Message from the President
When Richard Spezzano and I incorporated The Pocono Center for the Arts, it was a time of upheaval in the Pocono Arts Community. Twenty years had come and gone since the adoption of a comprehensive plan to stimulate and celebrate the arts in our diverse and vibrant melting pot community. It was called the 2020 Plan. The Poconos is famous for many reasons. It was once the vacation destination given it's commuter friendly access to NYC and Philadelphia. The 2020 plan was adopted with the support of our County Commissioners, but unfortunately, time eroded enthusiasm, people came and went, support waned and ultimately, the solution was to add 10 years and a 2030 plan was adopted. Rich and I saw the plan as an opportunity. It was not pie in the sky; The Poconos had all the ingredients to explode, especially since we are also a short 40 minutes from Bethlehem, the undisputed epicenter of the Lehigh Valley. The Lehigh Valley is the third largest marketing area in Pennsylvania and the abandoned remains of failed Bethlehem Steel were transformed from an international complex of manufacturing and technology to an internationally recognized complex Celebrating the Arts with Arts Quest at it core. As a result, The Lehigh valley received the lion's share of attention and funding. The Poconos had just experimented with building a very ambitions, multi million dollar performance and arts complex, in the Bushkill area, but when that failed to bear fruit, enthusiasm was lost - failure was accepted.
Richard Spezzano and I are unabashed entrepreneurs. We had reached the age and career paths when most settle into a relaxed life style but given our past experiences and accomplishments we had to act. Here was a challenge and we knew a solution would be found. Here are the simple steps we took with an attitude of optimism and gratitude and the will to weather the inevitable storms.
• A board of directors was elected and an ambassador core was established. A Web site was produced with a video which visually outlined our mission and goals both long range and immediate.
• A circle Diagram was adopted and visually delineated, the importance of education at the center of all achievement, with an initial focus of Visual and performing Arts. This visual diagram simply gives one the sense of growth and expansion. In my mind I envisioned bubbles rising and interacting giving birth to explosions of inspiration and when the imagination is used in harmony, the interaction creates or explodes with innovation and amazing things happen.
• With this in mind, we held a series of community grass root meetings to see what others wanted and what in put they had. It worked and we kept it simple in the face of all challenges.
Of course the goal was to have a constant harvest of accomplishments fueled by constant education at its best. Then things changed in an instant. A like minded supporter and friend of mine who lived in Scranton, saw a performance that captivated her. A conference call was set up for me to meet the producer. Enter- "Center Stage" - Stephen DeAngelis. The stool was complete; Rich and I had found the third leg and the most satisfying professional collaboration in my life has ensued ever since and live performances became our “first things first”. Today, Tuesday May 17th we received official notice that our grant application was approved for $250,000. This is for the purchase of Center Building in Stroudsburg. Now it is time to move forward. We’ve sold out our last five shows, community support is at an all time high, and initial funding has been secured. The time is now to take our educational initiatives on the road. With Stroudsburg as our nucleus very soon we will be expanding into Bethlehem and Scranton.
As one of New York's most respected Casting Directors, he has worked with over 100,000 different performers onstage as well as over 3600 national television and radio commercials as well as on television series and in film. This allows him direct access which we continue to utilize for our benefit.
• He has worked with more award-winning and award-nominated talent than any other Casting Director and Producer and has earned the reputation for identifying and showcasing future stars at the beginning of their careers ahead of anyone else.
• His concert work was recognized by BroadwayWorld's Annual Awards as "Best in Club, Cabaret and Concert" for his ongoing monthly residency at The Green Room 42.
How is this Possible?
It's always exciting and fun to engage with our Producing Artistic Director Stephen DeAngelis. Every meeting and phone call generates new ideas and energizes us to levels I never dreamed possible. The overarching reason for this can be summed up in two simple words: PASSION and COMMITMENT
Stephen started his early career as a producer and director here in the Poconos and has always maintained a great affection and gratitude for our area. It excites him beyond words to be returning full time to realize a life long vision. He has taken all he learned here and established himself as a powerhouse and innovator in the entertainment industry. His unique history and personal relationships give him unparalleled access to artists across all entertainment genres. No other person could have done what he has done in bringing the number and calibre of Broadway stars to our audiences. Stephen has made our shows affordable, while maintaining the highest artistic yet intimate experience for all of you.
• He is also extremely proud of his career as a Director and Choreographer at leading venues in Manhattan and across the United States.
Stephen has many groundbreaking ideas that will benefit the Arts community artistically across all genres and which will make great contributions to the growth and success of our local businesses financially. We are now reaping the benefits of Stephen's forty year career and his collaborative spirit will certainly provide many educational opportunities as well.
If you have not yet joined us for one of our events, we look forward to meeting you. If you are already a supporter, we thank you and can't wait to see you again and share what we have in store.
Message from Stephen
Dear Friends and Supporters of PCFTA
As we approach the halfway point of our current season, I thought this would be a great time to inform you of some new initiatives that I hope to integrate into our upcoming programming over the next several years. To date, I have had the pleasure of bringing you 78 of the finest performers from the Broadway stage in Mainstage concert and intimate Cabaret settings here in the Poconos. While entertainment will always be important to us, our continued growth will provide other opportunities for new educational and cultural initiatives that will have an impact on the area both culturally and financially. These additions will help establish the Pocono Center for the Arts as a world class destination attracting audiences from all over. Here are the first details regarding our exciting educational programs that will reach participants across Northeast Pennsylvania:
1. The goal of our Broadway Workshop/Master Class program is to give actors of all ages and skill levels the opportunity to explore their creativity through acting, singing and dancing. The workshops and master classes will be taught by working professionals, from Broadway stars to Casting Directors and Talent Agents. The students will not only learn about and experience all aspects of theatre through our workshops, master classes and private and group coaching, but they also gain skills in the areas of communication, self confidence and teamwork in a supportive, positive and fun environment.
2. This program is designed for performers with little to lots of experience as we demystify the audition process. Whether you are re-working a monologue or learning to stay in the moment, these classes with top professionals can help. Actors will learn how to make specific acting choices, establish the first moment for the character, make on-the-spot adjustments and thus create successful auditions. They will develop the ability to confidently and instantly connect to audition material through proven techniques and insights that allow smart, effective decisions and gain the confidence needed to enhance their chances of booking the role.
3. COLLEGE AUDITION PREP COACHING-The goal of this program is to help High School Seniors get accepted to major musical theatre and acting programs. The focus of the coaching is to find the best possible material to showcase each student. We will also help navigate the difficult world of choosing the right schools and help put a plan into action to put together the most polished, professional and personal auditions possible. Each student has something special that we hope to bring out and allow the student to shine and enjoy this exciting process.
Over the next several years, I also look to establish us as the home and host of an annual multi-day statewide Pennsylvania High School Drama Festival which will showcase the talents of students presenting highlights of their plays and musicals which will be evaluated by industry professionals and culminating an awards event leading to recognition and scholarships.
I also plan to launch an "Accessibility in the Arts" initiative as a supplement to our programs and programming which will allow all of our facilities and spaces to be fully accessible to all patrons, audience members, performers and staff.
My first step will be to create an advisory board comprised of an integrated group of disabled and non-disabled individuals with backgrounds in theatre, music, dance, visual arts, activism, academia and arts administration. As we listen and learn, we advance our commitment to fully reach artists and audience members with disabilities in the Poconos and surrounding areas. True inclusion in the arts is about reflecting the experience of all of us.
My next step will be to create a short play festival by disabled writers or featuring characters with disabilities. We would put out a nationwide call for submissions and present them as part of International Day of Persons with Disabilities every December. The celebration would also feature visual arts of all genres created by artists with disabilities. This would give the disabled community a way to have their voices heard and accessible to audience members of all ages.
I intend to ultimately create a two-week intensive daytime and evening training program for Deaf and Disabled early-career artists who will be selected through an application process. The two-week free program will include workshops in Acting for the Camera, Acting for the Stage, Movement, Voice, Improvisation, Auditioning and Commercials. The workshop will culminate with a Showcase performance for an invited industry audience and will be videotaped and/or streamed to help talent be exposed for possible talent agency or management representation. This program will support skill building and help artists cultivate relationships with their fellow students and with industry professionals. This will also allow us to expand the artistic family of the Poconos Center for the Arts.
In order to best serve our audiences, many of our shows will be enhanced by sign language interpreters. Certain performances will be modified to create an autism-friendly experience. They will be performed in a welcoming, supportive environment for individuals on the autism spectrum, with sensory and communication disorders, or learning disabilities. Slight adjustments to lighting and sound will be made for the performance. We will also offer free use of studio space to the disabled community when available so they can also develop their own art in the Performing Arts and Visual Arts categories.
While we have become renowned for our Broadway themed events. our upcoming Cavalcade of Stars 2023 this November will allow us to demonstrate that our goals exceed that. This special afternoon all-ages event will feature not only the best from New York's "Great Bright Way" but will also feature Music, Dance, Comedy, Variety, Clowning, International stars and much more! Additional talent details will be released shortly. As with our past concerts, I am creating this event exclusively for a single performance making it a "must-see" that will have something for everybody. I'd like to make it very clear that it is not my goal to compete with other area arts organizations and schools but to establish long term relationships that will allow us to all thrive, evolve and grow.
Thank you for allowing me to share my plans and vision and I look forward to having you join us in our early steps as we re-establish the Poconos as the ultimate destination for arts and entertainment..
Producing Artistic Director
Workshops and Master Classes
Step into a world of creativity and innovation as we complete the 2030 plan for the enhancement of the arts in our community. Whether you're a fan of visual or performing arts, we've got something for you. Our mission is to provide access to master classes and creative tools such as acting, singing and dance classes, painting classes, graphic design classes, and digital photo editing, offering a whole new level of technical skillsets to elevate your art.
The goal of our Broadway workshop program is to give actors of all ages and skill levels the opportunity to explore their creativity through acting, singing and dancing. The workshops will be taught by working professionals, from Broadway stars to Casting Directors and Talent Agents. The students not only learn about and experience all aspects of theatre through our workshops, master classes, and private and group coaching, but they also gain skills in the areas of communication, self confidence and teamwork in a supportive, positive and fun environment.
Collage Audition Prep Coaching
The goal of this program is to help High School Seniors get accepted to major musical theatre and acting programs. The focus of the coaching is to find the best possible material to showcase each student. We will also help navigate the difficult world of choosing the right schools and help put a plan into action to put together the most polished, professional and personal auditions possible. Each student has something special that we hope to bring out and allow the student to shine and enjoy this exciting process.
This program is designed for performers with little to lots of experience as we demystify the audition process. Whether you are re-working a monologue or learning to stay in the moment, these classes with top professionals can help. Actors will learn how to make specific acting choices, establish the first moment for a character, make on-the-spot adjusments and thus create successful auditons. They will develop the ability to confidently and instantly connect to audition material through proven techniques and insights that allow smart, effective decisions and gain the confidence needed to aid in booking the role.
We understand that technology has evolved rapidly since the concept of the 2030 plan was created in 2020. It's time for the baby boomer generation to tap into their creativity while learning visual art knowledge.
Courses covers basic concepts and practice of digital photography, including understanding and use of the camera, lenses, and other basic photographic equipment. Explore aesthetic principles as they relate to composition, space, exposure, light and color. Technological requirements of digital formats will be addressed, such as formats and resolution. Digital photo manipulation will be taught to inspire the creation of art.
Workshops would be held by professional artists who will guide you in color mixing, composition, techniques, and using the tools. Painting classes include oils, acrylic, water color, mixed media and more.
Graphic art is all around us. Our workshops will include learning how to use digital software to create works of art, advertisements, video graphics, enhance your online presence, and photo manipulation.
Three-dimensional art objects possess physical space and can be seen from all angles and sides since they are represented in the dimensions of height, breadth, and depth. Workshops will include ceramics, clay, oragami, sculpture and more.