Bethlehem Press

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Curtain Rises: Munopco takes a second look at ‘Gypsy’

Friday, February 28, 2020 by DAVE HOWELL in Focus

“Gypsy,” Feb. 29 through March 8 in Munopco Music Theatre’s production at Scottish Rite Cathedral, Allentown, has been called the perfect musical. Many critics consider it to be the best American musical ever created.

“Gypsy” has music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Arthur Laurents, based on the autobiographical book by Gypsy Rose Lee.

“It’s absolutely my favorite musical,” says Munopco “Gypsy” director Daniel Petrovich.

Concert Review: Jake Shimabukuro: To the ukulele and beyond

Tuesday, February 25, 2020 by DAVE HOWELL in Focus

Armed with just a ukulele, Jake Shimabukuro captivated a capacity crowd Feb. 18, Musikfest Cafe, SteelStacks, Bethlehem.

Shimabukuro is probably the best-known virtuoso of the four-stringed instrument, taking it to unforeseen heights despite its range of only two octaves.

Dressed in a gray T-shirt and red pants, Shimabukuro had a friendly, low-key manner onstage, telling a number of stories throughout the one hour and 45-minute concert.

Concert Review: Simon Mulligan elegant in ‘Jazz Upstairs’

Thursday, February 20, 2020 by DAVE HOWELL in Focus

Nothing is musically more elegant than the Simon Mulligan Trio.

On Valentine’s Day night, in the Rodale Community Room, Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown, Mulligan, piano; Gene Perla, upright bass, and Dave Willard, drums, did a show of romantic standards from the Great American Songbook.

The members of the trio were stylishly-attired in black for their seventh appearance in the room. Mulligan noted that for the Feb. 14 concert, red might have been more appropriate.

Fresh off ‘Trio,’ Jake Shimabukuro makes ukulele fun

Wednesday, February 12, 2020 by DAVE HOWELL in Focus

Jake Shimabukuro will change your mind about the ukulele, with his dramatic and lively mix of jazz, blues, funk, rock, bluegrass, classical, folk, flamenco, and traditional Hawaiian music. Shimabukuro, 43, has developed a sound filled with music improvisation.

The Jake Shimabukuro Trio performs at 7 p.m. Feb. 18, Musikfest Cafe, ArttsQuest Center, SteelStacks, Bethlehem, with Dave Preston, guitar, and Jackson Waldhoff, bass.

Shimabukuro is releasing a new album, “Trio,” a few days before the Bethlehem concert.

Isn’t it romantic? Simon Mulligan in Valentine’s Day jazz concert

Tuesday, February 11, 2020 by DAVE HOWELL in Focus

A visit by Simon Mulligan has become a tradition this time of year at Allentown’s Miller Symphony Hall.

The Simon Mulligan Trio will appear for the seventh time in Miller Symphony Hall, for the “Jazz Upstairs” series, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 14, on Valentine’s Day.

Appearing with Mulligan is Gene Perla, upright bass, and Dave Willard, drums.

Last year, English pianist Mulligan played two sold-out concerts with the Allentown Symphony Orchestra (ASO), performing George Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm Variations” and “Rhapsody in Blue.”

Curtain Rises: ‘The Humans’ in LV premiere is ‘real life’ comedy-drama at Civic

Thursday, February 6, 2020 by DAVE HOWELL in Focus

“The Humans” premieres in the Lehigh Valley at Civic Theatre of Allentown, opening Feb. 7 and continuing through Feb. 23.

You may not have heard of the play, but you will probably find that the characters in the play are very familiar.

“You feel that they could be your friends,” says director Will Morris, Civic Theatre Associate Artistic Director-Production Manager, who’s directing the show at Civic.

“You can watch a character and say, ‘You know that person.’ You might even think that one of them is just like you,” observes Morris.

Night on the Town: Greensky Bluegrass in its own music genre

Tuesday, January 28, 2020 by DAVE HOWELL in Focus

Greensky Bluegrass is described as a rock band, jam band and bluegrass band.

“We are happy just to be ourselves,” says Anders Beck, who plays Dobro and lap steel in Greensky Bluegrass, in concert, 8 p.m., Jan. 30, Penn’s Peak, Jim Thorpe. Opening the concert is Ghost Light.

Greensky Bluegrass combines elements of all three genres of rock, jam and bluegrass, The band uses traditional acoustic instruments of guitar, mandolin, banjo, Dobro and acoustic bass. Many of the group’s songs lead into long instrumental jams.

Curtain Rises: Neil Simon ‘Biloxi Blues’ favorite at Pennsylvania Playhouse

Tuesday, January 28, 2020 by DAVE HOWELL in Focus

Theatergoers never seem to get enough of Neil Simon plays.

Simon’s combination of humor and humanity might be best represented by his semi-autobiographical “Eugene Trilogy.” The second of the series, “Biloxi Blues,” opens Jan. 31 and continues weekends through Feb. 16 at The Pennsylvania Playhouse, Bethlehem.

Bakithi Kumalo returns to ‘Graceland’ at Zoellner

Thursday, January 23, 2020 by DAVE HOWELL in Focus

It seems that Bakithi Kumalo will always be best known for playing bass on Paul Simon’s 1986 album “Graceland,” despite the fact that he has recorded and performed with many other well-known artists, including Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Randy Brecker, Cyndi Lauper, Chaka Khan, Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi, and Mickey Hart. And he is known for being one of the best electric bass players in the world.

Bakithi Kumalo and the Graceland Tribute Band perform, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 24, Baker Hall, Zoellner Arts Center, Lehigh University, Bethlehem.

Kumalo launches mentorship program

Thursday, January 23, 2020 by DAVE HOWELL in Focus

Bakithi Kumalo is grateful for his success in music, and wants to share his knowledge.

Kumalo was talking to the staff at Lehigh University’s Zoellner Arts Center about his Jan. 24 concert in Baker Hall. The concert is billed as Bakithi Kumalo and the Graceland Tribute Band.

Kumalo spoke about wanting to teach younger musicians, which led to the start of Zoellner’s Music Master Mentor Program.