Bethlehem Press

Sunday, August 20, 2017

THEATER REVIEWS 'Henry VIII': An abridged production too far at PSF

Wednesday, July 31, 2013 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival (PSF) production of "Henry VIII," through Aug. 4, Schubert Theatre, Labuda Center for the Arts, DeSales University, Center Valley, is a curiosity.

The so-called history play, in its PSF debut (as is "Measure for Measure," also through Aug. 4), is said by some scholars to have been a collaboration between William Shakespeare and John Fletcher. "Henry VIII" was first performed some 400 years before no-fault divorce, June 29, 1613, at the Globe Theatre, which burned to the ground when a cannon in the play misfired and ignited the thatched roof.

'20 Feet' to summer indie films

Wednesday, July 31, 2013 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

Summer and blockbusters go hand in popcorn at the movies.

The watershed year for the summer blockbuster marketing mentality of the major Hollywood movie studios was 1975 with the release of director Steven Spielberg's "Jaws," which ushered in the summer blockbuster genre of big-budget, fast-paced, thrilling entertainment.

During the summer and Thanksgiving through Christmas and New Year's holiday season, there's "counterprogramming," whereby "indie" (independently-released) films are released, sometimes to critical and box office success.

Renaud makes 'DM2' fun

Wednesday, July 24, 2013 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

"Despicable Me 2" has nearly all the things you would want to see and hear in an animated feature family comedy.

It has distinctive and charmingly-rendered characters, voice talent that is very expressive, an interesting and entertaining storyline, an overall attention to detail and, most importantly, a sense of fun.

"Despicable Me 2" ("DM2") is co-directed by Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud.

Renaud is a Parkland High School, Class of '85, graduate who attended the Baum School of Art where he received a $1,000 scholarship.

THEATER REVIEW 'Measure' up at Pa. Shakespeare Fest

Wednesday, July 24, 2013 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival production of "Measure for Measure," through Aug. 4, Labuda Center for the Performing Arts, DeSales University, Center Valley, is a marvelous feast of double-crossing stratagems, low comedy and high drama.

With Shakespeare, you usually get a drama or comedy. With the Bard's "Measure for Measure," you get both. The play could be regarded as the first of what is now known in TV and movie parlance as a "dramedy," or, more traditionally, a tragicomedy.

Depp in a 'Lone' star state

Wednesday, July 17, 2013 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

In the western genre of motion pictures, "The Lone Ranger" ranks right up there with the more unusual.

While not as odd as "Cowboys & Aliens" (2011), it's not in the classic style of director Clint Eastwood's "Unforgiven" (1992), "3:10 to Yuma" (the 2007 version and 1957 original) or director John Ford's "The Searchers" (1956), starring John Wayne.

However, "The Lone Ranger," despite the reviling reactions of many movie critics, has a lot to recommend it.

It is one of the wildest of movies about the Wild West as you're likely to see.

'Importance of Being' funny

Wednesday, July 17, 2013 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

Without being too "punny" about it, you are in for a "Wilde" time of laughter with the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival (PSF) production of Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest," through Aug. 4, Main Stage, Labuda Center for the Performing Arts, DeSales University, Center Valley.

While the laughs are decidedly high-brow and not low-brow puns, you don't have to be knowledgeable about the vagaries of Victorian society to be in on the jokes.

The passion of 'Jesus Christ Superstar'

Wednesday, July 17, 2013 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

You don't need to travel to Oberammergau, Bavaria, Germany, to experience a passion play. There's one right here in the Lehigh Valley.

The Muhlenberg College Music Theatre (MSMT) "Jesus Christ Superstar," through July 28, Empie Theater, Baker Center for the Arts, Muhlenberg College, 2400 Chew St., Allentown, is a thoughtful, often startling, entertaining passion play.

The first hit musical by composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, with lyrics by Tim Rice, which debuted in 1971, is a revisionist retelling of the Bible's New Testament accounts of Jesus.

'Monsters U' gets incomplete

Wednesday, July 10, 2013 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

The best things about "Monsters University" occur before and after the animated feature film.

"The Blue Umbrella," a film short preceding "MU," is many of the things that "MU" is not. "Blue Umbrella" is imaginatively to the point, original and thoroughly entertaining.

After the credits conclude for "MU," there is a scene about a snail character, introduced early in the film as he makes his way slowly to class. The outcome of his progress is in the post-credits scene, which is also many of the things that "MU" is not. The scene is very funny, clever and efficient.

THEATER REVIEWS Take 'The 39 Steps' to comedy at Pa. Shakespeare Fest

Wednesday, June 26, 2013 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival (PSF) production of "The 39 Steps" yields nonstop laughter in a slapstick sendup of the classic Alfred Hitchcock film.

Hilarity ensues from the moment that four actors in multiple roles so many I lost count step on stage in the farce adapted by Patrick Barlow from the novel of John Buchan and the 1935 Hitchcock film.