Tag Archives: UPJ

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.”

Christmas shows coming to UPJ arts center

By KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent

Two holiday-themed shows are coming to the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center on the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown campus.

River City Brass Band will present “Christmas Brasstacular!” Dec. 13 beginning at 3 p.m., while “A Carpenters Christmas” is scheduled for Dec. 15 beginning at 7:30 p.m.

River City Brass Band’s “Christmas Brasstacular!” will feature performances of classic holiday carols as well as a visit from Santa Claus and his elves.
“River City Brass have had a Christmas series here (at the arts center) for a while,” said Michael Bodolosky, executive director of the venue. “They’re really unique, and it’s really great music, great brass sounds.”

River City Brass Band consists of 28 musicians. The Pittsburgh-based band has been in existence since 1981, and its mission is to “entertain, educate, and engage citizens locally, nationally, and internationally in the American musical culture,” according to their official website.

“This show will really put people in the Christmas spirit,” Bodolosky said. “It’s for people of all ages, and no one should miss it because River City Brass is one of the most unique ensembles in Pennsylvania.”

“A Carpenters Christmas” pays tribute to siblings Karen and Richard Carpenter, known collectively as The Carpenters. Some of the duo’s hits from the 1970s include “Please Mr. Postman,” “We’ve Only Just Begun” and “For All We Know.” In 1978, The Carpenters released “A Christmas Portrait,” which was followed by 1984’s “An Old-Fashioned Christmas.”

Ohio native Lisa Rock and her six-piece band will be performing songs found on those Christmas albums, as well as some of The Carpenters’ most popular hits. Rock is dedicated to creating a Carpenters experience like no other, and one way she accomplishes that goal is by singing The Carpenters’ hits in their original keys.
“The band is amazing, and Rock has a phenomenal voice,” Bodolosky said. “If you close your eyes, you’ll think you’re listening to Karen Carpenter.”

Pitt-Johnstown’s choir is tentatively scheduled to appear on stage with Rock and her band.

“Expect a lot of great music that evening,” Bodolosky said.

Audience members who attend these holiday shows are asked to donate non-perishable food items, as the arts enter is participating in the Arts Coalition of the Alleghenies’ holiday food drive for the Johnstown Backpack Project. Single-serve food items free of peanuts will be accepted Dec. 1 through Dec. 31. Food items can also be dropped off at Bottle Works Arts on Third, Green Gables, Heritage Discovery Center and Laurel Arts.

Tickets for “Christmas Brasstacular!” and “A Carpenters Christmas” are on sale and can be purchased by calling 814-269-7200 or visiting www.upjarts.org online.

Children’s choruses to sing at UPJ

By KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent

The children’s choruses of the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra will perform their fall concert Dec. 12 beginning at 11 a.m. at the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center on the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown campus.

The choruses, Inclined to Sing and The Apprentice Choir, feature 35 young singers in kindergarten through ninth grade.

“Each season I am amazed by the talents of the young children of our area,” said Kim Rauch, who founded the choruses and continues to serve as their artistic director. “Many young singers have been recommended to Inclined to Sing by their school music teachers. The program is indeed for children who love to sing, and they come with that love of singing, and we cultivate their voices and music skills. It is a blessing to work with such talented young people.

“Inclined to Sing was founded on the belief that all children can sing and deserve an opportunity to sing and perform quality choral music. As a child remains with the program, they grow in confidence, tone quality and vocal strength. Some singers in Inclined have been with me for eight years. I am honored by the dedication demonstrated by the families and the trust shown in the program.”

This year’s program, titled “A Season of Song,” will celebrate the four seasons.

“This season has brought us a number of new singers, and I wanted the first rehearsal in September to be about singing, not preparing music for a concert in December,” Rauch said. “I selected songs for each choir that had music and singing skills built into the songs. The seasons theme was natural as we worked from the summer, through the fall, and now into December. Our songs include summer songs (‘The Cuckoo’ and ‘Ah Poor Bird’); songs for autumn (‘Grasshoppers Three’ and ‘Thanksgiving’); and holiday selections (‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ and ‘Jingle Bell Boogie’). Other pieces for any season fill out the program.”

Rauch said that performing on this stage will be a delight for chorus members.

“For many of these young singers, this concert will be their first time on any stage. The (arts center) will definitely make an impression on them,” he said. 

“In the past, the ensemble has adapted to a variety of different performing ‘stages,’ including church sanctuaries, the Flight 93 Memorial outdoor stage and The Grand Halle on Broad Street. I have found the children to be dedicated to their performance and very professional, even at this young age.”

Rauch invited community members to attend the fall concert.

“Watching and hearing the future in these young musicians will bring joy to your day and a smile to your face,” he said. “The youngsters also love to be in front of an audience, and your support is important to their sense of accomplishment.”

Tickets for this show will be available at the door. For more information call 814-535-6738.

Open enrollment for Inclined to Sing begins in January. Rehearsals take place Tuesday afternoons starting at 4:30 p.m. for The Apprentice Choir, and 5:30 p.m. for Inclined to Sing. The choruses rehearse in the choir room of Mount Calvary Lutheran Church along Scalp Avenue in Richland Township. 

Interested families can contact the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra at 814-535-6738 or visit info@johnstownsymphony.org for more information and registration. Tuition scholarships are available and have been provided by Johnstown Symphony Chorus members.

Campus showing ‘Flashdance the Musical’

By KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent

“Flashdance the Musical” is coming to the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center on the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown campus. The dance-filled musical will be performed Nov. 16 beginning at 7:30 p.m.

“Flashdance” tells the story of Alex Owens, a Pittsburgh native who wants to become a professional dancer. Owens works as a steel mill welder during the day and a bar dancer at night, but she wants nothing more than to be accepted into a ballet academy. It’s not until she meets Nick Hurley that Owens realizes that she has the potential to make her dreams come true.

“It’s a heartwarming story,” said Michael Bodolosky, the arts center’s executive director. “Alex Owens really pursues her passion.”

Audiences might be familiar with the film version of this musical, which grossed more than $150 million and came complete with a Grammy award-winning soundtrack. Songs from that soundtrack will be featured in the musical. Some of those songs include “Flashdance . . . What a Feeling,” “Gloria” and “I Love Rock and Roll.”

Music and dancing are big components of the show, and Bodolosky said he’s looking forward to bringing “Flashdance” to the arts center for the first time.

“It’s going to be a fantastic show,” he said. “I think the show is really close to the movie, which is celebrating 30 years since its release. This show just came out on tour and it’s actually the same show that was in Heinz Hall a week ago. It’s the same show at half the price.”

“Flashdance the Musical” is recommended for ages 12 and older, as the performance includes profanity and mature content.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.upjarts.org or call the arts center box office at 814-269-7200.

“Come out and support the arts and support your inner soul,” Bodolosky said.

Ukulele orchestra coming to UPJ

By KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent

The United Kingdom Ukulele Orchestra — also known as TUKUO — is coming to the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center on the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown campus Oct. 15.

Orchestra members will entertain audiences with their “miniature guitars,” as well as through song and comedy skits. Their vast repertoire of songs includes familiar rock, oldies and Top 40 hits.

“They cover Beatles songs, (and) they do ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’” said the arts center’s Executive Director Michael Bodolosky. “It’s a ukulele orchestra, but they do so much more than that.”

This is TUKUO’s third U.S. tour. Bodolosky said that he was inspired to bring them on campus after he saw them perform last year.

“I caught them at one of the conferences I was at and it was really cool,” Bodolosky said. “It’s something out of the ordinary, something uncommon.”

TUKUO is directed by BBC conductor and composer Peter Moss, who served as musical director and pianist for “Rocky Horror Show.” 
Moss took over the leadership of the orchestra in 2009. The orchestra consists of musicians Alan Dowson, Steve Truman, Dave Kavanagh, Stuart Crout, Jessica Barr, Sarah Dale, Andy Wild, Lesley Cunningham, Peter Baynes, Alex Gold and Tony Young.

This performance is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the box office.

“This is another show in our lineup that I would not miss,” Bodolosky said.

Japanese drum group to play

By KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent

San Jose Taiko is scheduled to perform at the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center on the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown campus March 17 beginning at 7:30 p.m.

San Jose Taiko uses percussion as a means to entertain audiences. Ensemble performers are inspired by traditional Japanese drumming, and they have traveled the world to share the taiko’s historical significance with others. Taiko is a Japanese word that describes a wide ride of percussion instruments.

Additionally, members of the ensemble have studied with masters of other traditions and cultures. As a result, they combine both Japanese drumming with the beat of world rhythms heard in Africa, Brazil and Latin America, among others.