Muhlenberg Productions Lauded
in 2018 Year-In-Review Awards
The Theatre & Dance programs at Muhlenberg College have been recognized by several prominent local media outlets for outstanding contribution to theater in the Lehigh Valley over the past year.
Lehigh Valley newspapers East Penn Press and The Morning Call included Muhlenberg productions in their articles highlighting the best local productions of 2018.
The Morning Call featured the Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre production of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" and the Mainstage musical "Brigadoon" in their top 10 theater productions of 2018.
Of "How to Succeed," The Morning Call wrote:
"This is a show that needs a strong and charismatic performer to play the lead of J. Pierrepont Finch, the ambitious window washer who quickly scales the corporate ladder," writes Morning Call arts reporter Kathy Lauer-Williams, "and Grande more then delivers.... He was backed by an outstanding ensemble that worked together flawlessly, thanks to sleek direction by Charles Richter. The choreography by Karen Dearborn also was outstanding.
"Besides Grande and Doyle, Samantha Simon as the sexy Hedy LaRue, Zach Love as the boss' obnoxious nephew, Kelly Shannon as the clear-eyed secretary Smitty and Peter Schmidt as company boss J.B Biggley shone in this bright and fun production."
About "Brigadoon," The Call wrote:
"Muhlenberg staged a lovely, lush and lavish production of the classic musical 'Brigadoon' in October," Lauer-Williams writes. "A collaboration between the college's theater and dance departments, it was overflowing with captivating dancing and soaring voices to complement the musical fantasy about two Americans who stumble upon a mysterious village in the Scottish highlands. Karen Dearborn's choreography wonderfully blended Scottish highland dancing with ballet.
"The acting was top-notch. Julian Mone and Cheyanne Leid were spot on as the American and Scottish lasses who fall in love. John Capocasale was a riot as the sarcastic sidekick Jeff and Jessie Kuehne was delightfully saucy as Meg Brockie, the girl who has a little bit too much of a penchant for the laddies. Adam Cantor displayed his effortless tenor as the bridegroom Charlie Dalrymple. Tommy Gedrich as Jean's bitter, spurned love Harry Beaton, and Emily Forster as Maggie were outstanding dancers, particularly in the sword dance at the wedding and a wrenching funeral dance done to the plaintive skirl of a bagpipe."
The Press Newspapers' 13th annual "Salute Lehigh Valley Stage" also had great things to say about Muhlenberg productions. Summer Music Theatre's "How to Succeed…" won three of their best-of-the-year awards — Frankie Grande, for best actor in a musical; Charles Richter, for best director of a musical; and Karen Dearborn, for best choreography.
"Frankie Grande portrayed J. Pierrepoint Finch at his jaunty, hysterical best," writes arts editor Paul Willistein. "Grande did it all: act, song and dance (including speed-tap and a handstand flip). 'I Believe In You,' the American Songbook standard with Finch (Grande in his own winsome interpretation) and The Men, and 'Brotherhood Of Man,' the show's signature showstopper, with Finch, Womper (Dan Dobro), Biggley, Miss Jones (Krystal Hall belts it out) and the Male Ensemble, were outstanding."
The article continues, praising Richter: "The terrifically-entertaining musical was directed with impish charm by MSMT co-founder Charles Richter. 'How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying' at Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre succeeded like nobody's business because everybody was trying and yet they made it all appear so effortless."
Finally, The Press recognized Karen Dearborn: "The cast of 17 and an additional 11 in the Ensemble were put through their paces by Choreographer Karen Dearborn and backed by a 10-piece orchestra with Music Director Bryan L. Wade."
Founded in 1848, Muhlenberg is a highly selective, private, four-year residential, liberal arts college located in Allentown, Pa., approximately 90 miles west of New York City. With an undergraduate enrollment of approximately 2,200 students, Muhlenberg College is dedicated to shaping creative, compassionate, collaborative leaders through rigorous academic programs in the arts, humanities, natural sciences and social sciences as well as selected pre-professional programs, including accounting, business, education and public health. A member of the Centennial Conference, Muhlenberg competes in 22 varsity sports. Muhlenberg is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Muhlenberg offers Bachelor of Arts degrees in theater and dance. The Princeton Review ranked Muhlenberg’s theater program in the top twelve in the nation for eight years in a row, and Fiske Guide to Colleges lists both the theater and dance programs among the top small college programs in the United States. Muhlenberg is one of only eight colleges to be listed in Fiske for both theater and dance. The department was founded in 1983; the theater major was established in 1978, and the dance major was established in 1993.