Northwestern Press

Friday, November 22, 2019

‘Toy Story 4’

Friday, July 5, 2019 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

You know the story in “Toy Story 4”: The toys talk, laugh and scheme to remain in the company of children.

“Toy Story 4” reprises the familiar, from the opening song, “You’ve Got A Friend In Me,” written and performed by Randy Newman, who composed the score and also wrote some new songs (“I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away” figures into the theme and plot line), and concludes with the familiar, a happy ending for the toy and the movie-goer, as well.

Theater Review: ‘Mamma Mia!’ lights up Bucks Playhouse stage

Wednesday, July 3, 2019 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

To turn a phrase from the title song: “Here we go again ... “

And furthermore, “Mamma Mia!”: what a fizzy, fun, sunny musical, through Aug. 3, Bucks County Playhouse, New Hope. The June 30 opening night performance was reviewed.

In Broadway parlance, “Mamma Mia!” is a jukebox musical, whereby hit songs are packaged into a revue, strung together by an often biographical story about the group or singer of the hits.

Movie Reviews: Shakespeare & Moe

Saturday, June 29, 2019 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

“All Is True” and “The Spy Behind Home Plate” couldn’t be two more disparate films.

“All Is True” is a leisurely, mostly fictional account of the last years of playwright William Shakespeare, directed by Kenneth Branagh, who plays the Bard under extensive facial prosthetics.

“The Spy Behind Home Plate” is a bristling, well-researched documentary film, written and directed by Aviva Kempner about Morris “Moe” Berg, a Major League Baseball catcher who secretly was an international spy.

Each film is worth viewing.

Review: Cirque du Soleil ‘Crystal’ breathtaking at PPL Center

Friday, June 28, 2019 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

Cirque du Soleil “Crystal” is one-part ice show, one-part circus and all-parts Cirque du Soleil.

“Crystal,” through June 30, PPL Center, Allentown, takes ice-skating and contemporary circus performance arts to a whole new level.

And, while the temperture sign on a bank building across the street at Seventh and Hamilton stated 91 degrees fahrenheit at 7:10 p.m. June 26, on opening night when the show was seen for this review, it was a world of cool creativity inside PPL Center.

On multiple levels, “Crystal” is breathtaking and thrilling.

Theatre Review: ‘Constellations’ visible at Civic Theatre

Friday, June 28, 2019 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

Civic Theatre of Allentown’s “Constellations” puts a cosmic spin on a romantic relationship that over time travels at the speed of love.

The two-person play, skillfully-directed by William Ross Sanders (Civic Theatre Artistic Director) continues at 7:30 p.m. June 28 and 29 and 2 p.m. June 30. The opening night June 21 performance was seen for this review.

Theater Review: ‘Mystery’ of a comedy at PSF

Friday, June 28, 2019 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

“The Mystery of Irma Vep,” through July 14 at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Fesitval, is too much fun.

That’s for openers. it’s also a fascinating, self-contained, self-proclaimed, compact comedy of manners, and ill-mannered at that, in breaking the fourth wall between actor and audience by using nearly every trick in the book.

When the director is Jim Helsinger, that’s a thick book.

Cirque du Soleil ‘Crystal’ duo performs at Crystal Cave

Wednesday, June 26, 2019 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

It was a match made, if not in heaven, then under the hills west of Kutztown.

“Crystal” meets Crystal Cave.

Performers from Cirque du Soleil’s “Crystal,” June 26-30, PPL Center, Allentown, visited Crystal Cave, Richmond Township, Berks County, June 25.

They performed acrobatic moves seen in the show that’s making its Lehigh Valley debut.

Leon Fagbemi of London lifts his Cirque du Soleil “Crystal” partner Amber Van Nijk of Belgium high above his head as she balances on his hands outside the entrance to Crystal Cave.

Night On The Town: Shepard The Breeze in Lehigh Valley debut

Friday, June 21, 2019 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

They call him The Breeze and for Lehigh Valley native Chris Barczynski, his latest project is living up to its name.

“I’m celebrating 25 years as a professional musician,” says Barczynski.

“And I’ve done some amazing things in those 25 years. But this is the best thing that I’ve been a part of. I can’t wait for people to hear it.”

His latest rock group, Shepard The Breeze, performs, 9 p.m. June 21, The Gin Mill, Northampton.

Night On The Town: The Ultra Kings join ‘Summer Soltice III’

Friday, June 21, 2019 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

“Summer Soltice III,” 4 p.m.-11 p.m. June 22, brings six bands to the Alternative Gallery, 707 N. Fourth St., Allentown, including Ronnie Rock and The Trendsetters, The Ultra Kings, Scotty and The Slammers, The Fux, Big Handsome, and The Purrverts.

The event is well-timed and named, happening one day after the Summer Soltice, officially, 11:54 a.m. June 21.

Based on previous “Summer Soltice” events held in the first-floor concert venue at the former cigar factory near Fourth and Tilghman streets, Allentown, the concert should be fun and then some.