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Curtain Rises: Muhlenberg College graduate solo show to have Lehigh Valley debut at Civic Theatre of Allentown

Muhlenberg College graduate Becca Schneider brings her critically-acclaimed solo show “TRICH” to Civic Theatre of Allentown’s Theatre514 for its Lehigh Valley debut, May 16 - 18.

The show is written and performed by New York City resident Schneider, a 2006 Muhlenberg graduate. Fellow Muhlenberg graduates Jenn Haltman, Class of 2004, and Casey Pfeifer, Class of 2007, direct.

“ ‘TRICH’ brings to light a common disorder many people have never heard of. Also called hair-pulling disorder, trichotillomania is a mental health condition that involves frequent, repeated and irresistible urges to pull out your hair,” says Schneider.

“I’ve wanted to write this story, my story, since I was 17,” Schneider says. “It only took 20 years, a hell of a lot of therapy, two extremely supportive collaborators and a global pandemic to light the fire under me.

“I know how much it would have meant to me as a teenager to see someone talking about this in a theatrical setting, or any setting, for that matter,” says Schneider.

The show follows a teenage girl (Schneider) with a secret disorder that no one seems to notice, so she hides in her basement cubicle wondering if anyone will come downstairs.

Schneider describes “TRICH” as a “super fun show about mental health, isolation and forging a path toward recovery through humor, vulnerability and far too many ‘90s references.”

“Creating and performing this play is the scariest, most exhilarating theatrical experience I’ve had,” Schneider says. “Actually, it goes beyond the theatrical because it represents the culmination of my growth this far.”

“TRICH” was the top-selling show at the 2021 United Solo Theatre Festival in New York City, winning Best Actress and Audience Choice Awards.

In 2023, “TRICH” was named one of the Top 15 New Jersey productions of 2023 by NJArts, following its sold-out run at Luna Stage in West Orange, N.J.

Schneider says she and her fellow Muhlenberg alums are excited to return to their old neighborhood.

“William Sanders [Civic Theatre Managing Artistic Director] and the team at Civic have welcomed us with open arms, and we hope to share the play with as many Muhlenbergers as we can,” she says.

Following the May 16 performance, there will be a talk-back with Christina Dunbar, a speaker and educator from the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

In addition to “TRICH,” Schneider has produced and performed in “Cannibal Galaxy: a love story,” “Summertime” and “The Understudy,” through her and Haltman’s company, Between Two Boroughs. The two women started the company in 2014, naming it after their respective residences’ locales in Queens and Brooklyn.

“TRICH,” 7 p.m. May 16, 17; 2, 7 p.m. May 18, Theatre514, 514 N. 19th St., Allentown. 610-432-8943, https://civictheatre.com/

Mutimer celebration:

“A Celebration of Life” for Bill Mutimer, head of the theater department at Northampton Community College, was held, 7:30 p.m. May 9, Lipkin Theatre, 3835 Green Pond Road, Bethlehem Township.

Mutimer, 60, of Allentown, died March 6. He was producing artistic director of Northampton Community College Summer Theatre, which he founded in 2017.

The celebration included performances by NCC students, alumni and friends.

“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.