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Arts Around Town

Arts Around Town: Story of love, war in ‘Miss Saigon' at Reading's Genesius Theatre

United by love, divided by war. It's an epic love story based on Puccini's opera, "Madame Butterfly." It's the Tony Award-winning "Miss Saigon," the moving pop opera about an American soldier and a Vietnamese woman who fall in love, only to be separated during the fall of Saigon in 1975. This spectacular musical phenomenon opens Friday at the Genesius Theatre at 10th and Walnut in Reading.

Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg, creators of "Les Miserables," along with Richard Maltby Jr., bring Puccini's opera to the modern world as "Miss Saigon," in a moving testament to the human spirit and a scathing indictment of the tragedies of war.

"Miss Saigon" is the second production in Genesius Theatre's 41st season, themed "A Season of Classics: Past and Present." Its first, "Man of La Mancha," was directed by Larry Fecho, artistic producer at Genesius. Fecho once again promises "a unique production with engaging fluid cinematic structure" for the venue's intimate, 100-seat theater.

"Although 'Miss Saigon' has epic qualities, it really is an intimate love story that sometimes gets lost on bigger stages," Fecho said. "The audience will be truly immersed and they will feel as if they have been transported from their seats in Reading, all the way back to Saigon, circa 1975."

Add to that a few special effects and a live, 16-piece orchestra.

The Genesius production features local veteran cast Irving Gonzalez as The Engineer, Rachel Pereira as Kim, Bryon Smith as Chris, Christopher Sperat as John, Jennifer Parker Scott as Ellen, Brandon Kegerize as Thuy and Elizabeth Cooper as Gigi. Music director is Kevin Cooper, with choreography by Rachael Hart, costumes by Shireen Unvala, lighting by Dave Neel and Spencer Moss Fecho, and set by Larry Fecho and Kyle Feltenberger.

"Miss Saigon" runs through July 1, and is rated PG-13 with its adult situations and language.

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Arts Roundup

Eye-to-eye with the big guys? It's an experience you won't want to miss at the Reading Public Museum with the interactive exhibition, "Dinosaurs: T-Rex Face-to-Face," beginning July 1 through Sept. 3. These huge creatures are life-like, cutting-edge animatronic versions of the real thing, each equipped with cameras, sensors and artificial intelligence to react to their visitors – and all completely unscripted. Included in the exhibition are T-Rex, a Triceratops adult and its nest of eggs/juveniles, and two Velociraptors. Also featured will be a "Dinosaur Dig" for children, a special display of fossils and other specimens from its own collection, as well as a historical timeline.

The exhibition was created by KumoTek Robotics in collaboration with Kokoro Dreams and Dynamite Films.

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"The Freddy Awards: A Photo Retrospective 2003-2012," highlighting the 10-year history of the Freddy Awards, is on display through July 8, in the Community Gallery at the Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley. There are more than 75 photographs chronicling the creative process behind the Freddy Awards, right up to 69-WFMZ-TV's annual live, three-hour broadcast of the Freddy Awards ceremony, much in the style of the Tony Awards program, from the stage of the State Theatre Center for the Arts in Easton.

The Emmy Award-winning Freddy Awards recognizes and rewards outstanding achievement in local high school musical theater in Lehigh and Northampton counties, and Warren County, N.J. In 2008, the award-winning documentary, "Most Valuable Players," was produced by Canyonback Films in conjunction with the State Theatre and chronicled the inspired journey of three high school theater troupes participating in the Freddy Awards.

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Hollywood's Silent Era comes alive on Thursday, June 28 at 7:30 p.m., when organist Don Kinnier plays the historic 1928 Moeller Grand Organ for a screening of the black-and-white Buster Keaton silent classic, "The General," at Civic Theatre of Allentown. The event is one of many activities being held this year to mark the City of Allentown's 250th Celebration. A "Black and White" Street Fair held in conjunction with the West End Alliance, will be held from 5 to 9 p.m., with the music of Ben Mauger's Vintage Jazz Band, food and children's activities.

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