Arts Around Town: Family Christmas concert features MunOpCo choir, Royalaires big band
“It’s Time for Christmas!” That’s the welcoming from MunOpCo Music Theatre with its annual concert of the season. Fifty-plus voices of the MunOpCo Mass Christmas Choir and special guests, The Royalaires big band, share the stage on Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m., at the Scottish Rite Cathedral, 1533 Hamilton St., Allentown.
The MunOpCo Mass Christmas Choir will perform selections from various cantatas, while the Royalaires will present the best of Christmas harmonies led by vocalist Robin Sands-Seip. Husband Jim Seip will be on keyboard. Christmas favorites include “Feliz Navidad,” “Winter Wonderland” and “Santa Baby.”
“While the Royalaires regularly provide the Allentown/Lehigh Valley with free concerts, we don’t get to perform the holiday music we will present with MunOpCo,” said trombonist Russ Braun, director of the Royalaires. “Many wonderful and unique harmonies have been written specifically for the ‘big band.’ Even our regular audience will find these musical selections unfamiliar.”
Genesius Theatre in Reading presents the award-winning Broadway musical, “Spamalot,” beginning Friday at 8 p.m., and running through Dec. 15. With book and lyrics by Eric Idle and a new score by Idle and John Du Prez, the comedy is based on the classic comedy film, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” “Spamalot” is the fresh Broadway hit and unorthodox parody of the Arthurian legend. It features numerous references to “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” TV skits and spoofs on some Broadway musicals.
Directed by L J Fecho, the cast includes Anita Lewis as The Lady of the Lake, Benjamin Ruth as King Arthur, Kevin Cooper as Sir Galahad, Christopher Sperat as Sir Robin, Alexander Krick as Sir Lancelot, Nate Matz as Patsy and Chip Rohrbach as Sir Bevedere. Music director is Andrew Cusano; chorographer is Jennifer Parker Scott.
For further info: genesiustheatre.org
Act 1 at DeSales University in Center Valley brings to life “The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge” by Mark Brown, now through Dec. 15, on the main stage of the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts. Directed by Steven Dennis, the play unfolds one year after Dickens’ classic year when Ebenezer’s epiphany has waned and he’s returned to his curmudgeonly ways. He files suit against Jacob Marley and the Christmas ghosts for kidnapping, slander and emotional distress. All leads up to Dickens’ classic characters taking the stand.
For further info: desales.edu/act1
Now in its 24th year, Civic Theatre of Allentown’s signature holiday production of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” with adaptation by Sharon Glassman and William Sanders, opens Friday through Dec. 21, at the Nineteenth Street Theatre. Ebenezer Scrooge, portrayed by Kirk Lawrence, must endure visits from three spirits, each one working hard to teach the old curmudgeon the true spirit of the season, all in the hopes that he will recapture some of his lost humanity.
There’ll be some new faces in the cast this year, plus a new set design by Jason Sherwood.
For further info: CivicTheatre.com
Though Touchstone Theatre’s holiday classic, “Christmas City Follies,” is now in its 14 year in Bethlehem, there are new cast members and some new twists amidst the musical merriment. Joining “Follies” veterans will be Josh Neth, artistic director of Allentown Public Theatre, and Megan Schadler, a senior at the Lehigh Valley Charter Arts High School. Megan has performed with Touchstone regularly through its annual Young Playwrights’ Festival.
“Christmas City Follies XIV,” a high-spirited, vaudevillian variety show that draws its inspiration from Bethlehem, or “The Christmas City,” and the holiday season, begins tonight at 8, and runs through Dec. 22. Touchstone founder Bill George is back with “The Old Guy,” along with ensemble associate Mary Wright’s “Little Red,” and the “Pajama Sisters,” plus some fresh takes.
For further info: touchstone.org
Lehigh University Choral Arts, under the direction of Steven Sametz and Sun Mi Lee, presents the annual free candlelight holiday celebration known as Vespers on Sunday at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., at Packer Memorial Church on the Bethlehem campus. This year’s program ranges from folksongs to classics, along with readings and music to celebrate the season.
For further info: zoellnerartscenter.org
The Bach Choir of Bethlehem presents “Christmas Concerts: What Sweeter Music,” with greatest hits from its “Christmas in Bethlehem” CDs on Saturday at 8 p.m., at First Presbyterian Church of Allentown, and on Sunday at 4 p.m., at First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem.
The concerts will include music from its newest CD, “A Child’s Christmas in Bethlehem,” plus carols from across the centuries and around the world.
For further info: bach.org
The Allentown Band pays tribute to one of its own, the late Warren “Max” Wilson (1923-2013), as it also welcomes the return of world-class euphonium soloist, Sgt. 1st Class Jason Ham of the U.S. Military Band, at its holiday concert/Pearl Harbor concert on Sunday at 3 p.m., at Miller Symphony Hall in Allentown.
The concert will feature Summer Harmony Men’s Chorus under the direction of Clair Neamand, and the Singing Boys of Pennsylvania/Keystone Girls Choir under the direction of K. Bernard Schade, making their first appearance at the concert.
Music will include selections from John Philip Sousa, Victor Herbert, Richard Rodgers and George Frederick Handel.
Allentown Band Conductor Ronald Demkee said that Wilson loved playing trombone and playing in the trombone section of the band (1970 to 2011), along with serving as the organization’s business manager and president.
“Warren loved to laugh,” Demkee said, “and he is going to love hearing ‘Lassus Trombone’ played in his honor.”
Veterans are admitted free to the ticketed event.
For further info: allentownband.com
The Wizards of Winter will have a fourth original member of The Trans Siberian Orchestra join them on stage on Sunday at 4 p.m., at the State Theatre in Easton. Michael Lanning toured with TSO for many years and is best known for his powerful vocals on “Christmas Nights in Blue” and “Christmas Dreams” from TSO’s album, “The Lost Christmas Eve.” Joining Lanning and The Wizards will be former TSO members Tommy Farese, Guy LeMonnier and Tony Gaynor.
The combined show storyline this year is based around The Wizards of Winter’s “Tales Beneath a Northern Star,” integrated with many features of “Christmas Eve” and other stories.
The Lehigh University Philharmonic Orchestra, under the direction of Eugene Albulescu, presents the family-friendly “Musical Adventures” concert on Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 3 p.m., at Baker Hall on the Bethlehem campus. The concert features Respighi’s “The Pines of Rome” and New Zealand composer Jenny McLeod’s “The Emperor and the Nightingale” set against a colorful multimedia slide show created by orchestra manager and artist Linda Ganus.
For further info: zoellnerartscenter.org
Tom D’Angelo will be recognized as Artist of the Year at ACE, the Arts Community of Easton’s arts awards gala on Sunday beginning at 5:30 p.m., at the Bank Street Annex. Joining D’Angelo for outstanding contributions to the arts community in 2013 are: Patron of the Year, Greater Easton Development Partnership, and Volunteer of the Year, Yevette Hendler.
A silent auction will benefit the ACE scholarship fund. Also, two scholarships will be awarded to local high school students in the areas of fine arts and for performing arts.
For further info: eastonart.com
There’s no prouder family in our midst than the Wyckoff’s of Belvidere, Warren Co., N.J., whose 18 ½-foot, farm-grown blue spruce was selected to adorn the White House Blue Room this holiday season. Grown on the Wyckoff Christmas Tree Farm in Belvidere, N.J., the tree was chosen as the 2013 National Christmas Tree Association grand champion winner of the national tree contest.
Winners of the contest have provided the official White House Christmas Tree since 1966. This is the first time for a farm-grown tree from New Jersey to be selected in the national contest.
The Wyckoff Farm has been in the family since 1839, passing from generation to generation. The farm is currently owned by John W. Wyckoff, Jr., and Judy Wyckoff Morris. The current John Wyckoff is the sixth generation to farm the land. His two sons, John and Bill, along with their families help on the farm, especially during the Christmas season.
“We sort of epitomize the concept of ‘family farm,’ I guess,” Wyckoff said. “For us, Christmas tree farming is truly a family affair.”
For further info: realchristmastrees.org
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