This is Country Music

This is Country Music

Brad Paisley takes tour to Mohegan Sun Arena with Lindsey Ell, Chase Bryant

Canadian-born musician Lindsay Ell always admired Brad Paisley’s guitar skills. She event worked through the guitar solo of “Old Alabama” on repeat until she could play it perfectly.
“If you told me I would be standing on stage trading licks with Brad Paisley, even a few years ago, I wouldn’t believe it,” Ell said.
The Grammy Award-winning country superstar strums his way into the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza tonight with support acts Ell and Chase Bryant for a show chock-full of country music and spectacular guitar performances.
“People can definitely expect surprises throughout the show,” Ell, 27, said. “It’s a really cool concept. … We were talking backstage, and (Paisley) mentioned that it would be so cool to have a tour of just guitar players. I mean, who else has done that before? It’s a really special lineup. People can definitely expect to be well-entertained for the show.”
Paisley, 44, captured the nation’s attention after releasing his first album and receiving the Academy of Country Music’s Top New Male Vocalist of the Year award in 1999. Since then, the singer-songwriter added three Grammy awards, two American Music Awards, 13 Academy of Country Music Awards and 14 Country Music Association Awards to his shelf.
For Ell and Bryant, the chance to tour with Paisley immediately shot to the top of their favorite memories as musicians.
“We’re all nutcases on stage,” Bryant said. “If you’re not, it’s not fun. Most of my stuff is all high-energy on stage. We give people what they came to see.”
Like many musicians, Orange Grove, Texas, native Bryant, 23, grew up in a musical family. His grandfather played piano in Roy Orbison’s first two bands and later for Waylon Jennings, while his uncles co-founded the country group Ricochet.
“As a songwriter, going out every night, hearing the fans sing back to you and getting to play some of your favorite songs, including stuff you haven’t written, it’s always a fun thing to do,” Bryant said. “Playing songs that inspire you on a daily basis is great.”
Randy Bachman, founding member of the Guess Who, discovered Ell when she was just 15. Although she picked up the guitar at 8, she said Bachman truly taught her how to play it. Her musical tastes changed from country to jazz and blues during this time, but her style reverted back to her country roots after moving to Nashville eight years ago.
Now, the artist is working toward finishing her new record with Kristian Bush of Sugarland.
“I feel like I have been writing this album for the last 15 years,” Ell said. “The way we are putting this record together, I feel like I’m finally finding me and recording it in concrete.”
Although neither Bryant nor Ell experience true nerves when performing, they both agreed that the rush of adrenaline that comes from walking on stage is beyond thrilling.
“I feel very grateful to wake up every morning and do what I love,” Ell said. “To write about my life and have people connect with it — that’s a crazy concept to imagine, let alone live it.”
— charlotte l. jacobson


If you go
What: Brad Paisley with Lindsay Ell and
Chase Bryant
When: Tonight, 7:30
Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, 255 Highland Park Blvd., Wilkes-Barre Twp.
Details: Tickets start at $39.50, available at the box office, 800-745-3000 and

Cool Off at Festival of Ice

Cool Off at Festival of Ice

Clarks Summit’s Festival of Ice returns this weekend with a theme sure to give you chills — and multiply them.
The 13th annual festival kicks off Friday with a variety of family-friendly activities and attractions. Visitors can check out close to 50 ice sculpture variations on the “Ice, Lights, Broadway!” theme, including homages to “Grease,” “Hamilton,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “West Side Story,” among other beloved musicals.
Admission and parking are free all weekend. For an official map, sculpture list and updates, visit the Facebook event page. Addresses listed below are in Clarks Summit unless otherwise noted.

Noon to 2 p.m.: Live music by Just Us Duo, Citizens Savings Bank, 538 S. State St.
1 to 3 p.m.: Live music by Ken McGraw and Joe Cole, Abington Community Library, 1200 W. Grove St.
2:30 to 3:30 p.m.: Live ice-carving demonstration, MetLife, 1028 Morgan Highway
3:30 to 4:30 p.m.: Live ice-carving demonstration, Toyota of Scranton, 3400 N. Main Ave., Scranton
5 to 6 p.m.: Live ice-carving demonstration, Crystal Cabin Fever, Purdytown Turnpike, Lakeville
5 to 7 p.m.: Live music by Tom Rogo, Golden Coast, 535 S. State St.
5:30 to 7 p.m.: Complimentary trolley tour of the festival with on/off stops at Everything Natural, 426 S. State St.; Depot Street; and First Presbyterian Church of Clarks Summit, 300 School St.
6 to 8 p.m.: Northeast Photography Club art show opening reception, First Presbyterian Church
6:30 to 8:30 p.m.: Family Fun Faire with DJ Jack Martin, storytelling with Chris Archangelo, children’s complimentary face painting by Happy Faces and post-parade juggling performance by Rob Smith, the Gathering Place, 304 S. State St.
7:30 p.m.: Festival of Ice Parade throughout downtown along South State Street

10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: Live music by Mark Woodyatt, Peoples Security Bank & Trust Co., 1100 Northern Blvd., South Abington Twp.
11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: Live ice-carving demonstration, Peoples Security Bank & Trust Co.
11 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Northeast Photography Club art show, First Presbyterian Church
11 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Children’s Art Show (with Northeast Photography Club), Barry’s Art Room, First Presbyterian Church
Noon to 2 p.m.: Photobooth by Dynamic Duo Entertainment, the Gathering Place
Noon to 1:30 p.m.: Live ice-carving demonstration, Frontier Communications, 108 N. State St.
Noon to 5 p.m.: Horse-and carriage-rides, outside the Gathering Place (tickets are $3, available at Clarks Summit borough building, 304 S. State St.)
1 to 3 p.m.: Live ice-carving demonstration plus live music by Von Storch Project, Everything Natural
1 to 3 p.m.: Live music with Mike Waskovich, Clel’s Place, 120 Barrett St.
1:30 p.m.: All About Theatre special adult theater group original play performance, the Gathering Place
2 p.m.: Broadway Musical Revue with Erin Malloy Marcinko, First Presbyterian Church
2:30 p.m.: Jill and Gehred Wetzel dance performance, the Gathering Place
3:30 to 5 p.m.: Live ice-carving demonstration, Toyota of Scranton
4 to 5 p.m. Live ice-carving demonstration, Gerrity’s Market, 100 Old Lackawanna Trail
5 to 7 p.m.: Live music by Lights Out, La Tonalteca Mexican Restaurant, 821 Northern Blvd.
5:30 to 7:30 p.m.: Live ice-carving demonstration, State Street Grill, 114 S. State St.

11 to 12:30 p.m.: Live Broadway Brass with Brass Reflections, the Gathering Place
Noon to 5 p.m.: Horse-and-carriage rides from the Gathering Place (tickets are $3, available at borough building)
1 to 3 p.m.: Drop-in children’s craft, Abington Art Studio, 208 Depot St.
1 to 3 p.m.: Live music by Dixieland All Stars, Gerrity’s Market
1 to 3 p.m.: Live music by Doreen Coleman, Everything Natural
1:30 p.m.: All About Theatre Junior Actors original play performance, the Gathering Place
2:30 p.m.: All About Theatre Senior Actors original play performance, the Gathering Place
3 to 5 p.m.: Live music by Old Man River Band, the Gathering Place
4 p.m.: “Ice, Lights, Cabaret!” performance, First Presbyterian Church

Festival of Ice Golden Ticket Scavenger Hunt: Pick up entry form at any location with an ice sculpture, then visit all nine Festival of Ice zones to find the hidden Golden Ticket. List each ticket location and drop off completed entries by Monday at 5 p.m. at any participating location. Random drawing from completely correct entries will be held after the festival.
Also, check with Clarks Summit-area businesses throughout the weekend for specials and giveaways.

— patrice wilding

Dietrich Film Festival looks to open viewers’ eyes

Dietrich Film Festival looks to open viewers’ eyes

Dietrich Theater’s second Winter Fest transports viewers through reality and fiction with its selection of independent and international movies.
The festival curators assured they would open audiences’ eyes to some lesser-known films while also presenting several Oscar-nominated pictures among the 14 films the Tunkhannock theater will screen from Friday, Feb. 17, through Thursday, March 2.
“We want to serve the community with the art and independent films that they are looking for,” assistant general manager Ronnie Harvey said. “By doing (festivals) seasonally, we are able to give people the product we may have not gotten to, that they would have missed out on seeing in theaters.”
The festival features Oscar and Golden Globe nominees, including “Hell or High Water,” “Moonlight” and “Loving.” Other festival films include “The Beatles: 8 Days a Week,” “The Brand New Testament,” “Denial,” “The Dressmaker,” “The Eagle Huntress,” “Embrace,” “Harry & Snowman,” “Peter and the Farm,” “Queen of Katwe” and “Seasons.” Tickets for matinee and evening screenings are $8.50, excluding the opening night gala and preview day, and do not require reservations.
“I’m personally excited about all of the films because I pick them, let’s be real,” Harvey joked. “But what we try to do with the film festival is to mix in a lot of different genres and a lot of different subject matters to appeal to a broad swath of people. There is something here for everyone.”
The gala kicks off the festival Friday, Feb. 17, at 6 p.m. and includes beer, wine, hors d’oeuvres and screenings of “A Man Called Ove” and “Loving,” with dessert during intermission. Tickets are $25 and must be reserved in advance.
A post-festival film discussion takes place Friday, March 3, at 1 p.m. and gives people a chance to discuss the films with other movie enthusiasts. Harvey will facilitate the discussion.
“I think what I like most is just seeing the reaction from the audience,” he said. “It validates that we’re doing the right thing and we’re giving them what they want. That’s why we’ll continue to do these festivals. They not only help us financially but also benefit the community.”
— charlotte l. jacobson

If you go
What: Winter Fest
When: Feb. 17 to March 2; opening-night gala is Friday, 6 p.m., and $25 (advance only)
Where: Dietrich Theater, 60 E. Tioga St., Tunkhannock
Details: Tickets for matinee and evening screenings are $8.50. Call 570-996-1500 or visit for more information.

Saturday, Feb. 18
Noon: “Harry & Snowman”
2 p.m.: “Peter and the Farm”
4 p.m.: “The Eagle Huntress”
7 p.m.: “The Beatles: 8 Days a Week”
9:45 p.m.: “Hell or High Water”
Sunday, Feb. 19
Noon: “Queen of Katwe”
2:30 p.m.: “A Man Called Ove”
5 p.m.: “The Beatles: 8 Days a Week”
7:45 p.m.: “Denial”
Monday, Feb. 20
Noon: “Seasons”
Noon: “Peter and the Farm”
2:15 p.m.: “The Dressmaker”
2:30 p.m.: “Harry & Snowman”
5 p.m.: “Hell or High Water”
7:15 p.m.: “The Brand New Testament”
Tuesday, Feb. 21
Noon: “The Eagle Huntress”
Noon: “A Man Called Ove”
2 p.m.: “Loving”
2:30 p.m.: “The Beatles: 8 Days a Week”
5 p.m.: “Embrace”
7 p.m.: “Harry & Snowman”
Wednesday, Feb. 22
Noon: “Peter and the Farm”
2:30 p.m.: “Loving”
5 p.m.: “Queen of Katwe”
7:30 p.m.: “The Dressmaker”
Thursday, Feb. 23
Noon: “Harry & Snowman”
Noon: “Embrace”
2 p.m.: “Denial”
2:15 p.m.: “Moonlight”
4:30 p.m.: “A Man Called Ove”
7 p.m.: “Queen of Katwe”
Friday, Feb. 24
Noon: “The Beatles: 8 Days a Week”
Noon: “The Dressmaker”
2:30 p.m.: “Loving”
2:45 p.m.: “The Brand New Testament”
5 p.m.: “Seasons”
7:15 p.m.: “Hell or High Water”
9:30 p.m.: “Moonlight”
Saturday, Feb. 25
Noon: “Peter and the Farm”
2:15 p.m.: “Embrace”
4:15 p.m.: “The Eagle Huntress”
7 p.m.: “A Man Called Ove”
9:30 p.m.: “The Beatles: 8 Days a Week”
Sunday, Feb. 26
Noon: “Moonlight”
2:30 p.m.: “Queen Katwe”
5 p.m.: “Loving”
7:30 p.m.: “The Dressmaker”
Monday, Feb. 27
Noon: “The Brand New Testament”
Noon: “Hell or High Water”
2:15 p.m.: “The Beatles: 8 Days a Week”
2:30 p.m.: “Denial”
5 p.m.: “Peter and the Farm”
7 p.m.: “A Man Called Ove”
Tuesday, Feb. 28
Noon: “Seasons”
Noon: “Loving”
2:30 p.m.: “The Dressmaker”
2:45 p.m.: “Harry & Snowman”
4:30 p.m.: “The Eagle Huntress”
7 p.m.: “Embrace”
Wednesday, March 1
Noon: “Moonlight”
2:30 p.m.: “Denial “
5 p.m.: “Queen of Katwe”
7:30 p.m.: “Hell or High Water”
Thursday, March 2
Noon: “A Man Called Ove”
Noon: “The Eagle Huntress”
2:15 p.m.: “The Brand New Testament”
2:30 p.m.: “Seasons”
4:30 p.m.: “The Beatles: 8 Days a Week”
7:15 p.m.: “Loving”
Friday, March 3
1 p.m.: Post-festival discussion

Maniscalco brings observational comedy to the Kirby Center

Maniscalco brings observational comedy to the Kirby Center

Sebastian Maniscalco began his career in comedy by sharing stories around his childhood kitchen table.
“I was never a class clown, but I was always an observer of people’s behavior,” he said. “So I’d relay them to my family.”
The 2016 Laughs’ Stand Up Comedian of the Year brings his “Why Would You Do That?” tour to F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts for two performances on Saturday, at 7 and 9:30 p.m. Tickets start at $42.75, and Maniscalco will donate $1 from each ticket sold to his charity, “Tag You’re It,” which supports research in Alzheimer’s disease, children’s education and the U.S. military.
Pulling from influences ranging from Jerry Seinfeld and Johnny Carson to Eddy Murphy, Maniscalco said his on-stage persona mirrors his true personality, but amplified.
“Off stage, I’m just kind of mellow and laid-back,” he said. “But on stage, I like to be animated and act out some of my bits. People enjoy that part of my act. But it’s a heightened reality.”
After moving from his working-class family home in Chicago to Los Angeles in 1998, the comedian said, he “hit the ground running.” Maniscalco worked as a waiter in the Four Seasons hotel while simultaneously trying to build a name for himself as a legitimate comedian.
Eventually, he caught the attention of actor Vince Vaughn, who cast him in “Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show.” And from then on, Maniscalco has worked non-stop.
Some of the comic’s standout moments include doing an episode of “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” with Jerry Seinfeld, appearing on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and traveling to places around the world.
One of the challenges that remains true for Maniscalco is the ability to keep people coming back to watch him, even now after a nearly 20-year career.
“You don’t want to come out and have a bad show,” he said. “I keep writing new material, keep it current, keep it fresh. That’s the challenge. With YouTube and Netflix, the audience wants to see new stuff when they come to see you. I’m always writing.”
But certain aspects of his life come as a blessing when it comes to writing. Maniscalco and his wife are expecting a baby in May, so on tour he talks through his experience as a soon-to-be father.
“The more relatable it is for the audience, the more they enjoy it,” he said. “I’m not the type of guy that writes stuff on a piece of paper. I’ll re-enact a story that hopefully relates to the audience.”
In order to reach a wider audience and “broaden (his) creative juices,” Maniscalco said, he hopes to appear in more television and movies in the future. Also, his podcast with Pete Correale, “The Pete and Sebastian Show,” recently moved to Sirius XM radio on Friday nights.
“There’s nothing better than making a room full of people laugh,” Maniscalco said. “It’s an energy you feed off of, almost a teeter-totter of laughter and performance.”
— charlotte l. jacobson

If you go
What: Sebastian Maniscalco — Why Would You Do That? tour
When: Saturday, 7 and 9:30 p.m.
Where: F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, 71 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre
Details: Tickets are $42.75 to $253 (with meet-and-greet), available at the box office, and 570-826-1100.

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 or visit

Up Close: Rory Flynn

Up Close: Rory Flynn


Rory Flynn is the executive chef and kitchen manager at Ale Mary’s in Scranton. He has held the position for three years. He is a graduate of Scranton Preparatory School and Kutztown University, where he received a degree in social work. He also received an associate degree in culinary arts at Luzerne County Community College. He and his wife, Nicole, live in Scranton.
Meet Rory Flynn …

You have degrees in social work and culinary arts. How did you end up choosing a career in cooking?
Cooking was always something I was fond of. Both of my grandmothers always cooked Sunday and holiday meals, and I was always watching and learning. After I graduated from Kutztown, I worked at the Friendship House, which basically paid for me to go to culinary school. While I worked there, I was also going to school part-time for culinary. I was also working part-time at the Waldorf, a social club up on the East Mountain. My neighbor, from where I grew up, was the head chef there, and he brought me in to learn. Even when I was at Kutztown, I talked to my parents about how I always really wanted to go to culinary school. And it even stems back to high school, when I went on a service trip Mexico, and I saw a different culture with food. Wanting to help people is what brought me on the path to social work, but food was always in the back of my head.

What do you like about it?
Seeing the enjoyment that everyone else gets by eating your food. There’s a lot more that goes into running a kitchen than just the cooking aspect, but it’s really about seeing others enjoy your food and feeling good about it. I always say my food is “feel-good food.” When you break up with your boyfriend or girlfriend and you just want to pig out, it’s the type of food you’re going to eat. (Laughs.)

What are some of your favorite items on your own menu?
I’m constantly changing it up. Right now we’re in the process of putting out a new menu, and I think we’re going back to the basics and some previous items that we had that customers have been requesting that we bring back. We used to have a chicken parm sandwich called the “Parmageddon,” which we’re putting back on. Mac and cheese is also always popular and is a house favorite, as are the pulled-pork nachos. And the wings are always a hit. We’ve won some awards. There are a lot of things people enjoy.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Relaxing. I like listening to music. I like getting tattooed. Reading. And just hanging out with my wife and my dog. The simple things.

Do you have any hobbies? Are you a collector?
Sneakers. I’m a big Vans guy. I probably have about 15 pairs.

Favorite music?
Old hip-hop, A Tribe Called Quest, Wu-Tang Clan, Rage Against the Machine, My Morning Jacket. It all depends on my mood.

Do you follow sports?
Buffalo Bills. I grew up with my father and brother being Dallas Cowboys fans, so I always rooted against them. (Laughs) And, for college, Duke basketball.

All-time favorite movie?
“The Goonies.”

Favorite city?
I don’t really like big cities. If I were to visit anywhere, it would be Jim Thorpe.

Favorite thing about NEPA?
The memories. Growing up here with family and friends. And trying to make new memories.

Favorite food?
A peanut butter and jelly sandwich with sliced bananas. When people ask me that question, that always shocks them. But I think it’s the simpler stuff that I like. That’s my favorite: chunky peanut butter, grape jelly and sliced bananas.

Favorite holiday?
Any that I get to spend with my family.

Favorite book or author?
“The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein. I have a tattoo of it. Just the whole concept of the book is something I grew up with. It holds a lot of meaning to me.

Biggest pet peeve?
Things not being in place. Even in the kitchen, I always feel everything has to have a spot. Some say it’s OCD, but I think everything should have its own little place. I like to be organized.

Guilty pleasure?
Big Macs from McDonald’s.

You mentioned your dog. What type do you have?
A bulldog named Henry. He’s my right-hand man. He’s actually going to be my next tattoo.

Is there anything about you that might surprise even your friends?
With my close friends, there’s nothing that really surprises them. I always say that my close friends understand me for who I am. I guess I have two different personalities with work and outside of work. I’m a friendly outgoing person outside of work, and at work, it’s strictly business. And with my close friends, there is really nothing that would surprise them.

Have you had a moment or a time period in your life that has helped shape you into the person you are today?
My service trip to Mexico. It was just before my senior year of high school. It was my first time travelling, and it was just an eye-opener … to see how really grateful I should be for what I have. Being in Mexico City and seeing a whole different side of the world — it was just the small things that you might take for granted, that I don’t take for granted anymore. I’m very grateful for what I have.
UP CLOSE & PERSONAL with ALAN K. STOUT is a regular feature in electric city, profiling people from all walks of life throughout NEPA. Reach Alan at

photos by emma black

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 and by calling 570-826-110.

Up Close: Tyler Pawelzik

Up Close: Tyler Pawelzik


Tyler Pawelzik is the owner and operator of Black Casket Tattoo in Dickson City, which opened in 2013. Pawelzik is a native of Factoryville and a graduate a Lackawanna Trail Junior-Senior High School. He lives in Dickson City.
Meet Tyler Pawelzik …

What was it, initially, that first made you want to become a tattoo artist?
I always drew, so I always knew that I wanted to do something that had to do with art or drawing. And a lot of the music that I listened to when I was a teenager — all of the guys in the bands were heavily tattooed, so that was naturally an influence on me. The whole lifestyle that I was into at that time with music, and the fact that I drew, just went hand-in-hand.

It’s an exceptional skill. You have to be really good. People are trusting you with their body and their appearance and even their health. Where, or how, does one learn how to become a tattoo artist?
Honestly, I was mostly self-taught. I did practice on friends, but I got into a shop basically a month after I graduated high school, so that was my opportunity to try it. But the people that I was learning under … the kid was only tattooing for three months, so he wasn’t a tattooer. He had been trying it for three months, and then he was going to try and teach me. But obviously, what are you going to teach me if you don’t know how to do it yet.? So it was basically trial and error. But I had a natural knack for it. And though I caught on quickly, it took me years and years to learn good composition, and what real tattooing is, and what to reference. I caught on quickly in being able to do good lines and solid shading, but learning the educational side of tattooing, on how it’s supposed to be done, is what took me years and years to figure out.

What are some of the more memorable tattoos that you have done on people? Is there anyone out there in NEPA that you’ve pretty much covered from head-to-toe?
Not head-to-toe, but actually, one kid, almost head-to-toe. I’ve tattooed him down as low as his ankle, and I’ve also tattooed around his head. I’m the only one that’s tattooed him, and he’s probably my favorite client to date.

Is there a particular tattoo that you’ve done that’s the most memorable?
I don’t think the most memorable ones are appropriate for newspaper print. (Laughs.)

What was the most unusual request you’ve ever had for a tattoo?
Same answer. (Laughs). I couldn’t believe the girl wanted it, but she wanted it, and the significance was strange. But I did it.

Do you ever try to talk anyone out of a tattoo? Such as when an 18 year-old kid wants his girlfriend’s name tattooed across his back?
Illogical tattoos and racist tattoos, I would turn away, or try to talk them out of. With the illogical ones, if they still want to get them after I’ve told them it isn’t a good idea, I’d still do it, because they’re just going to go to someone else. But racist, I wouldn’t do regardless. I wouldn’t want to be associated with that.

What do you enjoy about the work the most?
The environment, the freedom and my clients. That’s pretty much it. I couldn’t ask for more. All of those things make it great.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I used to go to the gym a lot, but not as much anymore, so I just lightly train. I like to do physical activity. I’m athletic, so I don’t like to just sit around, because I sit as work. But recently, I’ve gotten into more art-related stuff outside of work, like painting, so I’m sitting down. (Laughs.) I mostly like to utilize my time into doing things that are going to make me more successful. I like to put 80 or 90 percent of my efforts into my business and tattooing, or anything that goes along with it. It might be separate things, but it’s all working towards the same goal.

Who are some of your favorite musical artists?
Pink Floyd. Drake. Future. I know it’s a weird mix, but that’s who is most commonly being played by me. I do listen to some heavy music, too.

Do you follow sports?
Dallas Cowboys.

Favorite city?
New York. I’m not a big fan of cities, but if I had to pick one, it would be New York City.

Favorite vacation spot?
I don’t like vacations. I have two days off every week, so in my eyes, you get a vacation every week. There’s nothing that makes me feel more worthless than going a full week of doing absolutely nothing. I don’t need that much time to relax. I’m off Sunday and Monday, but this Monday, I came in and tattooed. Usually even one day off is plenty for me. I’d rather be working.

Favorite thing about NEPA?
The four seasons. And the mountains are pretty.

Favorite food?
Ribs. Sushi. And hot wing pizza.

All-time favorite movie?
“The Crow.” And “Step Brothers,” “Elf” and anything Will Ferrell.

Favorite holiday?
I enjoy most holidays, but you really can’t beat Christmas.

Favorite quote or catchphrase?
“The best or nothing.” It’s a slogan used by Mercedes. Why do anything if you’re not doing your best at it?

Any pets?
Three cats: Flex, Meek and Lilith.

Guilty pleasure?
I don’t think I feel guilty about anything that gives me pleasure. Anything that I enjoy, I don’t care who knows it.

Have you had a defining personal moment?
Opening my business was probably the biggest thing in my life. It changed my goals. It changed my outlook on life. With time, I just find out more about who I really am. The older I get, the more I get it. The more I understand and comprehend everything. And opening my own business changed my work, for the better, instantly, because I created an environment that was inspiring. And it reflected in my work.

UP CLOSE & PERSONAL with ALAN K. STOUT is a regular feature in electric city, profiling people from all walks of life throughout NEPA. Reach Alan at

photos by emma black

Stand Up Guys

Stand Up Guys

Jeff Foxworthy, Larry the Cable Guy take comedy tour to Wilkes-Barre

The first time Jeff Foxworthy performed in Northeast Pennsylvania, he noticed the people resembled those he grew up around.
“It’s funny. As a guy who grew up in Georgia, I think back to the early days when I was doing the ‘You might be a redneck…’ bit,” he said. “And I thought we had exclusive rights to (rednecks) in the south. Then I went to Pennsylvania and thought, ‘They are kind of like we are. They have them, too.’ And it’s not a bad thing. They’re no different than who I grew up with.”
Foxworthy and fellow Blue Collar comic Larry the Cable Guy take their dynamic comedy tour, “We’ve Been Thinking,” to Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, Wilkes-Barre Twp., on Friday night for a double-header.
For the stand-up veteran, touring with Larry remains just as fun, even a decade after the conclusion of the “Blue Collar Comedy Tour,” which featured both performers plus Bill Engvall and Ron White.
“I’m having as much fun as I’ve had since the ‘Blue Collar’ tour,” said Foxworthy, 58. “And we just enjoy each other. We make each other laugh. I think that’s why the ‘Blue Collar Comedy Tour’ was a success — people could tell we liked each other.”
In order to create a reminiscent but fresh iteration of those shows, both Foxworthy and Larry went back to their roots and began performing again in small clubs to come up with new material.
The Wilkes-Barre show kicks off the second leg of the duo’s tour following a holiday break, and Foxworthy said he is ready to get back out on the stage. Each comedian does a 45-minute set before coming together for a lights-up question-and-answer session.
“We’re so lucky,” Foxworthy said. “Most people don’t stay in stand-up very long. They use stand-up as a springboard to movies or TV. But we’ve been doing stand-up for 30 years, and we still love doing it.”
Looking back on his childhood, Foxworthy recalled saving up his allowance to buy comedy albums and listening endlessly to the recordings of Bob Newhart, Flip Wilson and Bill Cosby. But it wasn’t until after he began a job for IBM that he realized he might want to pursue a different career.
“Now looking back, I think I was born to do this,” he said. “I learned early in life that little magic power of being able to make people laugh. I didn’t know you could do that for a living. I thought you had to have real job.”
After several of his friends at work entered Foxworthy into a comedy contest, he was hooked.
“I had no idea what I was doing,” he said. “I remember that first night on stage, I was scared to look at people. But I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is what I want to do.’”
Today, Foxworthy remains one of the largest-selling comedy recording artists in history, with multiple Grammy Award nominations to boot. He starred in his namesake sitcom as well as hosted popular TV shows such as “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” and “The American Baking Competition.”
“I never got into stand-up thinking this would get me a sitcom,” Foxworthy said. “The frustration of sitcom is that I had a room full of writers that didn’t necessarily want me in the writing room. … (With stand-up) you get to talk about the things you want to talk about and have your own viewpoint on them.”
And after a lifetime of achievements, including performing at the White House for presidents and appearing on five iterations of “The Tonight Show,” Foxworthy continues to enjoy bringing laughter to people across the country.
“It’s very satisfying,” he said. “There is a lot of satisfaction even at this point, to be able to work on new stuff and that people still like it. And at the end of the night, Larry and I get standing ovations. We just kind of look at each other and giggle like, ‘We’re still getting away with this.’ Thirty years in, we still do our jobs well. It gives me that kind of lucky feeling that, golly, I still love what I do. And that’s pretty stinkin’ cool.”
— charlotte l. jacobson

If you go
What: Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy’s “We’ve Been Thinking” comedy tour
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, 255 Highland Park Blvd., Wilkes-Barre Twp.
Details: Tickets are $22 to $59.50, available at the box office, 800-745-3000 and

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 or at the door. Visit or the group’s Facebook page for more information.

Indoor Adventure

Indoor Adventure

Escape winter blues with new experiences

When the winter doldrums kick in, some people make their way outdoors for fun in the snow.
But for those who prefer to stay warm indoors, Northeast Pennsylvania offers plenty of ways to stay entertained and engaged during the coldest part of the year.
Weekend Times takes a look at some of the creative and cozy ways to beat your cabin fever and post-holiday blues.

Art therapy
Whether you maintain a practiced hand or never picked up a brush, group paint nights are a trendy way to delve into the art world.
Spirited Art Scranton, 253 Scranton-Carbondale Highway, Dickson City (in the Fashion Mall shopping plaza), boasts a robust calendar that includes sketching/drawing lessons, “Mommy and Me” classes as well as “tween,” family and fundraising events. Private parties for birthdays, reunions and other special occasions can be arranged for groups big or small. The studio provides all materials and helpful instruction, and guests are invited to take snacks and beverages. For more information, visit or call 570-507-1560.
Many fine art galleries offer guided instruction for novice or advanced artists, too. AFA Gallery, 514 Lackawanna Ave., hosts drawing socials Sundays from 6 to 10 p.m., and Tuesday night figure drawing from 7 to 9 each week. ArtWorks Gallery & Studio, 503 Lackawanna Ave., offers classes for adults with special needs, including sculpture, print-making, mixed media, drawing and painting. For more information, visit or call 570-207-1815.
Plenty of bars and restaurants also offer special paint-night events, so check for more local art events frequently.

Splash around
The weather outside is frightful, but indoor water parks across Northeast Pennsylvania offer warm temps and year-long pool play.
Visit H20ooohh!! in Lake Harmony, a family water park adjacent to the Galleria at Split Rock Resort that features five body, tube and raft slides; a wavepool; activity pool and more. Visit for booking and information.
Camelback Resort in Tannersville is home to Aquatopia, which houses 13 tube-, body-, mat-, bowl- and aqua-launch capsule slides as well as several “kiddie” slides. Go to for rates, hours and reservations.
Great Wolf Lodge in Scotrun offers numerous options in its indoor water park, where guests can enjoy a lazy river, slideboarding, raft rides and body-drop tubes plus cabanas. Visit for more information.
Kalahari Resort in Pocono Manor has its own indoor water park set beneath a retractable roof. Experience the water roller coaster, lazy river and various kids’ areas spread over 100,000 square feet. Visit

Find the exit
Escape rooms are an up-and-coming experience-based, immersive group activity that have taken hold of NEPA. Electric City Escape, housed in the historic Scranton Electric Building, 507 Linden St., is described as a place of “physical adventure games, where players are locked in a room and have to find clues, break codes and open locks in a series of puzzles within 60 minutes in order to win.” The Scranton location offers several spins on this premise for $25 per person, including “Escape the Art Gallery” for two to eight people and “Escape the PI’s Office” for two to six people. New in January are “Escape No. 109 Mine” for two to eight people and “NEPA Virus” for larger groups of 10 to 30. To register or learn more, contact or 570-862-8858.
Or, try PA Escape Rooms, 350 Main St., Dickson City, where a Game Master watches guests via camera to help with hints if they get stuck in Pirates Cove, KAOS or The Heist scenarios. Admission is $25 and open to all ages and abilities. Visit or call 570-382-8902 for booking and more information.
— patrice wilding

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 Visit

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

Sounds: Top 10 of 2016

Sounds: Top 10 of 2016


We’re back in the New Year, wrapping up our look at 2016’s 20 best albums. And now, THE TOP TEN.

10. DEERHOOF — “The Magic” (June)
Avante-rockers Deerhoof played it straight (about as straight as they can play it anyway) and delivered a wildly spontaneous (recorded in less than a week) and blissfully noisy set. “The Magic” ended up being just as fascinating as past releases (fun, too).

9. RADIOHEAD — “Moon Shaped Pool” (June)
The inspired pairing of British indie rock legends Radiohead and producer Nigel Godrich continues to amaze. Since its 1997 masterpiece “OK Computer,” the band has never worked with another producer or made a weak record. “Pool” was simply another disc that smashed all expectations.

8. THE RADIO DEPT — “Running Out of Love” (October)
Swedish dream-pop collective the Radio Dept. turned up both the electronics and the global politics on its fourth record. “Love” ended up a near-perfect melding of underground ’90s grooves, twee pop and modern bouts with computers (not to mention some calculated anger).

7. JOYCE MANOR — “Cody” (October)
California punks Joyce Manor churned out 10 very personal tracks in 25 minutes and left us emotionally drained at the end. Close friends died, junkies didn’t get better, relationships crashed and burned, and the riffs and melodies were all killer.

6. MITSKI — “Puberty 2” (June)
New York indie singer/songwriter Mitski grew up lyrically and stretched out musically on “Puberty.” Facing adulthood head-on and combining grungy rock with electronic and modern folk, she delivered an eclectic, stirring and concise set that left us craving more.

5. ANIMAL COLLECTIVE — “Painting with Animal Collective” (February)
Maryland indie pop/rock outfit Animal Collective went for crazy doses of instant gratification on “Painting.” Its usual mix of the weird and wonderful was left intact but with bigger and healthier pop sensibilities this time. Not a bad starting point for uninitiated newbies.

4. LORETTA LYNN — “Full Circle” (March)
The living legend (now 84) released her first album in a dozen years and verified that she’s STILL one of the most important and relevant voices in country music. Produced by Lynn’s daughter Patsy along with John Carter Cash, “Circle” proved more authentic than anything pouring out of Nashville today.

3. A TRIBE CALLED QUEST — “We Got It from Here … Thank You 4 Your Service” (November)
One of the most talented hip-hop acts of the ’90s got back together and released one of its finest albums. With Phife Dawg’s death earlier this year, however, “We Got It” was not the beginning of a bold new chapter in Tribe’s story. It would be the bittersweet conclusion. But what an awesome climax.

2. THE AVALANCHES — “Wildflower” (July)
After keeping us waiting for 15 years, the Australian electronic duo finally gave the influential and memorable “Since I Left You” (2000) a proper follow-up. Expectations ran unreasonably high, but the pair did not disappoint with their unique, multi-layered sonic landscapes.

1. CASE LANG VEIRS — “Case Lang Veirs” (June)
Three women from the worlds of country and alt-folk blended their voices and songwriting capabilities flawlessly. Neko Case, K.D. Lang and Laura Veirs collaborated equally, with each member complementing the other two without dominating the proceedings. Here’s hoping this project gets a sequel soon.