The variety, depth and entertainment value of Lehigh Valley regional theater never ceases to amaze, especially so when looking back at a year's worth of productions.
In 2012, there were two world premieres in the Valley, numerous Valley premieres, incredibly fun musicals and seriously dark dramas among them.
The ABEs, as in Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, now in its seventh year, lauds shows and performances on area community and professional theater stages:
The Focus section published 40 theater reviews in 2012, up from 38 theater reviews published in 2011.
The Bach Choir of Bethlehem begins its 2013 Winter-Spring "Bach at Noon" series Jan. 8 in Central Moravian Church, Bethlehem.
The performance opens with Johann Sebastian Bach's arrangement for organ of Antonio Vivaldi's "Concerto in D Minor," Opus 3 No. 11 (RV 565) for two violins, cello, strings, and basso continuo. Soloist is Thomas Goeman, Bach Choir organist and assistant conductor.
Artistic director and conductor Greg Funfgeld's programming for the 2012-'13 Bach at Noon series has focused on the connections between Bach and Vivaldi.
"9 to 5," 8 p.m. Feb. 21, 22, 23; 2 p.m. Feb. 24, Cedar Crest College, Samuels Theatre, Tompkins College Center, 100 College Drive, Allentown. cedarcrest.edu, 800-360-1222
"A Chorus Line," 8 p.m. Jan. 12, Zoellner Arts Center, Lehigh University, 420 E. Packer Avenue, Bethlehem. zoellnerartscenter.org, 610-758-2787
"Boeing Boeing," 8 p.m. Jan. 18, 19, 25, 26, 21. Feb 1, 2; 3 p.m. Jan. 27, Feb. 3, Pennsylvania Playhouse, Illick's Mill Road, Bethlehem. paplayhouse.org, 610-865-6665
Here is a sampling of the topics to be addressed at the Shakespeare Theatre Association Conference:
Jan. 7: "Shakespeare's Geography of Thought," Lisa Wolpe, Globe International Theatre Fellow, Actor, Director, Playwright
Los Angeles Women's Shakespeare Company
Jan. 8: "New World Shakespeare," Terry OBrien, Founding Artistic Director, Hudson Valley Shakespeare
Jan. 9: "Original Practices and the Actor-Audience Connection," Laura Cole, Director of Education and Training, Atlanta Shakespeare Co.
The Thomas Fun Room is open through Jan. 13, Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum, 432 W. Walnut St., Allentown.
The 3,000-square-foot exhibit re-creates the era when railroads were king.
The display includes 50 enlarged images of Lehigh Valley Railroad steam locomotives.
Information: lehighvalleyheritagemuseum.org, 610-435-1074
Despite its title, there's not too much that's unexpected in "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey."
There are goblins, wizards, trolls, rock monsters and, of course, dwarfs.
This should please fans of the J.R.R. Tolkien (1892 - 1973) novels, on which "The Hobbit" is based, as it did my son, Elias, who accompanied me to a 3D screening of "Unexpected Journey."
It was the second time Elias saw "The Hobbit" movie. The first time he saw it was in the regular format. Elias said the 3D version enhanced some scenes, but it's not necessary to see "The Hobbit" in 3D.
The annual Holiday Train Exhibit continues through Dec. 30, America On Wheels (AOW) Museum, 5 N. Front St., Allentown.
AOW holds its New Year's Eve Day-Time Party noon - 3 p.m..Dec. 29.
The holiday exhibit of pedal cars continues through Dec. 31. Children may get behind the wheel at "Pedal Place."
Information: americaonwheels.org, 610-432-4200, x16
Six Lehigh Valley-based filmmakers were honored with awards for their work during the second-annual Greater Lehigh Valley Filmmaker Festival (GLVFF), which took place Nov. 2 - 4 at the Frank Banko Alehouse Cinemas at SteelStacks. The awards were presented Nov. 4 at the conclusion of the festival, which featured more than 25 different shorts and feature films produced by filmmakers from throughout the region.
The 2012 GLVFF award winners are:
Best Feature: "Wallowitch & Ross: This Moment," Richard Morris, Bethlehem
The Hold Steady expects to give its fans what they want familiar tunes from each of its five albums in its area debut, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 28, Musikfest Café, ArtsQuest Center, 101 Founders Way, Bethlehem.
Craig Finn, lead singer of the group, recently completed a solo tour backing his album, "Clear Heart Full Eyes," but has been back on tour with the band since October.
"Everyone was really positive about it," says the lead singer about going solo during the band's hiatus.
Gather your peeps, as in family and friends, for PeepsFest, returning for its fourth year Dec. 30 and 31, ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks, 101 Founders Way, Bethlehem.
The event, for which most activities are free, features two days of live music, arts and Peeps-related programming, culminating at 5:15 p.m. Dec. 31 with the dropping of a 4.5 - foot tall, 85 - pound, lit Peeps Chick and fireworks to welcome in the New Year.