Christkindlmarkts inspire downtown market in eighth year

Christkindlmarkts inspire downtown market in eighth year

By Katelyn Moore

For the eighth year, a holiday market will take place in downtown Scranton where the community can gather, enjoy food and live entertainment, and support local crafters.
The Lackawanna County Commissioners, the county arts and culture department and the Lackawanna County Convention and Visitors’ Bureau have taken the reins for the winter market this year, keeping up the tradition so the market’s usual planner, ScrantonMade, can take the year off. The market will kick off during the First Friday Art Walk on Dec. 7, opening from 5 to 9 p.m. after the Globe store’s holiday lighting. The market also will be open Saturday, Dec. 8, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 9, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
This year’s event is inspired by medieval European winter markets called Christkindlmarkts, which began as a way for townspeople to stock up on supplies for the winter. Eventually, they became more holiday-themed. Here, more than 60 vendors will sell products ranging from soap and jewelry to food, wine and other treats. Backyard Ale House also will serve food and drinks in a lounge area.
And this year, the market will take place outdoors on Wyoming Avenue rather than inside the former Globe store as it had the past two years, as the county is renovating the building for its offices.
Maureen McGuigan, the county’s deputy director of arts and culture, said that taking the inspiration from medieval markets fit the planners’ vision to create a cozy atmosphere for the community to gather in.
“This is not going to be like a backyard picnic tent,” she said, referring to the heated tent that the majority of the event’s vendors will be in. “It’s going to be like a small building.”
The building next door to the Globe Store, meanwhile, will serve as “Santa’s workshop” and hold a few additional vendors, too. Activities for the entire family will include making Christmas postcards, playing with traditional wooden toys and listening to classic holiday tunes on a record player while lounging in the area’s comfortable seating. Guests also can view a display about the history of the Globe Store and visit a selfie station to take pictures beside the original Globe tree or Santa himself.
Weather permitting, there will be place for guests to make s’mores. Guests also can create their own orange-clove pomanders, originally used during medieval times because of the belief that a pomander’s pleasant aroma could ward off disease.
Free horse-and-carriage rides will be available Friday night, too. Laura Duda from Brookvalley Farm will drive April and Molly — a mother-daughter team of Belgian draft horses who also pull Santa in the Santa Parade — for a 10 minute-long ride. Duda said the carriage rides are very popular and that the horses are “very impressive animals.”
The Arcadia Chorale, Dani-elle Kleha and J.P. Biondo and Friends will provide music Friday. On Saturday, the NativityMiguel School Choir, Jacob Cole and Mark Woodyatt, LittleStarRun, Mariah Hawley and the Justin Padro Jazz Trio will perform. Sunday’s entertainment will come from Jim Cullen and Jack Bordo, the Malloy/Waltich/Smith Christmas Jazz Trio and Patrick McGlynn. Students from the NEPA Philharmonic Mentoring Program will perform both Saturday and Sunday.
Some additional vendors will be located a short walk away at the Creative and Performing Arts Academy of NEPA, 222 Wyoming Ave. In addition to those vendors, there will also be other kids’ activities, movies and a drop-off baby-sitting service for parents.
McGuigan also hopes guests will make a day out of exploring not only what the market has to offer but also the rest of the community.
“We’re seeing the winter market as a part of a larger downtown experience,” she said.

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First Friday events
Scranton Times Pop-up Shop, with designer ornament sale and “Scenes of the Season” exhibit, 149 Penn Ave.
AFA Members’ Exhibition, works by various artists, AFA Gallery, 514 Lackawanna Ave.
“Art,” works by Cheryl Korb, with music by Dave Brown,
Adezzo, 515 Center St.
Artwork, with music by Jeff Lewis, Hilton Scranton & Conference Center, 100 Adams Ave.
Dress for Success “Rent the Runway” Pop-Up Shop, with music by DJ Honeyman Lighnin’, Terra Preta Prime, 301 N. Washington Ave.
“Happy Holidays,” with artists, photographers, yogis and more, Yoga West, 311 Adams Ave.
“Just Beachy,” photography by Ali Pica, with live music, the Velvet Elvis, 523 Bogart Court
“A Lavish Holiday,” works by Michael Lloyd, Lavish Body & Home, 600 Linden St.
“Miscellaneous,” works by Brooke Lamberti, with music by Mike Stec, the Giving Tree Wellness Center, 311 Penn Ave.
“Nature’s Poetic Images: A Retrospective Exhibit,” works by Tobi Balin Grossman, Marquis Art & Frame, 515 Center St.
NEPA Candles Holiday Collection, with live music, Opulence on Spruce, 310 Spruce St.
NEPA Design Collective Holiday Pop-Up Shop, printmaking, letterpress, paintings, photography, T-shirts and crafts by NEPA Design Collective members and Marywood University students, the Workshop, 334 Adams Ave.
“Paintings, Collages and Prints,” works by Maria Grzyboski, with DJ Matt Michaylo, POSH at the Scranton Club, 404 N. Washington Ave.
“Positively Negative Photography,” works by Tony Traglia, Peculiar Slurp Shop, 307 Penn Ave.
“Radiant Collusion: A Collaborative Student Showcase,” ArtWorks Gallery & Studio, 503 Lackawanna Ave.

Wonderful Christmastime Ballet classic ‘The Nutcracker’ dances onto region’s stages

Wonderful Christmastime Ballet classic ‘The Nutcracker’ dances onto region’s stages

Cue the Tchaikovsky.
The familiar strains of the Russian composer’s beloved Christmas ballet, “The Nutcracker,” will fill auditoriums across Northeast Pennsylvania in the coming weeks thanks to local and international dance companies.
The story follows a girl, Clara, as she receives a nutcracker on Christmas Eve and begins a journey to otherworldly realms where she encounters magical creatures.
So grab your tickets and settle in for an extraordinary trip full of holiday spirit. Weekend Times has rounded up all the ways you can experience the classic production this season.

Linn McDonald School of Dance
Seventy students ranging in age from 3 to 60 will dance in the performance, which stars Sadie Hughes as Clara and Mark Dolph as Drosselmeyer.
When: Saturday, Dec. 8, 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 9, 2 p.m.
Where: Scranton High School, 63 Mike Munchak Way
Tickets: $15, available at the door
Details: Visit the school’s Facebook page.

Moscow Ballet
The “Great Russian Nutcracker’s” Dove of Peace Tour comes to Wilkes-Barre and features hand-painted sets and such elements as nesting dolls, snow maidens and more.
When: Friday, Dec. 14, 7 p.m.; doors open, 5:30
Where: F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, 71 Public Square
Tickets: $28, $38, $48 and $68, plus fees; visit the box office or kirbycenter.org or call 570-826-1100
Details: nutcracker.com

Degnan Ballet Center at the Conservatory of Wilkes University
About 60 people star in the production, which consists of Wilkes University students as well as local students enrolled at Wilkes Conservatory’s Degnan Ballet Center. The cast includes Rachel Whitenight as Klara and guest artists Julie Degnan, Ruben Suarez, T.J. Firneno and Connor Cohen.
When: Friday, Dec. 14, and Saturday, Dec. 15, 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 16, 2 p.m.
Where: Dorothy Dickson Darte Center for the Performing Arts main stage, Wilkes University, 239 S. River St., Wilkes-Barre
Tickets: Adults, $22; seniors, students and children, $15; call 570-408-4426
Details: wilkes.edu

Scranton Civic Ballet Company
This marks the company’s 32nd annual edition of the classic production. Eighty students and adults ages 8 to 75 will present the ballet, which will feature company dancer Robert Zaloga as Cavalier. Civic also will present its annual free “Eye on Dance” educational performance of the ballet Friday, Dec. 14, at 10 a.m.
When: Friday, Dec. 14, 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 16, 2 p.m.
Where: Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple, 420 N. Washington Ave.
Tickets: Individual, $18.50; family four pack, $55.50, plus fees, available at the box office or by calling 570-344-1111
Details: 570-346-7369 or scrantoncivicballet.com

Ballet Theatre of Scranton
In partnership with Marywood University, the dance troupe once again will offer several free performances of “The Nutcracker” as a gift to the community. This marks Ballet Theatre’s 43rd year presenting the ballet, which stars Lucy Doherty as Clara. The cast also includes Abby Leoncini, a guest professional alumna.
When: Wednesday, Dec. 26, through Friday, Dec. 28, 2 and 7:30 p.m.
Where: Sette LaVerghetta Center for Performing Arts, Marywood University, 2300 Adams Ave., Scranton
Tickets: Free; available at the box office the day of the show on a first-come, first-served basis two hours before curtain.
Details: 570-347-2867 or balletscranton.org

Celebrated musician Johnny Rivers brings  classic song collection  to Wilkes-Barre

Celebrated musician Johnny Rivers brings classic song collection to Wilkes-Barre

The voice behind hits such as “The Tracks of My Tears” and “Secret Agent Man” will fill F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts with his beloved songs this weekend.
Johnny Rivers, who has sold more than 30 million records during his decades-long career, will perform at the downtown Wilkes-Barre venue on Sunday, Dec. 2, at 7:30 p.m. Doors open at 6.
The audience can expect to hear many of Rivers’ greatest hits, which also include “Memphis,” “Poor Side of Town,” “Summer Rain” and “Baby I Need Your Lovin’,” Rivers promised recently by phone from Los Angeles, where he lives. He said he updates the arrangements to keep them fresh and hopes the audience will “have a good time and enjoy the show.”
“We throw in some album cuts from different albums,” Rivers said, adding that he also does an acoustic set in the middle of the show. “It’s fun. People enjoy it. It’s very intimate.”
Born Johnny Ramistella in New York City, Rivers grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and started his professional playing career at 14. He returned to New York City the next year, scored a record deal and changed his name to Rivers. He released “Memphis,” which became his first No. 1 single, in 1964, and numerous hits followed. Since then, he’s racked up 17 gold records.
Many of his tunes have endured through the years because they’re just good songs, Rivers said.
“And a lot of them are very blues-oriented and stuff, which is my roots,” he added.
While he doesn’t write many songs any more, he does continue to put pen to paper, noting that he puts a lot of time into a song when he does compose and produces it himself. And Rivers can take inspiration from anything, he added, from an article read or his children and grandchildren.
Rivers continues to tour, too, although he’s abandoned long bus trips for weekend gigs.
“It’s just what I do,” he said. “I’m still healthy, and I can still hit the notes, and my voice is still good. As long as I can still do it and hit the notes, I’m going to keep doing it.”

Fundraiser slated for much-loved Loyalty barber and Bog co-owner Brian Craig

Fundraiser slated for much-loved Loyalty barber and Bog co-owner Brian Craig

Craiger.
Big guy.
Boss.
The best.
Brian Craig — the much-loved co-owner of popular bar the Bog and a barber at Loyalty Barber Shop and Shave Parlor, both located on Adams Avenue downtown — is called these things and more by his friends.
So when the Roaring Brook Twp. resident received a shocking cancer diagnosis recently, supporters began to mobilize and coordinated a benefit to help him and his loved ones at home, including wife, Sharon Yanik-Craig, and their son, 5-year-old Grayson. 
The result is BRI DAY, a fundraiser for Brian Craig and his family, set for Friday, Nov. 23, from 4 to 10 p.m. at Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple, 420 N. Washington Ave. The all-ages concert event will feature acoustic performances by a number of local musicians who previously played in bands with Craig (a seasoned drummer and percussionist) or else frequented the stage at his Scranton pub.
Among the acts announced are Tom Petty Appreciation Band, Mighty Fine Wine, J.P. Biondo, Brian Langan, Mike Quinn, Chris Kearney, Charles Havira, Tom Graham and These Idol Hands.
Food will be provided by Linden Chicken and Backyard Ale House, and a cash bar for patrons 21 and over will be available. BRI DAY also will have basket raffles on hand.
All of the proceeds from the evening will go to the family, as medical bills mount while Craig seeks ongoing treatment at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Though he does have health insurance, his coverage does not extend to every cost associated with his battle to overcome the disease, including travel expenses. BRI DAY aims to ease that burden.
“He’s my best friend in the world. I’ve learned so much from him. He really taught me how to treat people. I’m forever grateful for that,” said Bill Orner, lead organizer. “I’d do anything to help out my bud.”
Long known for coming to the aid of friends and strangers facing a variety of obstacles through his own charitable efforts, Craig is nonetheless surprised by the avalanche of support already being shown to him and his family in such a short amount of time. But it’s a wave of love that’s needed for the difficult road ahead, he admitted.
“When we first learned of my diagnosis, we were all devastated,” Craig said. “Having my friends and family rally around me is really what is giving me the strength and encouragement to stay positive and fight. I can’t thank them all enough.”
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If you go
What: BRI DAY
When: Friday, Nov. 23, 4 to 10 p.m.
Where: Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple, 420 N. Washington Ave.
Details: Multiple ticket options are available online at
briancraigfundraiser.bigcartel.com. Tickets bought in person are $25, available at the Bog, 341 Adams Ave.; Backyard Ale House, 523 Linden St.; Jack’s Draft House, 802 Prescott Ave.; and Stalter’s Cafe, 872 Providence Road, all in Scranton. For information and updates, visit @briday.fundraiser on Facebook and Instagram.

An Up Close & Personal Gift Guide

An Up Close & Personal Gift Guide

I consider myself lucky to write the Up Close & Personal feature for Electric City. The people I meet open my eyes to incredible talent and kindness here in NEPA, and I make many friends in the process. I have witnessed first-hand skilled artisans pour their heart and soul into what they do. I looked through past Up Close & Personal articles and put together a guide to help you find the perfect gift for all the important people in your life. This holiday season, know that when you buy from any of the people below, each product is made with exceptional love and care.

Accessorizor. Give a piece of personalized jewelry to a special someone. AOS Metals, 527 Bogart Place, Scranton, features handmade and custom-made jewelry that can be personalized on the spot. Whether you want a name, sports team or other sentimental word stamped on, owner and metalsmith Kari Johnson will help you come up with the perfect piece.
“Sometimes … A client will tell me it has to do with a pet they’ve lost or a child they’ve lost. It’s just these moments that you’re able to create for someone as a memory, and it tugs at my heartstrings, and to be a part of something that special and to make something for someone that they’re going to hold that close to their heart,” said Johnson during an interview in March.

Scent lover. Do you know someone who loves perfume, but is picky about the perfect scent? Give a custom perfume experience and let that person design his or her own perfume. NOTE Fragrances, located at 401 Spruce St., Scranton, and at 312 S. State St., Clarks Summit, features owner, Danielle Fleming’s own creations of body butters, candles, lip balms and perfumes, but she is also there to help customers create a special scent that is unique and personal.
“We’ve had people make fragrances to connect to loved ones who passed away or for a loved one. That is the powerful effect of aroma and how it works with our brain. Some have been brought to tears going through the experience,” said Fleming during an interview in April.

Up-and-coming musician. Give the gift of music lessons. Tyler Dempsey is a professional drummer and drum instructor who teaches out of his home and at private studios in Wilkes-Barre and Moscow. For drum lessons with Tyler Dempsey, visit tylerdempseymusic.com.
A professional musician and DJ, Neil Nicastro has been teaching guitar for more than 20 years. He teaches at Neil Nicastro Music, Entertainment and Instruction in Dunmore. Visit nnusic.com.

Practical person. For that someone who loves functionality, try a personalized, hand-crafted wood item. Don Fisch Jr., owner of DF Custom Concepts, builds household items such as step stools, business card holders and children’s growth rulers to track your child’s height, as well as made-to-order items. Fisch cuts each piece of wood and works with each customer to add a special touch, whether it be a silhouette of their favorite character or their name, on every piece. Visit dfcustomconcepts.com.

The light of your life. Give a gift that will brighten someone’s day. Mechanical Concepts owner, Shawn Jennings combines his love for cars and art to create unique lamps using scrap metal, particularly old car parts. The mechanic takes pride in the artistic aspect of exemplifying shadows casted by light and the ambience it gives off.
“All of my work is original where I don’t duplicate anything,” said Jennings in an interview in November. “I’ll have the same concept, but everything is a little different about each piece. They’re signed, numbered and dated, and I keep a catalog record of them all, so it adds a little extra specialness to each person’s piece.” Jennings’ products are available at On&On, 1138 Capouse Ave., Scranton.

Scrantonian. Show off your NEPA pride by giving a Valerie Kiser Design home and lifestyle item. Hoping to spread positivity with her brand, Valerie Kiser Design features stylish, high-quality clothing, home decor and more, all of which feature Kiser’s hand-printing and sewing, including her line featuring the iconic Electric City sign.
“I love Scranton and feel good about it. There are so many naysayers in our area, and it gets a bad rep … If somebody gets very negative about Scranton, I try to shut that down,” said Kiser in an interview in August. Share a symbol of Scranton with someone who also loves this city or take a piece of Scranton and give it to friends and family from out of town. Kiser’s collection is available at Lavish Body and Home, 600 Linden St., Scranton and valeriekiserdesign.com.

Wine enthusiast. Share a bottle of wine that will have everybody laughing. Located at 134 N. Main Ave., Scranton, Lucchi Family Wine Cellars offers both sweet and dry wines. With names such as “PMS” (Pineapple Mango Sangria) and “Sexy Sisters,” give a bottle that will tell your loved ones how you really feel about them.

This holiday season, support these local crafters who are working tirelessly to make sure you get the best. Enjoy the shopping season.

— Emma Black

Pick up homemade gifts, goodies at variety of local craft shows

Pick up homemade gifts, goodies at variety of local craft shows

Cross off your Christmas list with homemade, personal gifts picked up locally this year.
In the coming weeks, several organizations in the area will host craft and vendor fairs filled with handcrafted items, basket raffles, food and more, with many of the events raising money for local causes, too. Weekend Times has rounded up a few of the spots getting crafty this holiday season.

American Red Cross Eastern Pennsylvania Region Holiday Craft Show
This 24th annual event will feature more than 150 vendors selling handmade, homemade crafts such as soap, jewelry, food and clothing. Wine tastings and homemade cookies and candies also will be available. Proceeds support the Red Cross’ programs and services in the Wyoming Valley.
When: Saturday, Nov. 24, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 25, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Kingston Armory, 280 Market St.
Details: General admission costs $5, and children 12 and younger enter for free. Parking also is free. For more information, call 570-823-7161 or visit the Facebook event page.

Small Business Saturday Artisan Marketplace
Vendors at this event will sell only handmade products on two floors, and visitors also can enjoy live music.
When: Saturday, Nov. 24, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: The Anthracite Center at NBT, 41 N. Main St., Carbondale
Details: Admission costs $2. Visit the Facebook event page for more information.

Seventh annual Buy Local Holiday Marketplace
Guests will find sellers spread across five floors of Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple and can choose from items such as fine art, jewelry, wine, food, children’s accessories and pet gifts. The first 1,000 shoppers receive a free reusable shopping bag. Refreshments and snacks will be available for purchase.
When: Sunday, Nov. 25, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple, 420 N. Washington Ave.
Details: Admission costs $2. Visit scrantonculturalcenter.org or the Facebook event page or call 570-346-7369 for more information.

Old-Fashioned Holiday Market
The two-day event will include not only arts and crafts but also food, entertainment and horse-drawn carriage rides. Proceeds benefit CASA of Luzerne County and Wyoming Valley Children’s Association.
When: Friday, Nov. 30, and Saturday, Dec. 1, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Where: Public Square, Wilkes-Barre
Details: Call 570-208-4149, email phughes@wilkes-barre.pa.us or visit the Facebook event page.

Alternative Christmas Craft Fair
The event features handmade crafts from local artisans, a white elephant table, fair-trade items and wreath-making using fresh greenery. Guests also can enjoy a light lunch.
When: Saturday, Dec. 1, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: First Presbyterian Church, 97 S. Franklin St., Wilkes-Barre
Details: Call 570-824-2478 or visit the Facebook event page.

Abington Heights Education Association Craft Fair
In addition to vendors, the fair will hold basket raffles, offer pictures with Santa and host food trucks. Free basket raffle tickets with admission. Proceeds benefit AHEA’s scholarship fund.
When: Saturday, Dec. 1, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: Abington Heights Middle School, 1555 Newton Ransom Blvd., Newton Twp.
Details: Admission is $2 for adults and free for children under 12. Visit the Facebook event page for more information.

Jefferson Twp. Volunteer Fire Company annual Cookie Walk and Craft Fair
After you check out the various crafts
for sale, grab some homemade cookies
for $7.99 per pound, with proceeds
benefiting the fire company.
When: Saturday, Dec. 8, 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Where: Jefferson Twp. Volunteer Fire
Company, 405 Cortez Road
Details: Visit the Facebook event page.

Cookie Walk & Victorian Luncheon
First Presbyterian Church of Hawley will sell more than 30 varieties of homemade cookies for $11 per pound. Gluten-free options will be available. The church also will host a reservations-only Victorian luncheon, which will feature scones, quiche, finger sandwiches, desserts, coffee and tea.
When: Saturday, Dec. 8; cookie walk, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. or until sell out; Victorian luncheon, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Where: First Presbyterian Church of Hawley, 815 Church St.
Details: Reservations are required for the luncheon; tickets cost $11 for adults and $6 for children under 10. Call 570-226-4835 for reservations or more information.

Frances Willard Elementary School PTA Craft Fair
The PTA’s inaugural craft fair will include numerous vendors selling items such as makeup, jewelry, essential oils and clothes.
When: Saturday, Dec. 1, noon to 5 p.m.
Where: Frances Willard Elementary School, 1100 Eynon St., Scranton
Details: Visit the Facebook event page.

Greater Scranton YMCA Holiday Craft Fair
The YMCA aims to offer something for everyone at this annual event.
When: Saturday, Dec. 8, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Where: Greater Scranton YMCA, 706 N. Blakely St., Dunmore
Details: Email jleshuk@greaterscranton
ymca.org, call 570-342-8115 or visit greaterscrantonymca.org.

Seventh annual Holiday Artisans’ Market
Pick up items made by artisans from across the Upper Delaware spread across two floors.
When: Sunday, Dec. 9, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: The Cooperage Project, 1030 Main St., Honesdale
Details: Visit thecooperageproject.org or call 570-253-2020.

Abington Heights High School Music Department Vendor Sale
Pick up some food, crafts, clothes and more in this weekday fundraising show. Part of the proceeds will benefit Abington Heights High School’s music department.
When: Thursday, Dec. 13, 3:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Where: Abington Heights High School, 222 Noble Road, South Abington Twp.
Details: Visit the Facebook event page.

‘Tis the season Trans-Siberian Orchestra brings Christmas show to arena

‘Tis the season Trans-Siberian Orchestra brings Christmas show to arena

Members of Trans-Siberian Orchestra — the international best-selling rock-opera band — look for certain things in the audience from their vantage point on stage.
Amid the thunderous, firey blasts and blazing lights that accompany the symphony of electrified classical music that fills arenas around the globe, the small gestures and body language cues catch the musicians’ eyes and let them know the crowd loves the spectacle.
So how do they spot the audience having a good time?
“A lot of smiles … and a lot of granddaughters hugging their grandpas. And a lot of fists in the air, and a lot of people singing along with the songs,” said Al Pitrelli, music director and lead guitarist. “You know, there’s a lot of tells in the audience, but I spend most of the show kind of like watching what’s going on with the band, and if it sounds really good in my ears and the production’s firing, then I know that the audience is going to be OK.”
TSO is set to return to Wilkes-Barre Twp. with a pair of shows in the band’s 20th anniversary tour on Sunday, Nov. 18. “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve” — which features fan-favorites “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24,” “O’ Come All Ye Faithful,” “Good King Joy,” “Christmas Canon,” “Music Box Blues,” “Promises To Keep” and “This Christmas Day” — takes over Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza at 3 and 7:30 p.m. that day.
This marks the third year TSO has toured with this presentation, though 2018’s edition promises all-new set designs and production values, plus a fresh second set of songs that will include other TSO hits.
The tour celebrates the continuation of a much-loved holiday tradition for many, though the TSO family has suffered big losses in the last couple of years. Bassist David Zablidowsky was killed in a Florida car crash in July 2017 (which eventually claimed the life of local musician Janet Rains, too), and TSO founder Paul O’Neill died in April 2017 after accidentally ingesting a lethal cocktail of medicines prescribed to him for numerous chronic illnesses.
Yet the longtime collaborators of both carry on the stage show in their honor, and also for the sake of the fans who continue to make each tour a sell-out success.
But even for the most devoted TSO fans, the concert still holds surprises guaranteed to make “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve” feel new.
“We’ve been through this for all these years, and it’s pretty obvious now who has seen the show before and who hasn’t, just by kind of the, at times, the dumbfounded, surprised look on certain people’s face,” said Jeff Plate, the band’s drummer.
“They have no idea, really, what’s coming next,” he added. “A lot of the audience that’s been coming to see us over the years, they may have an idea of what’s around the corner or whatever, but, you know, I think the real test or the real answer to that is, is there any empty seats at the end of the show? And we’ve been fortunate that we fill these arenas up and people stay to the very last note.
“And that’s the biggest rush of all, is just to know that everybody has been connected with us for over two hours, and they don’t want to leave. If you’re getting a standing ovation at the end of the show, and you know these people are going to come back and see you the following year, that’s what it’s all about.”

If you go
What: Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s 20th Anniversary Tour: “Ghosts of Christmas Eve”
When: Sunday, Nov. 18, 3 and 7:30 p.m.
Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, 255 Highland Park Blvd., Wilkes-Barre Twp.
Details: Tickets start at $38.50 and are available through the box office, Ticketmaster outlets and
trans-siberian.com.

Downtown parades to fill streets, region with holiday cheer

Downtown parades to fill streets, region with holiday cheer

Celebrate the start of the holiday season with Christmas cheer, Santa Claus and some furry friends.
During the annual Santa Parade in downtown Scranton on Saturday, Nov. 17, Dave Ragnacci School of Dance will perform to pop singer/songwriter Sia’s “Puppies Are Forever.” The dancers will march along with two animal rescues, One Life To Live Pet Rescue & Adoption Inc. and NEPA Pet Fund and Rescue. The dancers and their families also will walk their own dogs along the parade route while singing along to the chorus of the song.
The heartwarming fun doesn’t stop there. The all-ages, family-friendly parade steps off at 9:15 a.m. with entertainment, twirlers, marching bands, community groups, Christmas carols and more, concluding around noon. Guests also can peruse Santa’s Gift Shop on Lackawanna County Courthouse Square and meet Santa. This year, the grand marshals will be the 2018 Tunkhannock Girls Little League softball team that finished second in the Little League Softball World Series.
Kids can write a message to Santa, which Times-Tribune elves will collect during the parade. Make sure to include your full name and address to ensure a return letter. If you can’t attend the parade, you can submit letters through Friday, Dec. 7.
Meanwhile, in Wilkes-Barre, the annual Christmas Parade and Tree-Lighting Ceremony will take place Saturday, Nov. 17, with free holiday activities throughout the day including ornament crafting, story time, a chance to meet the Grinch at Barnes & Noble Wilkes-King’s and a performance by Broken Road Duo, presented by Making a Difference Ministries. Young violinists of YOUniversal Suzuki Strings will perform in the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts lobby, and there will be a Christmas carol sing-a-long with Mary Baker in the center of Public Square. The parade steps off at 3 p.m. at South and South Main streets and continues north along Main Street, looping around Public Square and concluding on North Main Street. Immediately following the parade, the tree-lighting ceremony will take place on Public Square with a performance by Wilkes-Barre Mohegan Sun Choir. For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page.
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What: Santa Parade
When: Saturday, Nov. 17, 9:15 a.m.
Where: Throughout downtown Scranton; begins at Spruce Street and Franklin Avenue and ends at Adams Avenue and Spruce Street
Details: Lackawanna Avenue from Cliff Street to Penn Avenue, Mifflin and Franklin avenues from Lackawanna Avenue to Linden Street, and Spruce Street between Mifflin and Franklin avenues will close to traffic for parade line-up that morning. Admission to the all-ages event is free. For more information, visit santaparade.net.

What: Christmas Parade and Tree-Lighting
Ceremony
When: Saturday, Nov. 17, 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; parade, 3 p.m.
Where: Wilkes-Barre Public Square
Details: Admission to the all-ages event is free. For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page.

Son of a  nutcracker ‘Elf: The Musical’ jingles all the way into Scranton

Son of a nutcracker ‘Elf: The Musical’ jingles all the way into Scranton

The national tour of a Broadway musical looks to spread Christmas cheer by singing loud for all to hear.
Based on the hit Will Ferrell film of the same name, “Elf: The Musical” sweeps into Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple, 420 N. Washington Ave., for a weekend of four shows just in time for the holidays. Presented by Broadway Theatre League of Northeastern Pennsylvania, shows will take place Friday, Nov. 9, through Sunday, Nov. 11.
“It’s kind of hard to watch the show and not smile a little bit,” said Mackenzie Lesser-Roy, who plays Jovie, a department store employee whose life turns around when an elf from the North Pole arrives.
That elf, Buddy, actually is a grown human man who ended up as part of Santa’s crew when he unknowingly wandered into the toy sack as a toddler on Christmas Eve. Raised by Santa’s elves, Buddy comes to New York City to find his real father and ends up transforming the lives of those he meets. 
Lesser-Roy, who grew up in Westchester County, New York, said the musical does differ from the film but has the same sense of joy and many details that will make audiences laugh.
“The whole show is really fun,” she said. “I think some of these musical numbers … kind of hit you in the face. There’s so much going on, but it’s so entertaining. It’s non-stop, too.”
The character Lesser-Roy plays differs from others in the cast in that she’s more ordinary, and even more negative, than the over-the-top, exaggerated people around her, she noted. Jovie is not a holiday person and has always been alone during Christmas, something audience members might relate to, Lesser-Roy said.
“She does find the Christmas spirit,” Lesser-Roy said. “That’s why it’s so fantastic when (Buddy) does instill some happiness and Christmas in her.”
The actress praised her fellow castmates who play elves by dancing on their knees and said a song they sing is “just adorable.” Lesser-Roy has had many of the songs from the show stuck in her head and said audiences can expect a lot in particular from the tune “The Story of Buddy the Elf,” which comes toward the end of the show.
“It’s this big number where he’s telling the story and the whole ensemble comes in, and it’s this big, catchy, jazzy dance number. … The ensemble is incredible,” she said.
Lesser-Roy recently saw the sets for the first time, too, and said they blew her away.
“It is so colorful,” she said. “It’s also like 3-D in a way, so it almost feels like it’s coming out into the audience. It’s pretty brilliant. There are so many layers of set, and the set changes happen so quickly.”
And with the tour coming to Scranton as the holiday season kicks into high gear, Lesser-Roy expects “Elf” to put people in the right mood.
“I’m sure that there have been some holidays … where you were expecting it to be something different, maybe something better, and Buddy manages to instill Christmas spirit in different people that he meets,” Lesser-Roy said. “I mean, he meets people in a store, and two minutes later, he has them dancing and singing. So I think that it will absolutely get people into the Christmas spirit, and it will remind them of the purest reason for Christmas, which is to spend time with your loved ones and just to give back and to experience joy in the purest form with lots of people you love.”

Boote Family Benefit to raise money for arts scholarship

Boote Family Benefit to raise money for arts scholarship

When tragedy strikes, it can be difficult to find a silver lining. But a local group of arts promoters determined to help a friend in need believe that finding a light in the dark is possible.
The Boote Family Benefit slated for Sunday, Nov. 11, at River Street Jazz Cafe celebrates the life of the late Fred Boote, who was killed in his South Wilkes-Barre home in September and left behind four children and four grandchildren. The event will feature performances by local bands A Proud Monkey, Clever Gents (comprised of DJ Hersh, A.J. Jump and Gino Lispi), Vine Street and the Boastfuls.
The admission is a suggested $5 donation, which will benefit the Fred and Erin Boote Scholarship for the Arts, given to a student at E.L. Meyers High School who will pursue studies in the arts.
As news of Boote’s death spread, co-organizers Johnny Popko of ALT-Natives 92.1, Rich Howells of NEPA Scene, Joe Caviston of Meat & Potatoes Entertainment, DJ Hersh of Beatteks, Heather Szeliga of River Street Jazz Cafe and Keith Perks of 1120 Creative rallied together to find a way to show support to Boote’s daughter, Brittany, a local photographer whom they all had worked with before.
“The six of us got together and just agreed to try to do something for her,” Perks said. “Benefits typically revolve around music, and we all work with a ton of local bands. Right away we were thinking of bands to get involved, that she’s friends with, and everybody hopped on right away.
“I’m proud of our local arts and music scene,” Perks added. “We have a great community. I can’t even imagine what (the Bootes) have been going through. We went from the angle (that) a lot of these events are sad, but this is something positive. We’re trying to keep this upbeat and celebrate him.”
While the pain is still vivid, Brittany Boote noted the timing of her friends’ offer couldn’t have been better. Since her mom Erin’s death in 2015, Brittany Boote has hosted an annual Shots for Tots fundraiser for the scholarship at her mother’s alma mater. She usually begins planning the event around this time of the year, but as she reels from the loss of her father, she wasn’t sure how she was going to carry it through.
“My dad was a big part of helping me with those events,” Brittany Boote said. “It was weighing on the back of my mind, so when (they offered), that weight was lifted. I would never in a million years think to ask someone for that. It’s super comforting. (My siblings and I) were all just so blown away and beside ourselves over the fact that friends would come together to do that.”
The Boote Family Benefit also will include basket raffles plus food area chefs have donated. Brittany Boote intends to go along with other family members to honor both of her parents.
“I’m trying to take everything day by day,” she said. “I’m such a people person. I feel like going to the event is going to be a way for me to try to readapt.”

If you go
What: Boote Family benefit featuring A Proud Monkey, Clever Gents, Vine Street and the Boastfuls
When: Sunday, Nov. 11, 4 to 10 p.m.
Where: River Street Jazz Cafe, 667 N. River St., Plains Twp.
Details: Admission is a $5 suggested donation to benefit the Fred and Erin Boote Scholarship for the Arts. For more information, visit the Facebook event page.

Giving back in gratitude – God Box’ show to raise money for local hospice

Giving back in gratitude – God Box’ show to raise money for local hospice

Grief can be the mother of all emotions.
Ever since her mom died suddenly in 2006, Mary Lou Quinlan’s journey to acceptance pinballed between humor and pain before finally landing at release.
Quinlan shared this emotional odyssey in her best-selling book, “The God Box,” so named for the collection of prayers, notes of goodwill and faith-filled wishes for every person her mom came into contact with over several years, which were discovered after her passing.
Quinlan turned her book into a heartfelt one-woman play — in which she plays herself along with her mom, dad and brother — called “The God Box, A Daughter’s Story,” which comes to Scranton on Thursday, Nov. 8. The show starts at 7 p.m. at the Theater at North, 1539 N. Main Ave. Tickets cost $25, and proceeds benefit Hospice of the Sacred Heart. 
From the first performance five years ago, Quinlan’s show has hit stages hundreds of times, including at Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival, off Broadway and in 10 cities in Ireland. She has donated nearly half a million dollars from these performances to local women’s health-related charities in memory of her mom.
The Nov. 8 show marks Quinlan’s return to the Electric City after a well-received keynote speech at the Society of Irish Women’s St. Patrick’s Day dinner in March. Before the program began, Quinlan gravitated to Laurie Cadden and Diane Baldi, R.N., who respectively are the development director and CEO of Hospice of the Sacred Heart.
The trio struck up a friendly chat about Quinlan’s passion for supporting hospice care via her show and the need for a celebratory event in November, which is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month.
“When we made that connection, I realized they were the exact women to talk to,” Quinlan said during a recent phone interview from New York. “The play opens in Pennsylvania, in Bucks County, so it felt like it belongs here.”
Quinlan donated proceeds from book sales at the society dinner to Hospice of the Sacred Heart — which has offices in Wilkes-Barre, Dunmore and Moosic — and after sharing portions of her story in her speech, she promised to bring her play to Scranton in the future.
“We were just so honored and pleased and grateful for her to donate the proceeds back in March and come back and do the same,” Baldi said. “What I saw at that dinner was remarkable, and I thought she was so engaging. When she spoke, you could hear a spoon drop. She’s kind, she’s witty, she’s smart, and she speaks from her heart.” 
“The God Box” book reads as a memoir and tribute to a mother-daughter relationship, while the play takes the perspective of a daughter who has lost her mother and digs into the soul of someone who loves, goes through the losing process, and tries to keep control and hold on, Quinlan explained.
“It’s the experience I had from growing up — truly growing up — and learning to let go,” she said. “It has music, video and visuals throughout. It’s a recreation of a life story and a very human experience.”
Handing over the proceeds is Quinlan’s way of giving back in gratitude for the care her parents each received at the ends of their lives, she added.
“‘The God Box’ is an expression of (my mother’s) compassion,” Quinlan said. “It only seems right the play itself have a heart to it.”
The show’s tagline, “You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll want to call your mother,” came naturally from the conversations Quinlan had with the audience after performances. Those who lost moms told her how they wished they could talk to them once more, and those with mothers still living expressed a need to reach out after seeing the play.  
“It does bring back beautiful memories that they have about their mothers. In the end, it’s about them and their families,” Quinlan said. “People also say they want to go home and start their own God box, and my mother would be so thrilled about that.”
Theatergoers often question her about how she handles telling such a sad and personal story on stage, but Quinlan called it the best way to remain positive about the woman she misses.
“I feel like she’s with me when I do this play,” Quinlan said. “I get to have her and keep her in this world.”

Wanda Sykes postpones Wilkes-Barre show

Wanda Sykes postpones Wilkes-Barre show

UPDATE

WILKES-BARRE — Comedian Wanda Sykes postponed her Nov. 1 show at the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts.

Citing a scheduling conflict, Sykes rescheduled the show for 8 p.m., Sat., April 6,. Tickets will be honored for the new date, or refunds will be offered at the point of purchase.

 

Wanda Sykes has never shied away from confronting the controversial or sharing her informed — and often hilarious — opinion on a matter.
When the celebrated comedian brings her “Oh Well” tour to Wilkes-Barre in April, audience members can expect plenty of observational humor, some of which may even touch on current news and events. Sykes will perform at 8 p.m. on April 6 at F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts.
“I have my set show that I’m gonna do, but if there’s like a big news story or something crazy happens, I do tend to throw that in — if I have a funny point on it,” Sykes shared recently during a phone call from Los Angeles. “There’s a lot of stuff on the fly.” 
Sykes made a name for herself through her stand-up, though she segued this success into a notable film and television career as well. Her movie credits include “Snatched” with Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn, “Monster-in-Law” with Jane Fonda and Jennifer Lopez and “Evan Almighty” with Steve Carell, while on TV audiences have seen her in such shows as “Black-ish,” “Broad City,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “The New Adventures of Old Christine.”
As a writer, she’s lent her talents to “The Chris Rock Show,” which won her an Emmy, plus “Last Comic Standing” and her various namesake programs.
Sykes also released a book, “Yeah, I Said It,” in 2004, in which she shared her takes on family, race and other hot topics. It’s familiar ground for the noted activist, who often speaks out for causes she believes in, whether it’s on stage or in awareness campaigns.
“I do like to talk about social issues to give a voice to people who are in the margin,” Sykes said. “For me, I like to say something with my comedy. … It feels like it’s my responsibility. It’s just my taste.
“That’s just how I guess my mind works. But I also can tell a funny story about my family, too. I like to mix it up. If I think there’s injustice going on, I’m going to say something about it.”
Sykes still relishes the rush of performing on stage, where she said she gets to share part of her life with the crowd. Live shows present the opportunity for give and take, she explained.
“The feeling you get of the euphoria, when you’re saying something … and you can make this whole audience crack up laughing, it’s powerful, and I love making people laugh,” Sykes said. “I get just as much out of it as people get from me. It feels like a loving environment.
“They get a better sense of me — who I am — and also the jokes are memorable. I like for them to walk away with something they will remember. I love my audience. They’re just cool people. Just good people.”

 

Rescheduled laser concert tackles Pink Floyd’s greatest hits

Rescheduled laser concert tackles Pink Floyd’s greatest hits

When the Pink Floyd Laser Spectacular finally makes its way to town following a summertime rain-out, you’ll wish you were here.
The laser and music show presented by Rock 107 (a Times-Shamrock Communications property) has been rescheduled for Saturday, Oct. 27, at the Ritz Theater in downtown Scranton. Initially set for August at the Scranton Iron Furnaces, the show was moved after excessive downpours caused damage and forced a delay. Original tickets will be honored for the new show, and those who missed out the first time can still buy tickets online at eventbrite.com.
Producer and creative director Steve Monistere started with the show in 1986 and has watched it grow, change and improve in the years since then as technology ramped up.
“It started off very simple because technology was simple back then,” he said. “As computers progressed, so did the show. It’s like something you haven’t seen before in the sense that with the lasers and video and lighting, we really create a psychedelic experience right in front of you.
“And, of course, set to the music of Pink Floyd, it worked very well,” Monistere added. “It’s a concert experience without the band.”
The show will be conducted via multiple high-definition screens that set the scene against the familiar strains of Pink Floyd’s greatest hits.
“If you can imagine going to a large-scale concert with a lot of lighting and production value to support what the band is doing live … we take a different approach,” Monistere explained. “The lighting and the lasers are the stars of the show. We give visuals to what you hear. More cerebral, creative types that lean to quality music, they’ll love it.”
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If you go
What: Pink Floyd Laser Spectacular
When: Saturday, Oct. 27; doors open at 7 p.m.
Where: Ritz Theater, 222 Wyoming Ave., Scranton
Details: Original tickets will be honored for this rescheduled show, and new tickets may be bought through eventbrite.com. For more information, call 570-241-1135.

Students to immerse audiences in fears

Students to immerse audiences in fears

From snakes to clowns, face your fears this weekend.
West Scranton High School Players present Haunted Hallways of West Scranton High School, a theatrical horror guided tour, on Saturday, Oct. 27, and Sunday, Oct. 28, at the school, 1201 Luzerne St.
The event runs from 6 to 10 p.m. with each guided tour lasting about 40 minutes, said Angela Franek, high school speech and drama teacher and theater arts adviser. Haunted Hallways is different from a typical walkthrough haunted house, as guests are lead from room to room with a scene happening in each, she said. This year’s theme centers on fears, phobias and manias, and, like in the past, the students wrote the scripts and designed the costumes, makeup and more to bring their ideas to life.
“They have a lot of fun with it. They’re doing the research, working on character development, there are storytelling elements — beginning, middle and end — doing the props, the costumes,” Franek said. “They do a really nice job. They really love it.” 
Action starts with the tour guide, a “psychiatrist,” leading the group throughout the school hallways. Each scene depicts a different fear or phobia, from coulrophobia (fear of clowns) and claustrophobia (fear of confined spaces) to pediophobia (fear of dolls) and iatrophobia (fear of doctors), and the tour guide will give a little background on the fear. Then, the guests will find themselves immersed inside the fear.
Senior and drama club president Enzo Cicco said he’s playing someone with intense arachnophobia, or fear of spiders. After a short scene between Cicco’s character and his “doctor,” the group will find itself inside his mind and biggest fear. And the more realistic for the audience, the better, Cicco said.
“It’s a really good feeling when people have to leave the room or when they turn back since it’s not for them,” said Cicco, who’s been involved with the event throughout all of high school. “It’s always fun to know something you did was that scary.”
Tickets cost $10 for adults and $8 for students 12 and younger. Tickets can be purchased at the door, and proceeds benefit the drama club. A limited number of pre-sale passes for specific times cost $20 and are available through the West Scranton High School Players Facebook page.
Another fun part for the 100-plus students involved is the time they spend together over the weekend. After school Friday, they transform the hallways and rooms into horror scenes, perform all weekend and then tear down the sets on Sunday night before school resumes Monday. It’s a long weekend, but it’s worth it.
“It’s you and all your friends all weekend, so you get close with each other,” Cicco said. “It’s hard work and grueling hours, but it’s cool to see everything come together, working with each other and watching all the ideas come to life.”

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If you go
What: Haunted Hallways of West Scranton High School
When: Saturday, Oct. 27, and Sunday, Oct. 28, 6 to 10 p.m.
Where: West Scranton High School, 1201 Luzerne St.
Details: Tickets cost $10 for adults and $8 for students 12 and younger. Tickets can be purchased at the door, and proceeds benefit the drama club. A limited number of pre-sale passes for specific times cost $20 and are available through the West Scranton High School Players Facebook page.