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Curtain Rises: A ‘Drowsy’ Lehigh Valley premiere at Pa. Playhouse

The Pennsylvania Playhouse presents the Lehigh Valley premiere of “The Drowsy Chaperone,” June 2 - 18.

The Tony Award-winning musical is a send-up of Jazz Age musicals, featuring lots of big song and dance numbers.

The music and lyrics are by Greg Morrison and Lisa Lambert, with a book by Bob Martin and Don McKeller.

The show, which opened on Broadway in 2006, was nominated for 13 Tony Awards, and won five Tonys, including Best Musical, Best Original Score and Best Book of a Musical.

The musical opens with a man (Brain Houp) in a chair. He’s a musical theater fan. He puts his favorite record on the turntable. It’s the cast recording of a fictitious 1928 musical, “The Drowsy Chaperone.” The characters in the play come to life on stage.

The play within the play begins on the wedding day of oil tycoon Robert Martin (Evan Heger) and Broadway star Janet Van De Graaff (Grace Nyberg), who plans to give up her career for married life.

Those in attendance include hostess Mrs. Tottendale (Elizabeth Marsh- Gilkeson), her loyal employee Underling (Matthew Redline), best man George (Nate Rosario), self-proclaimed famed Latin lover Aldolpho (Andrew Maldonado), an aviatrix named Trix (Catina Gordon) and Janet’s alcoholic chaperone (Trish Kane Steele).

Also in attendance is Broadway producer Feldzieg (Sean McFarland), who is hoping to persuade Janet to forgo marriage and continue starring in his “Feldzieg’s Follies.” There’s also flapper Kitty (Lana Brucker), who hopes to take Janet’s place in the “Follies.” Add to the mix two gangsters (Zoli Heft, Daniel VanArsdale), who are out to sabotage the wedding.

The cast includes Deven Windisch, Sherilyn Glose, Lauryn Littlejohn, Johnny Bertone and Ava Sardi.

John Corl directs the show. Alex Garrido is music director. Todd Burkel is costume designer. Brett Oliveira is set designer.

“The Drowsy Chaperone” 7:30 p.m. June 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17; 6 p.m. June 4, 11, 18, The Pennsylvania Playhouse, 390 Illicks Mill Road, Bethlehem. The June 16 performance is “pay what you can.” Tickets: 610-865-6665, http://www.paplayhouse.org

“Pints, Pounds and Pilgrims” revival

: Crowded Kitchen Players revives an original play, June 2 - 18, Charles A. Brown Ice House, Bethlehem.

“Pints, Pounds & Pilgrims” is inspired by a trip to Ireland in 2000 by members of Theatre Outlet, a former Allentown theater company, to stage an original Irish tragedy, “Crackskull Row,” on the Island of Inishbofin off the coast of Connemara, County Galway. “Crackskull Row” was written by Irish-born playwright Honor Molloy and starred her mother, Yvonne Voight Molloy.

Ara Barlieb and Pamela Wallace, co-founders of Crowded Kitchen Players, were on the board of Theatre Outlet, and produced a documentary, “Pints, Pounds, and Pilgrims,” about the trip and the production of the play.

When Barlieb, Wallace and Kate Scuffle and George B. Miller, Theatre Outlet managing and artistic directors, respectively, reminisced about the Irish adventure, Barlieb decided to write a farce inspired by the experience.

In the play, a manic English director feverishly rehearses her long-suffering cast in an original Irish tragedy, “A Bad Year for Potatoes,” intended as the headlining event of an arts festival on the remote island of Inishbofin. Meanwhile, the director of a struggling American dinner theater mistakenly believes his troupe has been invited to perform the bedroom farce, “Undressed for Dinner,” at the same festival.

The show chronicles what happens when the two theater companies, one versed in the Shakespearean classics from London, and the other specializing in bawdy dinner theater from Hoboken, N.J., are scheduled to perform in the same theater, at the same time, on the same night.

The show was last produced in 2016, and featured Miller’s last stage appearance. Barlieb says he has done some revisions to the script.

The cast stars Trish Cipoletti and David Oswald as the two competing theater directors and features Carla Hadley, Brian Wendt, Sharon Ferry, Pamela Wallace, Scott Van Nortwick, Colleen Popper, Dawn Daignault, Michael Sheridan, Jake Walbert, Sandra Repash and Thomas Epstein.

“Pints, Pounds and Pilgrims,” 7:30 p.m. June 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17; 2 p.m. June 4, 11, 18, Charles A. Brown Ice House, Sand Island, Bethlehem. Tickets: at the door; 610-704-6974, https://www.ckplayers.com/

Curtain Rises” is a column about the theater, stage shows, the actors in them and the directors and artists who make them happen. To request coverage, email: Paul Willistein, Focus editor, pwillistein@tnonline.com

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY KIM CARSON PHOTOGRAPHY Fom left, front row, Brian Houp, Trish Kane Steele; middle row, Lana Brucker, Nate Rosario, Elizabeth Marsh-Gilkeson, Grace Nyberg, Evan Heger, Daniel VanArsdale, and back row, Sean McFarland, Andrew Maldonado, Matt Redline, Zoli Heft, “The Drowsy Chaperone,” The Pennsylvania Playhouse, Bethlehem.
CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Trish Cipoletti (Simone Wexler), “Pints, Pounds and Pilgrims,” Crowded Kitchen Players.