Northwestern Press

Saturday, August 17, 2019

‘It’s about the audience’ Easton State Theatre’s Shelley Brown previews venue’s 2019-2020 season

Friday, August 16, 2019 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

The 93rd season of the State Theatre Center for the Arts, Easton, as with previous seasons, is a work in progress.

“We’re confirming things right and left that we add,” says State Theatre President and CEO Shelley Brown.

Tickets for the new season at the State Theatre go on sale to the public Aug. 15. Tickets for State Theatre members went on sale Aug. 1.

“The biggest challenge is confirming things for the brochure. That’s the basis for the season, to which we continually add. There’s always more,” Brown continues.

Review: ‘Lion King’

Friday, August 16, 2019 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

I went to see “The Lion King” prepared to not like it.

Try as I do to not read or hear reviews before I see a movie to review, it was difficult to avoid the buzz for “The Lion King.” Publicity about the movie, which opened with a near-record $185 million at the box office in its first weekend and has grossed $473 million to date in the United States, was everywhere.

Call it “The Lion” Ca-Ching.

Allentown Band is all on board for Buster Keaton classic

Tuesday, August 13, 2019 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

The Allentown Band is on board to perform a live soundtrack for the 1926 Buster Keaton silent film, “The General,” to be shown on the big screen, 7:30 p.m. Aug. 17, Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown.

“I’m using Civil War music whenever I can,” says Allentown Band Conductor Ron Demkee, “but also the kind of background music that fits the action onscreen. There are obvious chase scenes.”

Review: ‘Once’ again

Friday, August 9, 2019 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

You pretty much know what you’re going to get with a film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino.

There’s going to be knucklehead characters just on this side, or that side, of the law.

There’s going to be pop culture-infused quippy dialogue and visuals.

And there’s going to be an explosion, or explosions, of violence.

You get all this and more in Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in ... Hollywood.”

Curtain Rises: Clair Freeman a natural to direct ‘Avenue Q’ at Pennsylvania Playhouse

Friday, August 9, 2019 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

“Avenue Q” might not be your grandfather’s or grandmother’s musical. It could be your millennialist’s musical, though.

“Maybe it’s because I’m a professor at two colleges, I talk to a lot of young people,” says Clair M. Freeman, an adjunct faculty member in the Cedar Crest College performing arts department and the Northampton Community College theater department.

Curtain Rises: Clair Freeman a natural to direct ‘Avenue Q’ at Pennsylvania Playhouse

Saturday, August 3, 2019 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

“Avenue Q” might not be your grandfather’s or grandmother’s musical. It could be your millennialist’s musical, though.

“Maybe it’s because I’m a professor at two colleges, I talk to a lot of young people,” says Clair M. Freeman, an adjunct faculty member in the Cedar Crest College performing arts department and the Northampton Community College theater department.

36th annual Musikfest brings more than 500 performances to Bethlehem

Friday, August 2, 2019 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

There’s a new platz in town at the 36th annual Musikifest, Aug. 2-11, which kicks off Aug. 1 with “Preview Night.”

Zinzenplatz was chosen in a contest held by ArtsQuest, which presents Musikfest, to replace the name of Experienceplatz, Main and Lehigh streets, Bethlehem. Zinzenplatz honors Countess Benigna von Zinzendorf, daughter of Bethlehem founder Count Nicholas von Zinzendorf.

Musikfest, named the “Best Music Festival in North America” by USA Today’s 10best.com, is held in Bethlehem’s Historic District on the city’s northside and SteelStacks on the city’s southside.

Movie Review: ‘Spider-Man: Far from’ super

Friday, August 2, 2019 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

“Spider-Man: Far from Home” is the equivalent of a 1950s science-fiction drive-in flick.

One big difference is that “Spider-Man: Far from Home” has a $160-million budget.

The budget for “Plan 9 From Outer Space” (1959) was $60,000.

In “Spider-Man: Far from Home,” there’s a student field trip, but this being the 21st century, rather than going to the area planetarium, as in “Rebel Without a Cause” (1955), it’s a trip to Venice, Austria and Prague.

Theater Review: ‘Henry IV, Part 1’ essential, great at Pa. Shakespeare Festival

Tuesday, July 30, 2019 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

They do Shakespeare the old-fashioned way in the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival production of “Henry IV, Part 1,” through Aug. 4, Schubert Theatre, Labuda Center for the Performing Arts, DeSales University, Center Valley.

It’s old-fashioned as in some 420-years old-fashioned when The King’s Men staged William Shakespeare’s plays at The Globe Theatre, London, England, sans director and sans costume, scenic and lighting designers. The PSF production follows such so-called “original practices.”

Allentown Band, soloists go Broadway in concert

Friday, July 26, 2019 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

The Allentown Band has increased its performance schedule from three to six concerts at Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown.

“We’re getting to be the house band,” quips Allentown Band Conductor Ron Demkee.

This includes “Broadway and Beyond,” with tenor Eric Fennell and mezzo-soprano Lauren Curnow, 7:30 p.m. July 27, Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown.

“Last year, Symphony Hall initiated the summer series. One was a Broadway-themed concert by the band. The other was ‘Phantom of the Opera,’ with the band accompanying the silent film,” says Demkee.