Sunday, February 27, 2011

Theatrical Review: “Broadway on the Red Carpet”

Theatrical Review: “Broadway on the Red Carpet”
Book, Music, and Lyrics by: Numerous
Directed and Choreographed by: Brandon Hanks and Kaitie Kaiser
Theatrical Review by: Paul Adam Smeltz

The Shawnee Playhouse in Shawnee on the Delaware, PA recently presented their production of “Broadway on the Red Carpet” which was a musical revue consisting of a collection of songs from Broadway Musicals which later became films. These included “Hair,” “West Side Story,” “Wicked,” “Grease,” “Gypsy,” “Chicago,” “Seussical,” “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown,” “In the Heights,” “Jekyll and Hyde,” “The Wiz,” “Secret Garden,” and “Rent.” However, songs from films that later became musicals were also featured throughout revue which included “Little Shop of Horrors,” Hairspray,” “The Wizard of OZ,” and “Xanadu.” Selections from the musicals “Singing in the Rain” which had multiple musical sources such as theatrical musicals and popular songs before becoming a film and “White Christmas” which originated from the film, “Holiday Inn.”

The presentation was well done as a very talented, high energy cast sang and danced to recreate the iconic moments of each production represented during the revue. The ensemble cast consisted of Shauna Schopper, Esteban Vasquez, Maria Stein, Kara Snyder, Joseph Ambrosia, Lauren Santerelli, Hailey Canto, Sara Ferguson, Jillian Dente, Kara Snyder, Kristopher Sanchez, Stephanie Clare, and Steve Spangler along with Kaitie Kaiser and Brandon Hanks who served as the production‘s co Director and co Choreographer. Musical accompaniment was provided by Ann Mullen who served the production as the Band’s Music Director on piano, Marshall Haskell on Drums, and Noah Talbot on Bass. An informative narrative strung the performances together with humor and insights to how the transition from theatre to film came about, was received, and other tidbits which enhanced the enjoyment of the show.

And, “Broadway on the Red Carpet” was indeed an enjoyable show which proved to be a very pleasurable evening at the theatre. The only unfortunate aspect of the show was the length of its run which was from February 25th - 27th. So, by the time you read this, the show would have concluded its performance. But, for those who came out to see it, many delightful memories can be tucked away and saved for a day when our hearts needs a cause to smile.

The Shawnee Playhouse production of “Broadway on the Red Carpet” was authored by a variety of sources but was derived from an original concept presented at The Smiling Rhino Theatre. This production was (as mentioned earlier) Directed and Choreographed by Brandon Hanks and Kaitie Kaiser and Staged Managed by Emily Cioc. Brent Schlosshauer served as the Production’s Set Designer while Eric Dwyer served as the Lighting Designer and Operator. Amy Rau served as the production’s Music Director while Missy Benefield served as its costumer. The Shawnee Playhouse producers are Ginny and Charlie Kirkwood with Midge McClosky serving as the playhouse’s Executive Director. The Box Office Manager is Mary Horn as assisted by Christina McManus. Becky Haskell serves as The Shawnee Playhouse’s Sales and Marketing Director.

The Shawnee Playhouse was built in 1904 by C.C. Worthington and was known as the Worthington Hall to provide entertainment and educational benefit to residents and visitors of Shawnee on Delaware, PA. Local actors and actresses formed the troupe called, “The Shawnee Players” and performed from 1904 until World War II when Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians began broadcasting their famous radio programs from the Hall. The Hall later fell into disuse until the Kirkwood family purchased the Resort in 1978 and began to restoring The Worthington Hall to it‘s present state remaining the building “The Shawnee Playhouse.” The Shawnee Playhouse continues its tradition of providing professional quality live theatre to those who enjoy the art form.

Future presentations at The Shawnee Playhouse will include their production of “Branigan’s Blarney” by Rod Foote March 4th - 20th, The Worthington Players production of “The Skyscraper” by David Auburn March 25th - April 3rd, The Prestige Productions presentation of “Love, Sex, and The I. R. S.” by William Van Zant and Jane Milmore April 8th - 17th, and The Center Stage Players productions of “Love Letters” by A. R. Gurney April 22nd - May 1st and “The Seafarer“ by Connor McPherson May 6th - 15th.

Those who enjoy the Passionate Art Lover level of membership in The Forwardian Arts Society are offered a $3.00 discount off the admission fee of The Shawnee Playhouse Productions (excluding Children Theatrical Productions and those presented by non Shawnee Production Companies). Please Explore The Shawnee Playhouse Website at or call 570-421-5093 for more information about their productions and to reserve your ticket.

Photograph provided by The Shawnee Playhouse.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Melodious Duo Fills a House

The ArtMusic Coffeehouse in East Stroudsburg, PA presented The SheilaMark Duo on Friday February 25th. Although the gathering was rather small due to the still wintry weather conditions, the music presented by Sheila and Mark Hamza filled the home of Don Slepian and Jan Julia enhancing it’s welcoming and calming effects on all who come to visit their abode. The concert consisted of Mark playing his accordion while Sheila sang songs which touched the heart and brought smiles to the faces of all who partook of their reminiscent qualities.

The SheilaMark Duo performs in a variety of venues and can be seen almost anywhere throughout the area at any given time. Besides begin a part of the duo, Sheila has played with a number of Celtic bands and has performed in numerous festivals. She recently publish a CD titled, "Celtic Lady of the Lake." Mark and his accordion is often seen (among other places) roaming around The Annual Delaware Water Gap, PA Celebration of the Arts (COTA) Jazz and Arts Festival which takes place in September. He can also be seen playing his huge Hammond Organ with his fellow musicians of The Great Swamp Blues Band in several locations. Please feel free to explore The SheilaMark Duo website at to learn more information about them, their music, and where you might catch their next solo and collaborative performances.

Along with the wonderful music, the evening also included an opportunity to enjoy some delightful conversation and some delicious culinary treats. A peaceful and welcoming environment never fails to engulf those who come visit the house which many has come to feel at home. The ArtMusic Coffeehouse is not only a place one can go to hear some great music; it is also a place one can experience love. You’ll find more Photographs taken during the concert in The ArtMusic Coffeehouse 2011 Gallery at

The ArtMusic Coffeehouse holds its concert series in the home of Don Slepian and Jan Julia who reside in the borough of East Stroudsburg, PA. A variety of musical forms are presented including folk, jazz, classical, and electronic music. Although the concerts welcomes all who wish to attend, seating is limited as it they take place in a private home. The Next The ArtMusic Coffeehouse Concert will feature Ann and Will Rowland on Monday March 7th beginning at 8pm. Please Explore The ArtMusic Coffeehouse Website at or Call 570-476-6307 for more information and to reserve your seat.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Theatrical Review: “Spanakopita”

Theatrical Review: “Spanakopita”
Written by: Larry Rosler
Directed by: Byrdie Jacques and Sara Ferguson
Theatrical Review by: Paul Adam Smeltz

The Shawnee Playhouse in Shawnee on the Delaware, PA presented The Worthington Players production of “Spanakopita” by Larry Rosler who won the full length play category of their 2010 Playwright Completion. This Annual Competition not only gives local playwrights an opportunity to have their work presented on The Shawnee Playhouse stage but also gives the audiences who frequent the venue a chance to experience some new and interesting work. This production of “Spanakopita” proved to be no exception to this tradition as the audience was treated to a very entertaining experience at the theatre.

The play’s title “Spanakopita” derives from a Greek dessert consisting of chopped spinach and a variety of cheeses along with other ingredients which are combined and wrapped in a pastry. The name of the dish could be translated from the Greek to “spinach pie” in English. A full listing of the ingredients made the dish sound delicious and a danger to any weight loss determinations. However, viewing the play allows one to experience the ecstasy of what can be found while consuming the pastry without the need to run a few extra laps at the gym.

The play takes place on an Island Villa off the Greek coast in which an older couple named “Richard” as portrayed by Glenn Geyser Getz and “Diane” as portrayed by Juliet Dunham are spending their vacation with Diane’s friend “Zoe” as portrayed by Nicole Dietz. While Diane wants to go out to explore and experience all things Grecian, Richard would rather just sit and read. In the meantime, the recently divorced Zoe is having adventures of her own which includes meeting a young Greek man named Andreas as portrayed by Patrick Murphy whom she describes as a god.

The relationship between the characters becomes amusingly complicated when Richard (who has always disliked Zoe) feels he has fallen in love with her. Except for a moment of intoxicated indiscretion, the feeling is not reciprocated. The relationships experience further complications when the sexual opportunist Andreas begins seducing Diane. This seduction is appreciated. The plot of this well written and acted play leads its characters toward revelations about themselves and the relationships they’ve chosen while the audience laughs at their genuinely funny antics. In other words, it was fun play.

The Worthington Players production of “Spanakopita” by Larry Rosler was directed by Byrdie Jacques and Sara Ferguson and Stage Managed by Lydia Sampson. The Lighting and Sound Technician was Robert Kobus. All of the productions presented at The Shawnee Playhouse are produced by Ginny and Charlie Kirkwood. The Executive of The Shawnee Playhouse is Midge McClosky while its group sales manager is Mary Horn. The Box Office Staff includes Chrissy McMannus and Ariel Hudak. Becky Haskell serves as the playhouse’s Sales and Marketing Director.

The Worthington Players production of “Spanakopita” by Larry Rosler continues its run until February 20th. This reviewer would recommend seeing this romantic comedy even if some of those reading this review don‘t particularly like the Rom-Com genre. By admission, this reviewer often finds plays and films of this genre somewhat lacking because many create unbelievable characters doing unbelievable things in unbelievable locations. However, while “Spanakopita” does contain some of the typical Rom-Com elements, it involves the audience with the characters’ lives in such a way they become not only our friends but we begin to see ourselves within them. This has much to do with the talent of the actors, the theatrical abilities of the directors, and the considerable writing skills of the playwright. And, besides, it’s fun.

The Worthington Players Annual Playwright Completion invites local playwrights to send in their original works in which a panel selects a number of finalist from the submissions. The chosen plays are then presented in a series of staged readings which are viewed by an audience. The audiences vote on which plays are to be presented as full productions and those who receive the most votes become one.

Finalist for this year’s competition include “Mark Twain and Livy” by Joseph P. Ritz, “Bill Wilson’s Bicycle” by Peter S Nicholls, A Cabin for a King” by Sarah McCarroll and Julie Luongo, “Visions of Joanna” by Ken White, “The Queens Are Coming” by Salome Kingsly, “The Last Word” by Thomas Hudak, “Four Strangers and a Wedding” by Thomas Hudak, “The Last Drive-In” by Thomas Hudak, “Polar Bares” by Thomas Hudak. “The Emperor’s New Clothes” by Stephen A. Williams, and “Silence Not” by Cynthia L. Cooper. The Staged Readings for these finalist will take place March 4th, 11th, and 18th at 8pm. Please contact The Shawnee Playhouse to learn more about the readings and how you can participate in the 2012 competition.

The Worthington Players serves as the artistic arm of The Shawnee Institute which was formed in December of 1999 as a 501-C3 organization designed to provide diverse, quality artistic programs to the residents of the historic village of Shawnee and the surrounding areas. In addition to holding its Annual Playwright Completion, The Worthington Players performs their non-musical productions from January to March. Please contact The Shawnee Playhouse to learn how you can become a part of The Worthington Players and support The Shawnee Institute.

Future presentations at The Shawnee Playhouse will include their productions of “Broadway on the Red Carpet” February 25th - 27th and “Branigan’s Blarney” by Rod Foote March 4th - 20th, The Worthington Players production of “The Skyscraper” by David Auburn March 25th - April 3rd, The Prestige Productions presentation of “Love, Sex, and The I. R. S.” by William Van Zant and Jane Milmore April 8th - 17th, and The Center Stage Players production of “Love Letters” by A. R. Gurney April 22nd - May 1st.

Those who enjoy the Passionate Art Lover level of membership in The Forwardian Arts Society are offered a $3.00 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 or Explore their website at for more information and to reserve your ticket.

Photograph provided by The Shawnee Playhouse.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

An Afternoon with the Arts

The Artspace Gallery in Stroudsburg, PA held an Artists’ Reception for their Winter Art Exhibit on Saturday February 12th. The recent frigid weather the Pocono Area had experienced in the past few weeks gave way to a warming trend with was accentuated by the welcoming warmth found within the Gallery. A sizable crowd of art lovers gathered for the reception enhancing the conversation the works inspired.

The numerous artists who participated in the exhibit offered a variety of works which were pleasing to the eye wile their vibrant and cool colors proved to be a beacon for those of us who are anticipating the Spring Season to arrive while celebrating the beauty and wonders of the current Winter Season. The artists who deftly managed to strike this precarious balance included Richard Spezzano, Joyce Bambach, Shirley Epstein, Deb Frantz, Mira Hensley, Marlana Holsten, Dee Huxster, David Klein, Tricia Lippert, Don Manza, works created by those who are a part of MudWorks Pottery, Alice Prall, Andrea Rimberg, Joan Sayer, and Jill Swersi. The exhibition will continue until February 27th. You’ll find more photographs taken during the reception in The Visual Arts 2011 Gallery at

The Artspace Gallery is a Public Fine Art Gallery run by The PoconoArts Council serving the Monroe and surrounding counties located in Northeast PA. More than twenty juried artists exhibit their works throughout the Spring and Summer Months while promoting fine art in Stroudsburg, PA. Please Explore The Artspace Gallery Website at or call 570-476-4460 for more information.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Womanhood Celebrated at The Sherman

The Sherman Community Gallery located within The Sherman Theatre in Stroudsburg, PA held an Artists’ Reception on Friday February 11th for an exhibition titled, “Reveries of Form: A Celebration of Women” featuring the work of Photographer Sander Martijn. The reception severed to support the endeavors of the Women’s Leadership Initiative of The United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley. Music for the event was provided by Abby Braman with Kevin Vanderhoof. However, since I had to leave early, I didn’t have the opportunity to experience their performance.

The work displayed was very intriguing and invited each viewer to delve deeply into each piece as many inspired an expansion of what the art of photography can achieve. This was particularly true of a series of photographs titled, “Combustion.” The concept derives from the phenomenon of Spontaneous Human Combustion in which people seem to burst into flames from an internal source.

As the artist notes in his description of the series, this is a urban legend that is unlikely to be true as there may be other reasons for the occurrence such as falling asleep in bed or a comfortable chair with a lit cigarette. However, the concept (according to the description) fascinates the artist and the images depicting his interpretation of the phenomenon instills this fascination into those who view the work.

The series depicts a woman in various stages of becoming incinerated. Yet, these images goes beyond the basic interest in the urban legend as they capture the sense of a light being ignited within the human soul. This flame of self realization grows with each consecutive image until the woman is consumed and purified of all the elements that keeps her from her full potential as a human being. The images not only depicts the subject’s journey to fulfillment but allows us to embrace the realization we can allow the light within us to flourish until we are no longer part of the light but we become the light.

Although the reception attracted a small gathering, the work deserves a visit to The Sherman Gallery by those who would like see some excellent examples of why many consider photography a very meaningful art form. The exhibition continues until April 1st. Due to an error during uploading the photographs I took during the reception, there are no pictures to be posted to accompany this article. In other words, I messed up.

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 A night of dance and music from Club 524 on Saturday February 19th, a performance by the band Conditions as part of their Independent Rock Series on Sunday February 20th, a performance by Conspirator featuring Marc Brownstein and Aron Magner of The Disco Biscuitson Saturday March 5th, a performance by Asleep At The Wheel on Thursday March 10th, and The Led Zepplin Experience: Hammer of the Gods on Saturday March 26th. Please Contact The Sherman Theatre at 570-420-2808 or Explore their Website at for more information.

Monday, February 07, 2011

A Lyrical Dreamland

The Dreamland Creations in Stroudsburg, PA held an Artists Reception on Sunday February 6th which featured the work of numerous artists for their exhibition titled, “The Lyrics Show.” This was the first of themed exhibitions for 2011 which were made popular during 2010. It provides artists with opportunities to explore their creative imaginations as they are encouraged to devise their own interpretation to what the particular theme means to them and how it should be envisioned. This never fails to lead to an array of styles and approaches to the theme which enhances the experience for those who attend the exhibition as well.

The work presented during “The Lyric Show” exhibition proved to be no exception to this trend as the caliber of the pieces were of a very high standard as was the conversation it all inspired. An extra added enhancement to the exhibition was the posting of the lyrics of the songs that inspired the visual work. While many were of favorite songs recorded by musicians well known to the artists’, there were a number of pieces accompanied by lyrics of songs written my the artist him/herself. This showcased the considerable talent of the artists in question as it provided further depth into the entire work in which the can delved into by those who experience the work. However, regardless whether the lyrics accompanying individual pieces originated from the presenting artists’ or not, the presence of the word along side the art added a new dimension waiting to be explored by anyone who chose to embark on such a journey.

The receptions during 2010 often included musicians who were scheduled to perform prior to the event. However, since the exhibition’s theme related to the lyrics of songs, it was fitting the event would extend an open to musicians to share their songs with the gathering. This lack of planning allowed an arrival of music as varied and interesting as the work presented upon the walls. It was entertaining, intriguing, and mesmerizing as each note was played and sung. These musical artists included Eric J. Becker on Guitar, Holly Avila on Guitar accompanied by Ralph on Accordion and Michael S. Cooke on percussion, Ricky Antonio Delgado on Guitar, Stephan Tsapatoris on Guitar accompanied by Holly Avila on percussion, and Dmitry Kaif on Guitar.

The visual artists participating in “The Lyric Show” include Rendi, J. J. Schutz, Shane Izykowski, Abby Braman, Michael S. Cooke, Brianna Ace, John Kolbek, Ana Marie Hendricks, Myke Maldonado, Skelly, Debra Frantz, Tim Nebel, Shirley Escribano, Stephen Lippay, Kyle Kucsma, Susan Field, Michael Parsons, Laura Below, Will Mohlenhoff, Hayley Lushinsky, and Paul (yeah, that‘s me). The Exhibition continues until March 28th. You’ll find more photographs taken during the reception in The Dreamland Creations 2011 Gallery at

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 numerous artists who will present their work for an exhibition titled, “The Elements Show.” The reception will take place Sunday April 3rd beginning at 4pm. The Exhibition will continue until May 30th. 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.