Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Handeling The Holidays with Song

The Shawnee Playhouse in Shawnee on Delaware, PA presented their 32nd Annual Holiday Community Sing In Concert on Tuesday December 21st featuring Handel‘s “Messiah.” The concert was presented in loving memory of Ruth Wesley Pearsall who passed away in 2010 at the age of 90. The evening proved to be a wonderful memorial to her life.

The playhouse filled itself to capacity as those who came to form an enormous community choir by lending their voices to it sought their places in seats specially designated for their vocal range. The spirit of the season was upon every as greetings of established and new friends inspired wonderful conversations as the orchestra began to take their place. The musicians who lent their talents to the concert included Wendy Davis (who served as Orchestra Mistress), Carol Kraemer, Brittany Smith, Chimene Reid, and Karl Viernstein on Violins, Betsy Buzzelli-Clarke (who served as the Orchestra Coordinator), Marsha Cahn, and Ellen Yorgey on Violas, Joshua Montgomery and Rachel Vowcicefski on Chellos, Dave Lantz on Bass, Jenny Collins (who served as an Accompanist) on Piano, Sarah Derrick on Oboe, Tim Eick on Trumpet (who provided a Trumpet Solo), and Steve Mathiesen on Timpani.

The excitement felt among the attendees in anticipation of the event gave way to Ginny Kirkridge as she stepped upon the stage to share her appreciation for everyone’s welcomed presence. It was soon afterwards that the evening’s conductor Terry Flatt took the stage to add his sentiments of gratitude along with some amusing antidotes to delight the audience. Soon, their anticipations transcended into bliss as the first notes from the Sacred Oratorio composed by G. H. Handel in 1741 were played.

The music and voices filling the playhouse also filled the souls of all who experienced it. Even those who are not touched with the gift of having a good singing voice (like me) felt the music permeate their very being bringing a sense of joy to it. This sensation was enhanced by the soloists who lent their exquisite voices to the concert. They included Sara Ferguson, Nicolas Gareca, Wendy Grice, Gary Grice, Marjorie Groenwald, Chris Henry, Rob Howwell, Dan Hoy, Christopher Joyce, Midge McClosky (ho serves as The Shawnee Playhouse‘s Executive Director), Dave Revelle, Tom Revelle, Dale Viernstein, and Michael Yasenchock.

As the evening came to it’s conclusion, the spirit of the concert lingered within the heart as everyone exited the building. Many who have attended the Sing In throughout the previous years have told me such a lingering sustains them through the entire and coming back each December recharges their spiritual batteries. I personally find this to be true as I’ve been going the past three years and feel a warm anticipation as the month takes its place on the calendar. You’ll find more photographs on The Forwardian Arts Society Music 2010 Gallery at

The Shawnee Playhouse was built in 1904 by C.C. Worthington and became known as the Worthington Hall. It was designed to provide entertainment and educational benefit to residents and visitors of the area as local actors and actresses known as The Shawnee Players performed until World War II. In 1943, Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians began to broadcast their famous radio programs from the Hall. Unfortunately, the Hall later fell into disuse.

It began a restoration period when the Kirkwood family purchased the Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort in 1978. The Worthington Hall has since become known as The Shawnee Playhouse and became well known for their theatrical productions and special events. The site has been placed on the National Registry of Historic Places and won the prestigious Phoenix Award, presented by the Society of American Travel Writers. Upcoming events and production include their Annual New year‘s Eve Show on Friday December 31st, their presentation of The Worthington Players Productions of their winners of their One Act Play Competition January 8th - 16th, and their presentation of The Kaleidoscope Players Production of “Who‘s Afraid of Virginia Woolf“ by Edward Albee January 22nd until February 6th. Please Contact The Shawnee Playhouse at 570-421-5093 or Explore their Website at for more information.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Holly Jolly Castle

The Shoppes at the Castle Inn in Delaware Water Gap, PA held a Holiday Open House on Saturday December 18th featuring an opportunity to visit with Santa and join in some Christmas Caroling with Holly Avila of Planet Azul. The experience was a calming one as compared to those associated with larger shopping centers. This allowed shoppers to select their items in a relaxed pace and to chat with the store owners and/or those who created the item they are considering purchasing. You’ll find more photographs in The Forwardian Arts Society Special Events 2010 Gallery at

The Castle Inn in Delaware Water Gap, PA was originally built in 1906 and became known as a premier resort location throughout its illustrious history. It now offers a variety of shops providing an unique experience in their newly renovated establishment. They include The Tapestry Corner, Scarlet Ice Jewels, Juvenis Body Works, Sherri’s Bag n’ Bubbles. Camp Poconos, Vintage Baubles, Custom Creations, Ze3n Safari, Quench’s Juice and Smoothie Bar, Zoe’s Ice Cream Emporium, and The Olde Buggy Marketplace. A display of the work of Jose Santamaria was presented in the Castle Inn’s new gallery. Please Contact them at 917-861-2257 or explore their website at for more information.

Fiery Dreams Takes The Holidays at The Jukebox

The Main St. Jukebox in Stroudsburg, PA held their annual holiday celebration with “A Very Dream of Fire Christmas” on Friday December 17th. The festive event featured the band Dream of Fire along with numerous musical guest which made it a memorable evening. The conversation among the many who attended, the cookies, and the Pennsylvania Dutch Eggnog which was almost as kick ass as the music collaborated in bringing the spirit of joy and camaraderie the season is known for when it’s at its best.

The musical guests were introduced by Dream of Fire’s drummer Charlie Abriel who also accompanied the first band to perform which was The Eric J. Becker Experimental Experience Project Tour/Business Edition. Eric performed his original works on guitar along with Keith 'Kif' Haynes on Bass Guitar and Abby Braman of Dream of Fire on Banjo and Harmonica. Trombonist Joe Lynch of Dream of Fire joined the band for a song or two. The quality inherent in original songs composed by Eric along with his rendition of the Elvis Presley song “Blue Christmas” provided a foretaste of what was to come.

The foretaste provided by the Eric J. Becker Experimental Experience Project Tour/Business Edition led to a satisfying portion served by Blues Guitarist Randy Bigness who was joined by his daughter Kristin. They performed a series of Christmas favorites inviting the audience to join in. The good cheer of Randy and Kristin inspired a chorus of smiling faces to accept the invitation and their collective voices soon (as one fan put it) brought the house down.

Randy and Kristin Bigness’ performances was followed by Guitarist Johnny Rydell whose powerful voice echoed throughout the Jukebox and entered the soul of all who experienced it. He was followed by a solo performance of Keith 'Kif' Haynes of the Eric J. Becker Experimental Experience Project Tour/Business Edition which brought more enjoyment to the evening. But, this enjoyment didn’t end with his performance. It continued with that of Guitarist Ajax Rasputin who kicked some holiday butt and a high tech karaoke Duet given by Eric J. Becker and Kristy Galunic of Dream of Fire. The Duet utilized their Cell Phone devices to obtain music and lyrics to the song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” held them to the microphone, and sang. Damn, they were good.

After a brief break, Dream of Fire took the Microphones. Those members of the band who already performed were joined by Lead Guitarist and Vocalist Jimmy Lee and Will McGrath on bass. There are many reasons why Dream of Fire has gained the reputation for being one of the best bands in the area and making it a favorite among many music lovers. Although none in attendance had forgotten those reasons, they were reminded of them nonetheless. This was especially true given the high quality standard of music presented prior to their performance.

To say a performance was great may suffice for any other band, but such an accolade doesn’t quite do justice for Dream of Fire. The songs are well structured, the vocal and musical interpretation is spot on, and their professionalism is par excellence. But, as good as these qualities are, people come to see this band not solely because of the music but to experience how the band performed it. In other words, they not only sing a song, they perform it. It’s not an easy distinction to make in the written word, but those who came out to The Main Street Jukebox found it a very easy one to make. You’ll find more photographs taken during the show in The Forwardian Arts Society Main St. Jukebox 2010 Gallery at

In addition to Art Exhibitions, Concerts, and special shows, The Main Street Jukebox offers recordings made on CDs, Tapes, and Vinyl. Please Explore The Main St. Jukebox Website at or call 570-424-2246 for more information about these events and all they have to offer.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Ambitious Cockroach

The Ambitious Cockroach
By Paul Adam Smeltz

There once was a cockroach who dreamed about climbing the Eiffel Tower. He would spend his nights staying awake planning his ascent predicting every step he would take in his endeavor. He knew he would receive great praise and recognition for his well planned feat and anticipated this as well.

However, once he connived his way to travel to Paris and stood before the enormous structure, it’s size overwhelmed him and he fell into despair. This was until an adorable little girl saw the cockroach. She looked into his eyes, gave a sympathetic smile, and stepped on him.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Monkey Throve Tonight

The Cheeky Monkey Coffeehouse in Stroudsburg, PA held a Closing Reception on Saturday December 11th for an exhibition to benefit the "THRIVE to Survive" Foundation. The well attended event featured a variety of artists whose work centered around the exhibition’s theme which was the color pink. The evening also featured music performed by Singer/Songwriter Eric J. Becker on Guitar along with Abby Braman who accompanied him on Banjo and Harmonica.

The original songs were also accompanied by some stories associated with them which added to the enjoyment of the performance. There was one song not written by Eric which was “Blue Christmas” which is well known for being sung by Elvis Presley. However, his treatment of the song humbled Elvis’ and other previous artists’ renditions of it.

The range of the visual works were equally impressive as they ranged from American Indian wall hangings to Japanese glass works to huge paintings and photography. The artists who participated in the exhibition includes William Mohlenhoff, Brianna Ace, Rendi, Laura Below, Morgan Crespo, Karalina Davis, Sherley Escribano, Denise VanNess, Ashley Zucker, Ka-Son Reeves, Helen Victoria (who curates the exhibition), John Kolbeck, Myke Maldonado, Chris Francz, Alexandra Carpenter, Alison Grey, Paul (yeah, that‘s me). Although the exhibition held its closing reception on December 11th, it will continue one more day until December 12th. This will give those who could not make the reception one final chance to place their bids on the pieces to help raise funds for The Pocono Medical Center’s THRIVE to Survive Program. You’ll find more photographs in The Forwardian Arts Society Cheeky Monkey 2010 Gallery at

The Pocono Medical Center’s THRIVE to Survive Program was created is to increase breast cancer survivorship rates in our community. One of their goals is to build a new facility in which would serve the local female population in regards to the issues related to the condition and provide the appropriate treatment when the need arises. More information about The Pocono Medical Center’s THRIVE to Survive Program can be gained by exploring their website at or by contacting them at 570-476-3367. Please Contact Helen Vitoria at 484-221-3592 for more information on how you can make a donation by placing a bid on the work resented in the exhibition.

Other future events at The Cheeky Monkey include “Just Say It: A Spoken Word Symposium” which takes place every Thursday evening at 7pm and singer/songwriter Jeni Hackett on Friday December 17th. The Cheeky Monkey Coffeehouse offers a variety of coffee, drinks, and culinary treats along with events such as the one described in this article. Please Explore The Cheeky Monkey Coffeehouse Website at or Call 570-420-8222 for more information.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Bedie Bye Time at The Sherman

The Sherman Community Gallery located within The Sherman Theatre in Stroudsburg, PA held an Artists’ Reception on December 9th for their “Bedtime Stories” Exhibition. The exhibit was organized by The Stroudsburg Area Art Alliance (SAAA) and the works presented were as varied in styles and techniques as were the artists who participated. The evening included musical performances by Guitarist Ritchie Murder and Keith 'Kif' Haynes who, while they performed separately, brought a smile to the faces of all who experienced them. They were followed by Billy Mack Collector who performed many songs while sitting on the Theatre’s Floor to the delight of the children (of all ages) who were invited to pick up an instrument and join in.

The artists who participated in the exhibit included Chris Francz, Myke Maldonado, Thomas Dillon, David Ohlerking, Arielle Sekula, Nickolas Barakso, Melissa Benzinger, Katie Hovencamp, James Gloria, Ka-Sone Reeves, Kari Nespola, Cenia Crespo, Malky Frii, Gennifer Gordon, and Marty Carr. The pieces in the show ranged from unique visual interpretations of classic storybook characters along with depictions of scenes of children having the doorways of their imaginations opened by the telling of such stories. There were also pieces not directly related to the show’s theme but one can imagine many children enter their dreams with such images in their head. The event also presented opportunities for attendees to explore their creativity by creating some Greeting Cards and Trading Cards. There was also a raffle whose proceeds would be utilized to install more hanging fixtures to accommodate artists wishing to participate in future shows.

It was a well attended event filled with great art, wild and wonderful music, and the kind of enchanting conversations destined to become the stuff of bedtime stores. The exhibition continues until February 1st. You’ll find more Photographs of the reception in The Forwardian Arts Society Visual Arts 2010 Gallery at

The Stroudsburg Area Art Alliance (SAAA) offers an opportunity for all creative people to explore, enhance, and share their talents. They offer weekly Artist Socials beginning 5pm held at The Starbucks Coffeehouse located in Stroudsburg, PA in which artists, photographers, musicians, and other at all skill levels are welcomed. The next exhibition scheduled for The Sherman Gallery will be titled “Reveries of Form: A Celebration of Women” featuring the photographic works of Sander Martijn. The Artist’s Reception will be Thursday February 10th with live music and a charity auction. The exhibition will conclude April 1st. Please Contact The Stroudsburg Area Art Alliance (SAAA) at or explore their website on for more information.

The Sherman Theatre was built in the 1920s and now is equipped to present many of today’s biggest shows offering a full bar along with the sound, comfort, and historic feel of their incredible performance venue. Their next presentations include Patent Pending as part of their Independent Rock Series on Friday December 17th, their Annual Christmas Jam on Saturday December 18th, and Wu-Tang Clan on Saturday January 1st. Please Contact The Sherman Theatre at 570-420-2808 or Explore their Website at for more information.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

The 2010 ESU Winter Choral Concert

The East Stroudsburg University of PA presented their Music Department’s 2010 Winter Choral Concert on Wednesday December 8th in The Cecilia S. Cohen Recital Hall at their Fine and Performing Arts Center. The program consisted of performances given by the A Cappella Ensemble and The Concert Choir under the direction of Prof. James Maroney with Pauline Fox serving as musical accompanist. The well attended event featured the voices derived from members of the campus community along with those individuals residing in the surrounding area.

Although those who participated in the program came from many different places and experiences, their common love for music and vocal performance united them into one voice with each variation complimenting its tonal qualities. This love served to enhance the selection of compositions selected for the evening’s presentation which ranged from the A Cappella Ensemble’s rendition of the combined traditional pieces titled, “Amazing Grace” and “Promised Land” with a soloist performance given by Karen Guilliams to the Classical pieces sung by the entire choir such as “Lux Autumque” composed by Eric Whitacre. The number of those lending their voices were too many to attempt naming in this article, but those who are reading this article and were part of this choral event are welcomed to share their experiences and reflections of the concert. You’ll find more photographs in The Forwardian Arts Society Music 2010 Gallery at

Future concerts and recitals presented by The East Stroudsburg University of PA Department of Music will include their Winter Band Concert on Monday December 13th at 7:30pm and a Student Voice Recitals featuring the students of James Maroney and Wendy Grice on Tuesday December 14th. Rehearsals for the Spring 2011 Semester Choral Performance begin Tuesday January 18th and all those who would like to participate in the program are welcomed to attend. The performance will take place Wednesday April 27th. Please contact The East Stroudsburg University Department of Music at 570-422-3483 for more information.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Even Dreamlands Gets The Blues

The Dreamland Creations in Stroudsburg, PA held an Artists Reception on Sunday December 5th which featured the work of numerous artists for their exhibition titled, “The Blue Show.” As with all their themed shows, Dreamland Creations encouraged artists to devise their own interpretation to what the concepts to the color blue or the emotional state to which it’s associated with entail. As always, this led to an array of styles and approaches to the theme which included some images simply captaining blue coloring while other contained some soul searching themes inspiring those who experienced them to remain reflective throughout the reception and beyond.

The reception concluded with a performance by guitarist Fred Kresge whose bluesy approach to some classic rock and jazz standards complimented the reception by adding an audible voice to the work. His presentation of the songs was simple which gave them the power to penetrate the senses of all who heard them. Many who did so found themselves looking at the works displayed upon the Dreamland’s walls in a new way. You’ll find more photographs taken during the reception in The Forwardian Arts Society Dreamland Creations 2010 Gallery at

Those artists participating in “The Blue Show” include Rendi, Helen Victoria, Denise J., J. J. Schutz, Don Menza, Cenia Crespo, Shane Izykowski, Abby Braman, Will Daskel, Thomas Augusta, Thomas Lefevre, Allison Gray, Michael Cooke, J. A. S., Brianna Ace, Brittany Heimorle, Ashley Mytyk, John Kobeck, M. J. S., Marcia Flammonde, Anna Marie Hendricks, Myke Maldonado, Sander Martijn, Noel Leas, Victoria Penna, Ka-Son Reeves, Hatter Marie, Arielle Sekula, Dean Cash, and Paul (yeah, that‘s me). The Exhibition continues until January 3rd.

The Dreamland Creations in Stroudsburg, PA serves as a studio where individuals can adorn their forms with a variety of body art such as tattoos and piercing reaching out to the vast community of conventional and non mainstream artists throughout the area. Their next Artists’ Reception will feature artists well known to those who visit in an exhibition titled, “The Dreamland Art Show.” The reception will take place Sunday January 9th beginning at 4pm. The Exhibition will continue until February 1st. Please Explore The Dreamland Creations Website at or call 570-421-6313 for more information about the artists, the current and future exhibitions, and all they have to offer.

Hendricks and Sekula at The Jukebox

The Main Street Jukebox in Stroudsburg, PA held an Artist’s Reception featuring The Artwork of Arielle Sekula and Ana Maria Hendricks on Saturday December 4th. A sizable crowd gathered to partake of the varied images depicted upon the canvases. Although the two artists differed in style and technique, the pairing together of their work proved to be complimentary to one another.

Among the excellently crafted pieces, there are two that struck me in a profound way. The first was a piece created by Ana Maria Hendricks titled, “Unfinished Fantasy.” The title’s association to the work was quite evident as it did appear to have some unfinished qualities to it. However, upon deeper reflection, I began to wonder about fantasies and if, by their very nature, are meant to be unfinished.

One can say a fantasy is finished when it becomes a reality and in many respects that’s true. However, regardless whether the fulfillment of a fantasy results in a pleasurable or disappointing result, a fantasy dies in the process. This is because reality as a finite quality to it. It can be built upon since it is a part of life and the living of it, but not nearly to the same degree a fantasy can be. There is a very ethereal quality to fantasies not reliant on the dimensions of the physical world. This leave one contemplating which experience one really prefer.

The other painting that caught my attention was the piece titled, “Grunge” by Arielle Sekula. It is one of the fascinating works that has the ability to change depending upon the angle in which one is looking at it. It depicts a woman crawling out of what appears to be a hole. If the viewer stands at a distance from the piece, it appears she is following and coming closer with each effort. This gave a sense of eeriness and I found myself looking over my shoulder while I walked down the street after the reception was completed.

Music for the evening was provided by The Eric J. Becker Experimental Experience Project Tour/Business Edition whose original songs enhanced the evening. Those who have seen Eric perform in several venues including the Open Mic Nite he host at The Starbucks on Sunday Evenings were met by many familiar tunes. However, it was a special treat to encounter some new works which transcended the qualities of the older ones. A band consisting of Abby Braman on Banjo and Harmonica, Keith 'Kif' Haynes on Bass Guitar, and Charlie Abriel on Drums brought a musical depth to the songs Eric sang while playing his guitar. The quality of the performance left me a bit surprised the group has yet to record a CD and it is hope they’ll consider doing so as many would be eager for its release. You’ll find more photographs taken during the reception in The Forwardian Arts Society Main St. Jukebox 2010 Gallery at

In addition to Art Exhibitions and Concerts, The Main Street Jukebox offers recordings made on CDs, Tapes, and Vinyl. The Artwork of Arielle Sekula and Ana Maria Hendricks Exhibition continues until December 26th. Information on the Next Exhibition has yet to be released. Please Explore The Main St. Jukebox Website at or call 570-424-2246 for more information about these events and all they have to offer.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

A Monkey Off the Tracks

The Cheeky Monkey Coffeehouse in Stroudsburg, PA hosted a Comedy Night on Friday December 3rd presented by The Off Track Players. The comedy troupe featured local comedians Joseph Carnevale, Kevin Cronk, Penny Dee, Anthony DiSanto, Matt Duffin, and Tiffani Thompson who showcased their talents in a variety of sketches, monologues, and improvisational games which amused their audience. Audience members were invited to participate in this an other aspects of the show which enhanced the delight of experiencing it.

These games included one called, “ABC” in which a location was selected by the audience and each performer had to begin their sentence in alphabetical order in relation to where they were. Another game consisted of a member of the troupe stepping outside while the Audience selected the identity of a famous person he or she was to become when they re entered. It was up to the comedian to guess his or her identity after receiving a series of clues.

It was a fun night out and a great opportunity to hear some original work by local comics. The next Comedy Night at The Cheeky Monkey featuring The Off Track Players is scheduled for Friday January 14th beginning at 7pm. You’ll find more photographs taken during the December 3rd event in The Forwardian Arts Society Cheeky Monkey 2010 Gallery at

The Off-Track Comedy Players offer a plethora of comedic and non-comedic services (including live-action murder mystery shows) and are available for resorts, clubs as well as private or public events. Prior to Friday January 14th engagement at The Cheeky Monkey Coffeehouse, they’ll be appearing at The Daniels Family Resort in Canadensis, PA on Friday December 17th. Please Explore The Off-Track Comedy Players Website at or Call 570-486-6787 for more information.

Other future events at The Cheeky Monkey include The “Just Say It: A Spoken Word Symposium” events which take place every Thursday evening at 7pm, a Closing Reception on Saturday December 11th for an exhibition to benefit the "Thrive to Survive" Foundation, and a concert featuring singer/songwriter Jeni Hackett on Friday December 17th beginning at 6pm. The Cheeky Monkey Coffeehouse offers a variety of coffee, drinks, and culinary treats along with events such as the one described in this article. Please Explore The Cheeky Monkey Coffeehouse Website at or Call 570-420-8222 for more information.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Music for Children at ESU

The East Stroudsburg University (ESU) of PA Department of Music presented a Children Concert on Wednesday December 1st in The Cecilia S. Cohen Recital Hall located in The Fine and Performing Arts Building on the ESU Campus. The program featured the University/Community Orchestra under the direction of Betsy Buzzelli-Clark who also performed as one of the program’s pianist along with Robert Miller. Otis French Conducted the Orchestra while Terry Flatt accompanied the music by serving as the stories’ Narrator.

Those among the campus and surrounding community who lent their musical talents to the program included Brittany Smith, Stephen Kozak, Lauren Noyes, Kelly Oxman, Christina Piserchio, Kim Cocuzza, Deb Esposito, Ashley A. Jones, Joan Nolan, Jennifer Wierzba, and Brittany Wolfe on Violin, Kinsey Buchanan, Celeste Hylton-James, and Maria Vecchio on Viola, Joshua Montgomery, Virginia Parry, Mathew Smith, Rachel Vowcicefski, Hannah Wallner, and Charles Whitaker on Cello, Clarissa Gallo on Bass, Dianneliz Garcia on Flute, Sarah Derrick on Oboe, Marta Oberlin and Lucas Watson on Clarinet, Laura Goss on Bassoon, Jenny Galunic, Richard Severe, and Brian Miller on Horns, Laura Housley on Trumpet, and Bernie Perlman and Jean Sandberg on Percussion.

The program included “The Carnival of the Animals” composed by Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921) and “Peter and the Wolf” composed by Serge Prokofieff (1891-1953). I couldn’t stay for the whole performance, but what I experienced was enjoyable as was also evident in the smiles on the faces of numerous children in the audience. You’ll find more photographs in The Forwardian Arts Society Music 2010 Gallery at

Future concerts and recitals presented by The East Stroudsburg University (ESU) of PA Department of Music will include their Winter jazz Concert on Sunday December 5th at 7pm, their Winter Choral Concert on Wednesday December 8th at 7:30pm, their Winter Band Concert on Monday December 13th at 7:30pm, and Student Voice Recitals featuring the students of James Maroney and Wendy Gice on Tuesday December 14th. Please contact The East Stroudsburg University (ESU) Department of Music at 570-422-3483 for more information.

A Review of the Arts at ESU

The East Stroudsburg University (ESU) of PA Art Department held an Artists’ Reception on Wednesday December 1st to showcase the works created by those students who attended their Fall 2010 Fine Arts and Art and Design Classes. The reception featured a gallery talk by Joseph Castronuova who shared the many influences which could be discovered in is work. The reception also served as an opportunity to present scholarships awarded by The ESU Society of the Arts to students who not only excelled in the visual arts, but those who do so in the performing (such as Music, Dance, and Theatre) as well.

A variety of styles and approaches were represented throughout the Madelon Powers Gallery which is located in The Fine and Performing Arts Building on the ESU Campus. The students’ youthful excitement of discovering new techniques to express their creativity was not only seen in their works but also permeated the fascinated smiles of those among the many attendees who experienced them. It was an enjoyable evening filled with wonderful art, conversation, and food.

Along with Joseph Castronuova who gave the gallery talk, other equally talented artists participating in the exhibition in the main gallery included Maria Sorrentino, Jacqueline Barainyak, Samantha Dalton, Ben Koch, Greg Sims, Jessica Van Orden, Heather DeMeglio, Shanaya Williams, Agnetta Krechner, Jessica Moran, Nick Gemenek, Matthew Zullo, Kathleen Muir, Brandon Key, Alyssa Kopf, Issain Alachem, Lauriel Gingrich, Nicholas Nieves, Kelly Barrieres, Alma Barrantes, Abby Oxford, John Grima, Michael Marshall, Nicole Thomas, Amy Cummiskey, Dominick Frabizio, Shanna Bridglal, Erinn Gittens, Austin Baxter, Megan Dimler, Eric Cuevas, Samm Garcia, Chris Delturrondo, Drew Dvorsky, John Carroll, Jackie Eichelberger, Lindsay Godin, Kyle Petzoldt, Janelle, Roache, Paulette Nelson, Kelsey Sutliff, Monicaq Gombita, and Cassie Kleppinger. Additional work were also on display on the upper level of the gallery. The Artists presented included Ebony Fenstermaker, Bethany Wert, Jason Dolinsky, Kari Fish, Meghan Ragard, Kaylee Nayman, Angelina Fregoni, Yash Rao, Steve Mack, Emily Lesoine, Meg Nicholson, Gavin Macrine, Dillion Geer, Erika Erdmann, and Gina Castianni.

As mentioned earlier, the reception provided an opportunity to award students for their contribution to the arts through their talents. These included Maria Sorrentino for her accomplishments in the Visual Arts, Jessica Davis for her accomplishments in the art of Dance, Noam Frishman for his accomplishments in the art of Music, and Erin Lanza for her accomplishments in the Theatrical Arts. The faculty members who presented the awards were Betsy Buzzelli-Clark of the ESU Department of Music, Stephanie Davertry-French of the ESU Theatre Department, Darlene Farris-LaBar of the ESU Art Department, and Elizabeth Gibbons of the ESU Dance Department. Some special remarks were made by Miharu Lane, Margaret Ball, Susan O'Hearn, and University President Robert J. Dillman. You’ll find more photographs taken during the reception in The Forwardian Arts Society Visual Arts 2010 Gallery at

The exhibition continues until December 10th. Future exhibitions presented by The East Stroudsburg University (ESU) of PA Art Department will include “Images” featuring the works of Sharon Bartman and David Coulter February 1st - March 4th, The Art Association All University Student Juried Art Exhibit March 17th - April 12th, and The Senior Seminar and Portfolio in Art Student Exhibition April 20th - May 4th. Please contact The East Stroudsburg University (ESU) Art Department at 570-422-3695 for more information.

Theatrical Review: Electra

Theatrical Review: Electra
Written by: Sophocles (c. 496 BCE - 405 BCE)
Adaptation by: Frank McGuinness
Directed by: Susan P. O’ Hearn
Theatrical Review by: Paul Adam Smeltz

The East Stroudsburg University (ESU) Department of Theatre and Stage II presented their production of “Electra” written by Sophocles who is one of the three ancient Greek tragedians whose work has survived to this day. The others are Aeschylus and Euripides who also wrote a version of the “Electra” story which was presented on the ESU Stage in 1986. Of the three, Sophocles is noted for his many influences on the art of theatrical presentation. These include introducing a third actor to the dialogue which helped move the plot along reducing the importance of the chorus to do so.

The setting for this production of Sophocles’ “Electra” is placed in a mental institution which enhances the play’s thematic element of pain by adding a psychological dimension to it. The characters are seen early in the play as the institution’s inmates encouraging the audience to examine the nature of each character through a prism of insanity. This is made much easier as the considerable talents of each actor subtly reminds the audience their character is touched with insanity and everything they say and do are subject to their condition.

This is most notable through the delivery of the lines given by many of the actors. At first, their delivery seems forced with too much emotional emphasis on certain phrases and words. However, once the environment they’re in is realized, such an approach become an appropriate one. A less notable reminder is when some characters delivered their lines in a more “normal” tone but even here one can see something peculiar in their eyes and mannerisms which betray their airs of normality. All this involves the audience even deeper into the play as it heightens their perception of all they are witnessing because the performances are physiologically confusing. In other words, it gets into your head.

There is, however, one notable exception. The character Chrythothemis (as portrayed by Erin Lanza) can be considered the only sane one in the bunch. She serves as a counterpoint to the other characters which allows us to see the deeper motivations which lead to their behaviors and perceptions. Her voice of reason is often met with accusations by her sister Electra (as portrayed by Shannon Leah Christmann) of being insane which heralds back to a well know proposition, “If there is only one sane person in an insane world, would that person be deemed sane?”

The character Chrythothemis is not the only voice of reason Electra hears. The chorus, which consisted of Alexandria Bellivan, Michelle Jones (who also served the production as one of its scenic artists and carpenters), Kimberly Konczos, and Jenny Liriano, often reminds Electra many of the wounds she suffers from are self inflicted and it would be wiser to stop injuring herself by letting go of the thoughts and behaviors of others. But, she ignores such heeding since she embraces her pain like a security blanket and only acknowledges the choral beseechments when she wants to confront them in order to justify the resentments she relives with every compounding thought. Although we see the chorus upon the stage with Electra, we wonder if they’re physically there or are they the voices of wellness within her head.

The play has its roots in an act that occurred soon after the Trojan war ended. The King of the city state of Argos named “Agamemnon” was a Greek Ally during the war and was instrumental in securing their victory. Upon his triumphant return home, he was killed by his wife Clytemnestra (as portrayed by Samantha Crawn) and her lover, Agamemnon’s cousin Aegisthus (as portrayed by Christian Monturuno), while taking a bath. This act was committed partly because they wanted to usurp his throne but the main reason was because Agamemnon sacrificed his and Clytemnestra’s infant daughter, Iphigenia, to assure military success in Troy and Clytemnestra wanted to revenge her death. Fearing for her twin brother’s, Orestes (as portrayed by Joey Dougherty), life, Electra rescues him by sending him to Strophius of Phocis with a servant (as portrayed by Luke Thomas Swierczek who also served as one of the production’s Carpenters).

The play itself takes place years later when an adult Orestes returns to Argos with his friend Pylades (as portrayed by Paul Ceni) and the servant with a plot revenge his father’s death and to claim the throne. Part of this plot is to weave a yarn in which Orestes has died in a chariot accident and delivery of an urn with his remains will take place soon. The object of this deception is to allow entry of Orestes and Pylades into the home so they may exact their murderous revenge.

The story of Orestes' revenge was a popular subject in the Ancient Greek tragedies and it loses little of its impact in the modern era. This is especially true when productions like the one occurring on the ESU stage breathes new life into the work though imaginative settings and talented actors who approach the play and all its implications fearlessly. This production of Sophocles’ “Electra” can be held as an example of the well earned reputation of quality theater The East Stroudsburg University (ESU) Department of Theatre and the student theatrical club Stage II has gained throughout the years.

The East Stroudsburg University (ESU) Department of Theatre and Stage II production of “Electra” by Sophocles as adapted by Frank McGuinness was Directed by Susan P. O’ Hearn. The Production was Stage Managed by Melissa Sherry who also served as the production’s Scenic Artist. She was assisted by Karen Guilliams and Katie Dembesky who both also served among the production‘s Carpentry Crew. Yoshinori Tanokura designed the set as assisted by Gillian Reinartz and Costumes as assisted by Felicia Revero (who also was a part of the Carpentry Crew) and Ahleea Zama. The Lighting was designed by David Dougherty, and Michael Thomas was the production’s Technical Director. Meg Dowling was the production’s Light Board Operator and a Carpenter while Marie Steeger served as the production’s Sound Designer and Board Operator with Albert P. Borges who served as the Sound Editor.

The production’s Master Carpenter and Shop Foreman was Robert McIntyre. The Property Master Shamus Halloran who was assisted by Elyse Burnett and Kelsey Pulzone. The Production’s Electricians were Michelle Tuite who also served as a part of the Carpentry Crew and as one of the Scenic Artists and Tim Hahn. Stephanie Clare was part of the running crew. Members of the Carpentry Crew not already mentioned were Jackie Knollhauff and Merrill McGuinness. The House Manager was Tiffany Cruz, the Box Office Manager was Jessica Pachuta, and the Poster and Program Cover Design for the production was done by Lauren Moffett.

This production of “Electra” by Sophocles will continue its run at The East Stroudsburg University (ESU) in East Stroudsburg, PA at The University’s Fine and Performing Arts Center in it’s Smith-McFarland Theatre until December 5th and is recommended for those who are want to see excellent theatre that is fearless in its approach to the art. Future productions include The 2011 Stage II Student Directed One-Act Plays to be presented February 8th - 13th featuring A Tennessee William Festival consisting of the works titled, “The Pink Bedroom,” “The Lady of Larkspur Lotion,” “Auto da-fe,” and “This Property is Condemned.” The East Stroudsburg University Department of Theatre will also present their production of Noel Cowards “Blithe Spirit” April 12th - 17th. Please contact The East Stroudsburg University (ESU) Theatre Department at 570-422-3483 for more information and to reserve your ticket.

No Photographs were provided.