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Theater Names Producer March 15, 2018

The Gretna Theatre board of directors has announced the appointment of Brian Kurtas as the organization's new executive producer.

Kurtas will now lead the theater through its next phase of growth. Producing its professional theatre season in only the summer months, Gretna's plans include expanding educational programming in order to offer workshops, classes, and touring outreach shows for schools during the rest of the year.

A native of Lancaster and a local Manheim Township High School graduate, Kurtas brings 10 years of experience from New York and Philadelphia, coming directly from Walnut Street Theatre, one of America's oldest and most successful nonprofit theaters. There, he is credited as the casting director for more than 50 plays and musicals and for assisting the producing artistic director in shaping the programming for more than 50,000 subscribers. He has produced commercials and live corporate events throughout the East coast, and is a member of the Casting Society of America.

Gretna Theatre is a nonprofit theater company based in Mount Gretna that holds performances at the Mount Gretna Playhouse. For subscriptions, tickets, and information, readers may call 717-964-3627, or visit


Youths To Stage "Belles On Their Toes" March 15, 2018

Life Youth Productions will present the comedic play "Belles on Their Toes" in the Performing Arts Center of Lancaster Mennonite School, 2176 Lincoln Highway East, Lancaster, at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, March 23, 24, and 25. The doors will open at 6:45 p.m. each night. No tickets are required, and a freewill offering will be accepted.

"Belles on Their Toes" is the sequel to "Cheaper by the Dozen," which Life Youth Productions presented several years ago. The play is based on the book of the same title, which was written by siblings Frank B. Gilbreth Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey. It is the continuing adventures of the Gilbreth children after the death of their father, efficiency expert Frank Gilbreth Sr.

Life Youth Productions is the dramatic arm of the youth group at Life Mennonite Fellowship Church, 732 Millwood Road, Willow Street. The group mounts a production in alternate years as a fundraiser for biennial mission trips. In addition to "Cheaper by the Dozen," previous plays have included "Anne of Green Gables," "Anne of Avonlea," and "Ben Hur," which was presented in 2016.

"We choose our plays by a vote," explained youth group adviser Priscilla Zook. "'Ben Hur' was very dramatic, so pretty much everybody wanted to do a comedy. The hardest part is finding a play with a large cast."

Forty youth group members, ranging in age from 15 to 21, have signed up for the mission trip, and all of them are expected to participate with the production of "Belles on Their Toes." The cast has been rehearsing since October under the direction of Amy Gingerich, who has appeared in several Life Youth Productions shows.

"When they did 'Anne of Avonlea" four years ago, Amy was Anne, and she knocked it out of the park," Zook said. "She studied her lines for five hours a day."

Gingerich's dedication is indicative of the quality of the shows presented by Life Youth Productions. "They do a really good job," said Zook, who noted that she is a theater fan and has experienced Broadway productions.

While each participant is responsible for the individual cost of the mission trip, any money raised by the play will be divided among the participants to offset their costs.

The group will travel in July, first spending four days in London at a Youth With a Mission (YWAM) training base before moving on to Albania, where the group will work for 10 days. Three couples will travel with the youth group, and YWAM will supply a missionary couple in Albania to supervise the group.

For more information about the show or the mission trip, readers may call Zook at 717-989-4014.


Hirsh To Perform At Cafe March 15, 2018

Lester Hirsh will perform at Emmaus Road Cafe, 1886 Lincoln Highway East, Lancaster, on Saturday, March 24. Doors will open at 7 p.m., and the music will begin at 7:30 p.m.

Hirsh is a Grammy-nominated guitarist, singer-songwriter, and poet. On the Spanish six-string and acoustic 12-string guitars, along with the harmonica, he plays a variety of music, including classical, country, folk, and Brazilian jazz and flamenco. His repertoire includes original compositions. In addition to performing as a solo artist, Lester has performed in a variety of ensembles, including folk trio Side Three, folk pop trio Jerusalem, and duo Sweet River.

His albums and compilations are "Part and Parcel," "Piper"s Dream," "Whistle in the Wind," "Tales of a Troubadour," "Sweet Surrender," "Strangers and Lonesome Friends," "Lester Hirsh Live at the Coffee and Tea Room," and "River of Strings," along with two spoken word CDs. Two of his songs were included on the compilation disc "Digital Mystery Tour," which received airplay in the US and overseas.

In 1997, Lester was a finalist in the Napa Valley, Calif., Emerging Songwriter Contest, and in June 2000, he performed on Michael Johnathon's "Woodsong Old Time Radio Hour."

In addition to Lester"s music career, from 1988 through 2002, he was the publisher and editor of Bone and Flesh literary magazine. His poems have been published in various periodicals, and he published a book, "Mosaic II, Poems of an Ancient Order."

Lester performs for audiences who have special needs, at artist-in-school residencies, and at numerous concert venues. He teaches poetry, as well as guitar workshops, in community education settings, and he is a member of various arts organizations.

Admission to the event is free. Emmaus Road Cafe offers coffee beverages, Italian sodas, and baked goods for sale. The cafe may be contacted at or 717-478-3672.


Orchestra Posts Concert Schedule March 15, 2018

Lancaster Symphony Orchestra (LSO) has announced its 2018-19 Classic Series concerts. Unless otherwise noted, the performances will take place at Fulton Opera House, 12 N. Prince St., Lancaster.

The series will begin with three performances on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 28 and 29, at First Presbyterian Church in Lancaster. The orchestra will perform Saint-Saëns' Symphony No. 3, featuring the church's Aeolian-Skinner 1070a organ played by Zach Fritsch-Hemenway. The concert will also include Handel's Organ Concerto in C Major and Richard Strauss' tone poem "Don Juan."

On Saturday, Nov. 10, together with the Lancaster Symphony Chorus, the LSO will perform Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana," Oscar Navarro's "Paconchita" Latin overture and John Harbison's "Remembering Gatsby" at McCaskey East High School.

A concert on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019, will include Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 and Ravel's "Introduction and Allegro," as well as Koussevitzky's Concerto for Double Bass, featuring LSO principal bassist Brent Edmondson.

On Saturday, March 2, 2019, Israeli pianist Yevgeny Yontov will solo on Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 2. The LSO will also perform Mozart's Overture to "Don Giovanni" and Mendelssohn's Scottish Symphony.

The fifth Classic Concert will feature Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" and his Overture to "Rienzi." Asiya Korepanova will solo on Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No. 1. The LSO's annual composer award will be presented to a contemporary composer who is making a mark on the classical music of today. The concert date has not been determined.

The LSO will conclude the season on Saturday, May 18, 2019 with a concert featuring Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5, Khachaturian's Waltz from "Masquerade Suite," and Russell Peck's "The Glory and the Grandeur," a concerto for percussion trio and orchestra. The concert will be performed at the Winter Visual and Performing Arts Center on the campus of Millersville University.

The Classic Series concerts will take place at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Free Meet the Music pre-concert talks will be held an hour before each performance. A Meet the Musicians reception will follow the Saturday night concerts in the lobby.

For more information, readers may visit Subscriptions are available for purchase by calling the LSO at 717-291-4420.


Summer Theater Camps Announced March 14, 2018

The Belmont Theatre, 27 S. Belmont St., York, announced its 2018 summer theater and theatrical makeup camps filled with imagination and creative fun. Summer camps will begin on Monday, June 25, and will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be an end-of-week performance on the last day of camp at 3 p.m.

All camps will run from Monday through Friday. Camps will include "Into the Woods Jr." from June 25 to 29; "Elf the Musical Jr." from July 9 to 13; "Shrek the Musical Jr." from July 16 to 20; "Annie Kids" from July 23 to 27; and "Mary Poppins Jr." from July 30 to Aug. 3. Theatrical makeup camps will be offered from June 25 to 29 and from July 16 to 20.

Camps are open to students entering first through 12th grades; however, children must be at least age 10 to register for a theatrical makeup camp. Registrations will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis, and space in each camp is limited.

A camp T-shirt is included in the registration fee. For registration and more information, readers may visit and click on Education or call 717-854-5715.


DreamWrights Offers Scholarships March 14, 2018

DreamWrights invites young people in the community to apply for scholarships that provide tuition aid for enrollment in summer camps, counselor opportunities for teens, and financial support for ongoing arts education and development.

The Ann Brougher Noll Memorial Scholarship (ABNMS) was instituted in 2012 as a way to memorialize DreamWrights' past executive director, Ann B. Noll, and carry on her legacy by recognizing and supporting young people. The scholarship award of $500 is available to applicants ages 17 to 20 who exhibit strong volunteerism, community involvement, and a sincere effort to seek out opportunities for creative and challenging growth. Noll was passionate about young people and gave her full support and encouragement to their pursuit of exploring creative opportunities. The ABNMS application is due by Saturday, March 31.

Dream Scholarships (DS) are awarded based upon financial need and cover the cost of tuition for a week of summer camp at DreamWrights. Funded by community sponsors, the scholarships will provide free educational programming to 15 to 20 students this summer. DS applications are due by Friday, May 18.

Work Scholarships (WS) are designed for teens ages 12 to 17 who wish to enhance their leadership skills and build their resumes as camp counselors. By working closely with DreamWrights' teaching artists during one week of camp, teen counselors may receive a reduced enrollment discount to another camp of their choice. WS applications are due by Friday, May 11.

DreamWrights Center for Community Arts in York, Pennsylvania has been offering interactive performing arts experiences for people of all ages since 1997. By serving as an educational theatre and performing arts resource, DreamWrights offers opportunities to explore all aspects of performance arts from theatre acting and designing to crewing and stage managing. DreamWrights fosters and inspires growth, creativity, responsibility and an appreciation for live performance in people of all ages and cultures.

To learn more and to obtain applications, readers may visit More information about the organization is also available at


Band Posts Concert Schedule March 14, 2018

The New Cumberland Town Band has announced its 72nd season of concerts.

The concert dates, times, and locations are as follows: Tuesday, May 8, at 7 p.m. in the Cedar Cliff High School auditorium; Memorial Day, Monday, May 28, at 11 a.m. at Bridge Street and Park Avenue in New Cumberland; Sunday, June 17, at 6 p.m. at New Cumberland Borough Park; Wednesday, July 4, at 10:30 a.m., annual Fourth of July concert at New Cumberland Library; Sunday, July 22, at 6:30 p.m. at New Cumberland Anna and Bailey Street Park; Sunday, Aug. 12, at 6 p.m. (rain date of Sunday, Aug. 26), second annual concert at St. Theresa Church Concert on the lawn; Sunday, Aug. 19, at 6:30 p.m. (rain date of Sunday, Sept. 16) at Adams Ricci Park; Saturday, Sept. 29, at 11 a.m., Apple Festival at New Cumberland Borough Park; Saturday, Oct. 13, at 5 p.m., annual Band Competition at West Shore Stadium; and Friday, Dec. 14, at 7:30 p.m., annual Christmas concert at Trinity United Methodist Church.

Founded in 1946, the band was a natural outgrowth of the interests of military musicians across the country who, returning home from duty overseas, were interested in continuing ensemble playing and reliving the camaraderie they had experienced. Town bands sprang up across the nation, but many of them eventually disbanded.

The New Cumberland Town Band was originally named the American Legion Post 143 Band, and in the early 1950s the band was renamed. It became an independent organization and has continued to provide concerts for the public since that time. Today its members come from all walks of life and include teachers, students, business people and professional musicians. They share the goal of providing good music and enjoyment for themselves and for their audiences.

For more information and schedule updates, readers may visit or search for "The New Cumberland Town Band - Since 1946" on Facebook.

Additionally, accomplished musicians of high school age or older who are interested in joining the band may contact the band's manager at


Pianist, Flutist To Perform Concert March 9, 2018

A concert titled "The Sound of Brazilian Classical Music" will be presented at The Trust Performing Arts Center, 37 N. Market St., Lancaster. Gianne Ge Zhu, pianist, and Guilherme Andreas, flutist, will perform.

The concert will include "Oriental" by Pattapio Silva, "Bachianas Brasileira No. 5" by Heitor Villa Lobos, "Fantasia" by Ronaldo Miranda, "Nostalgia" by Jose Siqueira, the first movement of Sonata Op. 14 by Leopoldo Miguez, and "Brazilian Medley" by Alberto Arantes. The selections will also be featured on an album that is being produced and be offered on Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, and Pandora and also used in the bid for the Latin Grammy Awards.

Born in Jiangsu, China, Zhu began her piano study at age 5. In 2008, she came to the United States to further her training at Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University, where she earned her bachelor's and master's degrees. She is currently pursuing her Doctor of Musical Arts degree in piano performance and pedagogy at James Madison University (JMU). She has competed and won awards at various international competitions, including being named a finalist at the Brescia International Piano Competition (Italy).

Andreas began his musical journey in his church's wind ensemble in Brasilia, Brazil. He earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Brasilia and then was appointed principal flute of the Brazilian Marine Wind Symphony in Rio de Janeiro. He continued his flute studies and earned a graduate diploma in chamber music at the Brazilian Music Conservatory. He also studied at JMU and the Peabody Institute. Currently, Andreas serves as music director of Grace City Church of Baltimore and was recently appointed principal flute of the chamber orchestra Symphony Number One. He has won various competitions, including first prize in the São Paulo Symphony Masterclass Competition. He made his debut at Carnegie Hall performing with the New England Symphonic Ensemble.

Both Zhu and Andreas are also involved in their respective church music programs.

Admission to the concert will be free, but donations will be accepted and go toward the costs of the concert and the production of their album.


DreamWrights Receives Donation March 7, 2018


Theater To Offer Vocal Academy March 7, 2018

Internationally acclaimed Metropolitan Opera soprano, Broadway performer, and master voice teacher Blythe Walker will bring her voice studio to the Belmont Theatre, 27 S. Belmont St., York.

Walker will accept new students for individual voice instruction in classical and music theater vocal technique and repertoire. The studio also offers performance/audition workshops for middle school and high school students and adults.

To schedule an introductory lesson, readers may contact Walker at 646-300-1637 or For more information, readers may visit


Vocalists To Compete In L-S Idol March 2, 2018

When the television show "American Idol" became popular, the members of what was then the Strasburg Area Woman's Club launched a vocal competition for Lampeter-Strasburg (L-S) School District students as a fundraiser. L-S Idol has been a popular event, but when "American Idol" was canceled, organizer Wendy Barber expected that the 10th annual L-S Idol in 2017 would be the last.

"American Idol" was revived, and L-S Idol is still going strong. Nearly 60 students auditioned for a slot in the final round, and a total of 20 students were selected. The final will be held on Saturday, March 17, at 7 p.m. at the L-S Performing Arts Center (PAC), 1600 Book Road, Lancaster. The doors will open at 6 p.m. Tickets may be purchased in advance by emailing Barber at, or they may be bought at the door.

"We'd love to fill the auditorium," Barber remarked, noting that 1,500 is the capacity. The proceeds from ticket sales enable the Lampeter-Strasburg Area Woman's Club to fund scholarships for graduating L-S seniors. "We try to give four $350 scholarships each year," Barber said. She explained that a committee at the high school chooses the recipients.

L-S Idol audience members and a panel of judges will determine the winners of the vocal competition. Each ticketholder may vote once in each of the categories of Group, Elementary, Middle School, and High School. The winners will receive prize packages valued around $100, and they will be invited to sing the national anthem at L-S sporting events and holiday songs at Christmas on the Square. They will also be referred to a local coffeehouse for performances on live music nights.

Themes were selected for the grade-level contestants. Anything in the Disney catalog was fair game for elementary students. Middle-schoolers were assigned the era of the 1980s, and high school students found songs in the current Top 40.

The L-S Idol finalists in the Elementary division are Elizabeth Shiffer, Mia LaFontaine, Quinn Flory, and Sarah Baum. Middle-school contestants are Brooke Smith, McKenna Donaldson, Mallory Keene, Samantha Ferrari, and Jackson Weaver. The high school competitors are Grant Kuhn, Mikayla Miller, Alia Puffenberger, and Esther Landis. The groups that are finalists include Hollyn Miller and Mariah Beiler; Audrey and Eileen Wieand; and Maggie Swarr, Terry Stinson, and Elly Bruner.

In addition to hearing the contestants, this year's audience will be treated to performances by at least one and possibly several of the judges. Madison Paige Buck, who won L-S Idol in 2013 and graduated that same year, has been performing professionally since graduating with a degree in musical theater from Temple University. The other judges include 2013 L-S Alumnus of the Year Doris Hall-Gulati, bluegrass musician Ron McVey, former L-S music instructor and administrator William Grager Jr., Pequea Valley High School director of choral activities Nathan Bankert, vocal instructor Stephan Englehart, and Pequea Valley Intermediate School music teacher Alicia Trescavage.

"It's a fun night of family entertainment, and it's cross-generational," said woman's club member Lisa Horn, who coordinates the judges and serves as the master of ceremonies.

A concession stand operated by the L-S post prom committee will offer refreshments in the PAC lobby. "They have all kinds of good things," Barber remarked.

New members are always welcome to join the L-S Area Woman's Club. The group meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of every month in the Wesley United Methodist Church fellowship hall, 46 W. Main St., Strasburg. For more information, readers may email Barber or search for "Lampeter-Strasburg Area Woman's Club" on Facebook.


New Flute Ensemble Sets Performances March 1, 2018

"There are so many textures and colors and emotions in flutes," said Ray-Michael Kauffman, explaining why he is passionate about playing the wind instrument. Kauffman, Jenny Fritsch, William Hoff, and Dot Lippart are the founders of the Lancaster County Flute Ensemble, which is continually accepting new members. The musical group was formed in October 2016 and has grown to its current membership of 15 people.

The group got its start when three enthusiasts met at a flute camp in the Poconos and, wanting to continue the musical camaraderie at home, decided to form an ensemble in the Lancaster area. Flutists now travel from as far as York and Reading to practice with the group when it meets on the first and third Tuesdays of every month from 7 to 9 p.m. at Grace Lutheran Church, 517 N. Queen St., Lancaster.

The group includes all types of flutes, from piccolos to bass flutes. Adults age 18 and older are welcome. The ensemble strives to accommodate all levels of playing ability, and parts are freely traded to ensure that each musician is comfortable. While most of the ensemble members have played the flute since their youths, several picked up the instrument as adults. Ceci Good was inspired to learn to play after she graduated from college. While spending time in Mexico, she heard a sibling group perform on two flutes and an organ. When she returned home, she bought a flute through a newspaper ad and found an instructor.

"We're not an elitist thing," Kauffman remarked.

"But we want to make ourselves sound as good as possible while having fun," Lippart added.

While Debra Lenssen serves as the conductor, Kauffman, who composes music for flute ensembles, is primarily responsible for selecting the repertoire for the group. He aims for a varied program.

"I look for something that sounds intriguing or fits into what we're doing," Kauffman said. "We just love it so much. It's not just (that) we want to have fun, but we want the audience to have fun too."

The Lancaster County Flute Ensemble has given several concerts, and it has planned two additional concerts. On Sunday, April 29, the group will give a concert at 4 p.m. at Community Methodist Church, 130 Tennyson Drive, Lancaster. The group will be featured at the monthly meeting of the Musical Arts Society on Tuesday, June 12, at 7:30 p.m. at Homestead Village, 1800 Marietta Ave., Lancaster.

The April program will take listeners on a musical tour of the world. Several American patriotic songs will kick off the concert, which will be followed by songs from China, Central and South America, the Caribbean, Russia, Italy, the Middle East, Ireland, and France. Donations will be accepted, and the proceeds will be used to pay for musical score purchases and other operational expenses.

The Lancaster County Flute Ensemble welcomes invitations to perform. To learn more about joining the group or booking it, readers may email or call Fritsch at 717-872-8979.


A Humorous Retelling Of A Tragic Tale March 1, 2018

The heartbreaking tale of biblical patriarch Jacob and his marriages to sisters Rachel and Leah is retold as a comedy in "'I Do' X 2," the latest production by Promise Players, a Christian theater group.

The musical comedy by Jack Burford is based on the biblical account found in Genesis 28 and 29. On the run from his older brother, Esau, Jacob arrived in the land of Laban, his uncle, where he fell in love with Laban's younger daughter, Rachel. In return for seven years of labor, Jacob was permitted to marry Rachel. However, on the wedding night, Laban switched out Rachel for Leah, his older daughter. After the wedding week, Laban allowed Jacob and Rachel to finally marry, but Jacob had to work another seven years.

"It's a fascinating story from beginning to end, (and) it actually works out in the end," said director Doreen Creighton. "Leah's son Judah became Jesus Christ's ancestor. Through the unloved, God showed His love. So many people in this world feel unlovely and unlovable, but God uses them. He turns them into something beautiful."

The production ends with a song of praise for God. Music throughout the show ranges in style from blues and rock to traditional Christian. Brad Willwerth as Jacob sings "I Got the Too-Many-Women Blues" and "Abstinence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder."

"The inherent sexuality issues are addressed tastefully," Creighton remarked. "It's a safe show for children. There are things that will go over their heads but adults will get."

In addition to Willwerth, the cast will include Ken Hess as Laban, Mary Williams as Rachel, and Stacey Fletcher as Leah. Other cast members are Marti Guglielmo, Rebekah; Dot Smith, Judith; Bev Reed, Basemath and Bilhah; Karen Ungemach, Zilpah; Nancy Snyder, Hittite evangelist; Wayne Rhinier, Isaac; Cliff Snyder, Esau; A.J. Rhinier, Raca and an angel; and Allen Gruver, Nadar. Creighton will appear as the assistant evangelist. Snyder also does double-duty as the music director, and Doug Bell serves as both the stage manager and duetist with piano accompanist Nancy Anderson. Rebecca Kropf is the props mistress and assistant stage manager.

"'I Do' X 2" will be performed at Lampeter Church of the Brethren, 1900 Lampeter Road, Lancaster, at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 9; 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays, March 10 and 17; 2:30 p.m. on Sundays, March 11 and 18; and 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 15. Child care for preschoolers will be provided during all performances. Donations will be accepted at the door in lieu of set ticket prices. Children under age 12 may give canned goods for the Lampeter Food Cupboard instead of a cash donation.

The proceeds from the performances will be donated to New Life Center for Women and Children, a residential facet of New Life for Girls located in Glen Rock. The program is designed to provide healing and restoration for women who have been incarcerated, abused, or addicted. Creighton learned about the organization from a fellow church member, whose granddaughter has received services there.

"We try to target smaller organizations so our donation makes a bigger impact," Creighton explained. "It's always nice when we have a big crowd and can give them $10,000."

While the seats are general admission, reservations are recommended. Readers may make reservations by visiting or by calling 717-464-2050 on weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.


"Tosca" Will Take Stage February 28, 2018

Center Stage Opera will present "Tosca" by Giacomo Puccini. Performances will take place at a variety of venues.

On Friday, March 9, and Saturday, March 10, performances will take the stage at 7 p.m. at Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, 1610 Carlisle Road, Camp Hill. Performances will take place at 4 p.m. on Sundays, March 11 and 18, at Covenant Moravian Church, 901 Cape Horn Road, York.

Tickets will be available at the door. Tickets for students will be discounted. Cash and check will be accepted. For more details, readers may visit


Students Perform Recital February 28, 2018


College To Host Opera Singer February 28, 2018

Bass-baritone Ashraf Sewailam, who has performed on global opera stages, will perform with York College pianist Kenneth Osowski at 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 18, in the college's DeMeester Recital Hall. The event, made possible thanks to a gift from the Boustead Family Foundation, is open to the public free of charge. The college is located at 441 Country Club Road, York.

Sewailam was born in Cairo, Egypt, and received a doctoral degree from the University of Colorado Boulder in 2008. In the same year he was granted his permanent residence in the United States based on his career accomplishments and has been a naturalized U.S. citizen since 2014.

Originally an architect, then a house soloist with the Cairo Opera Company, Sewailam had his U.S. debut with Opera Colorado in 2003 as Leporello in "Don Giovanni" and has sung with several opera companies in venues around the United States and the world. He has also participated in world premieres in both Egypt and the United States, advocating new music in both countries and promoting opera in his native language.

In addition, Sewailam is a teacher in the masterclass circuit, has taught at the American University in Cairo, and served as music director for Disney Character Voice International (DCVI), dubbing Disney productions into Arabic, as well as performing some of the characters himself.

This season, he is directing "The Cunning Little Vixen" for Dell Arte Opera; performing the role of Capitán in "Florencia en el Amazonas" with Madison Opera and Monterone in "Rigoletto" with Opera Grand Rapids, Toledo Opera, and Opera Carolina, where he also is performing Lignieres in "Cyrano"; and singing a concert titled "Eternal Spirit" with Boulder Bach Festival. Additionally, he sings on a recording of a new opera, "The 13th Child" by Danish composer Poul Ruders.


Chamber Singers Plan Benefit Concert February 23, 2018

The Lancaster Chamber Singers will hold a charity concert on Sunday, March 4, at 6 p.m. at Blossom Hill Mennonite Church, 333 Delp Road, Lancaster, to raise funds for Mennonite Disaster Service's ongoing hurricane relief efforts.

The performance will feature a local guest soloist, mezzo-soprano Amy Yovanovich. The program will include Mozart's "Ave Verum Corpus" and "Laudate Dominum," Dan Forrest's "Good Night, Dear Heart," John Rutter's settings of several well-known hymns, and many other choral favorites.

There is no admission fee, but there will be a freewill offering to fund disaster relief.

The conductor is Jay Risser. More information regarding the concert and Lancaster Chamber Singers is available at To learn more about Mennonite Disaster Service, readers may visit


Hempfield To Perform "The Phantom Of The Opera" February 23, 2018

Hempfield High School will present "The Phantom of the Opera" as its 2018 spring musical. Performances will take place on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, March 9, 10, and 11, in the Performing Arts Center at the school, 200 Stanley Ave., Landisville. The Friday and Saturday performances will be held at 7:30 p.m., while the Sunday matinee has been set for 2:30 p.m.

Additionally, a senior citizen preview performance is slated for Thursday, March 8, at 7 p.m. The dress rehearsal is free to all residents of Hempfield School District age 65 and older. Tickets and preregistration are not necessary. At intermission, Mennonite Home Communities will host a senior citizen cookie break.

"The Phantom of the Opera," featuring music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Charles Hart with additional lyrics by Richard Stilgoe, is based on a 1910 horror novel by Gaston Leroux. It tells the story of the legendary "Opera Ghost," a musical genius who dwells beneath the Opera Populaire in Paris. Shunned by society for his disfigurements, he entices the young soprano Christine Daae to become his protegee, and he falls in love with her. As Christine is courted by the nobleman Raoul, the Phantom terrorizes the opera company. The show is rated PG-13 and may not be appropriate for younger audience members.

Audience members will enjoy memorable songs such as "Think of Me," "All I Ask of You," "The Music of the Night," "Prima Donna," and the title song, "The Phantom of the Opera."

Hempfield's production features senior Jordan Hooks as the Phantom, junior Hannah Rau as Christine, junior Josiah Vieland as Raoul, and seniors Brynn Jacobs and River Michael as the featured opera singers Carlotta and Ubaldo.

All seating is reserved. Separate ticket prices have been set for adults and for students, children, and seniors age 65 and up. To purchase tickets, readers may visit, with online ticket sales closing at 4:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and at noon on Sunday. Tickets may also be purchased at the Performing Arts Center box office 45 minutes prior to showtime and on Wednesday, March 7, from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.


DHS To Stage "Beauty And The Beast" February 23, 2018

The members of Donegal Performing Arts invite the community to join them as the enchanting magic of Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" is brought to the stage at Donegal High School (DHS), 1025 Koser Road, Mount Joy.

Performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, March 9 and 10, with a 2 p.m. matinee showing on Sunday, March 11. Separate ticket prices have been set for adults and for senior citizens and students. The box office will open one hour prior to each performance as well as from 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning on Feb. 27 in the high school lobby.

Following the opening night performance, a reception with light refreshments will be held in the cafeteria. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet the cast and crew members.

As is tradition, senior citizens age 65 and older are invited to attend a dress rehearsal of the show on Thursday, March 8, at 2 p.m. Doors will open at 1:30 p.m., and school officials request that attendees refrain from arriving early. There is no charge; however, donation baskets will be available at this event.

DHS junior Elisabeth Kreider landed the part of Belle, a book-loving young girl who finds herself imprisoned in a castle by a disfigured prince who is trapped under an enchantress' spell that requires the discovery of true love in order to set him free from his beastliness. "It's very surreal that I get to play Belle, and it's super exciting," remarked Elisabeth. "I've always loved the story."

DHS senior Silas Buckwalter will portray the Beast, a role he considers both an honor and a challenge. "It involves a lot of growling and shouting, which is tough because then you have to sing, too," said Silas. He noted that his character also goes through a major transformation throughout the story, requiring a wide range of emotions. Belle undergoes plenty of changes of her own, which Elisabeth explained involves coming to the realization that there is a deeper side to every person beyond what appearances convey. "Beauty is found from within," said Silas, referring to the show's overarching message.

Junior Mackenzie Shirk will act as the Enchantress, and seniors Dylan Zuch and Andrew Erb will play Gaston and Belle's father, Maurice, respectively. "(Gaston) is the big guy in town that no one messes with. He gets all the women, but there is this one girl that he can't get - Belle - and he'll do anything to change her mind," Dylan said.

The production features a cast and crew of approximately 110 students, according to director Audra Brackbill.

Brackbill chose the show for its magic and because of the numerous role opportunities it offers for students to get involved. "It's a production where everyone's on their A-game," commented Brackbill. From the set, which includes an ornate castle, to special effects such as a rose that can drop petals on demand, "Beauty and the Beast" is no small undertaking. "It's been really exciting to watch it all come together," Brackbill said.

Additional direction for the show is being provided by by choreographer Michelina McGrady, music director Meagan Caterbone, and costume designer Janet Wood.


L-S To Stage "West Side Story" February 22, 2018

"There stands that tragic story, with a theme as profound as love versus hate, with all the theatrical risks of death and racial issues and young performers and 'serious' music and complicated balletics - and it all added up for audience and critics," Leonard Bernstein wrote after "West Side Story" debuted in Washington, D.C., in 1957.

The leads of Lampeter-Strasburg High School's production of "West Side Story" have unique insight into the issues addressed in the musical. Sophomore Jess Heisey will play Maria, a Puerto Rican immigrant in 1950s New York City, and senior Brendan Massar will portray Maria's love interest, Tony, whose mother is Polish.

Jess shared that like Maria's family, her grandmother's family also encountered stigma for being immigrants from Puerto Rico. "My grandma came from Puerto Rico when she was 13," Jess said. "I've been to Puerto Rico, and I'm channeling that energy."

Brendan also has a unique perspective on immigration, as he was adopted from Russia as an infant.

"It's the great conundrum," Brendan remarked. "In a nation full of immigrants, what makes an American?"

Brendan pointed out that none of the characters have last names, except for a few adults who are authority figures. A lack of surnames makes it difficult to pinpoint the ethnicities of many of the characters. "It equalizes them," he said.

"We respect dealing with the issues," commented director Kevin Ditzler. "We haven't softened what are important issues in any generation: gangs, violence in society, and the impact (of violence) on our youths."

"West Side Story" was inspired by Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" and based on a conception by Jerome Robbins. The book is by Arthur Laurents, music by Bernstein, and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Tony and Maria are star-crossed lovers who are separated by prejudice and tragedy.

"I don't think you can really dislike Tony," Brendan said. "Being a former gang leader adds so many layers to him. He's trying to find a purpose. He's waiting for something. That's when he meets Maria, and his life changes."

Jess described Maria as innocent and a person who follows her heart. "She's a very sweet character and fun to portray," Jess said. "Maria can be a little naïve sometimes, and that can add to her innocence, but it doesn't work to her advantage."

Maria's innocence contrasts with the violence that breaks out between Tony's former teenage street gang, the Jets, and Maria's brother's gang, the Sharks. Ditzler noted that knife and fist fights will take place on stage, there will be a gun shot, and racial epithets will be used.

Jo Carole Dodson has been working with the students on choreography. Understanding that many of the cast members have not studied ballet, Dodson has carefully selected what elements to use from Robbins' original choreography. "Our choreography is more athletic than balletic," she remarked.

Dodson is also overseeing the costumes. Other production staff members include music director Erik Welchans, pit conductor Robert Shaubach, set designer Adam Zurn, and technical director Ethan Moore. Junior Skye Reinacher is the stage manager, and sophomore Lauren Kneisley is the assistant stage manager.

"West Side Story" will be performed in the high school's Performing Arts Center, 1600 Book Road, Lancaster, at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, March 8, 9, and 10, with a 2 p.m. matinee on March 10. Tickets may be purchased at the high school office on weekdays from noon to 4 p.m. or at the door before each performance.

For more information, readers may visit and follow @LSThespianSociety and #LSWSS on Instagram.

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