anything, I guess, because it’s a very entertaining story to begin with.” “And the mystery’s been solved, what happened to Hoffa,” he added. “There’s no doubt about it.”