Six months ago, I challenged myself and performed in a rock and roll band on my bassoon. Not just on Smokey Robinson’s “Tears of a Clown,” but on the entire set list. I never thought in all of my conservatory training I’d find myself on this kind of stage with some awesome people.

The February show was a fundraiser for the summer program we’re doing in a couple of weeks. Conceived by Touchstone’s Artistic Director, JP Jordan, he wrote a post about the band’s February performance and a bit about the band’s origin story. I was not part of the original line up.

The show we are about to do in three weeks is all newly conceived music based around characters that are matched with each member of the band. The story follows a hero’s journey and includes muppets, stilt walkers, and an aerialist. It’s a mobile story that takes place in three separate locations on South Bethlehem’s Greenway linear park. Yes, I will need to stand and walk while playing the bassoon. And cue the Woody Allen movie reference.

Images taken from Jason Hedrington’s Facebook page; so he’s not pictures with his accordion of awesomeness
This is the spectacular cast.

Last night the band rehearsed with the actors who are voicing the dialogue and operating puppets. There’s is also a chorus of pirates and other characters. Oh, and we hope spectacular audience participation. It was the first time we all came together to run the script. We all left the “The Peace Train” room <- the name of the upstairs studio at Touchstone Theatre -> with such a high level of energy. In fact, when folks were dismissed, we hung out for a while. When people linger after rehearsal, it’s usually because you don’t want to leave that energy too quickly. It’s a great feeling.

Here’s a close-up of the puppets created by Yodi Vaden; an incredible Renaissance man from Allentown. Not only does he make these muppet-like creatures, he also makes ginormous puppets that actors need to walk on stilts to operate them. He’s also a sensitive poet and a mad awesome chef. Check out his Instagram feed for pictures of his work. It gives you some nice insight into the puppet making, and also how inventive he is in multiple art forms.

As I was driving home last night, I was thinking about the show; reviewing spots I need to woodshed a little more, mental notes of making time for more reed production since the weather will require multiple options in the reed case, and … Holy Moley! I’ve been made into a muppet! Pretty sure this is a career peak.

Barbara Volgelgesang and I make the wise Acolyte of the Oracle.

Jakopa’s Punch Processional is part of a collaboration in South Bethlehem between Touchstone, Zoellner Arts Center and ArtsQuest. The other venues have interesting shows. You can find out about ArtsQuest’s HERE and Zoellner’s HERE. The concept of a three day festival that celebrates community and circus arts comes from the brain of Deborah Sacarakis. I enjoyed working with her on numerous cirque programs when I was at Zoellner. It’s neat to be a part of this as a performer.

As you’re reading this and might want to jot down the details of the Jakopa’s Punch Processional. July 14 & 15, 2017 at 6:30pm (run time 60 minutes). We’ll be on the South Bethlehem Greenway, meet us at the Chinese Harmony Pavilion between Webster and Taylor Streets.

Oh, and by the way, both of these shows are FREE. (Zoellner and ArtsQuest shows are ticketed)

It’s going to be a great weekend in Bethlehem because it’s also the time for the annual Historic Bethlehem Partnership’s Blueberry Festival. I also learned that there will be an opening of an art walk in the South Bethlehem Arts District that weekend. And this is supposed to be a quieter time of July as we commence to “restin’ before [Musik]festin’.” Ha!

Face it. I live in a community with lots of people who love to create and make special moments. Gosh, I love this town.

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