News Column

Celebrating a summer of theater riches

August 18, 2013


Aug. 18--Is it my imagination, or have there been more theatrical presentations in and surrounding Berks County this summer? More than that, have the productions ever been this ambitious and creative?

I sat down and made a list of just the shows and theatrical concerts I could remember off the top of my head, and the lineup is staggering.

Aside from the Pennsylvania Stage Company in Center Valley, which mounted, among others, nuanced productions of "Oklahoma!" and "Measure for Measure," Primary Stages, with the cooperation of the Berks County Parks and Recreation Department, brought the Bard's "Much Ado About Nothing" to the Gring's Mill Amphitheater.

The Berks Opera Workshop packed the Miller Center for the Arts for its concert version of Giuseppe Verdi's "Aida."

The Ephrata Performing Arts Center staged a jaunty "Guys & Dolls" in its Sharadin Bigler Theater. It proved popular with audiences and critics.

Alpha/Omega Players took on the challenges of "Cats," a musical that demands not only terrific voices but talented dancers. Genesius Theatre wasn't content to produce just one musical this month, but two: "Legally Blonde The Musical" at its theater on North 10th Street and a concert production of Stephen Sondheim's "Company" at the Crowne Plaza Reading.

Reading Theater Project was back on the scene, under the artistic direction of Vicki Graff, who co-wrote and performed with the company in a play based on the story of Susanna Cox. "May Be Honest" was mounted in the T.E.A. Factory on Willow Street, and it sold out every performance. Its cast played multiple roles, and its audiences moved from the main stage to three other rooms for various scenes that connected the early 19th century with the present and revealed the inner conflicts of Cox as she waited to be hanged.

The Olivet Boys and Girls Club produced Disney's "Mulan, Jr.," and Reading Community Players brought "The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley, Jr." to its 11th Street theater. Both are performed by children.

And finally, Wilson Theater Company staged the musical "Jekyll & Hyde."

Truly, it was a summer for diverse theater tastes.

Contact Entertainment Editor George Hatza: 610-371-5075 or


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