Arts Around Town

Arts Around Town: GIG's 'Motherhood Out Loud' touches on stages of life

A new theater group based in Macungie, Lehigh County, is attempting to make an impact in the community, and it's speaking volumes with its upcoming production of Off-Broadway's "Motherhood Out Loud." Global ImpACTORS Group (GIG), whose founder and artistic director is Tesia Nicoli of Berks County, has chosen a show with an emotional tone that's sure to strike a deep universal chord within each of us. It's being staged May 16-24, at the Macungie Institute, 510 E. Main St.

"Motherhood Out Loud" is packed with laughter, gripping stories, touching moments, and wry surprises that are told through compelling short monologues and scenes involving 15 local actors taking on more than 50 characters. Subject matter touches on life stages such as birth, raising children, puberty, letting go, and starting one's own life, with some language and content not so suitable for younger audiences.

"Motherhood Out Loud," conceived by Susan R. Rose and Joan Stein, originally involved 14 celebrated writers who composed the candid monologues.

"Even men will be able to identify with the play," said Nicoli, who's directing and also acting in the piece. "The aspects of parenting hold true for both men and women."

The Macungie cast includes Chad Boushell, Gene Connelly, Judith Evans, Eric D. Hersh, Jada Makenzi, Genia Miller, Kathy Pacheco, Marcy Repp, Krystel Seier, Patti Squire, Renee Wadsworth, Becca Carlyon Wahoff, Rachel Williams and Goran D. Zdravkovic. Boushell, Evans and Wadsworth also assist in the technical end of GIG's productions.

A percentage of ticket sales from "Motherhood Out Loud" will be donated to St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, according to Nicoli. A percentage of profits from each of its staged performances are given to a charity. It's part of GIG's mission, Nicoli said, "to impact the world by giving back to our community members and organizations in need. We can all make small gestures that amount to big changes, and GIG wants to impact the world in more ways than one."

A portion of proceeds from the February production of A.R. Gurney's "Love Letters" benefitted the Lehigh Valley chapter of the American Heart Association.

The first production by GIG was presented last fall with an adaptation written by Nicoli called "Spirit of Poe: 13 Haunting Stories."

Nicoli and her husband, Jared, have two children, Jada, 14 and Alexander, 3. A '92 graduate of Emmaus High School, Nicoli is an actress and professional voiceover artist. She majored in communications with a concentration in professional writing at Lehigh County Community College. She teaches acting and related courses in East Penn School District's community education program and in Lower Macungie Township's education program. She appeared in Civic Theatre of Allentown's "A Christmas Carol," "Stage Door," "Abe Lincoln in Illinois" and "Cider House Rules."

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Thirty artists are participating in the "Seasons of Hawk Mountain" exhibit running through Aug. 24, at the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary visitor center in Kempton, Berks County. The original juried works are by members of the Berks Art Alliance in honor of the 80th anniversary of the founding of Hawk Mountain. An opening reception with the artists will be held Thursday, May 15, from 6 to 8 p.m.

The Berks Art Alliance coordinated several group trips to Hawk Mountain over the past 18 months, when artists captured in plein air or photography the scenes, feelings and messages inspired by the sanctuary, its conservation legacy and its programs. From these visits came works created from a variety of media including watercolor, oil, collage, acrylic mixed media, pastel, pencil, ceramic, composite photography, mixed media, encaustic mixed media, mixed media on silk, and mixed media lettering.

More than 50 entries were exhibited earlier this spring at the Yocum Gallery in Wyomissing, where juror Richard Ressel selected the 30 pieces for a traveling exhibition. This exhibit concludes Sept. 28, at the Schmidt Gallery at the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts in Reading, with an opening reception on Sept. 5.

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"Secrets (no one has to know)" 2014 annual juried exhibition opens Saturday and runs through June 29, in the Cohen Gallery of the GoggleWorks Center. Juror was James Patrick Reid, fine arts faculty at Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, Art Students League, and New York Academy of Art.

Also at the GoggleWorks is "Converging Thoughts" by Lee Lovett & Roberta Little, whose works convey the natural elements. Little, a graduate of Miami University of Ohio, is an artist/craftsman. Lovette graduated from Rhode Island School of Design and is gallery director at Red Raven Art Co., Lancaster.

An opening reception with artists from both exhibits will be held Friday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

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Mixed media artist Maryann Riker is curator of "Altered and Assembled," an exhibition running through May 24, at Connexions Gallery, 213 Northampton St., Easton.  A curator/artist talk will be presented Sunday at 2 p.m.

In explaining the theme, Riker refers to the Beat culture and the days of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, "and breaking down barriers between life and art. Beats celebrated the everyday, down-and-out and ephemeral. They embraced different music styles and black culture. There were early performance artists who crossed over from one art form to another. They experimented with collage, assemblage and stream of consciousness. …To understand one art form, it helps to understand the others."

Participating artists include Emil Buccos, Joseph M. Chapuck, Will Hubscher, Anthony Marraccini, Dominick Naccarato, Reinaldo Valentin, Femi Johnson and Tom Shillea.

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Calling all plein air artists! The Great Allentown Paint-Out takes place on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., when artists are invited to paint homes, gardens, cemetery and streetscapes of historic residential downtown Allentown. The paintings will be featured on June 7, at the Allentown Art Squawk at Studio 606 located at 606 Hamilton St.

For further info: (The Great Allentown Paint-Out)


Some interesting happenings for Mother's Day include a special program of music by the Reading Philharmonic Orchestra on Sunday from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., on the stone terrace in the arboretum of the Reading Public Museum. Limited seating under a tent; bring along lawn chairs.

Vintage fashions from the 1930s through the 1970s are the subject of a Mother's Day celebration on Saturday at 1 p.m., at the Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum in Allentown. Jill Youngken, assistant director at the museum, will discuss how history and fashion intersect. Children's activities will include making hats, sketching fashions, and making fashion paper dolls.

Moms also might be interested in the "Art in Bloom Garden Tea" on May 17 at 2 p.m., at the Anne and Bruce Lawrence Garden, 404 Center St., Bethlehem. Guest speakers will be Bridget Huzar on "Fashion & Gardens: The Mutual Influence and Inspiration," and Eileen Silva of Neiman Marcus representing Jo Malone London. The event is being presented by SOTA (Society of the Arts), whose fundraising Show House 2014 is under way through May 18, at 47 E. Church St., Bethlehem.


Country Gate Players present the Pulitzer Prize-winning and Tony Award-winning play, "The Diary of Anne Frank," beginning Saturday at 8 p.m., and running through May 18, at the Country Gate Playhouse, 114 Greenwich St., Belvidere, New Jersey. The Players will be presenting Wendy Kesselman's adaptation for this production.

Director is Bill Scurato of Harmony, New Jersey. The cast includes: Paige Hann of Harmony as Anne Frank; Allison Ervin of Phillipsburg, New Jersey, as Margo Frank; Dan Mazelis of Washington, New Jersey, as Otto Frank; Claire Borhenek of Flanders, New Jersey, as Edith Frank; Lauren Caldwell of Great Meadows, New Jersey, as Miep Gies; Logan Farley of Belvidere as Peter van Daan; Jo Ann Mazza of Stroudsburg as Mrs. Van Daan; Matt Bigelli of Easton as Mr. Van Daan; Frank Delmore of Wind Gap as Mr. Dussel, and Allan Johnson of Washington as Mr. Kraler.

The show contains sensitive content; parental discretion is advised.

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The Allentown Symphony Orchestra pop concert features "The Hit Men" on Saturday at 8 p.m., at Miller Symphony Hall in Allentown. The Hit Men are original performing members of Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons, Tommy James & the Shondells, and The Critters. Conductor is Ronald Demkee. Such hits will include Four Seasons songs such as "Oh, What a Night," "Who Loves You," and "Big Girls Don't Cry."

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