A Natural Agilist Proves the Value of Theater

By Brian Lucas

Josh Neth is the exceptionally talented artistic director of the Allentown Public Theatre.  Josh is marvelously outspoken and passionate about the Theater.  He is a remarkably eloquent and intelligent person and to converse with him is a true pleasure.  His mind has many dimensions from arts to philosophy to psychology to business.  To round it all off; he is quite an accomplished stage actor.  I recently had the opportunity of watching him play the lead in the Pennsylvania Playhouse’s production of Sondheim’s – Company.  I must plead guilty to being a fairly stringent critic of Community Theater.  However, watching Josh perform, I almost forgot I was sitting in a small auditorium. Instead, I could imagine I had front row seats on Broadway.  Josh is fortunate to be joined in life and theatrical endeavors by his quintessentially pixyish and appealing wife Cheryl.  She is an uncommonly expressive actress and a wonderfully animated singer of her own merit.  I will not say much more about Josh because he would be the first to say that this is not about him; it is about the Theater.  Josh states that the Theater is an essential part of our public conscience as well as entertainment.  After listening to him in the interview, I agree.  So I am asking all my readers to make a donation to the Allentown Public Theatre.  I also encourage those in a position to underwrite a performance or help the Allentown Public Theater find and finance a permanent home; to contact Josh Neth or Troy Brokenshire directly.  Your generosity will go towards something that makes a significant difference in so many lives and elevates us all.

Lucas: You did not have any formal training in agile. In fact, you were quite surprised and a little reluctant about the interview.

Neth: No I did not.  To be honest, when I read your other interviews and saw the predominance of business professionals, I became apprehensive about whether I was the right person.  I noted though, an interview with someone who arranges Mangia dinners as a hobby.  If agile means operating with minimal resources, than we in the Allentown Public Theatre are exceptionally agile.  Local Theater, by nature, is not a large profit or money making proposition; regardless of how much benefit and traffic it can drive to a downtown community. In the Theater world, being agile is a matter of survival.

Lucas: Whole hearted commitment to something is what drives agile. Why are you committed to the Theater? It certainly cannot be for the money!

Neth: That is an intriguing connection about commitment and agility.  I never seriously thought about it, but if you have a deep desire, you will eventually find a way to fulfill it.  Heaven knows I am not in Theater for the money!  There are two reasons I do what I do.  The first is that I have to do this.  It is a truly basic drive for me, and I am miserable if I do not.  I am immensely thankful that my fabulous wife is in the same profession and that we can share the experience and support each other.  She is a true treasure and the first love of my life.  Even Theater comes second.  I guess I have to thank my grandfather for my performing talent.  He was a magnificent musician who performed in speakeasies during the great depression. Very early on, when I was three perhaps, he thrust a guitar in my hands and taught me how to play. When my family began clapping, I was hooked. The second is that this is how I affect the world around me. This is the medium given to me to interact with my community and even in the larger scope of the world in which I live.  I honestly believe; however, it is not all about me.  Theater is beyond me and my own limited needs.  It is the venue from time immemorial, where relevant and often controversial subjects were brought to the public forum and generated discussion.  From the time of ancient Greek Theater in the 200 years following Thespis[1], Theater was the cornerstone of emerging social, moral and political change.  Without Theater, some sociologists speculate, we could have found ourselves in a totalitarian world.  Theater in some form probably preceded written language as we can see in prehistoric rock art in northern Scandinavia[2].

Lucas: That is quite a profound postulation that Theater preceded written language.  Is Theater only about making a statement or airing a subject that needs to be brought to the public conscious?

Neth: No! Of course not, there is validity in entertainment.  We do things in the Theater world that is pure entertainment.  That in itself is a vital societal function.  The personal experience of watching a play or a musical has a richness of involvement that television or other mediums cannot hope to achieve.  It is why people go to see sports teams in stadiums; even though they would get a better viewing experience from their living room.  In the Theater, you absorb your surrounding environment, the audience reaction, and the fact that you are seeing something unique.  No matter how many times you see a live performance, it will always be a little different.  Emotion also comes through in a live performance, far more than any electronic medium.  The audience experiences the energy, the highs, the lows and the triumph personally.  My overall point is; given the opportunity to have the public’s ear; it becomes a responsibility to blend with entertainment a communication of subjects that demand a greater public awareness.

Lucas: One of the most prominent aspects of successfully being agile is a specific clear vision[3].  The Allentown Public Theatre certainly has one.  When did you develop this vision?

Neth: I have a distinct recollection of being a freshman in college and my school decided to do the musical “Grease[4]”.  I remember saying to a professor; we should be learning something more significant.  Authors like Eugene O’Neill[5], exposed American vernacular for the first time.  He dramatically portrayed characters on the fringes of society, struggling to maintain hope.  That is relevant to many people today.  I wish we had done “Ah, Wilderness![6]” instead of “Grease”.  We would be doing lighter subjects as soon as we graduated by necessity, in order to pay the rent.  We should have been studying more serious performing arts subjects.  It was at that point, I had an epiphany!  I knew I did not want to be just an entertainer.  I needed to explore serious and weighty subjects in the public domain.  That was the birth of my vision!

Lucas: In agile, team effort is essential.  Why do others want to be on your team?

Neth: That is a very good question, because Theater is all about teamwork?  Even a one-man-show is not just one person. There are all the people that make the production possible and market the performance to attract an audience.  Without the audience, the best performance is only a voice crying in the wilderness.  To get back to your question, what I offer is a chance for people to be a part of something greater that themselves.  I provide a stage, if I may use that word, for them to do something that they genuinely love and feel is vital.  It is fundamentally self-actualization[7].  The Allentown Public Theatre is also different from Community Theater, in that we are a profession troop.  We pay actors enabling them to make a living doing what they love best.  Everyone else unselfishly volunteers their time in a thousand different ways to make Allentown Public Theatre productions happen and keep us alive.  I am immensely grateful to our volunteers.

Lucas: You mentioned self-actualization.  That is one of the reasons so many executives are leaving the Fortune 500 world and becoming entrepreneurs or freelancing[8].  It seems that some of the dynamics of Theater are not so different from the business world.

Neth: People are people!  We have gone through a generation where the emphasis was on accumulating wealth and consuming goods, getting the largest house, the most expensive car, etc.  It failed to make most people happy.  I watched my father work extremely hard at a job he did not love.  He achieved financial success, but he did it at the expense of a lifetime of effort about something he was not passionate.  Today more and more people inside and out of the business community are pursuing their dreams; doing something in which they can believe that they are good at.

Lucas: Why the emphasis on paid actors?

Neth: I was looking for craftsmen capable of taking a performance to a different level than a hobbyist.  You need that level of ability in performing serious works.  I also wanted to bring professional actors into the downtown community where they would help revitalize the city by their sheer presence.  Actors living downtown, consuming goods and services downtown and in general hanging out in the neighborhood are an attraction.  They not only generate commerce directly, but promote a more positive view of the city by both city and suburban residents.  This encourages people to come into the city and spend both time and money.

Lucas: Agile is also about growth.  Is there any element of growth in what the Allentown Public Theatre does?

Neth: Absolutely, we are an incubator of talent.  Good performers do not grow on trees!  They learn and develop by continued and steadied experience and coaching.  With a professional troop, we start with actors and actresses that have already committed themselves to the Theater.  We in turn, provide the venue for them to grow.  The Allentown Public Theatre predominately uses younger performers for this exact reason.  They have growth potential.  It is also a matter of economics right now.  We can only afford to pay younger performers.

Lucas: Getting back to the subject of business similarities for a moment, do you see other commonalities in what is going on in business today and what you are trying to do in the Theater?

Neth: Yes I do.  You have said there is a new business revolution going on in America.  We are returning to our entrepreneurial roots.  I agree!  One aspect I would like to mention is a return to an emphasis of quality.  When colonial entrepreneurs started a business like furniture manufacturing they did not say to themselves, how can we make the most furniture as cheaply as possible and maximize profits?  They had pride in what they were doing. They wanted to make the best furniture possible.  Today workers are leaving companies because they are making a product or providing a service in which they do not believe.  Whether through a lack of focus or vision or simply having too much administrative management; the need for fulfillment is not being met for these people.  So they start out on their own to make the best possible product and give the customer personal attention.  That is resonating with the public.  That is what the Allentown Public Theatre is all about.  I find it exceptionally inspiring that there are CEOs giving up high paying jobs because they want to make something better.  It gives me hope that business as usual is no longer as powerful an influence.

Lucas: Is the Allentown Public Theatre looking for a home?

Neth:  Yes we have reached the point where we unquestionably need a permanent home.  We require a building that is first of all safe and up to the standard codes.  There are a lot of buildings in downtown Allentown that we would love to occupy, but we cannot afford to bring them up to code.  How exciting it would be, if the city or the Allentown Economic Development Co. or a consortium of businesses could help us get one of these buildings and renovate it for our needs.  We need something that can hold at least 100 people.  It must have an open area for seating and a high ceiling.  From a development perspective, it is beneficial for us to be on the open Hamilton Street corridor around 7th.  We have an eye on a space, but we need to have some architect drawings made up and we would need this done on a pro bono basis.  A permanent home is essential for our audience base and helping us grow it.  Heretofore they had to follow us all over town, wherever we could get a venue.

Lucas: Where does the Allentown Public Theatre need to be in 5 years?

Neth: It is vital the Allentown Public Theater become a self-sustaining concern.  Obviously the Artistic Director position should not be a volunteer one.  The Allentown Public Theatre needs a full company of actors, committed to multiple seasons, living downtown and becoming a part of the community.  We are already donating our time, going out into the community, doing outreach programs and working with schools to promote various programs for students.

Lucas: You mention arts community often.  It is a powerful part of your vision to build not just Theater, but a general sociological stratum of people in all aspects of the arts being a part of the downtown scene.  Has the Allentown Public Theatre received much help from the Allentown government or the Allentown Economic Development Co?

Neth: The Allentown Economic Development Co. has generously given us a discount for our office and storage space at the Bridgeworks complex, but we need more help.  I am committed to Allentown, but it has been a difficult challenge to maintain that loyalty to the city that gives us our name.  The Allentown Public’s Theatre’s first mission is to do Theater.  I have to be honest, if a patron of the arts or an arts council or government like Bethlehem or Easton, interested in encouraging arts to revitalize a downtown section, offered us a building, I would seriously consider moving.  How could I possibly say no?  Allentown has a symphony, a good art museum and the noted Baum School of Arts.  At this point, they are an institution.  What is missing from Allentown, and the Lehigh Valley for that matter, is a strong, professional, public Theater driven by local talent.

Lucas: That must be frustrating.  You have accomplished much with hard work and volunteerism, but you have no full time administration or location.  Funding and management activities are all done on less than a shoestring.  Without more support from the government, councils or private patrons, how does the Allentown Public Theatre survive?

Neth: Yes it is frustrating.  I wish everyone could hear our voice, understand what we offer not only Allentown, but the entire Greater Lehigh Valley Area[9] and help us out anyway they can.  Ultimately helping us would further the goals of governments and councils as well as filling a real public need.  We will survive, however, by working harder to reach out to those who believe in the importance of Theater as one of the focal points of a downtown community and a powerful vehicle for social commentary.  If it means leaving Allentown, sadly we will have to do so.  We will adapt somehow – because we must in order to survive.

Lucas: Adapting to survive that is the basic definition of agile[10].

Neth: Right!

About Brian Lucas

In his life, Brian Lucas has been a coach, farm worker, forester, health care advocate, life guard, general contractor, mechanic, mixologist, musician/singer (in a rock group), salesman and teacher. Brian has worked as a project manager, technical marketer, methodologist, manager, software architect, systems designer, data modeler, business analyst, systems programmer, software developer and creative writer. These efforts include over a hundred hi-tech initiatives in almost every business and industrial sector as well as government and military projects. Among them, he designed and developed a quality assurance system for the first transatlantic fiber optic communications network, a manufacturing system for a large computer manufacture’s seven manufacturing centers, a data mining system for steel production, an instrumentation system for cable systems, defined requirements for government’s information systems and designed and developed human performance management systems. Brian has educated and mentored many over the years, designing programs to discover and develop talent. He has also lectured extensively to a variety of audiences. Brian is currently devoting as much time as possible to the innovation of business agility and human capital management along with the next generation of agile software development. As an amateur theoretical physicist he is working on joining general relativity and quantum mechanics through a multidimensional time corollary on string theory and negating the uncertainty principle with Louis de Broglie’s wave/particle hypothesis. He is also an avid blue-water sailor and wilderness backpacker. He enjoys billiards, boxing, chess, cooking, famous battle reenactments and war gaming, fencing, flying, gardening, horseback riding, martial arts (particularly Ninjutsu), philosophy and psychology, playing musical instruments (7 so far), poker, rapid-fire target shooting, reading (he tries to read a new book every night), painting with oils, scuba diving, skiing and recently writing novels.
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359 Responses to A Natural Agilist Proves the Value of Theater

  1. Juliette Cantor says:

    I was going to post a teasing comment about wanting to know more about the mysterious Brian. All the recent heavy comments have scared me off. I did want to say that I agree with Jack. Brian is pretty free with allowing people to express divergent opinion, but I know he does not like criticism directed at others. Since the Allentown Public Theater is important to Brian, we should all get behind them and support them. I would join if I was not from Connecticut. The least I can do though is not tear at something that Brian is supporting. He gives such great advice and has won such loyal fans like Sally and Jack who he helps out apparently without pay and takes time to write this wonderful blog that we all enjoy. Brian is someone I count as a friend even though I have never met him. Friends support friends!

  2. Fran says:

    I agree with Juliette so many of us enjoy what Brian writes and learn from it we need to support him when he asks for it. Still I would like to see the APT engine crank up and address some of the comments and show that they appreciate what Brian has done for them and are not taking his generosity for granted. When I read Brian’s Hurricane Sandy and Agile Memorial posts I cried they were so sensitive. I think Brian has a very generous soul and not many people in our world do.

  3. Daryl Kent says:

    This is an interesting comment stream and quite a long one. It is almost as interesting as the interview itself which is excellent. I am commenting because I served on an advisory board for a community theater group and found it a disappointing experience. I got involved because the theater always interested me in school, but I was a business major and never could find the time to pursue directing drama which I always felt would be fascinating. When I got involved with my local community theater I was eager. My enthusiasm quickly turned to dismay however. Board meetings were unproductive and there was an extraordinary lack of commitment and action throughout the organization. There were a few other businessmen on the board and I soon found out that they were also jaded by the attitude and habits of the non-business board members. Its seems that all the theater people were concerned with was their performances and expected everything to be done for them to make these performances happen. The president for an older individual who was a retire social worker and did not provide the strong leadership that this organization needed. She was completely ineffectual. Money was always a problem, because none of the actors or actresses really worked at fund raising. Oh some would show up, act like rock stars and then leave without really doing anything. They were also far more absorbed in their performances than the audience’s reaction. I once explained to them that their attitude was like a company building a product that no one wanted and being arrogant enough to expect people to buy it anyway. After sticking it out for almost 2 years I left, 7 months later they became insolvent. Since then I have spoken to other theater groups and not all have this problem. The ones that have been around longer seem to have found a level between artistic appreciation and business reality. These issues seem to plague younger organizations, though who have inexperienced board members. I honestly don’t know if any of these issues apply to the Allentown Public Theatre and I think that some of the recent emails have been a little too assuming of issues that might not be present. The reason why I recounted my experiences is that I suspect many young theater organization go through these periods of pain and learning just like all businesses do. Perhaps if they approached their effort more like a business by listening to business people they would have less pain and greater success.

    • Brian Lucas says:

      Daryl I suspect these are common problems that most efforts like this face and must be overcome with commitment, sensitivity and a willingness to adapt. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us all.

  4. Rob says:

    I saw the Allentown Public Theatre’s cast in the Complete Works of William Shakespeare last year with my girlfriend and we both enjoyed it.

  5. Smith-T says:

    I saw Parallel Lives as we with my girlfriend and it was a little too ‘out there’ for my tastes, but Samantha Beedle was a great looking and stunning performer and I would go see her again. The place was too small though and not in the best location. They need a bigger stage.

    • Brian Lucas says:

      Dear Smith-T – I agree Samantha Beedle is a stunner! Though I have unfortunately never had the privilege of seeing her perform, I have no doubt as to her ability based on my interaction with her on the APT board. I will let her respond as she see fit.

  6. MaryWidow says:

    I have gone to a number of APT performances since 2011. They are very well performed and Josh is a great actor. They usually are in small venues with minimal stage props and that hurts their attendance numbers. They need a home somewhere so they can concentrate on their work and it is easier for us fans to get to see them on a regular basis. I would also like to see them do more productions.

    • Brian Lucas says:

      Dear Mary – We are trying to find a home for APT right now so the venue problem will hopefully be solved. I did see Josh in Company and he was impressive.

  7. Jen Smith says:

    I am sorry I haven’t seen an APT performance. I did see Josh sing with a group at Hammerhead’s awhile back and he was pretty good although they were having problems with their sound system. My sister saw Parallel Lives and raved about it and I remember her mentioning she thought Samantha stole the show. I am close enough that I will go see a performance since it sounds so interesting, but there doesn’t look like there is going to be anything that I want to see until Christmas maybe.

  8. Geri says:

    I am sorry, but I did not know of the existence of the Allentown Public Theatre before this, so I have not seen a performance. I will go to see one as soon as I am able. I think that it is unfair for Nathan to criticize the group just because fans did not comment immediately. This article was supposed to be a real life example of being agile and not an analysis of the Allentown Public Theater’s fan club. Many people read a blog and agree with it without commenting. I know I do. For some of us it is hard to know what to say. Whenever I begin a comment my mind goes blank. So don’t assume that because fans did not comment that there weren’t any fans.

  9. Betsy DiPalma says:

    Nice series since the interview with Katie Brian takes for sharing the research.

  10. Shuy says:

    If Brian is behind the APT I will definitely give them a try at their next performance. And I don’t think anyone should comment negatively until they have ACTUALLY seen a performance or several for that matter. People like Brian don’t lend their support lightly. So there is something of value in what APT is doing that he sees.

  11. Elizabeth Hartley says:

    I really think that the article should stand on its own and have merits without comments and this interview certainly does. What readers choose to comment or not does not affect what Brian has written. Brian is obviously trying to be supportive of this group. Since we are all reading Brian’s column and must be enjoying it, we should try to be supportive as well. Nathan you definitely have the right to express your opinion. I believe that you could have expressed it in a less harsh manor that would have been construed as a positive suggestion rather than a negative jibe.

  12. Teri Wismer says:

    I saw Parallel Lives and thought it was one the best plays I had ever seen off Broadway. The set was very low budget and the hall was small, but the performances were definitely big time. Samantha Beedle was absolutely beautiful. Her outstanding performance really had me breathless. She had me half convinced she was a supreme being! I hope to see more APT performances in the future. I am sorry I missed Hamlet a Rock Experience. Everyone I talked to said is was wild!

    • Brian Lucas says:

      I missed Parallel Lives as well and I am sorry as I have gotten to know Samantha slightly and she does have impressive and expressive talent!

    • Lorraine says:

      I saw Samantha in Private Lives as well and thought she was stunning. Her face can be so incredibly expressive and she is beautiful. She reminds me of my favorite actress Sharon Stone. I wanted to talk to her after the show, but my sister and I lost our courage. She was just so formidable in her performance. It was very thrilling and a little scary.

      • Elenore says:

        I don’t like to comment, but my sister is making me and I wanted to show that the Allentown Public Theater does have fans and that they do put on great performances. I really enjoyed Private Lives. Siting in such a small venue made it seem more intimate to me and gave me a chance to really see the performing artist’s faces up close. Something I can never do in a NY or Philly theater because of the ticket prices of the really good seats. I certainly did not feel cheated watching Parallel Lives. It was so funny and irreverent and different from anything I ever saw. I do agree with my sister that Samantha’s performance was positively gripping and took the show from a small production and made it a cherished life time memory. So thank you Samantha! I hope to see you in another production soon and thanks to everyone who made your performance possible. For the record, it was Lorraine that chickened out when we talked about meeting you after the show. lol

        • Brian Lucas says:

          Lorraine and Elenore thank you for commenting. I unfortunately missed Samantha’s performance, but I have no doubt that it was memorable. I can tell you that your fears were unfounded and that she is a delightfully animated, open and friendly person to engage in a conversation. So if you have the opportunity again to meet her don’t hesitate.

  13. Rich says:

    I saw Jeff in two productions and he is one heck of an actor! Certainly grades better than I normally see in community theater! No complaints from this fan. It would be great if they had a theater.

  14. Cheryl says:

    I go to see APT shows whenever I can and they are always good. I wish they had their own theater like the [removed by administrator].

  15. Debbie says:

    I saw PL as well and liked it a lot!

  16. Dale-S says:

    I would certainly vote for Samantha B as goddess of the Lehigh Valley stage. She was by far and away the best thing about Parallel Lives. I think it was a very difficult script to pull off. She did it and was convincing. I’d like to see her in more roles.

  17. Ed Weiss says:

    I regularly follow Keeping Agile, but my wife doesn’t, so I am commenting even though I did not see the show. My wife saw it an did rave about it. She also did mention Ms. Beedle as being a standout. I will have to make time to attend the next performance.

    • Brian Lucas says:

      Thanks for being a reader Ed and commenting. Please take the time out to see an APT performance you won’t regret it. It is no surprise to me that Samantha Beedle is a standout in any crowd!

  18. valleygirl says:

    In response to Nathan and Ceilia, last April, I for one saw Samantha Beedle in APT’s production of Parallel Lives and she was just awesome!!! She was so funny and serious and quirky, she had my emotions going in a thousand different directions sometimes all at once. I loved every moment of her performance. I have seen performances on Broadway that weren’t half as good as her’s. APT is lucky to have performers of her quality. She was so good I saw it twice and brought two of my girlfriends the second time who also thought she was super. I have been looking for other performances of hers. I would love to see her in a darker drama. Her face is so expressive and she can do so much even without dialog.

  19. Mo Segal says:

    Wooaaa! This is one lively blog here! And I would state for the record one hellofa interview. This would have made a great podcast! I’m a first time reader and I’ve never seen so many comments. Its more like a FaceBook page. I decided to comment because some people were expecting more from the APT side of things. I am a confirmed lurker of many blogs. I can tell you that 95% of readers never comment. I can also tell you that in 99% of the blogs where someone is interviewed they never respond to follow up comments. Even the blog authors respond only about a third of the time. Brian responds more than most. In fact much more than most, but he does it in spurts. I suspect he is very busy. Josh did respond to many of the opening comments and his responses were not trivial. So to everyone here who is disappointed that their every comment isn’t responded to be grateful for what you are getting. Lastly I would say this, stay on topic! If you want to introduce a new subject or theme email the blog’s author or administrator and suggest one or start your own blog. Don’t take a post in any old direction just because you feel like it. Well that’s an unusual comment for me. So I feel I have paid my dues.

    • Brian Lucas says:

      Mo – Keeping Agile does get more than the usual amount of comments and I love my readership for it. It is up to Josh Neth if he wants to pursue a podcast which I think would be a good idea. I try hard to respond to all comments directed at me. It has been somewhat difficult as of late because of a close friend’s illness has left me less time. I am trying to catch up. I do prefer when people stay on topic, but give commentors considerable leeway.

  20. CatherineS says:

    I saw two productions Blackbird and Parallel Lives. Both were excellent. All the cast played their parts well in both shows. Laura Romano’s performance in Blackbird was positively gripping. She gave a very emotional performance. Blackbird was very dark with a very dark subject – abuse. Romano spoke with such pain in her voice and showed it on her face, it brought tears to my eyes. I really liked Parallel Lives. It was quirky and more upbeat and Samantha Beedle also gave a show stealing performance, but of a far different nature. I agree with what others have said her she does have presence. I am not sure she could appear as vulnerable as Laura did in Blackbird, but she was absolutely perfect in her role in Private Lives. She had me wanting to yell “go goddess girl”! I really wish that APT would do more productions in better locations like the [removed by administrator] theater does. They have some of the best acting in and outside of the Lehigh Valley. -Cathy

  21. bobbie says:

    Every performance that the Allentown Public Theatre has done that I know of has been good. They just need a good home and better financing. It seem to be operating on a shoestring with cheap playbills, costumes and sets. Josh is a very talented actor and I have seen his Associated Mess commedy which was wicked. All the actors are good in fact. I also concur Sam Beedle was outstanding in Private Lives. My only complaint is that they do so few shows its tough to get in the swing of things with them.

    • Brian Lucas says:

      bobbie as Marcie Schlener stated so beautifully these people are giving their all and then some. It is up to all of us now to do our part and help them out. Please make donations and go to see performances.

  22. Gaylord Collins says:

    I generally don’t like community theater. The performance is almost always college level or below. I can say that the Allentown Public Theatre performances that I have seen are a cut above the rest. Quite a large cut, actually. They do a mix of subjects, but have a serious bent, which I am sure is being driven by Josh Neth, the artistic director. They seem to have a knack for doing quirky adaptations. Since they have limited settings and venues, I would like to see them perform adaptations of serious contemporary work like Reginald Rose’s teleplays which have simple settings and focus on acting. 12 Angry Men would be a great piece to adapt and add a cast comprising 6 men and six women to the jury. The tension created by adding this dynamic could spawn a new set of dialog exploring the inequality of men and women. Since APT doesn’t have a theater of their own or much in the way of props or lighting; they need to play to their strength – serious acting.

  23. Harland Jennings says:

    I feel for the Allentown Public Theatre and its members. The theater world is a tough one to make it in. Particularly, if you want to be a professional house like Josh envisions. These people have talent, but getting started is rough, very rough. If they don’t get help from government organizations or wealthy donors the odds are stacked heavily against them. I am from Los Angeles and we have great public supported theater here, but my heart goes out to them. The dollars necessary to make this happen are probably far more scarce in a smaller city. My advice would be to get creative and get in front of people with your message as much as possible. This interview was a good start and has stirred up much comment. I note that you had defenders come to your support when some of the commentors challenged your audience appeal. That should make you all feel appreciated. Everyone in your organization should now be galvanized to action more than ever before to make your dreams a success.

  24. Stan Eaton says:

    I am a retire theater director now living in Arizona, but I worked mostly in moderate towns in the north-east. I can tell you that the most important thing that you can do is get in front of people as much as possible. Don’t sacrifice the quality of your work, because one bad performance can wipe out a half dozen good ones. But if you are not in people’s faces they will forget about you. Its the old adage – out of sight, out of mind. Get in front of people at events, wherever possible, and show your talent and your personal appeal. I am a senior citizen so I can safely say this now without fear of offending. The ladies have always been the theater’s greatest fund raising asset! Men will always swoon over pretty talented young women be they ingenue, femme fatale or vamp. Always have some fund raising event going they serve two purposes raising money and showing your faces. Break a leg my friends!

    • Brian Lucas says:

      Stan – If you know Josh the “tyrannical perfectionist” you would know he would never sacrifice the quality of the acting in any of the performances he was involved in. He might have to live with the realities of small venues and overworked costume and scenery designers like Marcie who works full time 3 times over and somehow does the impossible, but he would never sacrifice the quality of the direction or the acting. I have been teasing him about not responding to emails and text messages, because “serious” Josh is easy to tease, but it is because he is so focused on a production that he is directing that nothing else matters. We are trying to get APT in front of key people, but it takes time. I certainly agree that Marcie Schlener and Samantha Beedle are more than qualified to be the most endearing of femme fatales. for as the French say, “Ils sont le plus beau, intelligent et attachant des femmes.”.

  25. Marcel Christian says:

    As a performer with 27 years of experience, I tell you frankly that commitment, motivation and momentum are the keys to success here! If this is the most important thing in all your lives, you will make it happen — somehow. Theater is a calling so powerful, it often trumps everything else even family. That is often what it takes to succeed professionally. It is hard work, a tremendous amount of hard work and unbelievably time consuming. How much so? Nary a day goes by when you are not doing something to help the company. Certainly never a week is your own. The cost is undeniably great. On the other hand, the rewards of fulfillment are equally an incredible high that others not in the theater cannot possibly understand. If this is something that is not a consuming passion in your lives, my advice is to quit! You will never make it and you will hurt the effort of everyone else who is committed. If your spirits are flagging find a rallying point and breathe new life into your work. There was many a time I wanted to give it all up in the past. Always I was fortunate that something or someone came to me in my lowest moments that gave me the courage and support to go on. For that I thank God!

    • Brian Lucas says:

      Marcel I believe Marcie Schlener responded better than I could ever hope to. I can tell you that the people I know in APT are not only giving it their all on stage they are committing their very lives to make this happen. They need applause and support not prodding.

  26. Al Capobianco says:

    I read this blog because it makes me realize there are managers who are not idiots like mine. I’ve worked as a volunteer stage hand before in upper state New York when I was at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs. I know how much volunteerism and effort it takes to make shows happen. All this advice is great and I’m sure these guys appreciate it. But when the bus engine ain’t runnin ya all gots to get out and push. They need money and action from their fans just like we do here in Queens not just talk.

  27. Aleaza Gonzales says:

    I have not seen one of their shows. I did not know they existed. After seeing all the comments saying how great they are I will see one as soon as I can. Is there any video on Parallel Lives I can watch? Everyone said the actress was so good, I’d like to check it out.

  28. Willow says:

    Parallel Lives was the only show I saw and it was awesome!!! Everyone was great in it. Samantha Beedle was was so good she gave me the chills.

  29. Ramone says:

    My girl dragged me to hamlet rock experience. I don’t like show stuff but that was pretty good. I wasn’t bored at all. So i’d go see them again in something like that. I also saw some comedy at artsquest back in March and that was lame. I like comedy and this was a big disappointment and there weren’t many people there. It was an all girl act that I think were from apt’s associated mess. They need to do stuff that people want to see and you shouldn’t do comedy if you can’t be funny. So I guess if they can do stuff like the rock experience and it works for me they must be pretty good.

  30. Carol says:

    I have seen several APT performances, all were good. The last I saw was Parallel Lives and it was as good as everyone here said it was. I also think Sam Beedle stole the show she was so imposing! I would have liked to see pictures of that up on the website, but could not find any. It must be difficult for them to keep it updated. I am waiting to see Pinocchio in August. APT seems to do serious shows well, I don’t know the director or if they can do a children’s show, but I am willing to give them a try. I have a 4 year old daughter and this will be her first show so I am a little nervous. If it is as good as everything else they do, I won’t be disappointed.

    • Brian Lucas says:

      Carol since I interviewed Josh, I have gotten a chance to know Marcie Schlener the director of Pinocchio. I can vouch for her personally. She is a phenomenally talented director, actress, singer (with a voice that can make sirens mute with envy), artist and photographer. She was formerly the Director of Children’s Theatre at the Firebird Theatre. The Allentown Public Theatre is very fortunate to have someone of her caliber. Marcie is also one of the most talented and sweetest persons I know. She has amassed an incredible wealth of expertise and talent in a very short time. She is also by far and away, one of the nicest, sincerest and reliable persons I have ever met.

      • Marcie says:

        Carol, please do give us a try! I have been performing and working with children for almost 10 years now. I am so excited about Pinocchio and I look forward to seeing you and your daughter in August!

  31. Jim Moresby says:

    I am not sure why this interview is sparking so much comment. I admit it was a great interview as all Brian’s interviews are, maybe a little stretch in the agile department. Worthwhile none the less. I guess theater is an emotional subject with people. I never thought much about how difficult it must be for people who have chosen this life. It must be tough enough if you are a volunteer to find the time when you have a full time job. I don’t know how the ones who are trying to do this as paid actors in what must be smaller cities like Allentown are getting by. The pay can’t be much after all Allentown is not New York or even Philadelphia. There just aren’t that many people. So I guess I don’t know how they are making it without government city, local, state or federal are helping them out. I am guessing they don’t have big donors in their pockets either. Yet look at some of the very positive comments about the performances they have gotten here since the subject was brought up by I believe Nathan. These happened in what must be small locations with economical at best settings and scenery. -I have to meet this Samantha Beedle she sounds like a powerhouse!- Seriously they must be doing an awful lot of something right to get these positive responses. That is the point I am making here. I have been in companies that were absolutely dumps and yet everyone did a great job and companies that had plush offices and everyone did as little as possible and tried to get everyone else fired. Everyone here should focus on what APT is doing right a little more. It must be very easy for them to get discouraged and that is something that is the opposite of what Brian intended unless I am totally off base.

    • Brian Lucas says:

      Jim APT does not need any discouragement, just the opposite they need the encouragement and support of everyone from the greater Lehigh Valley area as well as local, state and federal government. What they have accomplished with so little is a miracle due to their amazing talent, unquestioning dedication and incredible and unceasing hard work. What Marcie Schlener wrote is understated if anything. And I can tell you that Marcie sacrifices much to make this happen and carries a huge workload on her delicate shoulders. APT has earned public support it is up to all of us to give it to them.

  32. Marcie says:

    On behalf of Allentown Public Theatre I would like to thank each and every one of you for commenting and giving your feedback. I am the Youth Program Director for APT. I can tell you that it has been a wonderful journey so far. I star;ted as a volunteer since their first production and have watched this company grow over the past few years.
    Working and volunteering for a theatre is very rewarding. But I must say it takes a lot of work and patience. We are putting hundreds of hours (yes hundreds) of our FREE time into these productions and fundraisers. We don’t get an hourly wage. If we aren’t rehearsing, we are working on production design. If we aren’t in a board meeting, we are working on press releases and grants late into the night in our homes. We put 110% into our performances whether we have a large audience or small. Many of us are working 2 or 3 jobs on top of working for the theatre. Why do we do it? Many reasons. But mostly it’s because of our profound love and pride for the arts and what it provides for our individual minds and hearts. There is a special satisfaction that comes with sharing an artful experience with a community who is in need of inspiration.
    Like any company or business it takes time to find a place within a community and build a following. APT found a niche within the theatre community but still needs to get more word out there to find more audience members. APT is aware of this. We are slowly but surely building more connections and working super hard to bring relevant theatre that reflects our art community as well as our society as a whole.
    Allentown is in a state of great change. And like anything you read in history books, art and theatre are the foundation of any Renaissance in a city. I ask you all near (and far) to be a part of that change. All of the larger cities have their theatres and are basically settled in their ways. Why be a part of something that is already fixed and established, when you can be at the beginning of an art renaissance that adds something unique and special to society?
    Of course, more money and a home for our theatre would be FANTASTIC and it would provide a huge increase in productions and art that people want to see. That our community NEEDS to see.
    Tonight, we opened for our Actors in Action Festival. This festival will be 3 spectacular weekends of performances featuring local talent of all kinds. And I can tell you that this weekend’s performance of “The Atheist” is phenomenal. I can’t wait to see “Sensitivity Training” and “The Un-named body project”.
    We invite you to come and see what we are about and what we aspire to be in the future. If you can’t come to these performances, I encourage you to volunteer with us for our upcoming Flapjack Fundraiser, sign up for workshops, consider joining our board, or come to our production of Pinocchio that I will be directing this August! I could go on and on about how important Theatre Youth Programming is but I fear that my comment is rather lengthy already.
    And of course, a donation to our cause would be greatly, greatly appreciated. Even if its just a small amount. That is money that could go towards a performance that helps to positively change the outlook of an audience member. Possibilities are endless when wonderful people like you are willing to donate!
    I believe strongly in the prosperous future of Allentown Public Theatre. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be a part of any of it. Every great oak was once a tiny acorn that held its ground. Help us grow… and become a part of a beautiful metamorphoses!

    With hope,
    Marcie Schlener
    Youth Program Director
    Allentown Public Theatre

    • Gail Hunnicut says:

      Well spoken Marcie! It is difficult to survive today and do right by all your employees. It requires a level of commitment that is absolute. You almost make me wish I was from Allentown with the commitment that you display. But I am a small business owner from Nashville, Tennessee and I love our state and its music. Speaking of commitment, I noticed that Brian charged in to defend you and set the record straight when Carol raised a few questions about Pinocchio’s direction. It is so refreshing to see chivalry is not dead. I have a great deal of respect for Brian. He is a true gentleman in the finest sense, something that is so very hard to find today. I read his blog often for his profound clarity, seeming endless wisdom, his humor and wit. It has taught me much about critical thinking and how to be more efficient and effective in my business. Brian is one of the smartest people I ever have known. I know him only through his blog and the emails we have exchanged, but it is enough to know he is genuine and a genius. Most of all, I respect Brian because he has a strong moral compass that comes from his soul. His writing touches me deeply. Please Marcie don’t ever give up hope! You have so much passion and If someone like Brian is enamored with your talent and vouches for your character, you must be a very special person indeed. I will remember you and the Allentown Public Theatre in my prayers. God Bless you!

    • Brian Lucas says:

      Joliment dit ma chère douce fleur!

    • Fran says:

      Wow Marcie!!!!! What a statement!! Is there anything that you can’t do? If Brian is a Renaissance man as his bio shows and I don’t doubt it, you must be a Renaissance woman. No wonder you have charmed Brian. I can’t wait to see if he dedicates a post to you. I so wish I was in your area and could see one of your shows. Thank you for taking the time from you busy schedule to comment. I wish you and all of your friends at the theater every success.

    • E. Lyndy says:

      Hi Marcie! This is only the second time I have posted a comment in Brian’s blog, though I read all his posts and comments. I still don’t often post comments anywhere; I am just too introverted. I wanted to comment here because Brian is being so supportive of you and I have so much respect for him. While I have never met Brian, he is to me a rarely kind, considerate, sensitive and compassionate man. It shows through in almost every word he writes. If you read an Agile Memorial or his post on hurricane Sandy or his dedication to his friend Joe Wisdo in Sailing in an Agile Ship you will understand what I mean. I find his modesty remarkable because he is also so highly intelligent and seems to have a vast knowledge of almost any subject. The people I have known that were very smart were generally arrogant. Brian with all his accomplishments doesn’t seem to have any ego at all. That makes him all the more admirable in my eyes.
      The fact that Brian has so much respect for you and thinks so highly of your talent and skills is more of a tribute than I can ever hope to make. Let me say only that your response clearly shows why Brian thinks so much of you. You certainly deserve every word of praise you are getting here. I envy you that you have gotten to know Brian personally. I am sure that he is everything in person that he is in his blog. I am sure you will be very successful in your efforts as the Youth Program Director of the Allentown Public Theatre because you like Brian are a very special and gifted person. I am happy that you are Brian’s friend.
      Appreciatively yours,

    • Gabbie says:

      I will come and see Pinocchio Marcie. If you had written twice as much I am sure that every word would have been worth reading! I wish I could write and talk as well as you and Brian do.

  33. Bob says:

    What a very moving and passionate reply Marcie. Thoughtful and mature. It is good to see another APT person respond, particularly someone with your level of responsibility. Your response certainly lives up to Brian’s praise of you! Brian is usually a pretty positive person, but he is very direct and honest with his evaluations. He is by no means an idle flattered, so to get this much of an endorsement from him you must be incredibly talented and an exceptional person. I believe I saw you perform some years ago at the [removed by administrator] theater. The fact that I can remember that shows you are a standout. I don’t know that my wife and I will join you for Pinocchio, since our children are grown and we don’t have grand kids yet. I promise however, I will promote it with other families who have small children. Doris and I will make it a point to see an APT performance and if you are appearing anywhere else, I hope Brian will let us know. All the Best!

    • Brian Lucas says:

      Thanks Bob! Marcie is indeed memorable and not one to be forgotten even in a chance meeting a decade ago.

    • Marcie says:

      Thanks, Bob! If you find the time you are more than welcome to come see Pinocchio. Even though the target audience is for young people…I like to say its for people of all ages, especially those young at heart. Thanks for showing your support by spreading the word…its greatly appreciated!

  34. Baylor says:

    I can sum up Marcie’s response in one word – LEADERSHIP! She is the kind of person who inspires others to follow her. I would like to compliment her on the poise she has showed here. She seems to well deserve the compliments paid her. I am sorry Texas just isn’t west of PA. Or I’d go see her in action.

    • Marcie says:

      Thanks! Let us know if you are ever up our way! Best wishes to you.

    • Brian Lucas says:

      Baylor – Marcie is a “pearl of great price” and while I will admit to being prejudiced in her favor, I have if anything understated her appeal. I used to ride with my friend Lee in the pan handle and big thicket country of Texas every summer, so I have fond memories of your home state. As Marcie says if your ever up our way let me know! -Brian

  35. Rhonda says:

    Hey Marcie great response to the few who tried to get negative here. You put them in their place and in a nice way too. I’m an Arizona girl, running my own hair salon. I came across Brian’s blog by accident and have followed it ever since. He has helped me look at my business in a new light and think in a new way. I was struggling before, but now I am doing alright. I guess I should have thanked Brian before, but he has me a little awestruck. He must be so smart, I thought all my questions would seem dumb to him. I have to admit, I secretly wanted to meet him. I am finally commenting because your comment gave me the courage. It was so well thought out and in plain English. In short it was perfect. I too was struck like Gail with the fact that Brian responded quickly when Carol and Marcel questioned you. I love that he is such a gentleman. He never seems harsh in his criticism as so many intellectuals are and never is at a loss for words. You seem to be more like him Marcie than most. You have so many different talents that Brian raves about and you write very well like Brian does. I wish I knew people like you personally. I want to thank both you and Brian for blogging and wish you both every success.

    • Brian Lucas says:

      Dear Rhonda – don’t be in awe and no question is dumb. Consider me well thanked by complimenting Marcie on her comment. I am not sure that you are truly complimenting the real life jewel that Marcie is by comparing her to me. I accept your statement on face value, however, and can testify that she is a wonderful person to know. Thanks for commenting. -Brian

  36. Judy says:

    I am ashamed I did not comment before, but I didn’t know this interview took place. This is a business blog that I normally would not read. My girl friend Cathy found it and said I should read it and comment. I saw a number of APT shows in the last two years. Hamlet – A Rock Experience was freaking awesome. It could have been on Broadway. I can’t believe they didn’t run it longer that was a BIG mistake. I’ll bet they could have filled another week at least and finally it was in a decent location. I also saw Blackbird and was so moved I wanted to give Laura Romano a hug afterwards she was so emotional. I did not like the Teddy Bear Awards although some of the others I was with thought it was funny. I just didn’t like some of the performers. Sorry, but I am being honest. I missed the Complete Works of Shakespeare and wanted to see it, but was on vacation. I saw the Glass Menagerie and did not like it at all. The next thing I saw was Parallel Lives and that had me breathless. The setting was so simple almost crude, but the acting was literally out of this world. In some ways it was almost better the H-A-R-E. Samantha Beedle was so funny, scary and beautiful she made me forget that I was sitting in an audience. I caught myself holding my breath when she was speaking more than once. I wonder what she would be like in a high end theater with lights and scenery and all the things APT can’t afford now. I would love to see Parallel again in a better setting. APT has some really great actors and actresses that are so much better than the average performers in the LV. I hope they do more shows in better places. I don’t like some of the places they play in.

    • Brian Lucas says:

      Judy – thank you for your honesty. I too wish APT could do another version of Parallel Lives in a better venue with better staging. Since I missed Samantha’s performance and everyone is raving about it, my regrets are mounting. I hope to catch her next performance and invite all you who have commented so positively on her performance to join me. -Brian

  37. Jessica Lynch says:

    The first and only thing I saw was Parallel Lives and Samantha rules in heaven and on earth as it should be! They should have rented a nice place for it and advertised more. They could have filled the house. She was so good! I can’t wait to see her again. Why doesn’t APT tell us when our favorites are going to be performing next?

  38. Ross says:

    Some of the APT performers really are very talented far more than the Lehigh Valley could expect that is absolutely true. I like Mr. Collins idea of straight classical drama with simple settings since APT has a limited budget and resources. 12 Angry Men is a classic and would be great. Having women on the jury is a novel idea for the play at least and would require some rewriting and a title change. If APT takes chances I think this one is worth it. How about 12 Angry People Help One Frightened Boy. Any takers? I would like to see the renown Samantha and the emotive Laura in roles on that jury and of course APT’s mainstay Josh in the role made famous by Henry Fonda.

  39. Holly Shaukowski says:

    Oh Brian your writing has been such an inspiration to me that I wish I could send money to the Allentown Public Theatre because their success is so important to you. Things are really tight for me as a single working mother of 3 young children here in Iowa and I am just getting on my feet. Your post an agile memorial was the first thing I read. My pastor sent it to me. Then I read sailing in an agile ship with vision and knowledge and was hooked. I am ashamed to admit I was caught up in the Mayan thing I am glad you set me straight even though it was after the fact. I really want to compliment Marcie Schlener on her response it was so adult and reasonable. I am guessing she is young since you hint at it. It is so meaningful to see a young person be responsible, considerate and dedicated to something other than parties. No wonder you admire her. I cannot send money, but I will pray for Marcie and all the others at APT and wish them every success. They all sound like decent and caring people from Josh’s interview and his and Marcie’s comments. Thank you Brian for giving me inspiration!

    • Brian Lucas says:

      Dearest Holly – You and your children are the most important concern! Your comment means more to me and any amount of money. I am glad that my blog was able to have some positive effect on your business and happy to have you as a regular reader. I can tell you first hand that Marcie is a truly beautiful person who understands the meaning of responsibility and she is very admirable. There are also a great many others that work extremely hard at the Allentown Public Theatre to make it a success. Among them is the President Troy Brokenshire, who at times seems to carry the world around on his back and makes the nearly impossible happen sometimes on a daily basis. They are all worthy of praise. That does not take anything away from the fact that Marcie is an exceptional young woman with a great future. -Brian

  40. Elwood Cunningham says:

    This is one heck of an interview and a mound of comments from concerned citizens. Sounds like the city they live in should open up their eyes to a golden opportunity to revitalize their downtown area and help support this organization. If they want people to go downtown they need to give them reason to go there. From all the raves I am seeing about some of these shows and the talent that Mr. Neff and Ms. Beedle have these people already have a following they need a location. SO WAKE UP ALLENTOWN! You know down here in Georgia if something needs to be done in the town that charitable most if the business starts in the private clubs. Maybe you could get something started that way.

  41. Shaka says:

    I saw Hamlet a rock experience and it really did rock and I can tell you that the crowd loved it. I wanted to see who some of the players were later on so I could see what they were in next, but I had lost my playbill. I went to the website to see if they had posted them, but they weren’t there. Maybe it would be a good idea if you put the cast on for each show before and afterwards. It might help. Thanks for listening.

  42. girlfromfunkytown says:

    I’ve been a member of theater in the past and APT has some super talented people. I loved Samantha and Laura, I don’t know Marcie. She sounds really talented from Brian’s description, so I guess I’ll add her to the list as well. Can’t wait for Pinocchio. If you haven’t taken the time to see these people don’t post negative comments.

  43. Dolly says:

    The shows that I have seen had very lite turnout. I like entertainment every now and again, it all doesn’t have to be serious. Even Hamlet a Rock Experience was more heavy and unusual. I did like Parallel Lives although my boyfriend didn’t. Samantha was just the best! I would like to see APT do a musical comedy. I saw A Funny Thing Happened on My Way to the Forum some years ago in an LA theater. It was a total riot. It was certainly adult oriented because of the nude and semi-nude scenes. It was so funny though you had to laugh. Everything was light hearted and fun. I would like to see Samantha cast as tall blond silent woman with more stage time added to the role. The actress I saw in the show was very tall and very beautiful, Samantha certainly fits that bill. Since its a non speaking role it would be interesting to see how she handles it. I remember that I saw it in the third week and the place was still packed. Maybe a sexy comedy would attract more of an audience and help APT build its membership. I don’t know who you would get to play the main character though he was such a conniver and his acting was so over the top. It worked though because that was how the part was written I guess. I also think as others have said here that APT needs a better place to perform and needs to do more shows.

  44. Henrietta-Z says:

    I have gone to several APT productions they were all good. I did see Parallel and it was very, very different and entertaining. I honestly don’t know if this show would have worked without the superb cast though. I think it was probably very difficult to act. They pulled it off splendidly. And yes Samantha was absolutely incredible. She out shown the simple settling and carried the evening in true style.

  45. Marge Schaefer says:

    I think Parallel was great too. It is a shame it did not have a nicer stage with special effects. That would have added to the impact. Samantha was very convincing in her role. I wish she would perform more often. I saw Josh in improv commedy and he was funny and very satirical. I would go see the Allentown Public Theatre more often if they had a regular place.

    • Brian Lucas says:

      Marge APT does miracles with what they have. I can tell you that Marcie works her fingers to the bone making costumes out of almost nothing and painting scenery with limited resources and still finds time to add so many little touches that bring meaning and richness to each show. They have such a limited staff that they are all seriously overbooked.

  46. Tara-H says:

    Yow! Look at the comments here! I just got turned on to this blog by a friend and it looks more like a Facebook page. There are so many comments. I have been going to see APT on and off since last year when a friend who is involved pestered me to go see Hamlet, a rock experience. What can I say, it really rocked! Stuffy Hamlet with totally cool music that sounded great. Josh you are a genius! I was disappointed in the Teddy Bear Awards. I guess it just didn’t work for me and some of the performers were not as good or appealing. I then went to the Complete Works of Shakespeare and again was just blown away at how good it was. I don’t like stuff like that normally. APT made Shakespeare so fun I am a convert. They seem to do this really, really well. I saw the first two shows of something they called actors in action and didn’t like them. It just didn’t hold my interest so I stopped going for awhile. I guess that is normal. The last thing I saw was Parallel Lives. That was the best thing that they did as far as I am concerned. It was so freaky and fun! I saw it twice. Samantha Beedle absolutely ruled the show! She is such a fabulous performer, her face just draws you in and makes you a captive of her emotion. So I think APT is a great group of people starting out. Not every thing is for me or something I will like. That’s ok though. I do wish they would do more things throughout the year. I don’t like the readings and that seems to take time from other stuff that is more popular or at least that I like better. When I see what they can do in Hamlet and Parallel lives and how fantastic they can be. I wish there was more they did like that.

    • Brian Lucas says:

      Tara – Thanks for the honest feedback. I am sure APT is taking it to heart. I know the recognition that Samantha, Marcie and the others have received has touched them and helped energize their efforts. I agree Josh is a very intelligent, articulate and creative person limited only by the shackles of an economically depressed area. He has built a team of fine performers that have brought a level of theater experience to the valley that we could otherwise not hope for. I am not surprised that so many people were smitten by Samantha she has an intensity that is be very compelling. It also doesn’t surprise me that so many people have responded positively to Marcie here. She is a rarely talented person who creativity and compassion literally bursts out from her wherever she goes and whatever she does. She never ceases to amaze me. Please keep attending APT performances and giving your feedback! -Brian

  47. Bob says:

    Hey everybody! I like Ross’s idea about 12 Angry Men with women on the jury as well. Josh of course has to be juror #8. With all the raves Laura and the “goddess” Samantha have gotten here, I would love to see Samantha as juror #4, Laura as juror #5 and how about Marcie as juror #1. I am anxious to see her act again. Wouldn’t it be a novel idea if they could do this as a musical. I believe that APT can build something very important to the Lehigh Valley if they can find a place of their own to perform and make the right performance choices.

    • Brian Lucas says:

      Bob – I’ll admit I had to look up the juror numbers, but I agree with your suggestions 100%. I am very impressed with how well you cast this suggestion. We hope APT is close to finding a place. -Brian

  48. Hillary Briggs says:

    I do not know what the future holds for the Allentown Public Theatre. I can say, that they should never give up their dreams, at least individually, even if the collective one does not happen. Just look at all the comments that were generated here and how active this post still is! That means there is emotion behind the subject of theater in downtown Allentown and that is great news for the Allentown Public Theatre. You can also see great emotion in response to some of the performances that the actors and actresses have given. Some are being compared to famous movie actors, actresses and even goddesses. If you look at the care and intelligence behind the responses that Josh gave and the beautiful all encompassing reply that Marcie made recently, you will see hardworking people of intelligence who are concerned about the impact of what they do and care about the greater good. These are the kind of people that you want to live in your neighborhood. And if they are willing to work and even live in a depressed city area, the government, business owners and people in general should do everything possible to support them. I do not know the city of Allentown. I am not even an American, yet I can honestly ask this question: How foolish is it of the city of Allentown to let this opportunity to revitalize slip away due to apathy and inertia?

  49. Sally Rider says:

    This is the longest comment stream in Brian’s blog. It seems that that the theater is an emotional subject as Jim noted in his comment. I can tell the people from the Allentown Public Theatre that if they follow Brian’s advice, they will be successful. Brian is a real genius and very well read on a vast array of subjects. He is also an extremely generous and wonderfully sensitive man. He helped make my consulting practice successful when I was taking it in the direction of agile organization alignment. He is also a man of his word and keeps his commitment regardless of the cost to him. That is very hard to find in my business. I suspect Brian might have had some stage aspirations in the past, but responsibilities and circumstances kept him from pursuing them. That might be one of the reasons that he is interested in helping this fledgling group now. I also know that Brian is helping out a friend with a sudden and serious health issue right now and that is why he has not posted for awhile. So I would ask all his fans to be patient. I wish Marcie and all the members of the Allentown Public Theatre all the best!

  50. JoBeth Winston says:

    This has become a fascinating saga. more like a rarely Twitter stream. I wish I could find out how APT is making out and if this interview has helped them. It is not practical for me in Maryland to travel up to Allentown to visit the APT, but you have me wishing I could. It is almost like a reality series. Hey now that’s an idea!!!

    • Brian Lucas says:

      Oh please JoBeth not another reality show. I rarely express extreme negatives in my blog, but my deep disgust for reality shows is one of them. I am sorry for any of my readers that are reality show junkies, we will simply have to admit we have different tastes in this area. I admit I was taken by surprise by the number of comments here and have struggled to keep up!.

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