Saturday, December 13, 2014

On stage this weekend

POTTSTOWN >> Steel River Playhouse presents “The Sound Of Music” from through Dec. 14. Due to popular demand, an extra matinee has been added at 2 p.m. Saturday Dec. 13. Tickets are $15 - $27 and are available online at www.steelriver.org, or by calling the box office at 610-970-1199.   Please note that Sunday, Dec. 14 is already sold out. Please plan to stay for a talkback with the director and cast after the opening night’s performance on Thursday, Dec. 4.

READING >> Reading Civic Theatre brings “Forbidden Broadway’s Greatest Hits” to the Miller Center for the Arts  for two performances only. The show is a cabaret revue sharply spoofing show tunes, characters and plots of contemporary and current Broadway musicals. “Forbidden Broadway’s Greatest Hits “ plays on Friday Dec. 12 and Saturday Dec. 13 at 7:30 p.m .at the Miller Center for the Performing Arts at Reading Area Community College. 4 N. 2nd St., Reading, 19601. Tickets are $25 for adults and $22 for seniors 65 and older.  For Tickets call 610-607-6270, go to the website www.readingcivic.org/tickets or stop at the theatre’s box office.

READING >> Genesius Theatre’s production of  “The King And I” continues Dec. 12 and 13, at 8 p.m., Dec. 14 at 2 p.m., and Dec. 10 and 11 at 7:30 p.m. To purchase tickets with all major credit cards visit the website at www.genesiusdifference.org or call 610-373-9500. Tickets range from $17.50 to $28.50, and credit card fees apply. Tickets may also be available at the door.  For more information, contact the theater at 610-371-8151. Genesius Theatre is handicap accessible and there is free parking next to the theater (limited spaces available).  This production is rated G.

WEST READING >> The West Reading L.O.V.E. Team, and Fecho Theatrical, Genesius Theatre and Moonlight Winery present a Pennsylvania Dutch “A Christmas Carol” aboard the old fashioned Rhoads Christmas Trolley, through Dec. 21. Take a ride back in time as this delightful interactive family entertainment. The audience boards the trolley at the Winery on Route 724 and is transported back in time to the streets of Olde West Reading. The original Trolley runs are set for Dec. 13, 19, 21, (2 performances each evening 6 p.m. and & 7:30 p.m. – except Dec. 13 - 6:30 and 8 p.m.).  Those have sold out, so three more nights have been added Dec. 12, 18 and 22. It boards at the Moonlight Winery, located on the grounds of Ridgewood Farmstead. To purchase tickets with all major credit cards, visit GenesiusDifference.org or call 610-373-9500. - $35 Adults and $28.50 Children under 18. Children ages 4 and younger can ride for free if they sit on a parent’s lap. Credit Card fees apply. For Group Sales or Private Performance options please call Larry Fecho at Fecho Theatrical at 610-780-7627.  General Admission Seating. This show is G-Rated.

Reading >>  Albright College’s Center for the Arts, in collaboration with the Brickhouse Theater Co., of Wernersville, will present a stage version of  “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play,” through Dec. 14, in Albright’s Wachovia Theatre.
Adapted from the screenplay by Francis Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Frank Capra and Jo Swerling, “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” is set inside a 1940’s radio station as a small ensemble of actors work together to offer a live broadcast of this heartfelt story of sacrifice and redemption.
It’s Christmas Eve in Bedford Falls, and George Bailey, the nicest guy in town, is perched atop a bridge on the brink of suicide – that is, until a guardian angel named Clarence (who hasn’t yet earned his wings), intervenes to remind George just how many lives he has touched, and how terrible life in his community would be if he had never been born.  Remaining performances will be held on Dec. 13 at 2:30 p.m., and 8 p.m.; and on Dec. 14 at 2:30 p.m. For prices and tickets, call the box office at 610-921-7547 or visit www.albright.edu/centerforthearts. The Center for the Arts is located on Albright’s campus at 13th and Bern streets, Reading.

PHOENIXVILLE >> Firebird Theatre’s Holiday Revue Saturday Dec. 13 at 2 p.m. will feature holiday music presented by Firebird participants and special guest performers. The highlight of the afternoon will be a short holiday play titled “A Fairytale Christmas Carol.”  In this play, everyone’s favorite classic holiday tale gets the fractured fairy-tale treatment. This fun-filled adaptation stays true to the warmth and heart of the classic. The play is the culmination of a 12-week drama workshop for Firebird students. There will be music, laughs, and even a visit from the jolly old elf himself, St. Nick!  For more information on Firebird Theatre, please visit www.firebirdtheatre.net or email info@firebirdtheatre.net.

Last chance to catch 'Forbidden Broadway'

Tonight (Dec.13) is the final performance of "Forbidden Broadway" by Reading Civic Theatre at the Miller Center in Reading. If you love musical theater, check it out. My mini-review is up at

Monday, September 29, 2014

‘Three Viewings’ makes my Top Ten favorite play list




Julia Hager, Ruth Martelli, Steve Reazor and director Lisa Uliasz pose for a photo after the show.
By Cheryl Thornburg

I was curious and intrigued as I headed to Feeney Funeral home in Reading for my most unusual theater experience ever. I had never heard of Jeffrey Hatcher's “Three Viewings” and only knew what I had read in in a press release from Reading Community Players.  It involved three monologues in which someone is dealing with a corpse.  I expected to be amused, or pleasantly surprised by it, since I was familiar with all the actors in the play. But it was even better than that – I was blown away by witty dialogue, clever plots and memorable performances and it has moved into my Top Ten  favorite Plays.
Ruth Martelli delivered the performance of a lifetime. Her interpretation of Virginia Carpoletti, a sweet and naïve widow whose husband was a “wheeler and dealer” who left her nearly destitute, was so real that I almost forgot I was watching a play as I sat in the parlor of the funeral home. Hers was one of the best performances I’ve ever seen – and I’ve seen hundreds of plays.
Steve Reazor created a charming , love-sick funeral director who can never express his feelings to the object of his desire – a successful real estate agent who attends lots of funerals and seems to end up making commissions as a result. Reazor has impeccable timing and an engaging comedic style that seems to come naturally to him.
The third monologue features Julia Hager as one of the more unique characters I’ve come across in my theater-going days.  She plays a beautiful drifter from Los Angeles who makes her living stealing jewelry from corpses.  Hager is a talented comedic actress but also can add layers to what could have been a cookie-cutter character.
Director, Lisa Uliasz picked the perfect cast to bring these delightful characters to life.
There couldn’t have been a better place to stage this production than  Feeney Funeral Home in  Reading and as a bonus, guests could tour the mansion after the show.
Unfortunately “Three Viewings” ran for just one weekend, so at the moment, there’s no opportunity to see it – but – Martelli said if someone has a facility that could be used as a venue, they’d love to resurrect it.
For more information on Reading Community Players, visit the website at www.readingcommunityplayers.com

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


Genesius Theatre's 'Altar Boyz' is an uplifting and hilarious 90 minutes of musical comedy 


The cast of Genesius Theatre's "Altar Boyz" gets the crowd groovin' and laughing. 
 
 
If you’re in need of an upbeat, uplifting and uproariously funny evening out, Genesius Theatre has the answer. “Altar Boyz” is an off-Broadway hit filled with catchy pop-style tunes that takes a loving look at organized religion and boy bands.
“Altar Boyz” was created by Marc Kessler and Ken Davenport with a book by Kevin Del Aguila and music and lyrics by Gary Adler and Michael Patrick Walker. The show premiered in 2004 at the New York Musical Theatre Festival and opened at off-Broadway’s New World Stages in 2005. It won the 2005 Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway Musical and was nominated for seven Drama Desk Awards, including Best Music, Best Lyrics, Best Book and Best Musical and 2007 Broadway.com Audience Favorite Award.
The “Boyz” are Matthew, Mark, Luke, Juan and Abraham (He’s Jewish as he quickly points out.) The Christian boy band is giving its last performance on its “Raise the Praise” tour to “rock the masses of all denominations by spreading the good news and soothing the troubled souls of Greater Reading through the glory of sweet pop music.”
Director Zach Frantz, who also plays Mark, cast his net and found the perfect group of guys to join him on this delightful, 90-minute journey. They can sing, they can dance and they are hilarious!
Each of the “boyz” has a distinct personality and gets a turn to shine in the spotlight.
Particularly unforgettable is Brandon Kegerize as Luke, the bad boy of the group. Kegerize has got the moves and has perfect timing for both dancing and comedy. The audience really gets drawn into the “Rhythm In Me,” a hand-clapping, feel-good number.
Not to be outdone, Caleb Seip as Juan (The Latin Lover,) gets everyone groovin’ with “La Vida Eternal,” another number that sticks with you after you leave the theater. Juan’s over-the-top personality is a scene-stealer and Seip makes the most of it.
He’s not the only one to deliver this memorable song, however. When Juan is unable to continue singing, Abraham, played by Nick Moore, steps in and finishes it with a flourish. Moore’s character is subdued compared to the flamboyant Juan, but Moore picks up the vocals with ease and surprises the audience.
Ben Long plays Matthew the charismatic leader of the group. He delivers the classic boy-band ballad, with sincerity even when he sings lines like “Girl You Make me Want to Wait.” How he keeps a straight face is beyond me.
Last, but certainly not least, is Frantz as Mark, the sensitive one. Frantz has been tireless behind the scenes at Genesius for years, but just ventured into the spotlight in the past year — to the delight of local audiences. A talented comedian, he also gets to show off his vocal skills in a ballad, “Epiphany,”
Together, like their boy-band counterparts, they produce some really nice harmonies.
The lyrics are contemporary with a touch of humor — “Jesus called me on my cellphone/No roaming charges were incurred/He told me that I should go out in the world/And spread his glorious word.” The songs also have an underlying positive message, such as “Everybody Fits.”
The show also pokes fun at our obsession with technology with the “Sony Soul Sensor DX-12,” a computer gadget that gauges the spiritual well-being of the audience. The Altar Boyz’ goal is to get the number of troubled souls down to zero by the end of the show.
Choreographer Amanda Leam Guitstewite came up with some high-energy, dynamic moves for the guys — and they nail it. Musical director for the show is Kevin Cooper.
“Altar Boyz” is one of those shows that many people have never heard of — myself included — but I’m really glad I got “the word.” This is a show that will leave you feeling good and humming as you head home — and that’s the Gospel truth.
“Altar Boyz” runs Wednesday through Sunday at Genesius Theatre, 10th & Walnut streets in Reading.
Remaining shows are 7:30 Wednesday and Thursday; 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. To purchase tickets with all major credit cards, visit the website at www.genesiustheatre.org or call 610-373-9500. Tickets range in price from $15 to $25 and credit card fees apply. Tickets are also available at the door. For more information, contact the theater at 610-371-8151. Genesius Theatre is handicap accessible and there is free parking beside of the theater (limited spaces available). This production is rated PG — (light, but complimentary spoofing of organized religion).

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Steel River's 'Complete Works of Shakespeare Abridged ' is a nonstop laugh riot. My review is up at http://www.pottsmerc.com/arts-and-entertainment/20140515/steel-rivers-condensed-shakespeare-is-sublimely-absurd

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Bobby Rydell talks about his life, his music and is passionate about organ donation

I had the most amazing conversation with Bobby Rydell who will be performing in Pottstown March 29. It was like catching up with an old freind. He talked about his life, his career, his family and friends and organ donation.
Having received a new liver and kidney in 2012, he is passionate about the subject. Check out his story at
http://www.pottsmerc.com/arts-and-entertainment/20140313/bobby-rydell-hits-pottstown-march-29-with-music-and-a-message-about-organ-donation

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Steel River's 'August: Osage County' is up-close-and-personal theater

I saw the play, "August: Osage County"  at Steel River Playhouse in Pottstown. I deliberately did not see the movie beforehand -- and I'm glad I made that choice.  There's nothing like live theater. The show runs through March 23. My review is up at
http://www.pottsmerc.com/arts-and-entertainment/20140312/steel-rivers-august-osage-county-is-up-close-and-personal-theater