Instead of teaching to the test, the Young Playwrights' Festival reaches for the stage.
The creative process, the writing and the plays' staging are key to its success, says Mary Wright, Touchstone Theatre Ensemble Associate and Young Playwrights Lab Coordinator:
"With schools' budgets getting cut further and further, anytime the arts can get reintroduced to the schools is a big deal."
Everyone saw it on the program: "Allentown."
And when the time arrived to perform the song which landed Billy Joel on the Top 20 charts and in hot water with Allentown officials, piano man Joe Boucher couldn't have put it better.
"I grew up in a factory town. And when I heard this song, it spoke to me," Boucher said in introducing the song from Billy Joel's 1982 "Nylon Curtain" album that reached No. 17 and charted for six weeks in Billboard.
"The song has had a major place in my heart and it's so great to be here and see that Allentown's thriving," Boucher said.
You know what they say after winning a competition: "I'm going to Disney World."
Well, after successfully completing a Kickstarter campaign, Lehigh Valley native James Paul is going to Prague.
It was the start of a great weekend for Paul, a Saucon Valley High School graduate, Class of 2009, and a son of Lynne and Chad Paul. On May 12, he received a BS in Business Administration and Media Arts from American University.
Summer weather will soon arrive. You might remember an ad, that went something like this: "Just when you think it's safe to go outdoors and enjoy the summer. ... "
This statement is similar to the advertisement for the movie "Jaws."
We do not have to worry about sharks in this area, but many people worry about poison ivy, ticks and biting insects as the air temperatures become warmer.
"8th Annual Young Playwrights' Festival and Gala" 7 p.m. May 18, Touchstone Theatre, 321 E. Fourth St., Bethlehem. touchstone.org, 484-767-2456
"Beauty and the Beast" May 31 - Aug. 9. Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, 2755 Station Avenue, Center Valley. pashakespeare.org, 610-282-WILL
"The Clean House," 8 p.m. May 8, 14, 15, 21, 21; 6 p.m. May 16, 23. Pennsylvania Playhouse, Illicks Mill Road, Bethlehem. paplayhouse.org, 610-865-6665
"Oblivion" is a stunning sci-fi thriller that transports you to another world: Earth in the not two-distant future.
The year is 2077, intones Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) in the prologue. An alien invasion has made the planet uninhabitable, he tells us. Surviving humans have fled to Triton, a moon of Saturn.
Harper is a kind of space-age mechanic. Only, instead of repairing cars, he repairs drones, which have been developed into all-purpose super-fast, super-lethal security forces. The drones are like a three-dimensional Pac-Man and they destroy any targets in their path.
SteelStacks Art and Architecture Tours, presented by Historic Bethlehem Museum and Sites and ArtsQuest, are being given 11 a.m. Fridays - Sundays.
The tours start at the former 1863 Stock House, now a Visitor Center for the City of Bethlehem.
Included on the 75-minute tour, led by former Bethlehem Steel workers or guides who had family and friends who worked at "The Steel," are examples of significant buildings erected as far back as the 1860s.
The tour is an addition to another SteelStacks tour, "The Rise and Fall of Bethlehem Steel."
Producer, arranger, composer and keyboardist Jason Miles has been bringing audiences to their feet at jazz festivals all over the United States with "To Grover with Love," a tribute to the music of Grover Washington Jr., which will be presented during RiverJazz, 8:30 p.m. May 24, Musikfest Café, ArtsQuest Center, SteelStacks, 101 Founders Way, Bethlehem.
Chick Corea and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band are two of the many acts in the 2013 RiverJazz presented by Concannon Miller, May 9 - 24.
I don't know if Billy Joel did us a favor or not when he wrote the famous "Allentown" song, but either way you view it, he put the city of Allentown and the Lehigh Valley on the map.
Just last week, as I was traveling, conducting concerts, someone asked me if I conducted the orchestra in the city of Allentown that Billy Joel had written the song about.
Muhlenberg College sophomore Morgan Reilly will be featured in the Elton John-Kiki Dee duet for "Don't Go Breakin' My Heart" during "Piano Men: The Music of Elton and Billy" Allentown Symphony Pops concert, 8 p.m. May 11, Miller Symphony Hall, 23 N. Sixth St., Allentown.
Reilly, a 2011 Parkland High School graduate, has appeared on stage at Pennsylvania Playhouse, Muhlenberg College, Cedar Crest College and Bucks County Playhouse.