Friday, July 31, 2009

A Literary Road to Cinematic Glory

The Eastern Monroe Public Library (EMPL)* presented the film entitled, “Glory” (1989) with Matthew Broderick and Morgan Freeman on Friday July 31st as part of their “From Read to Reel” Series which is part of their 2009 Adult Summer Reading Program which encourages participants to read a novel and watch the film from which it is based upon. The screening took place in the Hughes Library which is the EMPL* Main Branch in Stroudsburg, PA.

“Glory” is based upon the books entitled, “Lay This Laurel” written by Lincoln Kirstein and “One Gallant Rush” written by Peter Burchard. The film takes place during the US Civil War of the 1860’s depicting the formation and endeavors of the 54th Regiment which was an all Black unit comprising of Northern Freemen and escaped slaves. The Film won the 1990 Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor for Denzel Washington, Best Cinematography, and Best Sound Mixing. It was also nominated for Best Art Direction and Best Film Editing.

The Film was introduced by Sue Young of The Pocono Township Branch of the EMPL* located in Tannersville, PA along with the announcement of the winning recipient of a pop corn container filled with desirable books to read. She also provided some trivial relating to the film after its conclusion while thanking everyone for attending and encouraging participation in the next event in the series.

Those wishing to do so can register online, log in the books that they read this summer, and for every three book logged, a chance to win a prize will be given. The next films to be shown in the “From Read to Reel” Series will be “The Joy Luck Club” on Thursday August 13th at The Pocono Township Branch of the EMPL* located in Tannersville, PA at 2:30pm and The Mambo Kings” on Sunday August 16th at 2pm in the Hughes Library (Main) Branch of the EMPL* in Stroudsburg, PA. Please contact The Eastern Monroe Public Library (EMPL)* at 570-421-0800 for more information.

Here are links and contact information to those I mentioned in this article for you to explore. The Eastern Monroe Public Library (EMPL)* www.monroepl.org.

You’ll find more photographs in The Forwardian Arts Society Film/Video 2009 Gallery. www.myspace.com/forwardian_arts.

(*) denotes members of The Forwardian Arts Society in good standing and are considered Our Good Friends.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

July COTA Gathering (Part 2)

The General Meeting to plan for The 32nd Celebration of the Arts (COTA)* Jazz and Arts Festival took place at The Deer Head Inn* in Delaware Water Gap, PA on Tuesday July 28th. It was a time to begin making final preparations for this year’s festival along with continuing to be a great time for established friends to gather and to make the acquaintance of new comers who joined in COTA‘s* endeavors. These final touches included the announcement of the music schedule which brought a great deal of excitement as the lineup was revealed.

Among those who attended the meeting were Jill Goodwin*, Rich Chamberlain*, Allisen Trotter*, Lauren Chamberlain*, Jim Wyckoff*, Christine Trembly*, Ron and Norma Hart*, Gary Lambert*, Pat and Terry Gaughn*, Dian Pallitto*, Garth Woods*, Cheryl Joubert*, Jamie Garner*, Brian LaBar*, Arline M. Smeltz*, Karen Nickels* of The Presbyterian Church of the Mountain (PCOM)*, and Rob Miller* of The Pocono Internet Broadcasting Company (PIBCO)*.

The meetings now run the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month with the next one scheduled for August 12th at 7:30pm in The Deer Head Inn*. There are only three meetings left until this year’s festival which is scheduled to occur on September 11th - 13th in the Delaware Water Gap, PA. The Celebration of the Arts (COTA)* general meeting is open to all who would like to take part in this year’s festival by volunteering their services as a stage hand, gate worker, security person, and many more of the positions available to eager jazz lovers. Please Contact The Celebration of the Arts (COTA)* at 570-424-2210 for more information.

Here are links and contact information to those I mentioned in this article for you to explore. The Celebration of the Arts (COTA)* www.cotajazz.org, The Deer Head Inn* www.deadheadinn.com, The Presbyterian Church of the Mountain (PCOM)* www.churchofthemountain.org, and The Pocono Internet Broadcasting Company (PIBCO) www.pibco1.com.

You’ll find more photographs in The Forwardian Arts Society COTA Meetings 2009 Gallery. www.myspace.com/forwardian_arts.

(*) denotes members of The Forwardian Arts Society in good standing and are considered Our Good Friends.

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Spirited Gazebo

The Presbyterian Church of the Mountain (PCOM)* in Delaware Water Gap, PA presented another installment of their Summer Gazebo Concert Series on Sunday July 26th featuring some delightful melodic sounds performed by 3Spirit (formally known as “Girl Talk“) featuring Nancy Reed*, Vicki Doney*, and Valerie Hawks*. A gentle combination of some jazz classics along with some original works greeted the modest crowd who gathered upon the familiar hill. An introduction by The Presbyterian Church on the Mountain (PCOM)* Concert Committee Chairperson Bonnie Childs* concluded their initial greeting and the music began soon afterwards.

The music proved to be a rich variety including some jazz versions of Joni Mitchell Classics along with some original works composed by Valerie Hawks*. In fact, some classic pieces were enhanced by some additional lyrics composed by Valerie*. This was especially true of the song entitled, “Girl Talk” from which the trio got their previous name from. Another enjoyable aspect of their performance was the conversation among the women between the songs. This provided a delightful insight to the creative process which made the performance all the more meaningful.

The history of 3Spirits holds much interests for local Jazz enthusiast. They began as back up singers for the Jazz Great Bob Dorough* who is best known for the songs he composed and performed for the ABC Network “Schoolhouse Rock” Series presented Saturday Mornings between the cartoons. At this point, the trio was known simply as “The Bobettes.” Although Nancy Reed*, Vicki Doney*, and Valerie Hawks* were and still remain to be considered quite renowned in their own right with multiple bookings to reflect that, they decided to remain a trio while pursuing their individualistic endeavors. They changed their name to “Girl Talk” and performed in several venues including The Tapestry Corner* located in Stroudsburg, PA.

It was during the intermission of one of these performances at The Tapestry Corner* I interviewed them for a new internet television station called, “Bridge TV.” During that interview, they announced their contemplation of exploring an alternative name for the group. It was soon after that performance did they come up with the name they’re currently using. As the performances they give provides their listeners with an ethereal experience, the name “3 Spirit” seems quite fitting.

The crowd gathered upon the PCOM* lawn included Arline M. Smeltz*, Bob Dorough*, Dan Dunn* of The Pocono Community Theater*, Jim Pallitto*, Gary Lambert*, Spencer Reed*, Michael and Barbara Wetmore* of Support Your Local poet - Hooray (SYLP-H)*, and Pastor Karen Nickels* of The PCOM*.

The Next performance in The Presbyterian Church on the Mountain (PCOM)* Gazebo Concert Series will be The Celebration of the Arts* presentation featuring those participating in their CampJazz* on Sunday August 2nd beginning at 6pm. The event showcases a number of ensembles created through the educational process consisting of young people who came to learn more about Jazz performance by many of those known throughout the Jazz Community. Please Contact Bonnie Childs* at 570-992-3934 for more information.

Here are links and contact information to those I mentioned in this article for you to explore. Nancy Reed* www.reedmusic.com, Bob Durough* www.bobdorough.com, Vicki Doney* www.myspace.com/vickidoney, The Tapestry Corner* www.tapestrycorner.com, The Pocono Community Theater* www.poconocommunitytheater.org, and The Presbyterian Church on the Mountain (PCOM)* www.churchofthemountain.org.

You’ll find more photographs in The Forwardian Arts Society The PCOM Gazebo Concert Series 2009 Gallery. vwww.myspace.com/forwardian_arts.

(*) denotes members of The Forwardian Arts Society in good standing and are considered Our Good Friends.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Haunting House Concert

Don Slepian's* ArtMusic Coffeehouse in East Stroudsburg, PA presented Singer/Song Writer Amilia K. Spicer* on Saturday July 25th as part of their Summer House Concert Series. The haunting and ethereal voice of this songstress enchanted each tune as it echoed within each soul who received it. The multi layered texture of her songs held special meanings for those who would venture down their melodious corridors with some songs suddenly stopping enticing the listener to finish them within their hearts.

A sizable crowd gathered for this evening’s performance which was held in the home of Don and Jan Slepian*. Their living room was filled with the wonderful energies delightful conversations as friends awaited the music to be performed. Don Slepian* provided his usual musical introduction with some soothing original compositions which set a comforting mood among the gathering. The final notes welcomed Amilia* whose performance proved to be an enhancement of all that came before.

Saturday August 21st -The Next presentation in The Don Slepian's* ArtMusic Coffeehouse Summer House Concert Series will be The Australian quartet known as King Curly beginning at 8pm. Those who wish to attend are encouraged to call ahead at 570-476-6307 to as seating is limited and to arrive around 7pm.

Here are links and contact information to those I mentioned in this article for you to explore. The Don Slepian's ArtMusic Coffeehouse www.artmusiccoffeehouse.com, Amilia K. Spicer* www.amiliaspicer.com, and King Curly www.kingcurly.com.

You’ll find more photograph at The Forwardian Arts Society Don Slepian's ArtMusic Coffeehouse Series 2009.

(*) denotes members of The Forwardian Arts Society in good standing and are considered Our Good Friends.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Point of Time in Art

The Antoine Dutot Museum and Gallery* in Delaware Water Gap, PA held an Opening Reception featuring the work of Watercolor Artist John James on Friday July 24th. The show was well attended by a medium sized gathering who soon found themselves fortunate to have the opportunity to experience the fine art presented throughout the gallery. The nostalgic scenes depicted in the artist’s work brought a distant recollection to some while bringing a realization how much the local areas have changed throughout the years.

Not only was the technique of each painting stood to be admired, but each image upon the canvas had it’s own story to tell. Some of these stories came from family recollections of a bygone era while others were of a more historical nature with appropriate documentation. Regardless of their source, it was a pure delight to peruse the work and share in the conversations inspired by it.

The current Exhibition featuring the work of Watercolor Artist John James continues until August 9th. The next Opening Reception at The Antoine Dutot Museum and Gallery* will be on Friday August 14th beginning at 7pm featuring the work of Watercolor Artist Don Shoffner. That Exhibition will continue until August 30th. Please Explore The Antoine Dutot Museum and Gallery* Website for more information.

You’ll find more photographs in The Forwardian Arts Society Visual Arts 2009 Gallery at www.myspace.com/forwardian_arts.

(*) denotes members of The Forwardian Arts Society in good standing and are considered Our Good Friends.

Theatrical Review: “Dames At Sea”

DAMES AT SEA
Book and Lyrics by: George Haimsohn and Robin Miller
Music by: Jim Wise
Director/Choreographer: Anthony Frisina
Theatrical Review by: Paul Adam Smeltz

The Shawnee Playhouse* in Shawnee on the Delaware, PA is presenting their current production of George Haimsohn and Robin Miller‘s “Dames at Sea” with music by Jim Wise. What a fun show to watch. It takes place during the 1930’s - 40’s and centers around the Broadway dreams of its characters who are reminiscent of the one dimensional characters shown in many of the films of the time. In fact, the play plays with the naiveté of these films making it a delightful time at the theatre.

“Dames at Sea” begins with the arrival of Ruby (as portrayed by Julie Abner who also serves as the productions Dance Captain) who gets off the bus which took her and her desire to star in a Broadway Musical from Utah to New York City. She walks into a theatre preparing a production and meets a Stage Manager named, “Hennesey” (as portrayed by Jimmy Helms) and a dancer named, “Joan” (as portrayed by Dawn Rother). After getting a part in the production, she meets a sailor named, “Dick” (as portrayed by Kyle Donahue who also served as the production‘s Musical Director). They realize they’re both from Utah and decide to get married when it’s discovered she once served him an Eskimo Pie at a diner he visited before enlisting in the Navy. I guess there’s something to be said about home made Eskimo Pies. Ruby then meets the star of the show (which doesn’t have a name until late in the first act) named, “Mona” (as portrayed by Beth Ann Baker) along with Joan’s Man in Uniform named, “Lucky” (as portrayed by Stephen Wovna).

Later in the play, we discover the theatre has been sold and is in the process of being demolished. An alternative place to present the show is needed. The sailors suggest they use their ship and off they go. They (of course) get permission to put on the show by their Captain (also portrayed by Jimmy Helms) who is succumbed by the charms of Mona. The show (now named, “Dames at Sea”) is a spectacular success and everyone decides to get married.

The production is filled with plenty of song and dance numbers designed to delight anyone who enters the theatre along with some truly campy humor inspiring laughter throughout the experience. The delivery of the lines are right on as it could be a challenge among actors not to go too far by overdoing the humorous bits. The physical humor provided by Beth Ann Baker should be particularly noted as it reminds one of Lucille Ball during her “I Love Lucy” performances. This made the production even more amusing and a joy to watch.

The Shawnee Playhouse* production of “Dames at Sea” George Haimsohn and Robin Miller with music by Jim Wise was Directed by Anthony Frisina. The Costumer was Missy Benefield* with Wardrobe by Lydia Watson* while the Light Designer was Sean Warner. The Company’s Technical Director, Set Designer, and Master Carpenter was Scot Cleveland while the Company’s Stage manager was Byrdie Jacques* as assisted by Michael Demyan*. The Production’s Audio was done by Luke Swierczek* while it’s Electrics were done by Jenell Anne Manzi*. The Stage Tech was done by Anthony DiMichele while Marshall Haskell* Operated the Spotlight. The Shawnee Playhouse* producers are Ginny and Charlie Kirkwood while group Sales of their productions are handled by Mary Horn* (who also served as a member of the Box Office Staff as assisted by Becky Haskell.) The Box office staff included Barbara Ross, Christina McManus, Areil Hudak*, and Melinda Clemente. The Shawnee Playhouse publicity is handled by Amy Cramer*. Midge McClosky* serves as The Shawnee Playhouse* Executive Director.

This production of “Dames at Sea” George Haimsohn and Robin Miller with music by Jim Wise continues its run at The Shawnee Playhouse* in Shawnee on the Delaware, PA until August 30th. I would recommend this production to anyone who would like to go to the theatre and have some great fun. The next Shawnee Playhouse* presentations will be their production of “Sylvia” presented August 7th - 30th and their Children’s Theatre production of “The Jungle Book” which continues until August 22nd. Those who enjoy the Passionate Art Lover level of membership in The Forwardian Arts Society are offered a $2.00 discount off the admission fee of The Shawnee Playhouse* Productions (excluding Children Theatrical Productions and those presented by non Shawnee Production Companies). Please contact The Shawnee Playhouse* at 570-421-5093 for more information and to reserve your ticket.

Photograph provided by The Shawnee Playhouse depicting Kyle Donahue and Julie Abner in their production entitled, “Dames at Sea.”

(*) denotes members of The Forwardian Arts Society in good standing and are considered Our Good Friends.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Jazzy Organ at The Gazebo

The Presbyterian Church on the Mountain (PCOM)* in Delaware Water Gap, PA presented another installment of their Summer Gazebo Concert Series on Sunday July 19th featuring some wild Jazz performed by The Great Swamp Blues Band featuring Mark Hamza* on the Hammond Organ along with Ken Barry on the Saxophone, Jim Daniels* on the Trombone, and Andrei Koribanics on Drumes. The warm weather was nothing compared to the hot sounds filling the hillside. Excitement added to the atmospheric mix as The Presbyterian Church on the Mountain (PCOM)* Committee Chairperson Bonnie Childs* completed her introductions.

The music prove4d to be a lively mixture blues and jazz with some unique renditions of some popular songs. These included The Beatles’ “Come Together.” It was a wild night and a joy to experience as the summer night progressed.

A modest crowd gathered upon the PCOM* lawn which included Arline M. Smeltz*, Dan Dunn* of The Pocono Community Theater*, Cyndie Dutkiewicz*, Sheila Stratton* of SheilaMark Productions*, Krissy Bender*, Jim Pallitto*, Gary Lambert*, and John Weiss* along with Pastor Karen Nickels* of The PCOM*.

The Next performance in The Presbyterian Church on the Mountain (PCOM)* Gazebo Concert Series will be 3 Spirit (aka Girl Talk) featuring Nancy Reed*, Vicky Doney*, and Valerie Hawk on Sunday July 26th beginning at 6pm featuring Please Contact Bonnie Childs* at 570-992-3934 for more information.

Here are links and contact information to those I mentioned in this article for you to explore. Spencer and Nancy Reed* www.reedmusic.com, Vicky Doney* www.myspace.com/vickidoney, Mark Hamza* www.markhamza.com, Jill Goodwin* www.myspace.com/jazzmusicbaby , The Pocono Community Theater* www.poconocommunitytheater.org, SheilaMark Productions* www.SheilaMarkProductions.com, and The Presbyterian Church on the Mountain (PCOM)* www.churchofthemountain.org.

You’ll find more photographs in The Forwardian Arts Society The PCOM Gazebo Concert Series 2009 Gallery. www.myspace.com/forwardian_arts.

(*) denotes members of The Forwardian Arts Society in good standing and are considered Our Good Friends.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

July COTA Gathering (Part 1)

The General Meeting to plan for The 32nd Celebration of the Arts (COTA)* Jazz and Arts Festival took place at The Deer Head Inn* in Delaware Water Gap, PA on Tuesday July 14th. It was a great time for friends to gather as it was to make the acquaintance of new comers to those who would like to be more of a part of the festival through their service as volunteers. The meeting was a buzz as topic relating to some final preparations were being approached. Although there is much to do before the time of the festival, many present began seeing the joy of it in their mind‘s eye.

The meetings now run the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month with the next one scheduled for July 28th at 7:30pm in The Deer Head Inn*. The Celebration of the Arts (COTA)* general meeting is open to all who would like to take of this year’s festival which is scheduled to occur September 11th - 13th in the Delaware Water Gap, PA. Please Contact The Celebration of the Arts (COTA)* at 570-424-2210 for more information.

Here are links and contact information to those I mentioned in this article for you to explore. The Celebration of the Arts (COTA)* www.cotajazz.org, The Deer Head Inn* www.deadheadinn.com.

You’ll find more photographs in The Forwardian Arts Society COTA Meetings 2009 Gallery. vwww.myspace.com/forwardian_arts.

(*) denotes members of The Forwardian Arts Society in good standing and are considered Our Good Friends.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Among the Gazebo Reeds

The Presbyterian Church on the Mountain (PCOM)* in Delaware Water Gap, PA presented another installment of their Summer Gazebo Concert Series on Sunday July 12th featuring some smooth Jazz renderings performed on Guitars by Spencer and Nancy Reed* who were accompanied on the Saxophone by Jay Rattman*. The atmosphere was filled with a warmth while being touched with a coolness allowing each attendee to experience all that was offered them in an uncommon comfort. This was also true of the weather as well.

As with all concerts in this summer series, it began with an introduction by The Presbyterian Church on the Mountain (PCOM)* Committee Chairperson Bonnie Childs*. But, before introducing the performers, she once again made a special recognition to some visitors to the PCOM* as they would be returning home soon. They were members of its sister church in Cuba whom the PCOM* often helps and encourage through its donations of medical supplies and visits to their country. Their presence throughout the week proved to be a delight among the Church’s membership as they were given the opportunity to learn more about their native land and their commonalities in their approach to life.

The music began soon afterwards with a variety of selections which included a number of delightful arrangements of some Duke Ellington compositions. The delicate recipedic sounds of Guitars, Saxophone, and vocals echoed throughout the large crowd proving to be a concoction fulfilling every taste. Not only was the mixture fulfilling, but it was delicious as well.

A sizable crowd gathered upon the PCOM* lawn which included Arline M. Smeltz*, Jill Goodwin*, Dan Dunn* of The Pocono Community Theater*, Jim Pallitto*, Gary Lambert*, Michael and Barbara Wetmore* of Support Your Local poet - Hooray (SYLP-H)*, and John Weiss* along with Marty and Sue Wilson*, and Pastor Karen Nickels* of The PCOM*.

The Next performance in The Presbyterian Church on the Mountain (PCOM)* Gazebo Concert Series will be The Great Swamp Blues Band featuring Mark Hamza* on the Hammond Organ on Sunday July 19th beginning at 6pm featuring Please Contact Bonnie Childs* at 570-992-3934 for more information.

Here are links and contact information to those I mentioned in this article for you to explore. Spencer and Nancy Reed* www.reedmusic.com, Jay Rattman www.myspace.com/jayrattman, Mark Hamza www.markhamza.com, Jill Goodwin* www.myspace.com/jazzmusicbaby , The Pocono Community Theater* www.poconocommunitytheter.org, and The Presbyterian Church on the Mountain (PCOM)* www.churchofthemountain.org.

You’ll find more photographs in The Forwardian Arts Society The PCOM Gazebo Concert Series 2009 Gallery. vwww.myspace.com/forwardian_arts.

(*) denotes members of The Forwardian Arts Society in good standing and are considered Our Good Friends.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Theatrical Review: “Wit”

WIT
Written by: Margaret Edson
Director: Nathan Snyder
Theatrical Review by: Paul Adam Smeltz

The Shawnee Playhouse* in Shawnee on the Delaware, PA is presenting their current production of Margaret Edson “Wit.” “Wit” is a hard play to watch. The play deals with the medical condition of Ovarian Cancer and all of its ramifications. It does so in a completely unfiltered and realistic way. This not only gives the audience a more in depth understanding of the condition and what those afflicted goes through throughout its progression, but leaves the audience emotionally drawn by the play’s end.

To say this is good theatre, great theatre, or even excellent theatre would be a very gross understatement. This play moves people. It causes them to go silently as they leave the theatre. It encourages them to reflect upon the topic of the work long after it’s completed on stage. In other words, it lingers with us and touches our lives in a way in which they’re never really quite the same again.

Most of “Wit” takes place in a hospital room in which a professor of philosophy named Vivian Bearing (portrayed by Midge McClosky* who also serves as The Executive Director of The Shawnee Playhouse*) is a patient. The superior intellect demonstrated by the Vivian Bearing character leads us from a purely intellectual understanding of Ovarian Cancer to a more complete understanding as we experience the ailment through her experiences and her thoughtful descriptions of them. In fact, the audience becomes more than mere observers of the character and how she behaves as they increasingly become more emotionally involved with who she is as a person.

We begin to recognize her as one of us. Even those of us (males) who would never be diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer can identify with the severity of the terminal condition. However, there are many men who has had or continue to have women in their lives who suffer from the condition. This reviewer once lived with a woman of whom her gynecologist suspected of having Ovarian Cancer. Luckily, his suspicions proved to be unfounded, but the memories of those moments spent waiting word of a verdict on her future will always stay with me.

Occasionally, one reads a long detailed list of former acting accomplishments of one of the actors appearing on stage that evening. We then find out those achievements occurred a very long time ago and much of the abilities they once had are denizens of their past. Ms. McClosky’s biography in the play’s program echoes such listings.

However, Ms. McClosky’s* portrayal of Vivian Bearing is a very well crafted one as it allows the audience to peal away the walls the character creates through her complexities so we can discover the raw emotional reactions many of us are more than aware of as we live our daily lives. It is reflective of the character’s love for the late 16th century metaphysical writer John Donne whose works seems to build a barrier of its complexities so the simple truths of life and suffering can not touch him.

This aspect of the character is well used by Ms. McClosky* as means to conveying the experiences of an Ovarian Cancer patient to the audience. In the process of our endeavors to see the emotional realities beyond her intellectualized barriers, we almost tricked into relinquishing our own so we can do so. We become vulnerable and encounter all we discover without the protections we came into the theatre with. We then become part of the play and it touches our lives in a very profound way.

The remaining cast of “Wit” consisted of Emma Scott as Susie Monahan, R. N. (the nurse who cares and consoles Vivian during her final days), Andrew Deichman as Jason Posner, M. D. (Vivian‘s attending Physician who was her former student and becomes more interested on how the treatment is progressing than the humanity of his former teacher), Hugh Davies as Harvey Kelekian, M. D. (Vivian’s Primary Physician who seems very disinterested in relating to his patients in humanistic terms) and Mr. Bearing (Vivian’s father who is reflective of the Dr. Kelekian character in his aloof approach to those he relates to), and Jimmy Helms as E. M. Ashford (Vivian’s former teacher and colleague who guides her to a new awareness not only in her formal education pursuits but through her final moments as well). The cast also consisted of Carly Mayo, Sean Thompson, Stephen Wovna, Dawn Rother, and Anthony DiMichele who were members of an ensemble portraying orderlies, nurses, medical students, and Vivian’s students in some flashback sequences. Each actor demonstrated considerable skill in their craft which contributed to the chemistry of the production.

Prior to the presentation of the play, there was a brief statement made by Suzanne Zale Buck who is a Cancer Survivor and part of The Spirit of Women group at The Pocono Medical Center in East Stroudsburg, PA. Here words were poignant as the audience were told cancer research and treatment has improved in the ten years since the play was written resulting women surviving Ovarian Cancer. This was a reassuring statement, but this reviewer feels it might have better served the production if it was given after the play. But, this is a small observation as it’s placement did little to detract from the quality of the production or the performances it contained.

The Shawnee Playhouse* production of “Wit” by Margaret Edson was Directed by Nathan Snyder and Stage Managed by Jenell Anne Manzi*. The Company’s Technical Director was Scot Cleveland while the Company’s Stage manager was Byrdie Jacques*. The Production’s Technicians were Luke Swierczek*, Lydia Watson*, and Michael Demyan*. The Shawnee Playhouse* producers are Ginny and Charlie Kirkwood while group Sales of their productions are handled by Mary Horn* (who also served as a member of the Box Office Staff as assisted by Becky Haskell.) The Box office staff included Barbara Ross, Christina McManus, and Melinda Clemente. The Shawnee Playhouse publicity is handled by Amy Cramer*.

This production of “Wit” by Margaret Edson continues its run at The Shawnee Playhouse* in Shawnee on the Delaware, PA until August 2nd. I would recommend this production to anyone willing to be touched by the shear truth of Ovarian Cancer as only one can be by letting down all their emotion defenses. The next Shawnee Playhouse* presentations will be their productions of “Dames at Sea” presented July 24th - August 30th and Sylvia” presented August 7th - 30th. In addition to these productions, “The Jungle Book” will be presented July 10th - August 22nd as part of their children’s theatrical offerings. Those who enjoy the Passionate Art Lover level of membership in The Forwardian Arts Society are offered a $2.00 discount off the admission fee of The Shawnee Playhouse* Productions (excluding Children Theatrical Productions and those presented by non Shawnee Production Companies). Please contact The Shawnee Playhouse* at 570-421-5093 for more information and to reserve your ticket.

(*) denotes members of The Forwardian Arts Society in good standing and are considered Our Good Friends.

Monday, July 06, 2009

A Gazebo of Bautier Sounds

The Presbyterian Church on the Mountain (PCOM)* in Delaware Water Gap, PA presented another installment of their Summer Gazebo Concert Series on Sunday July 5th featuring some smooth Jazz renderings performed by Jazz Diva Michele Bautier* accompanied on keyboard by Wolfgang Knittle*. The weather for this out door event was reminiscent of those concerts in the past when the summer season played its part in the continued success of the series. Still, the music which was to be presented this day also represented the reason why many keep returning to this hill to partake of its melodious sounds.

The Concert once again began with an introduction by The Presbyterian Church on the Mountain (PCOM)*. Committee Chairperson Bonnie Childs*. But, before introducing Michele* and Wolfgang, she made a special recognition to some visitors to the PCOM*. They were members of its sister church in Cuba whom the PCOM often helps and encourage through its donations of medical supplies and visits to their country. It was at this time Michele* dedicated her performance to Don Weightman who passed away last spring and who was a long time member of PCOM*.

After these special recognitions and dedications were made, the music began. And, what music it was. It was a delight not only to listen to the sounds which included those resembling birds found in the deepest jungle of Africa emanating from Michele* as she utilize them to warm up her voice, but to listen to the good natured banter between her and Wolfgang* as they decided on each song and how it was to be played. All of this gave a relaxed feel to the evening and brought a perfect end to a holiday weekend.

A sizable crowd gathered upon the PCOM* lawn which included Arline M. Smeltz*, David Larabee*, Dan Dunn* of The Pocono Community Theater*, Jim Pallitto*, Tony Dellaria*, Gary Lambert*, Michael and Barbara Wetmore* of Support Your Local poet - Hooray (SYLP-H)*, John Weiss*, Marty and Sue Wilson*, and Pastor Karen Nickels* of The PCOM*.

Here are links and contact information to those I mentioned in this article. Michele Bautier www.michelebautier.com, The Presbyterian Church on the Mountain (PCOM)* www.churchofthemountain.org, and The Pocono Community Theater* www.poconocommunitytheter.org.

The Next performance in The Presbyterian Church on the Mountain (PCOM)* Gazebo Concert Series will be Nancy and Spencer Reed* on Sunday July 5th beginning at 6pm featuring Please Contact Bonnie Childs* at 570-992-3934 for more information.

You’ll find more photographs in The Forwardian Arts Society The POCM Gazebo Concerts 2009 Gallery. www.myspace.com/forwardian_arts.

(*) denotes members of The Forwardian Arts Society in good standing and are considered Our Good Friends.

The American Freedom Festival

The Eastburg Community Alliance* along with The Borough of East Stroudsburg, PA presented their Annual American Freedom Festival at The Dansburry Park in East Stroudsburg, PA on Saturday July 4th to celebrate Independence Day denoting the signing of the Declaration of Independence which led to the formation of the United States. The weather for the day could not be more beautiful especially since previous days were filled with rain and unseasonably cooler temperatures. This pleasant change in climate inspired many who attended this event to celebrate not only their country’s independence from foreign dominance but the interdependent freedom they have found in the friendships they formed throughout their lives enhancing their liberties to live them more fully. Many such friendships were reestablished and created throughout the day as attendees explored the many crafts, arts and services offered by the vendors and experiencing to the excellent line up of music and other performances taking place around them.

Magicians Mr. Mysterrio and S. Patrick* of The Pocono Mountain Magic Club* located in Stroudsburg, PA were sharing their conjuring with all who sought to be amazed while Brushes the Clown created balloon animals to delight the many children attending the festivities. Those who roamed the park were treated by the spectacle of the vendors who populated the festival. One of these were Melon’s Gift, Inc* created to honor a beloved canine companion whose passing inspired the formation of an organization combining a love for dogs with the desire to end the effects of cancer toward its eventual eradication. Other vendors which are in the Monroe County, PA area included The Sherman Theatre*, The Unitarian Univeralist Fellowship of the Poconos*, The Four Corners Health and Fitness Wellness Center*, The Quench Juice and Smoothie Bar*, The Gorman Chiropractic Life Center*, Representatives from the Campaign for Liberty* movement, The North Winds Church*, and Ris-K Lingerie*.

The air was filled with music which was performed on the main stage. It all began with some family entertainment provided by The North Winds Church* featuring Puppets singing some familiar tunes altered to express a Christian message and their version of “Let’s Make a Deal” which encouraged a great amount of good natured interaction setting the mood for the entire festival. They were followed by some teachers and students from Sensual Fitness* who, in conjunction with Ris-K Lingerie*, provided demonstration samplings some of their fitness regimes. They appeared frequently as something wonderful to experience while awaiting for the musicians and other entertainers to prepare their performances.

The first of these musicians were Randy Bigness* on Guitar and Harmonica with Skip Detrick* (who also helped as a volunteer throughout the festival) on percussion. His bluesy rendition of many popular songs brought a new depth to the pieces he performed which included those composed by Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. These songs reminded those who were present the day is not just for those who express their love for their country through words of praise and admiration. It is also for those who love their country enough to recognize where it is lacking and endeavor to address these areas thus enhancing our nation and its people to a more honorable place in our society and the world around us. He was soon followed by Len and the Side Kicks who provided some truly down home bluegrass and country.

I must admit I didn’t see much of their performance as I was hungry and went to one of the many food vendors for something to eat. By the way, there was plenty of food which was varied and tempting to every pallid who met their aromas. I opted for a simple Hot Dog with Sour Kraut as it was the most inexpensive item sold that day. The food was good and tempting, but very pricy.

After relieving my stomach of it’s hunger, I was fed by a performance by Dewey Decimal and the System*. Their lively and kick ass music took the stage like a storm. A mixture of country and other forms lending themselves to their powerful style inspired those attending the festival to increase the number of those gathered around the stage. Their performance electrified the audience.

The audience was given an opportunity to calm down a bit when Brushes the Clown* appeared on stage. She performed some magic enlisting the help of some of the very children she created balloon animals for throughout the day. The tricks were very well presented as it was a delight to watch the children become amazed by them.

Valley of the Giants* then took the stage to present their own form of magic contained in the songs they presented. Again, I must make another confession as I did not see most of their set. I was traveling about the park meeting with my friends who were among the vendors and who were simply walking around taking everything in. It was just that kind of day in which there was so much to experience and partake of.

I returned to the stage to be amused and amazed by Jester Jim the Juggler* who stood in front of the stage delighting his young audience of every age with his art and his humor. He tossed balls, apples, knives, and the ever dangerous used plungers into the air. He claimed to have tossed a few children into the air but I must have missed that part. Regardless, his act was very entertaining and very enjoyable to watch.

The final band scheduled to play was Friar’s Point* whose bluesy sounds brought the festival to a full circle. Their performance left everyone in “Wow mode” as their music served as a fitting end to the day’s line up. It certainly encouraged the cheers Henry Pyatt* who were among those who organized this year’s festival along with Eric Hantson* of The Pocono Community Theater*, Roger DeLarco* of the East Stroudsburg University Store, Stephan Washington*, and many others.

Yet, Friar’s Point* was not the grand finale. That was left to the grand fireworks display which lit the skies. They proved to be impressive in previous years, but this year’s surpassed them all. The sparkling reflections found in the eyes of those who come to love their colors throughout the years to the timid reactions of the children who experienced the booms for the first time all brought a joy to the heart. In deed, this display of sounds and color along the darkened celestial sphere delighted many toward the anticipation of next year’s festival.

As mentioned earlier, many who have attended this festival have met a number of people who have become their friends throughout the years. I am no exception and I was glad to meet them all. I was also fortunate, as many other were, to make new friends. Alas, they are too many to mention here but those of you whom I met with are more than welcomed to share your experiences and reflections of this day by leaving a comment. I’m sure other will delight in your words as much as I would.

Here are links and contact information to those I mentioned in this article. The Pocono Mountain Magic Club* www.geocities.com/ibm_ring_332, Melon’s Gift, Inc* www.melonsgift.org, The Sherman Theatre* www.shermantheatre.com, The Unitarian Univeralist Fellowship of the Poconos* www.uupoconos.org, The Four Corners Health and Fitness Wellness Center* 1-888-341-5242, The Quench Juice and Smoothie Bar* 570-213-4422, The Gorman Chiropractic Life Center* www.gormanchiropractic.com, Representatives from the Campaign for Liberty* movement www.campaignforliberty.com, The North Winds Church* www.northwinds.org, Ris-K Lingerie* www.ris-klingerie.com, Sensual Fitness* www.myspace.com/sensualfitnessclasses, Randy Bigness* www.myspace.com/randybignessproductions, Dewey Decimal and the System* www.myspace.com/deweydecimalplaysmusic, Valley of the Giants* www.myspace.com/theburgmusic , Jester Jim the Juggler* www.myspace.com/ijuggle, Friar’s Point* www.myspace.com/friarspointband, The Pocono Community Theater* www.poconocommunitytheater.org, East Stroudsburg University www.esu.edu.

Please Explore The Eastburg Community Alliance* Website for more information about the festival and other offerings they provide to the community.

You’ll find more photographs at The Forwardian Arts Society The American Freedom Festival Gallery. www.myspace.com/forwardian_arts

(*) denotes members of The Forwardian Arts Society in good standing and are considered Our Good Friends.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Film Review: “Away We Go”

AWAY WE GO
Directed by: Sam Mendes
Performances by: John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph
Film Review by: Paul Adam Smeltz

Within the first few minutes of this film, one can tell there is much to be liked about this movie. It’s profound mixture of comedy and pathos is immediately introduced thus making the entire film a joy to watch as this combination is kept in a steady balance throughout the film. “Away We Go” is a simple film about two expecting parents exploring what their future will be like through visiting couples who have traveled their road before them. The film is so simple, this reviewer has very little to say about it beyond saying it’s really good. But, I’ll do my best.

The film explores parenting in all it’s forms. This exploration leads to some very amusing parodies of child rearing styles which many in the audience could recognize some resembling their own. The film also explores the fears expectant parents have for their unborn’ future and what will happen if one or both parents are no longer in their children’s lives whether though the ending of a relationship of in death.

The film begins with the discovery of the Maya Rudolph’s Character pregnancy by her long time live in boyfriend who is played by John Krasinski. They soon begin a journey to his parent’s home only to discover they’re moving to Europe one month before the child is due to be born. This announcement comes right after they promise to be there for its birth.

This revelation leads them further on their journey to parents who are crude in their remarks and behavior providing no social standards for their children since they’re not listening anyways to another set of parents whose spiritually enlightened approach to child rearing includes frequent and public breast feeding and the couple sleeping in a communal bed with their children; even during sexual activity. Although the former practice is believed to be more prevalent than the later, both have much to be desired by the couple who continues on their journey.

After meeting a couple who adopted several children due to the woman’s inability to carry a baby to term and a man whose wife recently left their family, the John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph characters decide to go home. The home they arrive at are themselves as seen through the love they have for each other. This is reminiscent of words of the poet T. S. Elliot who said, “We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started... and know the place for the first time.” It is at their journey’s end they discover their love will provide a hopeful guidance as they bring their child into the world beginning a larger and more profound journey in the process.

In many ways, this is a journey many of us takes throughout our lives. It matters little if one is expecting an actual physical child or not. There is always an inner child we either nurture or terminate depending on how much we’re willing to allow for love to be a trusted part of our lives or how much are we willing to forego such sentiments and do whatever is reasonable and expected. This may seem off the mark in regards to what this film is about, but it is this reviewer’s interpretation of the film that there is something more to life than what others determine it’s suppose to be.

After all, all the couples the John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph characters met seemed to be very together in regards to society’s standards sought after by many in our culture. Yet, we discover their flaws when we look more closely at how they decide to live their lives. They are all bound to the perceptions dictated by a social norm; even if that social norm isn’t very prevalent. It is only when the John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph characters look to themselves through the love they have for their unborn child do they discover their own potential by ending their self comparison to others and realize they’re no longer what they feared most to be earlier in the film; two “f--- ups.” The theme of this film seems to say to live a life; a full life, we must overcome this fear of being seen as lesser than others by trusting our unborn child and the love we can have for it.

“Away We Go” is rated R and is currently running at The Pocono Community Theatre in East Stroudsburg, PA. You may call 570-421-3456 or visit their website for show times and dates. Most films run one week from Friday to Thursday but some films may be held over for an additional week or two depending on ticket sales.

“Away We Go” was the film viewed and discussed during the most recent Film and Chat Gathering presented by The Forwardian Arts Society on Friday July 3rd at The Pocono Community Theater. The next Film and Chat Gathering will take place Friday August 7th. Please send a message to us through this Blog to gain more information about our Film and Chat Gatherings and discover what film will be seen and discussed in August.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Theatrical Review: “Camelot”

CAMELOT
Book and Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner
Music by Frederick Loewe
Director/Choreographer: Carmela Guiteras Mayo
Theatrical Review by: Paul Adam Smeltz

The Shawnee Playhouse* in Shawnee on the Delaware, PA presented the Lerner and Loewe classic “Camelot” which is based upon “The Once and Future King” written by T. H. White. The play is well known for it’s songs and it’s theatrical history which includes performances by Sir Richard Burton as King Arthur. Yet, this production of “Camelot” stands alone and has earned a great deal of admirable merits of its own.

The play begins with young King Arthur (portrayed by Jimmy Helms) eagerly awaiting the arrival of the princess Guinevere (portrayed by Carly Mayo) whom he is about to wed. His youthful eagerness borders on impatience and is reminded by his teacher Merlin (portrayed by Hugh Davies who also portrayed King Pelinore later in the production) of his position and the expectations it possess. We are also reminded of Merlin’s power not only in the magical realms, but of his ability to remember the future as many remembers the past.

It is soon afterward when Arthur meets Guinevere when we, the audience, gains Merlin’s power to remember the future for the story of how their marriage as well as the kingdom Arthur creates along it all it represents are put asunder when Lancelot (portrayed by Sean Thompson) arrives at court. The frivolity of the action and music is tempered by our knowledge not yet known by the players and a slight sadness touches the heart. This foreboding does not take away from the beauty of the voices (especially that of Ms. Mayo) nor in the delight found in the dances, but it is there nevertheless.

However, the play, as written, is more of a song and dance production and doesn’t seem to have much more substance to it than that. It doesn’t go in depth on what makes Guinevere turn her affections toward Lancelot and only touches very lightly on the consequences of such an adulterous liaison. Nor does it goes into how the lovable and noble King Arthur wound up fathering a child later to become Mordred (portrayed by Andrew Deichman and has a family resemblance to Mr. Helms) whom was conceived outside of his marriage except to say he was enchanted. No kidding.

This reviewer would have liked to seen such issues explored with more thought and depth, but was reminded this play was written in a time when such considerations were not part of what musicals were designed to do. They were designed to please an audience and create box office revenue for a nearly dieing theatrical district. It was during this time many people turned to television and films for their entertainment and few sought to spend their paychecks to see a live show; especially ones which challenged them to think of things they rather not think about such as racism and social justice. Thus, musicals began to focus on the elements which pleased their audience and allowed the themes they processed to become an afterthought until eventually musicals were written without any thought or afterthought at all.

On the other hand, the sense of the foreboding I mentioned earlier does contain a depth of it’s own. It isn’t so much as it’s from the play but it is inspired by it. It could be a subconscious element woven purposely into the play or it could be just something an audience picks up on. Regardless. it caused this reviewer to wonder, if we knew what will occur in our futures, would we do well to avoid those experiences which would bring about our demise? Or, would we in doing so negate the wonders of our lives which become full when our experiences comprise of both joy and woe? In other words, if Arthur had Merlin’s ability to know the sorrow his marriage to Guinevere would bring him and his realm, would he forgo the bliss he discovered in the years they loved one another? Would any of us forgo the profound joys we’ve experienced throughout the course of our lives if we knew they would lead us to sadness?

Anyway, The Shawnee Playhouse* production of “Camelot” was an enjoyable time at the theatre. The acting and choreography was well done while the singing by many of the actors proved to be exceptional. Although the play was nearly three hours long, it seemed the pace could have been slowed down a bit. This may just reflect this reviewer’s latent desire to spend some time with some of the issues the play glosses over, but I don’t think it would hurt to linger just a little longer on them. After all, it the production did do just that in the second act during Arthur’s and Guinevere’s final goodbye which elevated the play and became a shining moment for the audience.

The cast of “Camelot” consisted of Emma Scott as Nimue and a member of the ensemble, Luke Swierczak as Sir Sagamore, Michael Demyan* as Sir Dinadan, Anthony DiMichele as Sir Lionel, Janell Manzi* as Lady Anne, Midge McClosky* as Morgan LeFey (who also serves as The Executive Director of The Shawnee Playhouse*), Kristopher Sanchez and Keven Rutzler as Tom of Warick, and Marshal Haskal* as Sir Clarius along with Rachel Hettinger*, Becky Herb, Stacey Mattern, Jillian Andres, Annie Spangler, and Ariel Hudak who were part of the ensemble.

The Shawnee Playhouse* production of “Camelot” by Lerner and Loewe was Directed and Choreographed by Carmela Guiteras Mayo as assisted by Victoria Mayo. The Music Director was Ronan Mariano* while the Set and Lighting Designer was Sean Warner. The Costume Designer was Missy Benefield*. The Company’s Technical Director was Scot Cleveland while the Company’s Stage manager was Byrdie Jacques*. The Sound Technician was Lydia Watson*, Running Crew was Stephen Wovna, Dresser was Dawn Rother, and Tech Crew was Tom Wells. The Shawnee Playhouse* producers are Ginny and Charlie Kirkwood while group Sales of their productions are handled by Mary Horn* (who also served as a member of the Box Office Staff as assisted by Becky Haskell.) The Box office staff included Barbara Ross, Christina McManus, and Melinda Clemente. The Shawnee Playhouse publicity is handled by Amy Cramer*.

This production of “Camelot” by Lerner and Loewe continues its run at The Shawnee Playhouse* in Shawnee on the Delaware, PA until August 9th. I would recommend this production as a light venture into the legend of King Arthur but would advise against any expectation of anything deeper than the play was written to be. However, one can find something within their own soul reflected in the show. The next Shawnee Playhouse* presentations will be their production of “Wit” presented July 10th - August 2nd, “Dames at Sea” presented July 24th - August 30th, and Sylvia” presented August 7th - 30th. In addition to these productions, “The Jungle Book” will be presented July 10th - August 22nd as part of their children’s theatrical offerings. Those who enjoy the Passionate Art Lover level of membership in The Forwardian Arts Society are offered a $2.00 discount off the admission fee of The Shawnee Playhouse* Productions (excluding Children Theatrical Productions and those presented by non Shawnee Production Companies). Please contact The Shawnee Playhouse* at 570-421-5093 for more information and to reserve your ticket.

Photograph provided by The Shawnee Playhouse and depicts Carly Mayo as Queen Guenevere, Jimmy Helms as King Arthur, and Sean Thompson as Sir Lancelot in their production of “CAMELOT.”

(*) denotes members of The Forwardian Arts Society in good standing and are considered Our Good Friends.