Touchstone Theatre of Bethlehem has announced its upcoming season and it is filled with collaborations, including with Allentown Public Theatre.
"Collaboration is our middle name," says Bill George, Touchstone founder and ensemble member. "We love working together with other groups to advance theater arts in the Lehigh Valley. The more we work together the more we can do that."
It also means Allentown Public Theatre will be presenting the Sam Shepard drama "True West" in February at Touchstone Theatre at 321 E. Fourth St. Allentown Public Theatre had taken a break from producing major productions to "devote more attention to the ins and outs of running a successful business, so we can continue performing," said former President Troy Brokenshire.
"We are very committed to helping APT become a fully viable independent theater," George says.
Touchstone also is collaborating with Mock Turtle Marionette Theatre of Bethlehem to present "The Morningtime of Now" at Touchstone Nov. 6-9.
The production combines the music of Bethlehem folk singer Anne Hills and puppets created by Mock Turtle's Doug Roysdon to tell nature stories from the 1920 diaries of a 6-year-old named Opal Whitely.
The first production of the season at Touchstone is "King Ubu," presented by Maladype Theatre of Hungary Sept. 25-28. The troupe makes its American debut with an experimental take on Alfred Jarry's satirical, grotesque classic, "Ubu Roi." The exploration of the cowardly, greedy and amoral Ubu, Maladype's production is an unusual mixture of pure theater, nonsense and myth.
Touchstone also will bring back its popular holiday vaudeville "Christmas City Follies XV" Dec. 4-21 with The Old Guy, The Pajama Sisters, Christmas Pirates and the Shopping Cart Ballet.
George says Allentown Public Theatre actors may appear in "Christmas City Follies" and Touchstone actors in "True West."
George and Joshua Neth, artistic director of Allentown Public Theatre, also are jointly teaching a new yearlong program of actor training called Valley Actor's Lab. The program, which kicks off Sept. 3, is designed to provide training for seriously inclined local actors.
"There seems to be a real need for this in the Valley," George says.
Touchstone also will present the second year of "Journey From The East" April 18-26, a collaboration with Moravian College. The community production inspired by Bethlehem's changing neighborhoods and the Chinese classic Journey to the West will be an outdoor spectacle such as Touchstone's "Don Quixote" and "A Resting Place," presented on the South Bethlehem Greenway and at the Chinese Harmony Pavilion.
Touchstone also will present its 10th Young Playwrights' Festival at Zoellner Arts Center on May 16 and "Fresh Voices" by the 2014-15 Touchstone Apprentice Class June 19-20 at Touchstone.
More info: http://www.touchstone.org.
Kerry Butler in the Poconos
Kerry Butler, an actress who was nominated for a Tony award for her role as the roller-skating Greek muse Clio in "Xanadu," a Broadway musical based on the 1980 roller-disco film starring Olivia Newton-John, will perform Saturday at Pocono Community Theater in East Stroudsburg as part of a new program to bring Broadway stars to the Poconos.
Butler will sing songs from her Broadway shows and share back-stage gossip and tales of her career on stage and screen. She will be joined by Sirius XM host and Broadway pianist Seth Rudetsky.
Rudetsky last performed in May on the Pocono Community Theater stage with Andrea McArdle, the actress best known as the original Annie on Broadway. Rudetsky is host of "Seth's Big Fat Broadway" on Sirius/XM Satellite Radio's "On Broadway," which focuses on Broadway theater history and trivia.
Butler also has appeared in more than 20 Broadway musicals, including "Catch Me If You Can," "Rock of Ages," "Little Shop of Horrors," "Hairspray," "Beauty and the Beast" and "Les Miserables." Butler also appeared in the Broadway revival of Gore Vidal's "The Best Man," in which she played Mabel Cantwell, the Southern wife of a presidential candidate.
"We are very excited to have them both on our stage," says Courtney Tolino, general manager of Pocono Community Theater. "It's a wonderful opportunity for people to see this amazing talent close to home."