Northampton Press

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

14th annual ABEs Salute Lehigh Valley Stage: From plays to musicals, theater unbound in 2019

Friday, January 3, 2020 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

Lehigh Valley regional theater continued to delight, surprise and impress in 2019.

The ABEs, as in Allentown Bethlehem and Easton, is an attempt to encapsulate a year’s-worth of plays and musicals produced by Lehigh Valley nonprofit theater companies.

This is the 14th annual ABEs. The overview is based on stage shows seen and-or reviewed by myself and Carole Gorney. Admittedly, we didn’t see every show in 2019.

For purposes of scale, the ABEs are divided into two categories.

Kuhns to head middle school

Tuesday, December 31, 2019 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Local News

Administrator served in several roles with NASD

Dr. Lori Kuhns has been named acting principal of Northampton Area Middle School. Kuhns succeeds NAMS Principal Patrice Turner.

Turner was appointed a special education teacher at Moore Elementary School, effective Dec. 17, at a salary of $94,187, prorated, with benefits.

Kuhns’ appointment was also effective as of Dec. 17, with no increase in salary.

The appointments were approved by a unanimous 9-0 vote by Northampton Area Board of Education at its Dec. 16 meeting.

Movie Review: One of a kindness

Wednesday, December 25, 2019 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

“A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood” is an odd little film.

On the one hand, it’s been perceived as a biopic of Latrobe, Westmoreland County, native Fred Rogers (1928 - 2003), host of “Mister Rogers Neighborhood” (1968 - 2001), produced by WQED, Pittsburgh, and telecast on Public Broadcasting Television stations.

On the other hand, the film is not a Fred Rogers biopic.

Sales of houses in Lehigh Valley decline second month in row

Wednesday, December 25, 2019 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Business Showcase

Sales of houses in the Lehigh Valley declined in November for a second straight month.

Closed sales for houses in the Lehigh Valley declined 1.5 percent, by only 11 properties, in November, with 700 houses sold, compared to 711 houses sold in November 2018, according to the Greater Lehigh Valley Realtors (GLVR) monthly report released Dec. 12.

Curtain Rises: ‘She Loves Me’ has fine pedigree at Pa. Playhouse

Friday, December 20, 2019 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

“She Loves Me,” the musical that closes the 2019 season at the Pennsylvania Playhouse, has a fascinating theater and movie pedigree.

The original production of the Broadway musical, with music by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick (“Fiddler on the Roof”) and book by Joe Masteroff (“Cabaret”), was nominated for five Tony Awards in 1963. “She Loves Me” was revived on Broadway in 1993 and in 2016, receiving eight Tony nominations in the latter incarnation.

The stage musical goes back further than that.

Curtain Rises: ‘Christmas Carole 1944’ a fresh evergreen at Civic

Saturday, December 21, 2019 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

For its 30th anniversary production of “A Christmas Carol,” Civic Theatre of Allentown looked to several other anniversaries for a new twist on the stage version of the Charles Dickens’ novella.

“Christmas Carole 1944,” Dec. 6 -21, main stage of Nineteenth Street Theatre, Allentown, salutes several other anniversaries, including the 30th anniversary of “Christmas Carol” at Civic.

“We did it 20 years ago,” says “Christmas Carole 1944” Director-Choreographer William Sanders, Civic Theatre Artistic Director.

Curtain Rises: A look behind the ‘Follies’ curtain at Touchstone Theatre

Friday, December 20, 2019 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

After two decades of producing “Christmas City Follies,” there’s no folly, nor formula, for what has become a beloved holiday treat at Touchstone Theatre, Bethlehem.

The big quilt curtain again opened for “Christmas City Follies XX,” beginning Dec. 5 and continuing through Dec. 22 at Touchstone.

Let’s pay attention to the Touchstone Ensemble behind the curtain.

“Since the first five ‘Follies,’ the last 15 have been in consecutive years. There were gaps in the first five years,” says “Follies” director Jp Jordan, Touchstone Artistic Director.

Movie Review: ‘Frozen II’ freezes over

Friday, December 20, 2019 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

“Frozen II” is an impressive animation feature film highlighted by inspiring artwork and excellent songs sequences.

“Frozen II” was seen in the 3D format for this movie review. “Frozen II” is worth paying the 3D premium ticket price to see the film. The animation glistens, glows and shimmers. That’s partly because of the film’s predominantly winter setting. The ice is the icing on the animation cake of “Frozen II.”

In the 3D format, snowflakes seem to float before your eyes. It’s almost as if you are inside a giant snow globe.

NASD presents preliminary budget

Wednesday, December 18, 2019 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in School

Revenue from warehouses, housing among unknowns

“I was trying to think of a phrase for tonight,” Northampton Area School District Superintendent of Schools Joseph S. Kovalchik said before the board of education’s first look at the 2020-21 preliminary general budget. “And it’s ‘the best is yet to come.’”

Kovalchik and NASD Business Administrator Matthew Sawarynski presented the district’s 2020-21 preliminary general fund budget at the Dec. 16 school board meeting.

“We’ve been working on this budget since August,” Kovalchik said, noting it was his 10th NASD budget presentation and Sawarynski’s first.

Movie Review: Grumpy old gangsters

Friday, December 13, 2019 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

Apart from being an intriguing yarn about mobsters, labor unions and United States political conspiracy theories, “The Irishman” is a character study about some real characters, actual and fictional.

It’s also a cinematic reunion of some of the greatest actors of a generation in the past five decades.

“The Irishman” is a particularly Pennsylvania story.