Arts Around Town

Arts Around Town: Marionettes join Bach Choir for 'The Nightingale'

The Lehigh Valley has been the scene for many world premieres regarding orchestral music. Here's one especially for families that incorporates not only musicians but puppeteers to act out a childhood favorite. It's the world premiere adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Nightingale," a collaborative project involving The Bach Choir of Bethlehem and Bach Festival Orchestra, directed by Greg Funfgeld, and the Mock Turtle Marionette Theater, directed by Doug Roysdon. The concert will be performed Sunday at 3 p.m., at Baker Hall, Zoellner Arts Center at Lehigh University, Bethlehem.

Andersen's original tale is set in Japan, but this version, set in 17th century Germany, is viewed as a perfect vehicle for J.S. Bach's transcendent choral and instrumental music to contribute to the central theme of the story. What unfolds is a triumph of the spirit as the nightingale lifts sickness and death from the heart of the Emperor through its loyalty and the beauty of its song.

"The Nightingale" is The Bach Choir's first collaboration with Mock Turtle Marionette Theater. According to a news release, founder and director Doug Roysdon initially adapted the fairytale in 1985 for tiny marionettes. For the world premiere, Roysdon works with much larger puppets he recently perfected – each about four feet high with arms, hands, legs, feet, and mouths articulated by the actors.

Along with Roysdon, actors include assistant director Anna Russell, Willow Reichard-Flynn, Jamil Joseph, Grace Spruiell Hochella, Sabrina DeWeerdt, Sonya Hennet, and Joe Ferraro.

The voice of the nightingale will be virtuoso recorder player Tricia Van Oers, a familiar face to Bach Choir audiences. Musical selections include "Le Rossignol en Amour," by Francois Couperin, and "Engels Nachtigaltje," by Jacob van Eyck, as well as the recorder duet accompanying Bach's "Sheep may safely graze."

According to Funfgeld, music was selected that captures the feel of the nightingale improvising and creating its song anew. It provides a perfect contrast between the living song of the little brown bird and the Emperor's gold and ruby-encrusted artificial nightingale, whose song never changes.

Other choral and instrumental music includes choruses from Bach Cantatas, movements from the "Art of Fugue," the "Lacrimosa" from Mozart's "Requiem," and William Bolcom's "Graceful Ghost Rag," played by Greg Funfgeld and Elizabeth Field, violin, as the music of the ghosts.

Following Sunday's performance, audience members can meet the puppets, puppeteers, conductor, and selected members of the orchestra in the lobby.

For further info: bach.org

 

ARTS ROUNDUP

Emmy Award-winning actor Christopher Lloyd, better known as time-traveling scientist "Doc Brown," takes to the stage of the State Theatre in Easton for some storytelling and a question-and-answer period following a viewing of the classic 1985 film, "Back to the Future," on Saturday at 7 p.m.

Lloyd will share some revealing behind-the-scene stories from the making of the film, his experience working with Michael J. Fox and Steven Spielberg, plus more.

Lloyd began his career in theater. His film career began in 1975 in "One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest," followed by a two-year run as Jim Ignatowski on the television series, "Taxi." Aside from appearing  in the "Back to the Future" trilogy, he appeared in Disney's "Road to Avonlea," "Addams Family," "Dennis the Menace," "Angels in the Outfield," "Star Trek III," "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," and "My Favorite Martian." He also appeared in Mike Nichols' HBO adaptation of "Wit," starring Emma Thompson.

What else is happening at the State Theatre? The national tour of "Annie," now in its third year, is returning on Friday at 7 p.m., in what's billed as a brand-new incarnation of the iconic Tony Award-winning original.

It's directed by original lyricist and director Martin Charnin for the 19th time, and with choreography by Liza Gennaro, who has incorporated selections from her father Peter Gennaro's 1977 Tony Award-winning choreography.

The title role of Annie is being played by 11-year-old Tori Bates of Sarasota, Florida, who's making her tour debut.

On March 2 at 7:30 p.m., international superstars Il Volo will kick off their 2017 tour in the United States in Easton.

Paying homage to what they call their biggest inspiration, The Three Tenors, Il Volo describes this tour much like the concert they filmed in Florence, Italy, last July at the famed Piazza di Santa Croce. The concert was the setting for their special airing on PBS.

The vocal group – Piero Barone, Ignazio Boschetto, and Gianluca Ginoble – were discovered and are managed by Michele Torpedine, who discovered and managed Andrea Bocelli. Il Volo began touring with legendary songstress Barbra Streisand in 2012.

For further info: statetheatre.org

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The children's classic, Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf," an Allentown Symphony Orchestra family classical concert, will be presented Saturday at 2 p.m., at Miller Symphony Hall in Allentown.

One of the world's most recognized musical fairytale is brought to life by the Allentown Symphony Orchestra as heroic Peter and his animal friends make it away from the mischievous wolf. The program also will include the music of Mozart, Haydn, and Rimsky-Korsakov. Narration will be by Really Inventive Stuff.

Each animal and person in the story will have its own special instrument and theme, with a duck being played by the oboe, a cat by the clarinet, a wolf by the French horns, and a bird by the flute. Peter will be played by the strings, grandfather by the bassoon, and hunters by the percussion family.

For further info: millersymphonyhall.org

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The First "Husky A Cappella Festival" will be held Friday at 7 p.m., at the Louis E. Dieruff High School auditorium in Allentown. The event is being sponsored by the Dieruff Key Club. Proceeds benefit the Allentown Boys and Girls Club.

Groups scheduled to perform include The Acafellas, The Dynamics, ffourtissimo, Freedom High School, The Girls Next Door, InAcchord, Lehigh Valley Chorus (Sweet Adelines), Lehigh Valley Harmonizers, The Kutztones, Noteworthy, Palisades High School, and The Vocal Vikings from Atlantic City High School.

For further info: Jeffrey Dutt / 484-765-5500.

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Here go those talented kids from Berks County, Lehigh Valley, and Lancaster County again... this time in Genesius Theatre's production of "Bye Bye Birdie - Young Performers Edition," opening Friday and running through March 5 in Reading.

Ages 5 to 17 are the talents of this special adaptation of the four-time Tony Award-winner set in the 1960s in small-town America, where teen heartthrob Conrad Birdie has been drafted. But what a send-off as he chooses all-American girl Kim MacAfee for a very public farewell kiss.

The cast includes Paulina Cevalos-Veliz as Rosie Alvarez; Joshua Klusewitz as Albert Peterson; Sarah Lala as Kim MacAfee; Andrew Bausher as Mr. MacAfee; Andrea Keck as Mrs. MacAfee; Hannah Mogford as Mae Peterson; Mikey Grey as Conrad Birdie; Ben Daniels as Hugo Peabody; Ben Jupina as Mayor/Mr. Johnson; Griffin Jones as Randolph MacAfee, and Rebecca Nowicki as Ursula Merkle.

Co-directors are husband-and-wife team Joey and Kelly Moray, who have performed in several productions this past year and are making their directing debut. Music director is Christopher Sperat, choreographer is Jericho Joy, student assistant choreographer is Julian Morales, and stage management is run by Kutztown High School junior Hunter Willow Jones.

Genesius Theatre is located at 153 North 10th Street, Reading.

For further info: GenesiusDifference.org

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"Seussical the Musical Jr." takes center stage Friday at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., at The Little Theatre at Hunterdon Central Regional High School, 84 Route 31, Flemington, New Jersey.

The musical, presented by the Downtown Performing Arts Center and Curtain Up Productions, is based on the beloved characters and stories of Dr. Seuss, with the plot incorporating elements from at least 15 Dr. Seuss books.

The cast is comprised of students from the Downtown Performing Arts Center who hail from Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The school will become the educational arm of the new Music Mountain Theatre, set to open in Lambertville, New Jersey, later this year.

For further info: downtownpac.com

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