Tag Archives: Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center

UPJ students to perform ‘Hamlet’ spin-off

By KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent

The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown’s theater department will present Lee Blessing’s “Fortinbras” April 5 through April 8 inside the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center.

The play, which was voted by Time magazine as one of 1991’s 10 best plays, tells the story of Fortinbras, who enters during the last scene of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” orders the bodies to be taken away and quickly devises a plan to ascend to the throne of Denmark. Fortinbras designates Horatio as his public relations person, which doesn’t thrill Horatio.

Meanwhile, ghosts have invaded Poland — and not just any ghosts. Ophelia and Gertrude are among many seductive ghosts who ultimately make Fortinbras question what distinguishes a good ruler from a great ruler.

“Fortinbras is a naive prince who just wants to be a popular and beloved ruler,” said John Teacher, Pitt-Johnstown’s director of theater arts. “Unfortunately, that encourages him to make some less than ideal choices while — quite literally — having to deal with the ghosts of his predecessors.

“While not a hard-hitting political piece, I think ‘both sides of the aisle’ can have a bipartisan laugh at the trials and tribulations of leadership versus popularity while watching young Forinbras negotiate his new kingdom. Additionally, those with a fondness for Shakespeare can enjoy a laugh at this speculative look at what happens to Hamlet and his family, friends and enemies after they die.”

The “Fortinbras” cast features Michael Cadden as Fortinbras, Mark Bambino as Horatio, Bradley Keller as Osric, Victoria Kwok as Captain, Erin Cain as Marcellus, Ben Berkebile as Bernardo, Carolyn Zeis as Polish Maiden No. 1, Kelsey Chabal as Polish Maiden No. 2, Grant Kristo as Hamlet, Paul Douglas Newman as Polonius, Erin Whyte as Ophelia, Devin Parfitt as Claudius, Emma Adams as Gertrude and Samuel Jackson Miller as Laertes.

Teacher said the script for “Fortinbras” appealed to him because he felt the students would have a lot of fun with it.

“In addition to picking a play that satisfied the academic goals of our department, I felt I needed something to help pick up the spirits of students, something fun that students would laugh at, and laugh while working on,” Teacher said. “This play is a great little comic romp that fills that bill while being a very intelligent and well-crafted piece of theater.”

In addition to the aforementioned cast, many other Pitt-Johnstown students make up the crew, designers and production/stage management team, bringing the total of students involved in “Fortinbras” to 47 altogether.

“Everything on that stage is a result of student effort,” Teacher said. “For this production, 100 percent of the costuming will have been made in our costume shop (including armor) by students under the guidance of me and our costumer, Judy Bingler. Sophomore Temperance Moore designed all of the female costumes as part of her degree study focusing on costume design.”

All four performances of “Fortinbras” are scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can only be purchased at the door or in advance by visiting the arts center box office during regular business hours.

Teacher rated the play “PG-13” due to crude humor and implied sexuality. He encouraged community members to come and see for themselves what makes Pitt-Johnstown’s theater department special.

“The continuation of the arts for years to come starts right here with the efforts of these students,” Teacher said. “In addition to rewarding their hard work and time devoted, supporting them and all of the academic arts here (music, dance) is also a declaration that one wants to see and attend these activities into the future.

“It is, in many ways, a validation of the arts as a whole.”

Arts center to host array of holiday shows

By KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent

Three Christmas-themed performances are scheduled to take place this month at the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, located on the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown campus.

“If you come to the (venue) during this Christmas season, you will definitely get into the Christmas spirit,” arts center Executive Director Michael Bodolosky said.

The first show, “A Walt and Jackie Christmas,” is scheduled for Dec. 7 beginning at 7:30 p.m. Walt Churchey and Jackie Kopco, two local musicians who have performed throughout the area, are to sing Christmas songs and welcome to the stage some special guests, including Santa Claus.

“Walt and Jackie have a really impressive fan base,” Bodolosky said, “and it will be great to have a ‘down-home,’ ‘sit back and reflect’ type of Christmas with them.”

On Dec. 11, beginning at 3 p.m., River City Brass Band is to present “Christmas Brasstacular!” The show features choirs from around the region. They are to perform Christmas carols and music from “Polar Express,” “The Snowman” and “White Christmas.”

“This show will highlight a brass band at its best, and River City Brass really does a great job of putting you and yours in the Christmas spirit,” Bodolosky said.

The third show, which will be arts center’s last show of the year until late January when The State Ballet Theatre of Russia presents “Cinderella,” brings to town Johnstown native Michael Facciani with special guest Jeff Stice.

Facciani and Stice have titled their performance “The Christmas Road Runs Through Johnstown,” and it is scheduled to take place Dec. 13 beginning at 7:30 p.m. “The Christmas Road Runs Through Johnstown” is a musical production that takes audiences back in time through nostalgic visuals and Christmas music classics.

“Michael has performed here twice before,” Bodolosky said. “He has a wonderful voice, and Stice is a Gospel Music Hall of Fame Inductee, not to mention a Dove Award and Grammy-nominated piano player.”

“A Walt and Jackie Christmas” is sponsored by USSCO Federal Credit Union, Merho Federal Credit Union, Gap Federal Credit Union, CBW Federal Credit Union and Health Care First Credit Union. “Christmas Brasstacular!” is sponsored by Concurrent Technologies Corp., and “The Christmas Road Runs Through Johnstown” by Modern Art Plate and Glass, Carpenter Financial Services, FWF Insurance and Ponchione Financial.

Bodolosky thanked all the sponsors for being so generous, especially during the holiday season, and for helping to keep tickets at an affordable price.
Bodolosky added that he’s excited to welcome all of these local and regional performers to the arts center stage this year.

“I think all of these shows are a perfect fit for the holiday season,” he said, “and I think they’re all going to be great.” 

Tickets for these three performances can be purchased online by visiting www.upjarts.org or by calling the box office at 814-269-7200.

Johnstown Concert Ballet to perform 52nd ‘Nutcracker’

By KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent

The Johnstown Concert Ballet is set to perform Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” Dec. 2 and Dec. 3 at the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center on the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown campus.

Friday evening’s performance is to begin at 7:30 p.m., while the Saturday matinee is to begin at 2 p.m
.
This year marks Johnstown Concert Ballet’s 52nd performance of “The Nutcracker.” Artistic Director Carla Prucnal said that presenting this classic ballet to the community is always a treat.

“People really do look forward to this — it’s a Christmas tradition,” Prucnal said. “There are always children in the area who have never seen it, and their parents are anxious to expose them to the ballet and ‘The Nutcracker.’”

Prucnal emphasized that the performance is a “big deal” for children — those in the audience and those on stage.

“So many students started in our company after seeing and being enchanted by ‘The Nutcracker,’” she said.

“The Nutcracker” features more than 100 dancers, some as young as 5, and some representing Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. Prucnal said that everyone has been working hard to make the performance as professional and memorable as possible.

“We’re very pleased with our dancers,” she said. “We’ve worked very hard to get this production on the road.”

The performance even features appearances by community members such as Alan Teich, an associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown who has, for many years, played the role of Father. And Karen Soliday, who works at the Greater Johnstown/Cambria County Convention & Visitors Bureau, has played Mother Ginger for decades.

“Everyone does such a wonderful job,” Prucnal said. “I think everyone realizes that the standards we set are really high. This performance is a big deal for our dancers. 

“When our students and our company members work as hard as they do, and we spend so much time working on costumes and sets, we feel confident that we’ll be offering the community a beautiful performance.”

Prucnal said that she hopes that people will purchase tickets and enjoy the performance of “The Nutcracker.”

“I know people in Johnstown love to take part in the parade and light-up night downtown,” she said. “‘The Nutcracker’ is another way to make everybody feel like they’re participating in a traditional community Christmas event in Johnstown.”

Tickets for the performance can be purchased in advance by calling 814-269-7200 or visiting www.johnstownconcertballet.org online.

Tickets are also to be available at the door.

Volunteers help center usher in 25 years of arts

Photo by Marianne Spampinato From left, ushers Lorraine Breedveld, Suzie Thomas, Helen Slonac and JoAnne Lomago prepare to welcome patrons to the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center’s presentation of the musical “Fame.” 
Photo by Marianne Spampinato
From left, ushers Lorraine Breedveld, Suzie Thomas, Helen Slonac and JoAnne Lomago prepare to welcome patrons to the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center’s presentation of the musical “Fame.” 

By MARIANNE SPAMPINATO
Our Town Correspondent

If you’ve attended a few events at the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, chances are you’ve seen Lorraine Breedveld, JoAnne Lomago, Helen Slonac, Suzie Thomas and Dale Webb. All have volunteered at the arts center for 25 years, starting their service soon after the venue opened its doors in 1991.

According to Kimberly Lang, arts center operations and marketing assistant, ideally 12 to 15 volunteers work each event.
 
“Our volunteers are so loyal and reliable that, for most shows, we have anywhere from 10 to 20 volunteers,” she said. “It’s wonderful!”

Ushers’ duties include checking for readiness, cleanliness and safety; scanning tickets at the door; helping patrons to their seats; distributing programs; selling merchandise and concessions and answering or directing questions from patrons.

Breedveld, Lomago, Slonac and Thomas usually serve as ushers, while Webb helps out anywhere as needed.

A Dunlo resident, Breedveld moved back home from New York State in 1991. In New York, she worked as a school bus driver in Warwick for 13 years, and returns to the state each month to visit her daughter, granddaughter and great-grandson.

“It’s a pleasure to greet people. I need to get out and be around people,” Breedveld said of her commitment. She particularly enjoys the annual performance of the Johnstown Concert Ballet and productions in the studio theater, also known as the black box.

This past summer, Breedveld began volunteering as an usher at the Mountain Playhouse, making the 74-mile round trip for Sunday and Wednesday matinee performances.

Lomago, who resides in Richland Township, was present for the arts center’s first performance and tries to attend every event.

Now retired, she operated a beauty salon for 15 years and worked as an instructor at the Pennsylvania Academy of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences for 20 years.

Lomago enjoys interacting with the public and her fellow volunteers, noting: “I spend a lot of time in the lobby. Sometimes I don’t even go inside the theater to watch performances.” She also sings in the St. Benedict Church Choir.

Slonac, a resident of St. Michael and a retired teacher in the Forest Hills School District, has also led summer camps at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

She continues to use her 37 years of experience in elementary library science to lead story time presentations for preschool and elementary grade children at the Beaverdale Library. She develops curricula and lesson plans, and also incorporates arts and crafts.

Slonac is a member of Delta Kappa Gamma, a professional educators’ group that donates books and lessons to libraries, assembles book bags for high school students in need and provides hygiene products for alternative schools.

She also serves as a Eucharistic minister at St. Michael’s Church in St. Michael.

Both Slonac and Thomas are members of the St. Michael Legion Auxiliary and South Fork Lions Club. Slonac assists with fundraising dinners and food sales during South Fork Heritage Days. Thomas serves as secretary of the Lions Club.

Thomas, who resides in Summerhill and also worked in the Forest Hills School District, volunteers at Cresson Lake Playhouse, where she has sung in the chorus of three productions: “Oklahoma,” “Hello, Dolly” and “The King and I.”

Twenty-six years ago, she started playing clarinet for the Forest Hills Community Band, which performs at community and holiday concerts. Approximately four years ago, she joined Senior Chorus and Tap at the Windber Senior Center.This group performs at area retirement homes.

A cancer survivor, Thomas made more than 200 platelet donations with the American Red Cross prior to her diagnosis. She also serves in the choir and as a Eucharistic minister at St. John Catholic Church in Summerhill.

The fifth volunteer, Dale Webb of St. Michael, was unavailable for interview.

Arts center enters its 25th year

By KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent

This season, the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center is celebrating 25 years of offering professional entertainment to audiences of all ages across the region.

“We’ve brought in so much wonderful, outstanding talent over the past 25 years,” Executive Director Michael Bodolosky said. “This art center is a jewel to the community, and I’m excited that you can experience the arts here at an affordable price.”

The arts center first opened its doors in 1991.

“We’ve grown a lot,” said Bodolosky, who has served as its executive director for 10 years. “There’s a lot of stuff going on up here.”

On Nov. 3, Bodolosky and his staff will present a special evening that involves a pre-show and post-show reception in between the 25th anniversary concert, “Simply Swingin’,” which features vocalist Steve Lippia and his band.

Lippia highlights the music of artists such as Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Nat King Cole, Sammy Davis Jr. and more. Songs on the band’s setlist include “Beyond the Sea,” “Mack the Knife,” “The Good Life,” “Strangers in the Night” and “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” just to name a few.

Lippia has established his place among the finest interpreters of “standards” and traditional pop music in the nation.

“He’s an on-demand singer,” Bodolosky said, “and it’s really great to expose the younger people to this style of music.”

Two events will help to further celebrate the arts center’s 25th anniversary season.

A pre-show wine, beer and hors d’oeuvres reception will begin at 6:15 p.m. that evening, while the post-show event includes a meet and greet with the performers, as well as a dessert reception.

“It’s a celebration,” Bodolosky said of the pre- and post-show events. “And both events are included in the price of the ticket, so we hope people will take advantage of that and attend one or both events.”

Bodolosky praised local businessman Mark Pasquerilla and his family, who endowed the building, for continuing to support the arts within the Johnstown region.

“In addition to endowing the building,” Bodolosky said, “the Pasquerilla family started the Blackington Endowment for the Arts, which directly supports the arts center.”

Bodolosky said that he hopes this show and other shows will continue to raise awareness for the arts center and the Blackington Endowment for the Arts. This year, he and his staff have set a goal of $25,000.

“We’ll accept donations at any time throughout the year,” he said.

The arts center is located on the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown campus. For more information, or to purchase tickets for “Simply Swingin’,” visit www.upjarts.org or call the box office at 814-269-7200.

Bodolosky encouraged the community to keep supporting the arts center.

“Art defines society, and without the arts, we have nothing,” he said. “And as far as the next 25 years goes, I’m looking forward to much more success.”

Bodolosky discusses new performance schedule

By KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent

For the past 25 years, audiences of all ages have been entertained by performers and entertainers who have shared their talents on the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center stage.

This year will be no different. The arts center’s 25th anniversary season is full of shows and concerts that are bound to remind audiences what makes this performing arts venue a great place to see professional, world-class entertainment in Johnstown.

“Our facility is a state-of-the art facility,” Executive Director Michael Bodolosky said, “and we are excited to offer professional, world-class entertainment to our audiences.”

Bodolosky said that this year’s lineup features musical concerts and Broadway selections, as well as comedy, theater and dance shows.

“One of the things I tried to do this year is really diversify our shows,” Bodolosky said. “This year, for instance, is the first time in many years that we’re offering a full-length play.”

The center’s 25th anniversary season kicks off Sept. 22 with “FAME—The Musical.” Based on the Academy Award-winning film, this musical tells the story of young artists working hard to find their way in the competitive worlds of music, dance and theatre.

“This is the Broadway national tour of the iconic movie and the iconic TV show,” Bodolosky said of “FAME.” “It will be a great way to start what is simply going to be a spectacular season.”

“Simply Swingin’—Sinatra and Friends featuring Steve Lippia” will be performed Nov. 3. This concert will celebrate the music of Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Nat King Cole, Bobby Darin, Sammy Davis Jr. and more. A portion of the proceeds from the show are to support the Blackington Endowment for the Arts.

“Steve Lippia has performed at the PPAC before,” Bodolosky said, “and he’s quite talented. During this show is when we’ll celebrate our 25th anniversary season. All audience members will be invited to the pre-show reception, as well as a meet-and-greet with the artists.

“We want to make this a successful and special anniversary party. And hopefully we can raise a little bit of money for the Blackington Endowment, which helps us sustain the arts on the Pitt-Johnstown campus.”

Next up on the 2016-2017 season schedule is “A Walt and Jackie Christmas,” which is scheduled for Dec. 7. Local singer/songwriters Walt Churchey and Jackie Kopco will present a concert that features familiar Christmas songs, and will even invite some of their friends on stage to join them.

“Walt and Jackie are really wonderful people and they will have some talented people performing with them,” Bodolosky said. “This show will really put you in the Christmas spirit.”

A few days later, on Dec. 11, River City Brass Band will present their annual Christmas concert, “Christmas Brasstacular.” The concert will give choirs from around the region an opportunity to perform Christmas carols alongside the band.

“This is another show that will encourage audiences to embrace the Christmas spirit,” Bodolosky said. “River City Brass Band is just phenomenal.”

Bodolosky mentioned that a new show has been recently added to the season’s lineup: “The Christmas Road Runs Through Johnstown” will be presented on Dec. 13. Johnstown native Michael Facciani and Gospel Music Hall of Fame inductee Jeff Stice will perform a selection of Christmas classics.

“This performance is going to call to mind an old-fashioned Johnstown Christmas,” Bodolosky said. “We’re glad to have added this Christmas show.”

The 2017 half of the season will commence with a performance of “Cinderella” by The State Ballet Theatre of Russia. The dancers will tell the tale through a score composed by Prokofiev.

“This is the sixth year or seventh year in a row that The State Ballet Theatre of Russia has performed on our stage,” Bodolosky said. “Their dancers are just phenomenal and this is a timeless tale that people are bound to enjoy.”

On Feb. 15, playwright Neil Simon’s comedy, “Last of the Red Hot Lovers,” will leave audiences in stitches — and just in time for Valentine’s Day.

“We’re looking forward to celebrating Valentine’s Day with this play,” Bodolosky said. “It’s by Neil Simon, so it’s going to be a good one.”

River City Brass Band will return to the arts center stage March 5 to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. The band will perform Irish music and will even be accompanied by Irish dancers, as well as Carnegie Mellon University’s Pipes and Drums.

“We’re excited to have River City Brass Band back to present this show,” Bodolosky said. “I expect this show to appeal to a very large audience.”

On March 16, Johnstown native Kathy Voytko, who starred in the original cast of “Tuck Everlasting” as well as the 2014 Tony Award-winning musical “A Gentlemen’s Guide to Love and Murder” will appear onstage alongside her husband, Tenor John Cudia, who appeared in “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Les Miserables.” These Broadway stars will perform “Hummable Broadway” — a selection of songs from some of Broadway’s most memorable musicals.

“It’s going to be a memorable Broadway night,” Bodolosky said of the show.

Up next, on April 20, is “ARTRAGEOUS!,” an interactive art and music experience that features music and images of legendary musicians such John Lennon, Elvis Presley and Jimi Hendrix.

“This show features masterful artwork with some fantastic vocals and mesmerizing choreography,” Bodolosky said. “You’re going to have to see it to believe it.”

The season’s second-to-last show on April 23 promises to be “dog gone fun.” “Mutts Gone Nuts” will bring to the arts center stage high-flying Frisbee dogs, tight-wire dogs, dancing dogs, magic dogs and even a talking dog.

“Everybody loves dogs,” Bodolosky said, “and these dogs are incredibly talented ones.”

The last show of arts center’s anniversary season will take place May 5. “Jukebox Heroes Live!” will offer audiences a chance to step back in time as they enjoy impersonations of legendary musical acts such Neil Diamond, Elvis Presley, Billy Joel and more.

“This show is going to be full of show-stopping impressions,” Bodolosky said. “It’ll be a good end to our season.”

Unless otherwise noted, all shows are to begin at 7:30 p.m. at the arts center, which is located in Richland Township, on the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown campus. Flex memberships, as well as single and online tickets, are available for purchase.

To contact the arts center box office, call 814-269-7200 or 1-800-846-2787 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

For more information or to purchase tickets online, visit www.upjarts.org.

“Without the arts — and people supporting the arts — we lose our identities,” Bodolosky said. “We hope that people will come and enjoy what we have to offer this season. And we’re looking forward to many more years of top-notch entertainment to come.”

Broadway talent coming to Ace’s

By KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent

Two Broadway stars and a Broadway director are teaming up with talented individuals from the Laurel Highlands to present a concert titled “Give My Regards.”

Last February, Scott Logsdon directed and starred in “Sweeney Todd,” which was performed at the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center on the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown campus. The reception that he and the cast received encouraged him to return to the city and direct another show.

“After the huge success of ‘Sweeney Todd,’ a great number of us wanted to do another concert,” said Logsdon, an original cast member of the national Broadway tour of “Les Miserables.” “Sweeney was a love-fest among the cast, and I knew I wanted to do another show with them.”

“Give My Regards” is to be performed May 15 beginning at 4 p.m. at Ace’s, located at 316 Chestnut St. in Johnstown’s Cambria City neighborhood.

This year, Logsdon is bringing to town Broadway veterans Michael Marra and Caren Hearne, both of whom have starred in the European tour of “Guys and Dolls” (Hearne was hand-picked by Jo Sullivan Loesser, the Broadway star and the widow of the composer of “Guys and Dolls,” to play Miss Adelaide). Additionally, Marra was involved alongside Logsdon in the Broadway and international performances of “Les Miserables,” and he also starred in Johnstown’s production of “Sweeney Todd” last year.

Marra and Hearne will be joined on stage by more than 50 local performers. The cast list includes: Tony Anthony, Jean Arcurio, Kevin R. Bean, Mallory J. Bean, Sarah Rose Bell, Morgan Bennett, Ariana Bittner, Jayme Brooks, Nathan Cook, Johnna Cwik, Victoria Delich, Josh Devett, Kelly Devett, Tessa Evans, Alex Fetzko, Zach Frye, Sam Fuge, Cassandra Gallina, Amber M. Gobbel, Matt Harris, Kennedy Hess, Noah Hughes, Mia Jordan, Elizabeth Ann Kovalchik, Grace LaMoy, Jara Dorsey-Lash, Michael R. Marafino, Lyla Mauzy, Doug Meagher, Coltin Miller, Anthony Moran, Michael Nicholson, Cory Prebehalla, Shawn Roth, Rachel Saula, Tori Smith, Kiersten Szczur, Hannah Thomas, Madison Thomas, Rachel Toth, Zane Troxell, Jaydyn Vogel, Jackie Willnecker, Kelly Jo Wise, Brett Wyar and Maggie Zambanini.

Jackie Willnecker is serving as the choreographer.

“This cast is astonishing,” Logsdon said. “Juggling the schedules of a cast of 50 has not been without its challenges, but giving the audience an unforgettable performance will make all of that worthwhile.”

“Give My Regards” features performances of popular songs from Broadway shows such as “The Sound of Music,” “42nd Street,” “Once,” “Kinky Boots” and “Hamilton.”

The show will serve as a fundraiser for the Women’s Help Center of Cambria and Somerset County.

“After some discussion, we decided we wanted to raise awareness and funds for the . . . shelter and the vital, important work they do,” Logsdon said. 

“The work they do for those who are rebuilding their lives after going through domestic violence is vital and of the utmost importance. We want to raise funds for them so they can continue to provide shelter and assistance to those who need it most. This will be an amazing show with a cast of 50 people (including Broadway vets) for the same money it would cost to go see a movie and buy a container of popcorn.”

Susan Shahade, executive director of the Women’s Help Center, said that she is looking forward to the performance and using the funds to continue to help women who are in need.

“The (help center) is honored to be working with such talented individuals from the Broadway and the local area,” Shahade said. “(The Women’s Help Center) offers an array of around-the-clock services, all free and confidential, to those who are abused in the one place they should feel safe: their own homes. We are thrilled at the tremendous talent and the level of commitment of the cast, who are giving so freely of their time and expertise to help us help those in need. It’s going to be a fantastic show.”

Tickets for “Give My Regards” are on sale now and can be purchased online at www.EventBrite.com or by calling 814-536-5361.

“There is something for everyone and it’s a family-friendly show that should appeal to theater lovers of all ages,” Logsdon said. “Our youngest cast member is an amazing just-turned-6-year-old, and we have performers of all ages who will get their chance to shine as we raise money for this vitally important cause.”

Political satire coming to Richland Township

By KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent

‘Tis the season for political dialogue, and the cast of “Capitol Steps” are returning to the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center to provide it.

“Capitol Steps — Mock The Vote!” is to be performed May 6 beginning at 7:30 p.m. This year, all the big names in politics will be mentioned: Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

“I think this year, with everything going on election-wise, there’s lot of material for the cast to work with,” arts center Executive Director Michael Bodolosky said.

According to Bodolosky, “Capitol Steps” has returned to the venue year after year because people enjoy the laugh-out-loud comedy.

“People love to just come and laugh at the current politics,” he said.

“Capitol Steps” was created 30 years ago by a group of U.S. Senate staffers who decided to satirize the people for whom they worked. Since then, audiences representing all political parties have enjoyed the humor that “Capitol Steps” bring to the stage.

“Democrat, Republican, it doesn’t matter . . . the cast crosses over the aisles and insults everybody,” Bodolosky said. “They really do.”

Tickets for “Capitol Steps — Mock The Vote!” are on sale now. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.upjarts.org or call the box office at 814-269-7200. The official website for “Capitol Steps” is www.capsteps.com.

Curious George coming to arts center

By KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent

This month, a curious monkey is paying a visit to the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center on the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown campus.

“Curious George: The Golden Meatball,” a new musical based on the beloved “Curious George” children’s books, is to be presented April 24-25. The first performance is scheduled for 3 p.m. April 24. 

Two school performances are to be held at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. April 25. Limited public seats are available for the school shows.

Michael Bodolosky, executive director for the arts center, said that the Curious George books, written by Margret and H.A. Rey, continue to remain popular. In fact, the books inspired movies as well as the “Curious George” PBS television show.

“George is time-tested,” Bodolosky said.

The musical takes place during “All-You-Can-Eat-Meatball Day,” a day that George has been waiting for a long time. After George helps his friend Chef Pisghetti cook the meatballs, they prepare to serve them. The problem is, the crowd of meatball eaters has vanished.

It turns out that George and Chef Pisghetti must deal with Phinneas T. Lightspeed and his speedy Meatballs O’Matic machine. When Chef Pisghetti learns about this machine, he tells George that he is no longer interested in cooking. George, however, doesn’t want his friend to give up, so he enters Chef Pisghetti’s meatballs into the world-famous Golden Meatball Contest in Rome.

Audience members are to have the opportunity to learn about Rome, food and even secret ingredients that George is willing to share.

“Curious George: The Golden Meatball,” is 50-minutes in total and recommended for ages 4 and up.

“Curious George: The Golden Meatball” features a book and lyrics by Jeremy Desmon with original music by John Kavanaugh.

“Bringing kids to this show will be a great way to introduce them to live theater, not to mention theater etiquette,” Bodolosky said. “And the show itself will teach kids about perseverance and outside-of-the-box thinking.”

Tickets for this performance are on sale now at the Pasquerilla Performing Art Center’s box office. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.upjarts.org or call the box office at 814-269-7200.

‘Tres Voce’ to be performed at UPJ

By KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent

Three renowned tenors will perform at the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center on March 30 beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Daniel Rodriguez, Ciarán Sheehan and Karl Scully’s performance, titled “Tres Voce,” will give audiences an opportunity to see three of the world’s best tenors, according to arts center Executive Director Michael Bodolosky.

“Alone they’re amazing,” Bodolosky said. “Together they’re going to be fantastic.”

Rodriguez, known as “America’s Beloved Tenor,” has used his talents to both entertain and comfort. A retired New York City police officer, Rodriguez performed for many an audience following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The following year, in 2002, he studied with Placido Domingo at Washington Opera’s Vilar-Domingo Young Artist Program, and in 2004 he began to pursue his musical career full-time. Rodriguez has received the USO Lifetime Achievement Award, the DAR Medal of Patriotism and other awards that recognize his patriotism and philanthropy.

Sheehan has performed on many stages, including Broadway. He made his Broadway debut in “Les Miserables,” and was later cast as Raoul in “The Phantom of the Opera.” After a year spent starring as Raoul, Sheehan landed the coveted role of The Phantom and has since starred in more than 1,000 performances as said character. In addition to acting, Sheehan also serves as a producer. As a soloist, he has performed at professional sporting arenas, at the memorial mass for John and Carolyn Kennedy Jr. and at the funeral service for Beau Biden, son of Vice President Joe Biden.

Scully was born in Ireland and was a member of the touring group The Irish Tenors. In 2000, he landed the role of John Count McCormack in the film “Nora,” which starred Ewan McGregor. As a soloist, he has performed in hundreds of venues all over the world, and he recently earned a master’s from Manhattan School of Music.

“This is their first time here,” Bodolosky said, “and you don’t see this kind of world-class talent in Johnstown all the time. You have Daniel Rodriguez, who touched hearts all around the country after 9/11. You have a guy who has been on Broadway, with over 1,000 performances as The Phantom. You have one of the original Irish tenors. It doesn’t get any better than that.”

Tickets for this performance are on sale now. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.upjarts.org or call the box office at 814-269-7200.
“Tres Voce” is sponsored in part by Somerset Trust and Bernice E. Coppersmith Endowment.

Hockey game to feature play during intermission

Submitted photos Three of the performers for the “Pucks and Pirouettes” show at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena. Kneeling is Rachael Morgart; the hockey player is Boston Bradley and the dancer is Emily Stewart. 
Submitted photos
Three of the performers for the “Pucks and Pirouettes” show at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena. Kneeling is Rachael Morgart; the hockey player is Boston Bradley and the dancer is Emily Stewart. 

By KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent

Members of the Johnstown Concert Ballet will perform alongside youth hockey players representing Cambria County Student Hockey League in a short performance titled “Pucks and Pirouettes” during the second intermission of the Johnstown Tomahawks hockey game at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena on March 18.

“Pucks and Pirouettes” is a love story that begins at a hockey game, and it is serving as a “teaser” to the full-scale performance that the Johnstown Concert Ballet will present at the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center on April 16.

Carla Prucnal, artistic director of the Johnstown Concert Ballet, said she was inspired to create a hockey-themed ballet after noticing the excitement that the Hockeyville competition garnered late last year. She was also smitten by the love story of a local couple.

It helped, too, that Prucnal has always been a hockey fan.

“When I was a child, my father would take me to the Johnstown Jets hockey games, and even when there was no room, I’d end up sitting on his lap,” Prucnal said. “My father was very devoted — he and his friends went and sat in the same section every time. It was a time when hockey games weren’t on TV, and the only way you got to see them was to attend in person at the War Memorial.”

Prucnal’s ballet career has allowed her the opportunity to not only work with ballerinas, but also wrestlers and football, basketball and hockey players.

“I’ve worked with many athletes in the area because their coaches recognized that ballet would make them supple and help them maneuver better,” Prucnal said. “The strength that is needed in sports is very obvious in dancers.”

Prucnal said that she’s excited for the opportunity to work in conjunction with the Cambria County War Memorial Arena.

“To my knowledge — and I’ve lived in Johnstown all my life — I’ve never heard of a ballet based on hockey, or a ballet being performed during a hockey game in Johnstown,” she said. “It’s going to be really exciting. (The audience is) going to see some interesting moves.”

Performers in “Pucks and Pirouettes” include: Emily Stewart, Taylor George, Tristin Kresak, Abigail Rose, Taelur Vargo, Ashley Jechonek, Lauren Anderson, Alexandra Barnhart, Meghana Gella, Penelope Lee, Morgan Lybarger, Racheal Morgart, Isabella Panebianco, Boston Bradley, Cole Bradley, Chris Miller and Will Miller.

Though their performance won’t last more than 10 minutes, Prucnal said that that’s what teasers are all about.

“We’re taking excerpts from the dances that we’ll be performing in the spring ballet,” she said. “It gives you a little bit of the story and makes you want to see the whole production.”

The “whole production” to which Prucnal was referring is scheduled for April 16 beginning at 2 p.m. at the arts center, which is located on the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown campus. Tickets for the ballet are now on sale at the box office by calling 814-269-7200, and they will also be available at the door. Tickets are not for sale online.

For more information about the Johnstown Concert Ballet, visit www.johnstownballet.homestead.com.

“Pucks and Pirouettes” is being made possible by a grant from the Pennsylvania Rural Arts Alliance.