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A stellar 'Philly POPS Christmas' at the Kimmel Center

With twinkling lights, classic Christmas carols and even a visit from Santa, the audience was swept up in the holiday spirit watching “A Philly Pops Christmas Spectacular Sounds of the Season” last weekend at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia.

Music Director Maestro Michael Krajewski conducted the sensational show featuring over 300 musicians and singers, including the 65-piece Pops orchestra, guest vocalist Justin Hopkins, organist Peter Richard Conte, the Philly POPS Festival Chorus, the Philadelphia Boys Choir and the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas Gospel Choir.

The Pops sounded exquisite as they performed amongst the twinkling trees on the stage and sparkling lighted snowflakes above.

Hopkins's booming bass baritone voice was perfect as he narrated "The Grinch Medley." Describing the furry, green, grumpy recluse living above the town of Whoville (on Mount Crumpet) , Hopkins was superb as he sang "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.…
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'Finding Neverland' at the Academy of Music

Inspired by the 1998 play The Man Who Was Peter Pan by Allan Knee and his 2004 adaptation Finding Neverland, the musical made its world premiere at the Curve Theatre in Leicester in 2012, with the reworked version making its world premiere in 2014 at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts.[1] Following completion of its Cambridge run, the production transferred to Broadway in March 2015.

After 17 months on Broadway, the production of Finding Neverland closed on August 21, 2016, and began a US national tour in October 2016.


Directed by visionary Tony Award® winner Diane Paulus and based on the critically-acclaimed Academy Award®-winning film, Finding Neverland tells the incredible story behind one of the world’s most beloved characters: Peter Pan. Playwright J.M. Barrie struggles to find inspiration until he meets four young brothers and their beautiful widowed mother.

Spellbound by the boys’ enchanting make-believe adventures, he sets out to write a play that will …

'It's a Wonderful Life' at Walnut Street Theatre

Although it was an unusually warm 70 degree November night, we were transported to a crisp Christmas Eve as we watched “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Life Radio Play” now onstage at the Walnut Street Theatre's Independence Studio on 3.

“Life” is one of my favorite movies, and it’s now a family tradition to catch it at least once every holiday season. This production brought all my beloved memories of the movie to life as the five actors seamlessly performed multiple roles (as many as 25 characters), sang, played instruments and created imaginative sound-effects.

Set in a 1940s radio station, several posters featuring Dick Tracy, The Shadow, the comic book superhero Blue Beetle and the Abbott and Costello film “Who Done It?” hang on the wall. Set Designer Scott Groh draws the audience into the holiday radio magic with a small Christmas tree, twinkling lights, classic dynamic microphones, sound level meters and even “On-Air” and “Applause” signs that turned on and off when needed.

Ada…

Zipping and climbing at Go Ape!

Perched on a small, wooden platform about 40-feet above the ground, I clipped my three carabineers to the zip line and jumped, sailing over Lums Pond before trying to land feet first in a pile of mulch.

On an unusually humid weekday in October, we had plenty of time to explore Go Ape Treetop Adventure at Lums Pond State Park in Delaware, about 40 minutes from Delaware County. Built in May 2013, the course was the first zip line treetop adventure course in a state park on the East Coast. There are now 16 Go Ape courses in the United States.

“We have about 20,000 visitors per year. We also have plans to build additional courses in 2014,” says Carolyn Tunney, Go Ape’s public affairs representative.

Ready to be challenged, we met our instructor Jason for a 30-minute training session before we were turned loose into the trees. After being fitted with our harnesses, Jason explained in what order to clip and unclip our three carabineers to the cables in an easy to remember way. “The green ca…

Soaring and touring the Finger Lakes region

Soaring 4,000-feet in a glider plane above the picturesque Finger Lakes region of New York, we’re rewarded with a bird’s eye view of an area rich in museums, wineries, sports, history and more.

With the colorful foliage, manageable crowds and lower temperatures, the fall is a perfect time to visit some of the 11 lakes in west-central New York. About four hours from the Delaware Valley is the City of Corning which features a vibrant main street, called the Gaffer District, and is home to art galleries and restaurants, including the fantastic Gaffer Grille and Tap Room, as well as a world-class museum. Staying at the Radisson Hotel was in walking distance to many of the attractions.

There are many cities that have been made famous by a single industry. Hershey, Pa., has its chocolate. Kohler, Wis., has its faucets. Corning has glass - and lots of it. In 1868 the Brooklyn Flint Glass Works moved to Corning, changed its name to Corning Flint Glass Work, and sold its cut glass all over t…

'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' at Upper Darby Summer Stage

By Amy A. Winnemore
   The epic tale of love, jealously, acceptance and perseverance takes the stage amongst a three-story cathedral, stained glass windows and tolling bells in Upper Darby Summer Stage’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”

  Based on the Victor Hugo novel and songs from the 1996 Disney animated feature, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” showcases the film’s memorable score, as well as new songs by composer Alan Menken and lyricist Stephen Schwartz.

  Making its regional premiere this Mainstage show, which is a darker themed musical than prior Summer Stage productions, showcases a wide range of talents to close out the 42nd season.

  The musical tells the story of Quasimodo (Patrick J. Walsh), who is adopted as a baby by Dom Claude Frollo (Chris Monaco) and held in the bell tower at the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. Quasimodo, the deformed bell-ringer, observes the city while kept locked away for his safety, according to Frollo. One day, while watching the boisterous gypsy …

'Jurassic Park in Concert' at the Mann Center

By Amy A. Winnemore
T he thundering roar of a Tyrannosaurus rex rang through The Mann Center for the Performing Arts last Saturday. The king of the dinosaurs, along with Velociraptors and a Brachiosaurus, were projected in high definition as part of The Mann Center’s “Jurassic Park in Concert.” With the Philadelphia Orchestra performing the score live, it brought a newfound excitement to re-watching the 1993 summer blockbuster.

   As part of the Movies at The Mann series, “Jurassic Park” fans were part of a full sensory experience as the Orchestra, conducted by Aram Demirjian, heightened the excitement and anxiety as they performed the award-winning score by John Williams. Even though I’ve seen the movie many times, listening to the memorable music being performed live made it feel like I was in high school again watching the movie for the first time. When the helicopter carrying Dr. Alan Grant, Dr. Ellie Sattler, Dr. Ian Malcolm and John Hammond approaches Isla Nublar, you’re swe…