Arts Around Town

Arts Around Town: Centenary's 'January Thaw' has music, comedy lineup

It may be cold outside, but Centenary Stage Company in Hackettstown, New Jersey, is turning up the heat inside with its "January Thaw Music Festival," featuring music and comedy. The action kicks off Sunday at 2 p.m., with singer Freda Payne performing "A Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald." It's all happening at the Sitnik Theatre at the Lackland Performing Arts Center, 715 Grand Avenue.

Payne is best known for her No. 1 hit in 1970, titled "Band of Gold." She's toured the world in concerts, theater performances, and one-woman shows. Now, she celebrates Fitzgerald's career from her 1934 award-winning Apollo Theater debut to vocalist.

Payne credits her own appreciation of music at an early age listening to such sultry jazz singers as Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, and Billie Holiday. She hosted her own talk show in 1981 and appeared in the 2000 Eddie Murphy comedy, "Nutty Professor II: The Klumps." On Broadway, she appeared in "Hallelujah Baby," "Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies," "Ain't Misbehavin,'" and "Jelly's Last Jam."

Centenary Stage Company and the Hackettstown Rotary present comedy night with the legendary Larry Miller and special guest Rodney Laney on January 20 at 8 p.m. Miller began his career in the film, "Pretty Woman," starring Richard Gere and Julia Roberts. He also appeared in "The Princess Diaries," "The Nutty Professor," and "10 Things I Hate About You." He's a member of Christopher Guest's ensemble cast in the films, "Waiting for Guffman," "Best in Show," "A Mighty Wind," and "For Your Consideration," along with his recurring role on "Curb Your Enthusiasm!"

Laney has appeared on "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson," "Comics Unleashed," and in comedy performances on HBO, TBS, truTV and Comedy Central.

Vocalist-saxophonist Danny Bacher performs "A Jazz Tribute to the Three Louis," including Armstrong, Prima, and Jordan, on January 21 at 2 p.m. Bacher also ties together the Louis legacies on his new CD, "Swing That Music!" with a slate of tunes that connects jazz and blues to jump-swing and rock 'n' roll.

The festival's final show features Matuto (Brazilian bluegrass) on January 27 at 8 p.m., with the folkloric music of Brazil and the sounds of all-American bluegrass. In Brazil, Matuto is slang for "country boy," but these musicians have performed worldwide at bluegrass, jazz, and world music festivals, and even Carnegie Hall.

For further info:



We're in the final days of the 102nd Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg, themed "Strength in Our Diversity." The event runs through Saturday.

Among the many offerings is the sculpture located in the Main Hall, which was carved from a half-ton of butter. It depicts the diversity of Pennsylvania agriculture, specifically careers and roles that support the dairy industry. This work of art, sponsored by the American Dairy Association North East (ADANE), was sculpted by Jim Victor and Marie Pelton of Montgomery County.

The sculpture features renderings of a dairy cow and dairy farmer; an agronomist who helps seed become the corn farmers provide to their dairy cows; a milk processor who tests, processes and delivers dairy products to retailers; and a consumer with a basket of Pennsylvania products.

The sculpture was crafted from butter donated by Land O' Lakes in Carlisle, Cumberland County. Following the show, it will be moved to the Reinford Farm in Juniata County to be converted into renewable energy in the farm's methane digester.

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"Disney on Ice: Frozen" will be performed at the PPL Center in Allentown, beginning Wednesday and continuing through January 21. Ice-skating, special effects and music will transport the audience to wintry Arendelle, with characters Anna, Queen Elsa, Olaf, Kristoff, and Sven.

The event will be hosted by Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, with special appearances by stars from "Toy Story," "Finding Dory," "The Lion King," and the inspiring Disney princesses.

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The British a cappella vocal ensemble and double Grammy Award-winning artists, The King's Singers, will perform on January 20 at 8 p.m., at Miller Symphony Hall in Allentown, as part of their 50th anniversary world tour.

Founded in 1968, their English vocal style encompasses everything from Renaissance madrigals to Gilbert and Sullivan to the Beatles. Their sound is recognizable for immaculate intonation, vocal blend, diction and incisive timing. The group is named after King's College in Cambridge, England, where it was formed by six choral scholars.

Members are Patrick Dunachie and Timothy Wayne-Wright, countertenors; Julian Gregory, tenor; Christopher Bruerton and Christopher Gabbitas, baritones, and Jonathan Howard, bass.

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"Mutts Gone Nuts" are coming to the State Theatre in Easton on Saturday, with performances at 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., as Scott and Joan Houghton bring their hilarious pack of pooches for a comedy dog thrill show for all ages.

In conjunction with the performances, a pet food drive to benefit The Center for Animal Health and Welfare will be held. Patrons who bring in a donation of dog and/or cat food will receive one free child ticket to the performance, with a limit of one free ticket per household. The ticket discount is available only to patrons who purchase tickets in person or on the phone.

The center also will be holding a pet adoption on the day of the show in the theater's Easton Hospital Gallery, located on the corner of Fifth and Northampton streets. The site will be open 90 minutes prior to the main stage performance.


Also at the State Theatre: The wonderful "Wizard of Oz" is coming with performances on January 19 at 7:30 p.m., and on January 20 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. The lavish production features Dorothy, Toto, and their friends the cowardly lion, Tin Man and Scarecrow as they venture down the Yellow Brick Road and beyond in search of the wizard.

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The Allentown Art Museum has a variety of activities regarding African American art, history, culture and activism as it celebrates a free Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, beginning at 11 a.m., when Rejoice, the Muhlenberg College gospel choir, performs.

Guest speaker will be Nikki Powerhouse, whose presentation will involve storytelling, poetry, song and movement, with two performances – 2 p.m. and 2:45 p.m.

African American vocalist and composer Imani Uzuri will perform original work at 3:30 p.m.

Filmmaker Mick Caouette will take questions from the audience following a screening of his documentary, "Mr. Civil Rights: Thurgood Marshall & The NAACP" at 1 p.m.

At noon in the Butz Gallery, a gathering around Faith Ringgold's print, "Here Comes Moses," will focus on the story of Henry Ossawa Tanner's childhood as told in Ringgold's book, "Henry Ossawa Tanner: His Boyhood Dream Comes True." His work, "Licking Paw," will be on display in the Trexler Gallery. He served as an inspiration for the Harlem Renaissance artists and generations of painters.

The Crayola Classroom will be open from noon to 4 p.m.

On January 18 at 6:30 p.m., David C. Driskell, recognized as a leading authority on African American art, will discuss "Innovations and New Trends in African American Art" with Curlee Holton, executive director of the David C. Driskell Center and senior artist-in-residence at the University of Maryland's College of Arts and Humanities. Driskell works primarily in collage and mixed media, and printmaking. In 2016, he was a visiting artist at Lafayette College in Easton, where he took part in the college's Experimental Printmaking Institute.

He received the National Humanities Medal from President Bill Clinton in 2000, and in 2001, was honored by the University of Maryland with the establishment of the David C. Driskell Center as a collection of African American visual art and culture.

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SATORI's 18th annual midwinter concert on January 27 at 7:30 p.m. will feature a new work by composer, Dr. Paul Salerni, titled "Something Permanent," celebrating photographs of Walker Evans in poetry and music. The concert will be held in Foy Hall on the south campus of Moravian College, Main and Church streets, Bethlehem. (Snow date is February 3).

The program will have selections by Haydn, Naulais, and Faure. Musicians will be Nora Suggs, flute; Deborah Andrus, clarinet; Rebecca Brown, violin; Adriana Linares, viola; David Moulton, cello; Martha Schrempel, piano, and Jessica Bowers, mezzo-soprano.

Tickets are only at the door. A reception will follow the concert.

For further info: 610-435-6036


Noted actor, comic and impressionist Craig Gass will headline the annual "Dry Humor: Stand-up for Recovery" show on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., at SteelStacks in Bethlehem. The show is presented by Easton native and national touring comedian Liz Russo.

According to a news release, the event, a celebration of Russo's own seven-year sober anniversary, will feature all clean and sober performers. It serves as a fundraiser to generate much needed funds for local addiction treatment efforts.

Early in his career, Gass did impressions of various celebrities as a guest on "The Howard Stern Show." He has appeared on "Sex and the City" and "King of Queens." According to the release, he has been clean for the past 13 years.

Comedy writer and comic Jim Felter also will be a featured Dry Humor performer.

Patrons don't need to be in recovery to attend, just a willingness to laugh. A portion of proceeds from the ticket sales will be donated to the Stepping Stones Recovery Foundation, a nonprofit that helps individuals struggling with addiction and their families. The organization raises funds to provide housing, education and community resources to individuals suffering from addiction to ensure a lifelong successful recovery.

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