Wednesday, December 21, 2011

An Open Plath to Poetry

The Cheeky Monkey Coffeehouse in Stroudsburg, PA held an Open Mic Poetry Night on Tuesday December 20th. The event was hosted by Patrick Bresnyan and presented Tara Vivian as the evening’s featured poet. When I first arrived as The Cheeky Monkey, I found Ms. Vivian relaxing upon one of the many couches of the establishment enjoying her beverage while reading a book of poetry composed by Sylvia Plath. We spoke briefly before I ordered a drink for myself while she thoughtfully returned to her reading.

It wasn’t long afterwards until the evening’s host, Patrick Bresnyan, entered the Cheeky with an array of percussion instruments including some tribal drums. I remembered thinking “Tribal Drums and Sylvia Plath, what a night this would be.” As the evening progressed as poets, musicians, and those who came to enjoy the event filled the room, it became evident night would be a wonderful one to reflect upon for quite some time.

The event began with some welcoming remarks given by Mr. Bresnyan which included assurances all forms and subjects presented will be greeted without critique or censorship. Immediately afterwards, he began sharing some of his poetry with those who came to partake in the evening. His style in both composition and delivery proved to contain a power designed to shake the soul of all who experienced his words out of its complacency and to open the inner eye to see what is their’s to witness. This was done with great effect as a soft inaudible “Ah” was felt throughout the room along with the sound of eyes becoming opened. Mr. Bresnyan also read works from his long time facebook friend, Sean Poole, whose words equaled the qualities found in Mr. Bresnyan’s work.

These readings were followed by those composed by the evening’s featured poet, Tara Vivian. Upon the first utterances of her words, one can feel the depth of human experiences in her work. The earlier introduction I had of her reading from the poet, Sylvia Plath, became a beacon from whose light I was able to fully absorb the poignancy of Ms. Vivian’s body of works. Each word, each movement, each gesture of the eye wrote and re wrote each poem until they were inscribed in the minds, hearts, and souls of every being who received their echoes.

The readings gave me thoughts about Sylvia Plath’s 1963 novel titled, “The Bell Jar.” Although I’ve never read it, the image of a bell frantically ringing out the cries of it’s inner existences while being muffled by a jar so anyone passing by could only hear a faint whispered reflection touched my imagination. Perhaps this was due to the sensation I felt of something existing beyond Ms. Vivian’s words and only a muffled echo touched my awareness.

It is then when I began to reflect upon how our experiences deemed too unacceptable to be expressed in their complete honesty are like bells being encased in societal jars made of glass blown from the ingredients of shame, ridicule, and judgment we and others combine in order to create a barrier strong enough to contain our cries. Occasionally, our tears finds flaws in the jars we have adopted but they are soon dried so these openings can be closed before our tones can discover an avenue for escape. They are shut up to maintain a polite distance enabling the denial of their existence.

Yet, there are times when these tones can be heard by the bell within our hearts. The evening at Cheeky Monkey’s was such a time as each poem shared by Ms. Vivian resounded their profound qualities throughout all they touched. For me, the awareness of what existed beyond her words increased as the long silent ringing of my own bell began to experience a heightened fidelity as each poem was revealed. As the evening approached its close, she read Sylvia Plath’s confessional poem titled, “Daddy,” she not only captured it and the poet’s essence, she also captured the essence of every soul within the room.

However, before Ms. Vivian concluded her sharings, a number of poets and musicians took the mic in order to share their talents. All of the presentations were befitting to the openness embodied in the event as many styles and levels of performances were offered an opportunity to be experienced by those who attended. The evening ended with a drumming performance by Mr. Bresnyan which allowed another, more honest view of the holiday to emerge. You’ll find more photographs taken during the Open Mic Poetry Night in The Cheeky Monkey 2011 Gallery Part 1 at and Part 2 at

Tara Vivian is a poet who host The Broad Street Poetry Revival presented at The Broad Street Coffee House the second Tuesday of each month. The Broad Street Coffee House is located in Milford, PA and specializes in coffee brewed with filtered water to enhance it flavor and food made on the premises. Please Explore The Broad Street Coffee House Website at or call them at 570-409-6090 to learn more about The Broad Street Poetry Revival, other events they are planning, and all they have to offer the community.

The next Open Mic Poetry Night will be held Tuesday January 17th and the second Tuesday of every month beginning at 7pm hosted by Patrick Bresnyan. Images of the Cheeky Monkey’s Espresso Yourself Art Series Exhibition featuring the works of John Kolbek and Michael Parsons continues to be seen upon their walls and will remain there until January 1st. The Cheeky Monkey Coffeehouse also 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 570-236-5574 for more information.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Night With Miraglia

The ArtMusic Coffeehouse in East Stroudsburg, PA presented Singer/Song writer Danielle Miraglia Saturday December 17th. A gentle and calming mood touched those who arrived early to the concert. It was enhanced by the welcoming greetings presented by the home’s owners, Don Slepian and Jan Julia, and their musical guest along with those who arrived even earlier. The lights were dimmed to a reddened glow bringing forth the energies associated with the color and the conversations were instinctively kept to a whisper as not to interfere with the natural flow of the aurae traveling from one internal vibration to the next.

Slowly, the home began to fill with excited conversations brightening the lights within the house and each other with anticipation. Ms. Miraglia discreetly spirited herself away from the presence of those who were entering the abode to prepare for her performance and, perhaps, to create an atmosphere in which her “Official” entrance would have a more mystical effect. The sharings among friends who have met during previous concerts and those who arrived for the very first time until the 8 o’clock hour arrived and Don Slepian (or as Ms. Miraglia later affectionately referred to as “Don Slepiano”) gently quieted the gathering to experience the mood enhancing sounds his improvised performance on the keyboards are well known and well appreciated.

Singer/Song writer Danielle Miraglia is considered by many to be a blues artists. But, if her performance is what it means to have the blues, I’m throwing away my Prozac. There is a joy and humor which stitches their way throughout each song and story connected to it sewing a smile to each face and heart who are penetrated by her needling insights and wit. While the influence many great blues singers has on Ms. Miraglia’s compositions and performance styles can be speculated on, there is little doubt, if any of those legendary performer were the experienced her talents, they would be inspired by her.

The uncanny quality of  Ms. Miraglia’s songs have a way of leading the listener into many directions within each piece. Sometimes, the audience are led into several emotional avenues at once. This deft weaving allows one to instantaneously develop a desire to go deeper into a song to discover the enormity of its depth. An example of this would be one particular song in with a great deal of sorrow is shared. There was a line which served as comic relief for many until it is realized the words also denotes an underlining sadness related to the song. However, the chuckle the line inspired allowed the audience to experience the enormity of the song’s theme without shying away from it. This is how a song writer becomes master song writer.

Ms. Miraglia’s effect was pleasantly demonstrated throughout the evening as her presence on and off the stage continued creating music within all who encountered her. It was a delight to meet such an enchanting woman whose exuberant demeanor and understandings of the profundity of every day life brings forth a person quite uncommon in the familiar discourses of everyday life. You’ll be able to see more Photographs taken during the concert in The ArtMusic Coffeehouse 2011 Gallery Part 2 at

Danielle Miraglia was raised just outside of Boston in Revere, MA and on a variety of popular music ranging from Motown to classic rock influences. Listening to The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin encouraged her to learn to play guitar at the age of thirteen. She also developed a passion for the arts and discovered an outstanding gift for writing and theater in addition to music. Ms. Miraglia released her debut EP titled, “Bad Poetry” in 2001. This was followed by “Just Wrong Enough” in 2002 and her recent CD titled, “Nothing Romantic.” You can learn more about Danielle Miraglia, her music, her creative influences, and how to obtain her work for your collection at

The ArtMusic Coffeehouse is held in the home of Don Slepian and Jan Julia who reside in the borough of East Stroudsburg, PA as part of the Concerts In Your Home Series. 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 they take place in a private home. The Danielle Miraglia was the final concert to be held at The ArtMusic Coffeehouse for 2011. It was a very befitting gift for the holidays. The ArtMusic Coffeehouse Concerts will resume in 2012 beginning with Ian Ethan on Saturday January 14th and continuing with Jacob Johnson on Friday January 27th. Both concerts start at 8pm. Please Explore The ArtMusic Coffeehouse Website at or Call 570-476-6307 for more information and to reserve your seats.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Little Historical Night Music

The Monroe County Historical Association held its Annual Holiday Concert on Friday December 16th at The Stroud Mansion in Stroudsburg, PA. The concert was presented in the upstairs quarters of the building which was designated to present a variety of functions including workshops and concerts like the one being performed that evening. It proved to be the perfect setting as it provided an intimate and congenial atmosphere for both performers and the sizable number of music lovers who came to attend alike.

After some welcoming remarks given by Bob Wehe and The Monroe County Historical Association Executive Director #Amy Leiser, the local choral group “Discipleship in Song” performed a number of selections reflecting the holiday season indicative of the Christian faith. The blend of voices were a pleasing combination and the songs brought both a smile and a contemplative humbleness to those who experienced them. Those who shared their voices included Debbie Booth, Bill Dimmick, Bill Hoy Sr., Bruce Kraeutler, Tamara Paff, Lynn Pappalardo, Linda Ross, and Kathy Sharp. They were accompanied by Joanne Albertson on Piano.

They were followed by a series of soloist who performed selections ranging from the classical as in those composed by Mozart, Puccini, Handel, and John Phillip Sousa to more contemporary pieces written by Jerome Kern and Cole Porter. There were also a number of traditional Christmas carols performed which included a portion of the program inviting the audience to sing along. Each soloist interpretation of the piece they performed brought not only showcased the vocal nuances of the compositions but their movement added to the piece’s subtext where were written in an universal language with in the soul of each listener, The soloist who shared their beautifully powered voices included Dr. Nadia Worobij, Gil Janes, Bob Wehe, Nicole Rideout, and Erin MacMillion. They were accompanied by Pauline Fox on Piano who also performed a special arrangement of “What Child Is This?”

The concert’s conclusion brought with it opportunities for the audience to share conversations with the performers and with each other which served to allow the good fellowship created by the event to linger on long afterwards. Plus, the cakes and cookies were good. You’ll find more photographs taken during the concert in the Music 2011 Gallery Part 2 at

The choral group “Discipleship in Song” is an ecumenical music ministry based in the Pocono, PA area. Their mission and purpose is to present inspirational music and personal testimonies in order to encourage their audience to develop a closer relationship with God. The group does not adhere to any particular belief or creed but, instead, rely on the supernatural Grace of the Divine to move their mission and purpose forward.  

The Stroud Mansion was the family home Jacob Stroud in 1795 who founded the town of Stroudsburg, PA which is now the Monroe County seat. The building houses the offices of The Monroe County Historical Association which is a non-profit community organization dedicated to preserving the history of the area while providing tours for those who wished to learn more about the town’s heritage. The Monroe County Historical Association future events will include their annual meeting and awards luncheon on Sunday February 26th and their Annual Victorian Tea and luncheon on Sunday April 29th. You’ll be able to learn more about The Monroe County Historical Association and all it has to offer the community by contacting them at 570-421-7703 or by exploring their website at

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Night of Dance and Puppetry

The School of Visual and Performing Arts (SVAP) in Stroudsburg, PA presented a holiday performance on Saturday December 10th featuring a puppet show and dance performances. The performance showcased the talents of their students and faculty as a gift to the community and those who support the school. The huge gathering of family and friends of the performers combined with the joy of experiencing the excited energies of those performing successfully created an atmosphere designed to delight the child within each attendee. 

The evening began with a puppet show titled “What’s for Christmas?” with the majority of the skits written by Aileen Fisher and directed by Jazmin Ospa. It featured puppets designed by the students who attended their puppet making classes and their young creators. The Show was Emceed by Robert Kash who also presented a skit titled, “Something in the Air” featuring Cat and Dog Puppets made and designed by Gabby Kash. As eluded to, the puppet show consisted of a number of skits which were selected by a bevy of eager children who picked the titles out of a Santa’s hat.

The first of these skits was titled, “Night at the Museum” which was Choreographed by Jazmin Ospa who also appeared as the Pterodactyls. The skit also featured Michaela Miller as the Tyrannosaurus Rex, Daniella Turso as the Comet, Alex Osborne as the Caveman, Minnie Ospa as the Saber tooth Tiger, Zack Aniano as the Silver Knight, T. J. Salmon as the Gold Knight, Bella Hewitt as the Princess, Teri Salmon as the Handmaiden, Alex Aniano as the Fairy, and Christopher Barton as the Sleepy Guard. This skit was the audience’s introduction to the puppets created during the workshops and many were impressed by the details they embodied.

The remaining skits consisted of those titled, “Cartoon Heroes” which was Choreographed by Jazmin Ospa who also appeared as Turanga Leela and Amy Long along with Den Kayer who appeared as Mario and Luigi. This was followed “Christmas Dreams” featuring Christopher Barton and his puppet, “Not Taking Any Changes” featuring Alicia and Daniella Turso and their puppets, and “Speaking of Presents” featuring Alex Aniano and his puppet. The performances were enjoyable and did well to showcase the talents of the children who participated.

“What’s for Christmas?” concluded with Ben Krayer sharing a message from Santa saying he wanted to be there but was too busy Christmas Shopping. However, Eric Mark donned the garb of the jolly old elf and was accompanied by Alicia and Daniella Turso as his elves. The children did not mind on bit they were in the presence of a surrogate Santa as Eric and his helpers brought joy to the gathering.

After the intermission in which the audience were moved to a larger room, the Holiday Performances continued with dance performances by Kathy Kroll Dance and Paper Theater, Paula and Robert who combined Martial Arts with Dance, The Northeast Ballet Ensemble who performed sequences from “The Nutcracker” under the direction of Diane Verdi, The SVPA Senior Dance Class, and Welcome to Salsa. All the performances were well done and involved a number of dancers ranging from toddlers to those who are experiencing life from a more mature perspective. The entire event led to an enjoyable evening in which one can happily include in their list of holiday delights. You’ll find more photographs in The Performing Arts 2011 Gallery at

The School of Visual and Performing Arts is located in Stroudsburg, PA and is #a Non-Profit Organization dedicated to exposing, inspiring, and educating the public in the arts. They offer classes in Dance, Theater, and Art along with a space to present special shows and to display art. Please Explore The School of Visual and Performing Arts Website at or call 570-817-3453 for more information about the school, how to register for their classes, and all they offer to the community.

Friday, December 09, 2011

The 2011 ESU Winter Choral Concert

The East Stroudsburg University of PA presented their Music Department’s 2011 Winter Choral Concert on Wednesday December 7th 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.

The program began with selections sung by the university’s A Cappella Ensemble featuring solo performances given by Danielle Tretola, Ely Reys-Viruet, Patrick Mertz, Paula Dixon, and David Yablonski. The variety of the pieces ranged from the classical works such as one written by Felix Mendelssohn to holiday folk carols originating from eastern and western Europe. The vocal ranges were pleasing to the ear and served to prepare the audience for the concert yet to come.

Several more Classical and folk melodies touched the audience’s ears and hearts as the Concert Choir performance filled the recital hall with their voices. A gentle swooning took place as one piece reflecting the holiday spirits traveled among the seats and stairs where the audience were seated followed another. The blending of the sounds created a peace long sought for by those whose hurried and daunting preparations for their not too distant family gatherings leaves them exhausted. This peace allowed a renewal to take place within the hearts of all who experienced it through the magical properties of the performance. You’ll find more photographs in The Forwardian Arts Society Music 2011 Gallery Part 1 at and Part 2 at

Future concerts and recitals presented by The East Stroudsburg University of PA Department of Music will include their Winter Concert featuring the University Jazz Ensemble on Thursday December 8th at 7:30pm, a Senior Recital featuring music from Broadway on Friday December 9th at 7pm, their Winter Band Concert on Friday December 11th at 7pm, and a Student Voice Recital featuring the students of James Maroney and Wendy Grice on Tuesday December 13th. Rehearsals for the Spring 2012 Semester Choral Performance begin Tuesday January 24th and all those who would like to participate in the program are welcomed to attend. The performance will take place Wednesday May 2nd. Please contact The East Stroudsburg University Department of Music at 570-422-3483 for more information.

Scholastic Art in Review

The East Stroudsburg University of PA (ESU) Art Department held an Artists’ Reception on Wednesday December 7th to present The Fall 2011 Fine Art Review of their students’ creative achievements. Although the exhibit began November 29th, the reception was held at the Madelon Powers Gallery which is located in The Fine and Performing Arts Building on the ESU Campus on its final day. A variety of styles and approaches were represented as were the students’ youthful excitement of discovering new techniques to express their creativity. It was a well attended event as it began but the numbers began to dwindle considerably as the evening went on.

However, this gave those who decided to linger an opportunity to establish a greater relationship with the works displayed throughout the gallery. The conversations ceased to be among those expressing their thoughts relating to the works and became shared experiences between the viewer and the work itself. And, the work indeed had much to share as the lives of the artists and their perspectives on the life they chose to depict in their work were deftly conveyed. These insights helped to make the reception an enjoyable evening filled with wonderful art, conversation, and cookies.

The students who presented their work in the Fall 2011 Fine Arts and Art and Design Review included M. K., W. H., Benjamin Koch, Sam Popple, Angie Fregoni, Abby Braman, Chris Hodge, Dominick Frabizio, Dana Rivera, Michael O’ Connell, Steph Sanders, David Kennedy, Christina Aidala, Mirtha L. Estevez, Kayla Littrell, Abby Oxford, Brandon Minninger, Celeste Hylton-James, Stacy Owino, Megan Fortmann, Jason John, Nick Sullivan, Anna Maino, Michael Kttl, David Canady, Summer Smith, John Cherney, Chris Hingley, Katie O’ Neill, Katlyn Valenti, Jess Wilner, Ray Wells, Alma Barrantes, Erin Gittens, Krystale Sbat, Krysta Schwuchow, Sam Peterson, Bethany Wert, Lauriel Gingrich, Tiffany Pyzik, Amanda Kawczynski, Mathew Mc Nulty, Shawn Savage, Carlin Todd, Alison Morisano, Chad Jacobson, Cassandra Cota, Danielle Marshall, Chad Crane, Brittany Ott, Seamus McKelvey, Sarah Shields, Adam Ward, Nathan Rosetti, Taylor Vonrohr, Jeremiah Johnson, Kara Zucek, Katelyn Steiner, and Drew Lingel.

In addition to the work being presented in the main gallery, students from the 3 - D Design Class presented an exhibit titled, “Beyond 50,000 Years” on the upper level (mezzanine) of the gallery featuring a dinosaur created out of Styrofoam. In order to aid the environment, the material will be gathered by the university’s recycling committee and sent to their recycling facility after the exhibit is concluded on December 13th. Several of the artists who presented their work in the main gallery participated in creating the piece along with Jaymee N. Dymond, Michael A. Garcia, Nicole A. Yatison, Chelsea M. McMahon, Elizabeth A. Miorelli, Renel Rejouis, Jr., Kylie A. Silvestri, and Grace K. Smith. You’ll find more photographs taken during the reception in The Visual Arts 2011 Gallery Part 3 at

Future exhibitions presented by The East Stroudsburg University of PA Art Department will include an exhibit featuring the works of artists yet to be announced February 1st - March 9th, The Art Association All University Student Juried Art Exhibit March 21st - April 13th, and The Senior Seminar and Portfolio in Art Student Exhibition April 19th - May 8th. Please contact The East Stroudsburg University Art Department at 570-422-3695 for more information.

Monday, December 05, 2011

An End to an Era of Dreams

The Dreamland Creations in Stroudsburg, PA held an Artist’s Reception on Sunday December 4th for their exhibition titled, “Phantasms, Faces, Perspectives, and Places” featuring a wide variety of work created by Shane Izykowski which included not only the Photographic endeavors he is best known for but paintings, sketches, Three Dimensional pieces, and two short films titled, “Regretfully So” and “Thine Own Hands.” Both films won the Severed Sinema Short Film Audience Award for 2010 and 2011.

The variety of the work ranged from Wedding Pictures to those depicting scenes of grotesque gore touched the walls and poured upon the senses of the many who came to attend the reception. It may be debatable to which images are more horrific, but the creative skill in which the artist presents his subjects can find very few (if any) to dispute the wonderful effects his work inspires. They allow each viewer to be amused, bemused, and transfused by what they experience as they explore the extensive talents possessed by Shane. The Exhibition continues until December 31st. You’ll find more photographs taken during the reception in The Dreamland Creations 2011 Gallery Part 2 at

As mentioned earlier, the reception included the screening of two short films Shane created. The first was “Regretfully So” which was about two thieves breaking into a home of an elderly lady only to find  an unexpected outcome to their endeavor. The second film “Thine Own Hands” took place in a psychologist  office whose Dr. was treating a patient convicted of child molestation. Both films were very well done and contained what has been called the M. Night Shyamalan twist. But, neither of these film contained the sense of redundancy which has become associated with the M. Night Shyamalan films. Instead, the twists they contain are (although surprising) consistent to the flow of the films’ narratives and avoids a negative WTF response from the audience.

Although the reception was an enjoyable one in which those who attended were touched by the art created by Shane and the conversations it inspired, there was a sense of sadness in the air. It had been announced prior to the reception that this exhibition will be the last one held at Dreamland Creations. As Shane put it as he offered a toast to the establishment, the shows presented over the last three years not only showcased the work of those who aren’t shown in the more established galleries in the area, but they have encouraged others to explore their talents by creating work of their own. It is hoped many of these artists will find a place to share their visions and perspectives, but, for now, it is time to bid Dreamland Creations a fond adieu filled with the appreciations it well deserves. Thank you Myke and Sherley.

Shane Izykowski was born in Taegu, South Korea and was adopted at the age of two. He grew up with a strong background in art and continued to study all different aspects and mediums. Shane is currently working as a freelance photographer with his ranging from weddings and fashion events to that of a freelance publication photographer at East Stroudsburg University. He is also working at Stroudsburg Foto Shop, Inc., as an Adobe Photoshop specialist and salesman. Shane is also a member of the Pocono Photo Club and The Pocono Arts Council and frequently exhibits his fine art photography in many different venues in northeastern PA. You’ll find more information about Shane along with images of his work and a listing of his photographic serves at

Although the exhibitions have come to an end, The Dreamland Creations in Stroudsburg, PA continues to serves as a studio where individuals can adorn their forms with a variety of body art such as tattoos and piercings.  Please Explore The Dreamland Creations Website at or call 570-421-6313 for more information of all they have to offer.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

It’s A Juggernautic World of ArtMusic

The ArtMusic Coffeehouse in East Stroudsburg, PA presented The Juggernaut String Band on Saturday December 3rd. The energy of the musicians who were to perform could be felt immediately upon entering the home of Don Slepian and Jan Julia. The greeting they and the home owners shared created an anticipation for the music that would entreat them (for many) an hour later.

When the 8 o’clock hour arrived, the house full of music lovers were treated first to the calming effects derived from the impromptu compositions performed by the house concert’s host Don Slepian and then were immediately and gleefully assaulted by the layers of music the trio hurled at the audience. The Juggernaut String Band consisted of Pete Taney on vocals, guitar, fiddle, and harmonica, his daughter Joy Taney on Guitar and vocals, and Cat Burbage on drums and vocals. Together, they performed an eclectic mix of music covering every variety imaginable.

These forms included Bluegrass, Cajun, Classic Rock, and African Tribal Music. It was as if the whole world converged upon the stage and into the ears of the band’s listeners in order to let its songs be heard. Yet, it was in combining these musical styles with the songs waiting to be sung from within the hearts of the audience that made the evening even more enjoyable. A laughter was felt within the soul which was sure to linger long after the concert had concluded. This sensation was enhanced even further when the audience were given musical instruments and were invited to participate in the performance.  All of which can be summed up in just a few words. It was fun. You’ll be able to see Photographs taken during the concert in The ArtMusic Coffeehouse 2011 Gallery Part 2 at

Te performance given by The Juggernaut String Band at The ArtMusic Coffeehouse was very typical of those their fans have come to enjoy throughout the years. They’re well known to present a high octane blend of music with much of it written by Pete Taney for the many musicians he had worked while following the musical road from major festivals locally and abroad to humble mountain pubs. Pete has also adapted music for the handicapped so they could explore their creative gifts and discover new avenues within themselves. In addition to this, Pete holds drumming sessions encouraging participants to let their song escape the confines of their everyday responsibilities and to be heard in the echoes of musical abandonment. You can learn more about The Juggernaut String Band and all they have to offer by exploring their website at

The ArtMusic Coffeehouse is held in the home of Don Slepian and Jan Julia who reside in the borough of East Stroudsburg, PA as part of the Concerts In Your Home Series. 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 Danielle Miraglia on Saturday December 17th beginning at 8pm. Please Explore The ArtMusic Coffeehouse Website at or Call 570-476-6307 for more information and to reserve your seats.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Theatrical Review: A Christmas Carol

Theatrical Review: A Christmas Carol
Directed by: Margaret Ball
Based on the Novella: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Book, Music, and Lyrics by: Mavor Moore
Theatrical Review by: Paul Adam Smeltz

The East Stroudsburg University (ESU) Department of Theatre presented their production of “A Christmas Carol” which is a musical adaptation of the seasonal classic written by Charles Dickens. This musical version is not the first to be inspired by novella as anyone who was born since it was written in 1843 can attest. In fact, it would be extremely difficult to find anyone who doesn’t know the story of a miserly old man who is warned by his deceased business partner he must become more generous with his wealth or face an eternity of torment in the afterlife. He is then visited by three spirits who reveal his forgotten memories of his past, the present results of his actions, and a frightening future if he continues his life as it is.

The ESU production of this familiar tale was a likeable and enjoyable one. However, if anyone is waiting for this reviewer to jump up and down in order to give the production a rave review, they may be waiting for quite some time. At the considerable risk of being accused of being a “Scrooge,” I must say the production was lacking in many areas. This is unusual for an ESU production as the insightful plays chosen, the stellar performances by the actors, and the production’s deftly executed direction helps defines high quality theater in the area.

However, when endeavoring to re tell a story that has the familiarity “A Christmas Carol” has, one had to remember everyone knows it almost verbatim. So, it would be germane to seek out a version that has some new insights regarding the work. The production’s program included a well written article by Dr. Rita M. Plotnicki about the origins of the Novella and it’s indictment of 19th century industrial capitalism and its’ effects on the poor. However, the play makes very little attempt to address these issues and decided to be a quaint retelling with forgettable songs even though these very issues have become very prevalent in recent times as illustrated by the “Occupy” movements.

Another aspect of the production that kept it from being thoroughly enjoyable by this reviewer was the uneven acting throughout the performance. There were moments when an actor delivered a line which was followed by an impregnated pause before a response was uttered. This hindered the flow of some scenes and led to many members of the audience to dispel their suspension of disbelief by reminding them were watching a play.

Also, this reviewer wondered about the necessity of actors wearing microphones. Not only did it seem anachronistic, but the devices seemed unnecessary. It would make sense, to this reviewer, if the actors had to speak or sing while accompanied by a large orchestra so their voices could be heard. But, the musical accompaniment to the actors consisted of a piano. This may be considered a minor point to ponder, but it makes this reviewer wonder.

Now, before I get more coal than usual in my stocking, it would be neglectful of this reviewer not to mention this production was enjoyed by the audience. There were some great moments in the play and some of the portrayals of characters did bring some life into the production. Still, for this reviewer, it seemed the overall quality of the production was a bit mediocre and not to be considered one of the University’s best.

The cast consisted of Michael Lloret as Ebenezer Scrooge, Rich Hennesy as Bob Cratchit, Joseph Dougherty as The Ghost of Jacob Marley, Mr. Fezziwig, and one of the two Toffs, Tyler Whitman as The Ghost of Christmas Past, a Gentleman, and one of the two Toffs, Shannon Leigh Christmann as The Ghost of Christmas Present and Mrs. Dobbs, Deanna Knapp as The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come and a Caroler, Gregory J. Back as Tiny Tim Cratchit, Karen Guilliams as a Lady and Belle, Tyler W. Adams as Tom, a Soldier, Dick Willoughby, Jack and Billy Cratchit, Katie Dembesky as a Caroler, Charity and served the production as an Electrician, Molly Bunkard as a Caroler, Rebecca Regina as a Caroler, Miss Fezziwig, Susan, and Martha Cratchit, Laura Wall as a Caroler, Mrs. Fezziwig, and Belinda Cratchit, Kristen Walsh as Mrs. Dilbert, Hope, and Mrs. Cratchit, and Zenobia Colah as Ali Baba and Betsy Cratchit.

The East Stroudsburg University (ESU) Department of Theatre production of “A Christmas Carol” was directed by Margaret Ball. The play’s book, music, and lyrics were composed by Mavor Moore and based on the Novella written by Charles Dickens. Betsy Buzzelli-Clark was the production’s Musical Director with incidental music composed by Stephan Woodjetts. The production was Stage Managed by Robert McIntyre who also served as a Carpenter and as a Electrician. Assistant Stage Managers were Ahleea Zama and Michelle Tuite who also served as a Carpenter and as a Property Assistant, Yoshinori Tanokura served the production as its set and costume designer, Shannon Long and Melissa Sherry served the production as Costume Assistants, Michael Thomas served the production as its Technical Director, Bruce Candlish served the production as its Lighting Designer, Kelsey Pulzone served the production as its Master Electrician, its Light Board Operator, and as a Carpenter, Mary Dennis, Gabe Rabinowitz, and Brandon Cabrera served the production as Electricians, Devon Sparks served the production as its Property Master and as an Electrician, Jackie Knollhoff served the production as Property Assistant, Michelle Jones served the production as its Dialect Coach and as a Carpenter, Eric Lang and Tiff Cruz served the production as Carpenters, Dave Dougherty and Matt Pierson served the production as Sound Board Operators, Aaqilah Lewis served the production as its House Manager, Elyse Burnett served the production as its Box Office Manager as assisted by Megan Rosvanis, The Posters promoting the production as the programs were designed by Darlene Farris-LaBar.

This production of “A Christmas Carol” 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 4th and, while it is lacking in many areas, it is an enjoyable for many. The next production to be presented at The University’s Fine and Performing Arts Center will be Stage II’s production of their 2012 Student Directed One Act Plays. The theme this year is “Love and all that it entails” featuring the plays “The Wedding Song,” “A chocolate Affair,” “F. L. E. X,” and “Starting Over.” The production runs from February 14th until the 19th. Please contact The East Stroudsburg University (ESU) Theatre Department at 570-422-3483 for more information about future productions and to reserve your ticket.

Photograph provided by The East Stroudsburg University (ESU) Department of Theatre.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Tis the Season to be Artsy

The Pocono Arts Council held an Artists’ Reception for their Annual Holiday Show and Sale of Fine Crafts (aka The Holiday Store) at the ArtSpace and Studio Galleries (aka The PoconoArts Community Cultural Center) in Stroudsburg, PA on Thursday December 1st. The works on display featured those created by the members of The Pocono Guild of Craftsmen. Although surprisingly very few (if any) of the pieces creators were present at the reception, much of the work was eye catching and the event brought a modest amount of art lovers to it. More information about The Pocono Guild of Craftsmen can be gained by exploring their Website at

The evening also served as an opportunity for members of The Pocono Arts Council to hold their Annual Meeting which was very informative. This information include highlights of what the council had accomplished throughout 2011, the funds they raised to reach their goals, appeals to obtain more capital to reach even greater heights, and revelations to whom is serving on their board of directors and their leadership positions. The meeting concluded with a poetry reading by Noreen Ayers who is currently featured on the gallery’s Hall of Poetry and Writings and the awarding of a basket of edible goodies to Margaret Benson who won the evenings raffle. You’ll find more photographs taken during the reception and the Meeting  in the Visual Arts 2011 Gallery at

The Pocono Arts Council’s Annual Holiday Show and Sale of Fine Crafts (aka The Holiday Store) continues until December 24th. The next exhibition at The PoconoArts Community Cultural Center will be presented in The ArtSpace Gallery and begin with an Artist’s Reception on Saturday January 7th. It will continue until the end of the month. Please Explore The ArtSpace Gallery Website at for more information.

The PoconoArts Community Cultural Center is part of The PoconoArts Council which is an organization designed to build the communities in which it serves artistically and culturally by providing leadership, service, and education. It does so by offering avenues for artists to display their work through the ArtSpace and other galleries, educational opportunities for those who would like to explore and/or enhance their creative natures, and encouragement to those who seek to express and/or support the arts. You’ll be able to learn more about The PoconoArts Council and all they offer at