Out and About: It's Musikfest time

 

It's August and that means it's time for Musikfest - the nation's largest free music festival - to bring music, art, food and crowds to Bethlehem.

The festival now boasts more than 500 free music and art performances at 18 venues over the 10-day festival, which is spread across Bethlehem's historic district and SteelStacks, the arts and cultural campus on the site of the former Bethlehem Steel plant.

Musikfest features ticketed concerts by national acts, including Earth, Wind and Fire; the Chainsmokers; Steve Miller Band; Train; Incubus; and Godsmack, but what draw the crowds are the free concerts, 60-plus food vendors, 48 artisans, performance artists and unique attractions.

New this year is Prismatica, an installation comprised of pivoting prisms more than six feet tall, transforming Zinzenplatz into a giant kaleidoscope. The prisms are mounted on bases containing projectors. As visitors wander among and manipulate the prisms, they will enjoy an infinite interplay of lights and colorful reflections while a variable-intensity soundtrack, comprised of bell sounds, will play.

Also new is Shinbone Alley Stilt Band, an ensemble of musicians who parade, dance on stilts and perform various feats of physical and musical dexterity along Main Street. The ensemble includes saxophones, trumpets, and drums with an occasional trombone, tuba, banjo, or clarinet who play an eclectic repertoire of Dixieland, swing, rock, jazz, and blues.

There are also plenty of great musical performances at Musikfest's 18 stages, from the eclectic vaudeville of MarchForth Marching Band, to the alternative rock of Guster. And you just might stumble upon a yarn bombing at Familienplatz. There truly is a little bit of everything at Musikfest.

Musikfest hours are 5-11 p.m. August 2 and noon to 11 p.m. August 3-11 on the north side of the city and 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. August 2 and 9; noon to 1 a.m. August 3 and 10; noon to midnight August 4; 4 p.m. to midnight August 5-8 and 4 to 11 p.m. August 11 on the south side.

For a complete list of performers, go to www.musikfest.org.

Classic cars and more From the largest music festival to the country's largest antique and classic car show, Das Awkscht Fescht fills Macungie Memorial Park in Macungie, Lehigh County, for three days, with more than 2,500 cars from model Ts to muscle cars. This year's featured car are will showcase Chrysler, Plymouth, Dodge and DeSoto models from the 20s through the 80s. Running for 55 years, Das Awks Fescht features 42 acres of not only antique and classic cars, trucks and motorcycles, but also arts, crafts and Pennsylvania Dutch specialty food. An indoor and outdoor collectible toy show runs in conjunction with the Fescht, at nearby Eyer Middle School.

New this year is a human foosball tournament with cash prizes for teams of six people and a beer garden.

Other activities include a barbecue cook-off sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society, children's activities and entertainment, such as jugglers, magicians and clowns, and a fireworks show Saturday night.

Bands from country to rock play through the weekend. Featured are local favorites, from the blues of Craig Thatcher to the dance sounds of Philly Funk Authority.

Gates open at 6 a.m. and cars enter after 7:30 a.m. August 2-4. Entertainment goes until 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $9 for adults and free for age 15 and under.

For a schedule and information go to awkscht.com.

Drum and bugle corp One of the biggest events on the Drum Corps International circuit takes place this weekend at J. Birney Crum Stadium in Allentown.

The 2019 DCI Eastern Classic features performances by world class competitive drum and bugle corps Friday and Saturday in one of the final events of the DCI Summer Tour - called "marching music's major league" - before the DCI World Championships August 8-10 in Indianapolis.

The elite drum and bugle corps, which include Allentown's own Cadets, as well as defending champions -- the Blue Devils from Concord, California -- perform tightly choreographed routines that feature spinning flags, percussive drum beats and perfectly executed marching lines.

The Cadets, a program of Youth Education in the Arts of Allentown, is one of the oldest operating groups in Drum Corps International. The Cadets, 10-time DCI World Champions, placed seventh last year and is looking to reclaim their title with its dynamic program, "Behold," melding music from Fountains of Wayne with Paul Simon.

They are facing the defending champs Santa Clara Vanguard, which has won seven times as well as the 2017 champion Blue Devils, which has won the DCI championship a record 18 times.

Santa Clara Vanguard and the Blue Devils perform, along with other corps, Friday, and the Cadets perform Saturday.

Performances starts at 6:30 p.m. August 2 and 6 p.m. August 3. Tickets are $30 to $45. For information go to www.dci.org.

1st Street Players present 'Spamalot' Nothing is sacred in "Spamalot," the musical described as "lovingly ripped off" from the cult British film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail."

1st Street Players' hilarious production opens Friday in Birdsboro, Berks County.

The original 2005 Broadway production, directed by Mike Nichols, won three Tony Awards, including for best musical, and received 14 nominations.

"Spamalot" retells the legend of King Arthur and his quest for the Holy Grail, kind of. Sir Lancelot is a closeted homosexual. Sir Robin gathers up dead bodies. The Lady of the Lake is a frustrated diva, and Sir Galahad is a Marxist revolutionary who won't accept Arthur as king.

In addition, the irreverent show features a bevy of beautiful show girls, not to mention cows, killer rabbits, and the knights who say "ni."

The material is still getting laughs 30 years after the movie on which it is based and 50 years after a group of six British comedians created a ground-breaking BBC comedy sketch show called "Monty Python's Flying Circus."

Monty Python was created by Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, John Cleese, Terry Jones, Michael Palin and Graham Chapman, who had a hugely successful television show that ran on the BBC 1969 to 1974. The show spawned several movies, including "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" in 1975, "Life of Brian" in 1979, and their final film, "The Meaning of Life," in 1983.

The production stars Robert M. Tilley as King Arthur; Joe Foering as Patsy; Sean Lynch is Sir Galahad; Daniel Graf as Sir. Lancelot; Collin Bollinger as Sir. Bedevere; Bill Leech as Sir Robin and Taylor Patullo as the Lady of the Lake.

"Spamalot" is at 8 p.m. August 2, 9 and 10; 2 and 8 p.m. August 3 and 2 p.m. August 4 and 11, at Birdsboro Community Theatre, 301 East First Street, Birdsboro.

Tickets are $18 and $25. For information, call 610-404-8436 or go to 1ststreetplayers.org.

Reading Community Players present 'Godspell, Jr.' Reading Community Players will present Stephen Schwartz' "Godspell, Jr." on Friday and Saturday at the Reading/Berks YMCA.

The original "Godspell" was the first major musical theater offering from the three-time Grammy Award-and Academy Award-winner and it took the world by storm, boasting a score with chart topping songs.

In the show, a group of disciples help Jesus Christ tell different parables, primarily based on the Gospel of Matthew, by using a wide variety of games, storytelling techniques and a hefty dose of comic timing. An eclectic blend of songs, ranging in style from pop to vaudeville, are employed as the story of Jesus' life dances across the stage. Dissolving hauntingly into the Last Supper and the Crucifixion, Jesus' messages of kindness, tolerance and love come vibrantly to life.

Hit song "Day by Day" reached #13 on the Billboard pop singles chart in 1972.

Performances are 7 p.m. August 2 and 3 and 7 p.m. August 3 at Reading/Berks YMCA, 631 Washington Street, Reading.

Tickets are $15. For information call 610-375-9106 or go to readingcommplayers.com.

'Annie' at DCP Theatre DCP Theatre presents the beloved musical about a plucky orphan "Annie" August 2-17 in Telford.

The winner of seven Tony Awards, including best musical, "Annie" features some of the most popular musical theater songs ever written, including "Tomorrow," "It's a Hard Knock Life," "Maybe" and "I Don't Need Anything But You."

Set during the Depression, Annie dreams of finding her parents, who left her on the doorstep of an orphanage run by the mean Miss Hannigan. With the help of the other girls in the orphanage, Annie foils Miss Hannigan's evil machinations, befriends President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and finds a new home and family in billionaire, Oliver Warbucks, his personal secretary, Grace Farrell, and a lovable mutt named Sandy.

The show is based on "Little Orphan Annie," the popular comic strip by Harold Gray.

William Gibson is Daddy Warbucks, while Adrianna Pestrak and Kaitlyn Corder share the role of Annie. April Baker is Miss Hannigan; Keith Maliszewski is her con man brother "Rooster" Hannigan and Devan Rose is his girlfriend Lily St. Regis.

The book is by Thomas Meehan; music is by Charles Strouse and lyrics are by Martin Charnin.

Performances are at 8 p.m. August 2-3, 9-10, 15-17 and 2 p.m. August 4 and 11, at DCP Theatre, 795 Ridge Road, Telford.

Tickets are $18 for adults and $16 for seniors and students. For information, call 215-234-0966, or go to dcptheatre.com.

Charter arts student in Bucks County Playhouse's 'Shrek, JR.' Gabe Blaikie from Lehigh Valley Charter School for Performing Arts School in Behlehem is one of 17 local performers ages 14-17 who are in the cast of the one-hour, family-friendly adaptation of the Broadway musical "Shrek JR.," tailored especially for young audiences at Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope through August 3.

The students are members of the Playhouse Youth Company and were who are selected by audition for this conservatory-style training program. The young performers will participate in daily workshops and classes in musical theater performance, acting, dance, voice, and improvisation, while also attending guest workshops led by working theater professionals. The competitive program showcases and cultivates promising young artists who are preparing to audition for college theater programs and other professional theater productions throughout the region.

"Shrek The Musical JR." is based on the Academy Award-winning DreamWorks Animation film and Broadway musical. It's a "big bright beautiful world" as everyone's favorite ogre, Shrek, leads a cast of fairytale misfits on an adventure to rescue a princess and find true acceptance. Part romance and part twisted fairy tale, "Shrek JR." is an irreverently fun show with a powerful message for the whole family.

Youth Company participants this year represent 12 high schools and middle schools in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including Jack Benson, Shane Hickey, CJ Lande and Jack Prisco from Central Bucks High School West High School; Eliot Block and Emily Griffen from Hopewell Valley Central High School; Devyn Costello-Henderson from Abington Friends School; Emmie Herman from Delaware Township School; Meghan Jenkins from Bridgewater Raritan High School; Ellie Kuhnle, Anna Polsky and Anna Shea Safran from Lenape Middle School; Grace Lee from Timberlane Middle School; Portia Murphy from Commonwealth Charter Academy; Cole Vitelli from Hunterdon Central Regional High School; and Shane Stoltz from Council Rock High School South.

Performances are 10:30 a.m. through August 3, at the Bucks County Playhouse, 70 South Main Street, New Hope.

Tickets are $17 for adults and $12 for children age 4-12. For information, call 215-862-2121, or go to buckscountyplayhouse.org.