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Curtain Rises: That darn “Cat in the Hat” at Northampton Community College Bill Mutimer Memorial Summer Theatre

A beloved children’s book takes the stage and a classic rock opera gets a concert treatment in the Lehigh Valley.

“Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat” is the children’s show at Northampton Community College Bill Mutimer Memorial Summer Theatre, June 19 - July 27, Norman Roberts Lab Theater, Northampton Community College, Bethlehem Township.

Antrobus Arts presents a concert staging of the rock opera “Jesus Christ Superstar,” June 23, Muhlenberg College, Allentown, and June 30 and July 7, Coplay Saengerbund, Coplay.

“Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat” is based on the 1957 children’s book “The Cat in the Hat” by Dr. Seuss, and is presented in Northampton Community College’s black box theater.

The Northampton Community College Bill Mutimer Memorial Summer Theatre is renamed for the 2024 summer season in honor of its producing artistic director and founder Mutimer, who died March 6.

“The Cat in the Hat,” adapted by Katie Mitchell, follows the rainy-day adventures of Sally (Lydia Walker), her brother (Connor Sternberg), and the most mischievous cat ever (Michael Sheridan Jr.).

From the moment that the tall, red-and-white-striped hat appears at their door, the Cat and his antics transform the children’s afternoon. Will their house ever be the same? Can the children clean up before their mother returns home? With the help of a worried fish (Isabella Awald) and the chaotic Thing One (Cade Kocher) and Thing Two (Azelia Dos Santos), anything can happen.

The cast includes Deb Katz and Angelina Dries.

Brandon Hanks directs the NCC production. Choreography is by Jenna Williamson. Brenda McGuire recreates the iconic Cat in the Hat costumes.

“Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat,” 10 a.m. June 19, 21, 26, 27, 29, July 3, 4. 6, 10, 11, 13, 20, 24, 25, 27; 1 p.m. July 7, 14, 22, 28, 30; 10 a.m., 1 p.m. July 16, 17, 18. Northampton Community College Summer Theatre, Norman Roberts Lab Theater, Northampton Community College, 3835 Green Pond Road, Bethlehem Township. 484-484-3412, https://www.ncctix.org/

“Jesus Christ Superstar” in concert will be presented by Antrobus Arts, founded by Bob Fahringer and Peter Schmidt, veterans of Muhlenberg College Summer Theater.

Schmidt says they conceived of presenting a concert-style performance of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sung-through rock opera as a “rock concert in a bar” on three consecutive Sunday evenings.

Composer Lloyd Webber and lyricist Tim Rice initially released “Jesus Christ Superstar” as a concept album in 1970. The original double-record LP sold more than 7 million copies worldwide and led to the 1971 Broadway production.

“This is a rock band version of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” says Schmidt.

“Our version features talented musicians and singers from around the Lehigh Valley.

“It will not be staged nor include dialogue scenes. A rock band will back up the singers, who will simply belt into old-fashioned hand-held mikes. No dancing, no staging, no dressing up, just music.”

“Jesus Christ Superstar” follows the Biblical account of the last week in the life of Jesus Christ (Jay Fuentes), beginning with his entry into Jerusalem and ending with the Crucifixion.

The work interprets the psychology of Jesus and other characters, with much of the plot centered on Judas (Mary Ann Green), who is dissatisfied with the direction in which Jesus is steering his disciples.

The show includes songs such as “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” “Superstar” and “Everything’s Alright.”

“The story isn’t really told in as a traditional narrative,” Schmidt says. “It’s episodic. To me, the staged version usually complicates things, and makes the story more confusing.”

The cast includes Melody and Noel Cruz (Mary Magdalene), Brady Love (Pontius Pilate), Connor Green (Peter), Matt Walczer (King Herod), Mike Daniels (Simon Zealotes), Josh Fogerty (Annas), Mitchell Hendricks (Caiaphas) and Resa Hall, Sean Hall, John Kelly, Jennifer Patchen and Katie Rehatchek as the ensemble.

“Jesus Christ Superstar,” Antrobus Arts, 7 p.m. June 23, Seegers Union, Muhlenberg College, 2400 Chew St., Allentown; 7 p.m. June 30, July 7, Coplay Saengerbund, 205 S. Fifth St., Coplay. https:///antrobus.ticketspice.com/jesus-christ-superstar.

“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.

Michael Sheridan Jr.
Mary Ann Green (Judas), Jay Fuentes (Jesus Christ), “Jesus Christ Superstar,” Antrobus Arts.