The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

January 20, 2013

Performing arts centers will stage musicals, comedies, dance

BY RUTH RICE
RRICE@TRIBDEM.COM

JOHNSTOWN — The schedules of the Pasquerilla and Richland performing arts centers, both in Richland Township, are filled with dance, music, theater and comedy.

Michael Bodolosky, executive director at Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center on the campus of Pitt-Johns-town, who is in New York City previewing shows, has learned not to fill his season with shows before seeing what new acts he can discover midseason.

He has added six new acts to his schedule and is bringing back some audience favorites.

“It’s a diverse season with a lot of offerings for everybody,” Bodolosky said.

All shows will begin at 7:30 p.m. except the season finale, which will begin at 7.

Dance troupe Step Afrika! will perform Feb. 12.

The group is the first professional company in the world dedicated to the tradition of stepping, which is a distinct dance tradition created by African-American college students.

In stepping, the body is used as an instrument to create intricate rhythms and sounds through a combination of footsteps, claps and spoken word.

Bowfire will return to light up the stage on Feb. 20.

The group’s “All Star Show,” featuring the finest lineup of fiddle and violin virtuosos ever assembled on one stage, will take the audience on a musical journey, moving seamlessly from jazz and classical to bluegrass, Celtic, rock, gypsy, world, Texas swing and Ottawa Valley and Cape Breton styles.

The fast-paced show also will include step dancing, tap dancing and singing.

Winter Jazz 2013 will feature the a cappella musical group Rockapella performing “Motown and More” on March 22.

The event, which benefits the Blackington Endowment for the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, will include the sounds of Stevie Wonder, The Jackson 5, The Commodores, Hues Corporation, The O’Jays, Martha and the Vandellas and The Temptations.

Bodolosky said this will be the first time Winter Jazz has featured a group rather than a single artist.

“We wanted to try something different,” he said.

“This is their new show, and it’s excellent.”

The name Rockapella is a combination of rock and a cappella, and the group sings original vocal music and a cappella covers of pop and rock songs.

Its sound has evolved from high-energy pop and world music toward a more rhythm-and-blues style.

Two of the season’s newer entries will have free admission.

U.S. Air Force Band and the Singing Sergeants will perform April 1, and the Ringgold Band and Messiah College Jazz Ensemble will perform April 18.

“Tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis,” Bodolosky said.

The Air Force Band helps to create bonds between the United States and the worldwide community through world-class musical presentations and ceremonies.

The Singing Sergeants, the official chorus of the Air Force, is one of the world’s most versatile and traveled choral organizations. It features 18 professional airmen-vocalists recruited from the finest colleges, universities and music conservatories to serve as active-duty musicians in the Air Force.

The Ringgold Band was organized in 1852 as the Independent American Brass Band of Reading. It changed its name to the Ringgold Artillery Brass Band in 1853.

The band upholds the time-honored traditions of concert band music as well as provides music to satisfy any audience.

The Messiah College Jazz Ensemble is regarded as one of the foremost college jazz ensembles in Pennsylvania and surrounding region. It plays a variety of music ranging from traditional big band to funk.

Bodolosky is friends with the conductors of both groups.

“They’re both going to Erie for the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association convention, and this is the perfect place for a stop off,” he said.

A theatrical production of “Fiddler on the Roof” will be presented on April 7.

The universal story of hope, love and acceptance is filled with a rousing, heartwarming score that includes “Tradition,” “Matchmaker, Matchmaker,” “If I Were A Rich Man” and “Sunrise, Sunset.”

When River City Brass Band brings “Big Band and Doo-Wop Brass” to the arts center April 12, the audience will be taken on a trip down memory lane as the band celebrates the music of America’s most famous bands.

Special guests will be Johnny Angel and his musicians.

The DePue Brothers, who play violin, will perform April 19.

The four brothers play a vivid blend of bluegrass, classical and rock music.

Another new entry in the season will be Kenny Vance and the Planotones and The Fabulous Hubcaps, which will double-team onstage on April 28.

Kenny Vance and the Planotones redefine oldies with vocal authority and freshness, its material influenced by the music of the ’50s and ’60s.

The Fabulous Hubcaps is one of the nation’s most sought-after oldies and classic rock show bands.

“They both perform oldies and doo-wop,” Bodolosky said.

Popovich Comedy PET Theater will return with its performing pets on May 2.

The show is a family-oriented blend of the comedy and juggling skills of Gregory Popovich blended with European-style clowning, juggling and balancing acts.

The Four Freshmen will bring their distinct harmonies to town on May 10.

The quartet has had a profound influence on American jazz and pop singing for decades.  

Juke Box Heroes Live will bring stars to life on stage May 17.

The Mahoney Brothers encompass 50 years of musical magic in one night singing the hits of Elvis, The Beatles, Willie Nelson, Neil Diamond and everything in between.

Local high school performers will have the spotlight when “Showcase of the Stars” is presented at 7 p.m. May 18 to end the season.

The area’s best high school musicals will come to life on stage as students perform selections from their 2012-13 musical season.

Information: 269-7200, 800-846-2787 or wwwupjarts.org.



“Electrify Your Strings,” a music educational phenomenon that fires up students and teachers by injecting a high-voltage dose of rock into a school’s music education program, is new to the schedule at Richland Performing Arts Center.

 Mark Wood, an original member of Trans-Siberian Orchestra for 13 years, conceived the program.

After two days of practice with Wood and his band, Richland music students in grades 5-12 will be rocking in concert with the band at 7:30 p.m. April 2.

Wood, a world-renowned musician, composer and electric violinist, will be joined by his wife, Laura Kaye, as vocalist and their son, Elijah, as drummer.

“We thought it was a great program,” said Scott Miller, executive director of Richland Performing Arts Center. “He contacted us since he’s on a national tour and will be passing through Johnstown.”

“The concert will be open to the public.”

Musical selections will include Wood’s own compositions and arrangements of classic rock and contemporary music, such as Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train,” Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven” and the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

The concert will benefit music education at Richland.

Richland’s regular season will continue with the Recessionals Jazz Band, which will jazz up the stage at

7 p.m. March 23.

Born on the streets of New York City, the group is a highly celebrated ensemble that specializes in traditional jazz, including New Orleans standards, gospel, spirituals and early New York City-Tin Pan Alley standards.

“This will be for people who enjoy jazz,” Miller said. “When you say jazz, this is what you think of.”

Proceeds from the show will benefit Richland Theater Boosters.

“On the Town,” the classic American musical composed by Leonard Bernstein, will be onstage at 7 p.m. March 1-2 and 2 p.m. March 3.

The story follows three American sailors on a 24-hour leave in New York City during wartime 1944.  

The musical introduced several popular and classic songs, including “New York, New York,” “Lonely Town,” “I Can Cook, Too” and “Some Other Time.”

“School House Rock – Live!” will be the Richland Junior High School musical at 7 p.m. April 26-27.

The play follows the story of a nerve-wracked schoolteacher who is anxious about his first day of teaching and sees characters who show him how to win over his students with imagination and music.

Songs include “Just a Bill,” “Lolly, Lolly, Lolly” and “Conjunction Junction.”

“This is for grades 7-9,” Miller said.

“We have it every year. It’s a good part of our theater program – to get them hooked younger.”

Students in grades 7-12 will perform a musical tribute to Broadway’s greatest shows in “Way Off Broadway,” at 7 p.m. May 19.

Musicals showcased will include “42nd Street,” “Phantom of the Opera,” “Miss Saigon,” “Les Miserables” and “South Pacific.”

“This will be songs in concert,” Miller said. “There will be some acting as a prelude to the songs, but it’s more of a concert atmosphere.”

After the Summer Performing Arts Academy 2013 is held June 16-29, “Disney’s Little Mermaid Jr.” will be performed at 7 p.m. June 28-29.

The classic musical is the story of beautiful young mermaid Ariel who longs to leave her ocean home to live in the world above.

It will feature the hit songs “Part of Your World,” “She’s in Love” and “Under the Sea.”

“This is the Broadway version for ages 11-18,” Miller said. “We’ve had kids from all over the area – Cambria, Somerset, Bedford and Blair counties.

“We’re getting more from the Pittsburgh area who might come to stay with their grandparents.

“Last year, we had some from Washington, Indiana and Westmoreland counties. We’re starting to branch out.”

Information: 269-0300 or www.richlandpac.com.

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