By Mary Therese Biebel - mbiebel@timesleader.com

‘Crucible,’ ‘Forum,’ other locally produced plays highlight 2015 in Northeastern Pennsylvania

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Dane Bower and Chris Laundry starred in ‘A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,’ in March at the Music Box Dinner Playhouse in Swoyersville.
Submitted photo
Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre presents Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” on January 18. (Pete G. Wilcox|Times Leader)
Pete G. Wilcox | Times Leader
Dane Bower, center, as Shrek, led a cast of fairy tale characters at Theatre at the Grove in Nuangola in July.
Submitted photo

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    WILKES-BARRE — Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre started 2015 with a powerful production of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible,” bringing local audiences all the hysteria and horror of the Salem witchcraft trials, minus the costume trappings of Puritan New England.

    Savvy theater goers peg that January production, directed by David Parmelee of Shavertown, as one of the best local dramatic offerings of the year, and said there was plenty more to enjoy throughout 2015.

    High marks for humor go to Music Box Playhouse’s March production of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” which had people laughing so hard they cried.

    For poignancy and relevancy, theater folks give high praise to the Misfit Players’ October presentation of “Next To Normal.” Directed by Kingston native Heidi Germaine Schnappauf at Act Out Theatre in Taylor, the rock musical focused on the ways mental illness can affect a family — and audience members agreed Alice Y. Lyons was spot on in her portrayal of a woman enduring anxiety, depression and other problems.

    And, if you admire the way make-up can transform a pleasant human face into, well, a pleasant ogre face, give thumbs up to the behind-the-scenes work at Theatre at the Grove in Nuangola, where Dane Bower became “Shrek” in July.

    The Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble, meanwhile, brought some fine performances in “Skin and Bone,” in March, telling a tale of dark Southern Gothic humor as two elderly sisters faced the loss of their ancestral home. Later in the year, BTE joined forces with area children to present “Sideways Stories From Wayside School,” which was a rollicking good time.

    Kudos also to BTE for introducing many children around the region to theater as the ensemble sent a traveling troupe of actors and puppets on the road to present “A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ for this year’s “Theater in the Classroom” program. Thanks especially to Eric Wunsch, who donned a gingham dress and portrayed a suitably distraught Thisbe in the play-within-the-play.

    With “Henry V” at King’s College, “Little Women” at Misericordia University and “Our Town” at Wilkes University, college thespians did their part to keep local audiences entertained, and with “Mr. Roberts” at the Pennsylvania Theater of Performing Arts in Hazleton, “Gods of Carnage” presented by Gaslight Theatre in Scranton and Ken Ludwig’s “Leading Ladies” presented by Actors Circle in Scranton, theater buffs were able to enjoy a wide repertoire throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania.

    Special thanks to Ghostlight Productions for Shakespeare’s “Comedy of Errors,” presented outdoors in the summer in the Clarks Summit area, and to Rudy Caporaso and Rosemary Hay for helping youngsters bring a swashbuckling pirate story to the stage of a Scranton Neighborhood Center.

    Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT

    By Mary Therese Biebel

    mbiebel@timesleader.com

    Dane Bower and Chris Laundry starred in ‘A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,’ in March at the Music Box Dinner Playhouse in Swoyersville.
    http://www.theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/web1_funny.thing_.jpgDane Bower and Chris Laundry starred in ‘A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,’ in March at the Music Box Dinner Playhouse in Swoyersville. Submitted photo

    Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre presents Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” on January 18. (Pete G. Wilcox|Times Leader)
    http://www.theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/web1_crucible01-1.jpgLittle Theatre of Wilkes-Barre presents Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” on January 18. (Pete G. Wilcox|Times Leader) Pete G. Wilcox | Times Leader

    http://www.theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/web1_shakespeare02-1.jpgPete G. Wilcox | Times Leader

    Dane Bower, center, as Shrek, led a cast of fairy tale characters at Theatre at the Grove in Nuangola in July.
    http://www.theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/web1_shrek-1.jpgDane Bower, center, as Shrek, led a cast of fairy tale characters at Theatre at the Grove in Nuangola in July. Submitted photo

    Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT