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15th annual ABEs salute Lehigh Valley Stage: In the year of COVID-19, thespians stepped out

In the years BC (Before COVID-19), just about everyone worth their weight in social media wanted to go viral.

In the year AD (Advent of COVID-19), what went viral was the virus.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has ravaged the world with, as of Jan. 15, causing 24,667 cases and 587 deaths in Lehigh County; 19,981 cases and 499 deaths in Northampton County; 754,000 cases and 18,752 deaths in Pennsylvania; 23.4 million cases and 389,000 deaths in the United States, and 93.3 million cases and 2 million deaths worldwide, according to The New York Times.

Without minimizing the impact of COVID-19 deaths and illnesses, the impact on the world of entertainment has been devastating worldwide, in the U.S., in Pennsylvania and in the Lehigh Valley.

Impacted have been movie theaters, including the Frank Banko Alehouse Cinemas, ArtsQuest, SteelStacks, Bethlehem, and the Roxy Theatre, Northampton; performance venues, including Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown; State Theatre Center for The Arts, Easton; Zoellner Arts Center, Bethlehem; festivals and fairs, including Mayfair, Musikfest, Kutztown Folk Festival and the Great Allentown Fair; museums, including the Allentown Art Museum, Historic Bethlehem Museums and Sites; America on Wheels, Allentown, and other arts and entertainment venues and events.

Lehigh Valley community, regional, college and university, professional theaters and high schools readied their productions and then suspended them.

This brings us to the 15th annual ABE Awards, as in Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton. In consultation with Kathy Lauer-Williams and Carole Gorney, contributors to the Lehigh Valley Press Focus section, we look back at theater in the Lehigh Valley for 2020.

For my part, I saw very few in-person shows and even fewer on-line shows, or virual shows, in 2020.

My favorite in-person show starred Cheryl Moritz as Cindy Lou Who in “Who’s Holiday!” at Civic Theatre of Allentown, which shut down the show’s second weekend because of a reported COVID-19 case of an attendee at the show during the first weekend. Here’s hoping Civic reprises the show with Moritz in-person for Christmas 2021.

The number of shows previewed and reviewed in 2020 in Lehigh Valley Press Focus wasn’t tallied. There were too few to count.

For comparison, here’s the link to the 14th annual ABEs, published in the Jan. 1 and 2, 2019, Focus:


In the spirit of “Let’s put on a show,” Focus relaunched the “Curtain Rises” column in 2020.

Along with Cindy Lou Who of “Who’s Holiday,” raise a glass to 2021.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Cheryl Moritz (Cindy Lou Who), “Who's Holiday!,” Civic Theatre of Allentown.