Bethlehem Press

Tuesday, June 2, 2020
PRESS PHOTO BY PAUL WILLISTEINView of Baker Center for the Arts, left, and Trexler Pavilion for Theatre and Dance, right, in which Muhlenberg College Summer Music Theatre productions are presented. PRESS PHOTO BY PAUL WILLISTEINView of Baker Center for the Arts, left, and Trexler Pavilion for Theatre and Dance, right, in which Muhlenberg College Summer Music Theatre productions are presented.

Coronavirus closings: Muhlenberg cancels summer theater season

Wednesday, March 18, 2020 by PAUL WILLISTEIN pwillistein@tnonline.com in Focus

The Coronoavirus-caused cancellations of arts and entertainment events in the Lehigh Valley, which began ominously on Friday the 13th in March when the Lehigh Valley premiere of “Silence! The Musical” went silent after being postponed at Civic Theatre of Allentown, continues into April and beyond, with concerts at the State Theatre Center for the Arts, theater productions at DeSales University, and the entire 40th season of the Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre 2020 season canceled.

“It’s much easier for us to cancel the season now before all of the actors, technicians and backstage crew had committed to us for the summer and before we had spent a lot of money to develop and get ready for the season,” said Scott Snyder, Marketing & Development Manager, Department of Theatre & Dance, Muhlenberg College, which presents Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre (SMT).

Because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf on March 16 ordered “all non-essential businesses” in the Commonwealth to close. Restaurants can offer take-out only and no dine-in seating. Pennsylvania State Stores closed March 17.

Sports arenas, movie theaters, shopping malls and more are closed.

The measures are being taken out of an abundance of caution to mitigate community spread (transmission) of the Coronavirus. Persons are urged to keep their distance from one another, known as social distancing, and avoid crowds.

“Obviously, the primary reason is out of a concern for the health and welfare of our patrons and performers,” said Snyder concerning the cancellation of the MST 2020 season, which was to include “Legally Blonde,” June 11 - 28; “The Legend of New York,” a new musical, July 9 - 26, and “The Comedy of Wizards,” in a world premiere, June 24 - July 25.

“We have held auditions already for all three productions, but we have not cast the shows,” said Snyder, adding, “And that was part of the timing, as well.

“We’ve notified everyone who auditioned or applied for a position,” continued Snyder. “We’ve notified the students and faculty in theater and dance.”

Work on costumes, sets and lighting for the MST 2020 season was underway. “It has begun. Our designers were already working,” Snyder said.

The decision to cancel the MST 2020 season was made March 17.

“There were plenty of people weighing in the decision, including senior staff in theater and dance department and senior staff at the college,” Snyder said.

MST was cofounded by Charles Richter, Professor, Theatre Arts, Muhlenberg College.

“This would have been the 40th season,” said Snyder, noting, “And then there’s that mathematical thing where the 40th season would’ve been the 39th anniversary.”

Next year, the two align for the 40th season and 40th anniversary. “All of the 40th season celebrations will be postponed until next year,” Snyder said.

“I believe that many more people will enjoy our 40th season next summer than if we had gone ahead with this summer’s season,” said Snyder.

“It’s a crucial time for the arts community in general,” Snyder continued. “All times are lean times for the arts community. This time, it’s skin and bones.

“I hope that people who value and appreciate the arts will keep their favorite organizations and museums in mind and help if they can. I would love to see people who were planning to buy a ticket donate the cost of the ticket to the organization.

“When we talk about the economic impact of the arts on the Lehigh Valley, the flip side of that is the economic impact when the arts go dark, as well.

“The Lehigh Valley’s arts community is resilient and dedicated. I’m hopeful and optimistic that a few months down the road we’ll bounce back as strong as ever,” said Snyder who has been working from home. He’s scheduled to return April 14 to the Muhlenberg College west Allentown campus.

A wave of coronavirus closings washed across the Lehigh Valley with the Allentown Art Museum; Civic Theatre of Allentown; SteelStacks, Bethlehem, and Wind Creek Bethlehem, shuttering temporarily.

Other venues, including PPL Center, Allentown; Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown; State Theatre Centre for the Arts, Easton; Penn’s Peak, Jim Thorpe, and Mauch Chunk Opera House, Jim Thorpe, canceled or postponed concerts.

On March 17, the State Theatre announced postponements at the majestic Easton venue extend through April.

The following information was sent to patrons from Shelley Brown, President & CEO of the State Theatre: “Through March 31st, the State Theatre has suspended Box Office operations for the safety of the community at large. When it is possible to accurately determine the status of a performance, postponement or cancellation, we will communicate that information to you.”

Gov. Wolf ordered schools in Pennsylvania closed March 16-27. High school musical performances entered in the Freddy Awards, presented annually at the State Theatre, were canceled or postponed. Check each school’s website for updates.

With classes moving online at colleges and universities in the Lehigh Valley, theater and concert performances and gallery exhibitions were canceled on campuses.

Movie theaters and film venues closed in the Lehigh Valley include Roxy Theatre, Northampton; Emmaus Theatre, Emmaus; Civic Theatre of Allentown; ArtsQuest Banko Cinemas; New Vision Tilghman Square 8; AMC Theatres, the United States’ largest movie chain, and Regal Cinemas, the nation’s second largest movie chain.

Here’s an update, as of March 18, of Lehigh Valley arts, entertainment and cultural closings, cancellations or postponements. The list is in alphabetical order. Be sure to check each venue’s website.

If your venue or event isn’t included, email the information to: pwillistein@tnonline.com

Allentown Art Museum - Closed March 14 - March 31. Information about Gala, April 4, to be announced.

AMC Theatres - Closed March 17 for “at least six to 12 weeks.” Movies available via AMC Theatres on Demand.

America on Wheels, Allentown - Closed March 14 - March 31.

ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks, Banana Factory, Bethlehem - Closed noon March 16 - March 31. Programming, including cinema screenings and comedy shows at ArtsQuest Center and classes at the Banana Factory, suspended. Performances postponed through March 31, including Lehigh Valley Podcast Festival, SteelStacks High School Jazz Band Showcase. Rescheduled: The Amish Outlaws, July 23; Gary Hoey, March 13, 2021; Everlast, March 14, 2021.

Bach Choir of Bethlehem - Canceled: Spring Concert, March 29; “Bach at Noon,” April 14

Baum School of Art, Allentown - Closed through March 28

Ben Franklin Technology Partners, Bethlehem - Postponed: 2020 iXchange, May 12

Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center - Activities suspended until May 15.

Bucks County Playhouse - Postponed: World Premiere, “Other World,” new dates to be announced

Charles A Brown Ice House, Bethlehem - Closed for March. Postponed: World premiere, March 16 - 18, Crowded Kitchen Players, “The Rising: The Irish Rebellion of 1916 in Song and Verse”; Lehigh Valley premiere, March 26 - 29, Selkie Theatre, “The Revolutionists”

Civic Theatre of Allentown - Postponed: “Silence! The Musical,” Lehigh Valley premiere, March 13 - 21; rescheduled April 3-11. Film programming on hiatus.

Community Music School, Allentown - Canceled, Spring Brunch, April 26

DeSales University, Center Valley - Postponed: Act 3 Children’s Theatre, “The Jungle Book,” March 19 - April 28; Canceled: Dance Ensemble Concert, March 20 - 22; Student Film Festival, March 27, 28; Act 1, “The Sound of Music,” April 22 - May 3; Elisabeth Von Trapp, April 5

Emmaus Historical Society - Canceled: “The Circus is Coming to the Valley,” March 19

Emmaus Theatre - Temporarily closed

Global Impactors Group, Allentown - Canceled: “Thinner than Water,” March 20-29

Godfrey Daniels, Bethlehem - Concerts canceled or postponed: Lucy Wainwright, Frog Holler, Blackwater, The Razzies, “Dave’s Night Out,” Kristy Cox and Serene Green, Pierre Bensusan, Jams and Open Mike (until further notice). Next scheduled concert: April 2, “On The Road & In The Round” - Craig Bickhardt, Thom Schuyler, Tony Arata, Jack Murray

Historical Bethlehem Museums and Sites - Moravian Museum, Kemerer Museum, Visitor Center closed through March 22

Lehigh University, Bethlehem - Canceled: “Godspell,” April 17 - 25; Zoellner Arts Center events, through May 3

Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum, Allentown - Closed through March 31

Mack Trucks Historical Museum, Allentown - Closed until further notice

Mauch Chunk Opera House, Jim Thorpe - Concerts postponed through March

Michener Museum, Doylestown. Closed through March 30

Miller Symphony Hall - Akropolis Reed Quintet, March 15: private performance; Canceled: March 19, “Third Thursday,” Steve Brosky, The Lyric Room; March 20: “Jazz Upstairs,” Erich Cawalla Quartet; March 21, Allentown School District Foundation High Notes 2020 Gala; March 22, “The Met: Live in HD Series,” Handel’s “Agrippina”; March 25, “Laughs at The Lyric”; March 29, Young Musician String Festival Concert; Take 3, April 4

Muhlenberg College, Allentown - Canceled: “The Bacchae,” March 26-29; Fringe Festival, April 4,5, 17-19; Dance Emerge 2020, April 23-25

Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre, Allentown - Canceled: “Legally Blonde,” June 11 - 28; “The Legend of New York,” July 9 - 26; “The Comedy of Wizards,” June 24 - July 25

National Museum of Industrial History, Bethlehem - Closed until April 1

New Vision Tilghman Square 8 - Closed as of midnight March 16 until further notice

Penn’s Peak, Jim Thorpe - Postponed: Styx, March 14; Melvin Seals and JGB, March 20; Mike DelGuidice and Big Shot, March 21; Last in Line, Lynch Mob, March 22; “The Kids Closet Sale,” March 27, 28, 29. Next scheduled concert: April 3, Clint Black

Pennsylvania Playhouse, Bethlehem - Canceled: “Twelve Angry Jurors,” March 27 - April 19

Pennsylvania Sinfonia Orchestra - Postponed: April 4 concert, First Presbyterian Church, Allentown; rescheduled to Aug. 1

Pines Dinner Theatre, Allentown - Postponed: “Nunsensations! the Nunsense Vegas Revue,” March 20 - May 10. Performances suspended through March 27.

PPL Center, Allentown - Postponed: Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, March 18; “Trolls Live!,” April 10 - 12; “Baby Shark Live!,” June 4. Next scheduled concert: April 17, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Travis Tritt

Regal Cinemas - Closed until further notice

Roxy Theatre, Northampton - Closed until further notice.

Sellersville Theatre - Closed through March 26

Sigal Museum, Easton - Closed March 13, including historic houses; reopening to be announced

Star of the Day Productions, Emmaus - Postponed: “Newsies,” March 27 - April 5

State Theatre Center for the Arts, Easton - Events postponed until April 2. Postponed: The Fab Faux, March 14, rescheduled to Sept. 12; Postponed: Red Hot Chilli Pipers, March 21; rescheduled to March 11, 2021; “One Night of Queen” by Gary Mullen & the Works, April 4, new date to be announced; “The Daily Show Writers Comedy Tour,” April 18, new date to be announced; The Orchestra: Former Members of ELO, April 25, new date to be announced.

Touchstone Theatre, Bethlehem - Postponed: “The Secret, Act 2,” April 3, 4; new dates to be announced.

Wind Creek Event Center, Bethlehem - Closed March 15; scheduled to reopen 6 a.m. March 29. Postponed: Chelsea Handler, March 13; Reba McEntire, March 27, rescheduled to July 18; Air Supply, March 19, new date to be announced; Brit Floyd, March 21, 22, new dates to be announced; Pitbull, March 26, new date to be announced. Next scheduled event: Brian Regan, April 2

Paul Willistein is editor of the Focus features section in the eight Lehigh Valley Press newspapers and the eight Press websites: www.thelehighvalleypress.com .

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