Pocono Mountains Music Festival features Broadway talent, Garden State tribute
The lights of Broadway are coming to the Poconos.
Hear showtunes accompanied by a symphony, musical numbers by local students, and cover hits from iconic musicians born in the Garden State.
It’s all part of the Pocono Mountains Music Festival, taking place Thursday, July 21 to Saturday, July 30 at Pocono Mountain East High School, the Tennis Tea in Buck Hill Falls and the Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg.
Performing arts students will perform July 30 at Pocono Mountains High School East as part of the Pocono Mountains Music Festival.
Pocono Mountains Music Festival lineup
Now celebrating its 13th season, the festival kicks off Thursday, July 21 at Tennis Tea (108 Tennis Drive Buck Hill Falls) with a variety bit by actress Susie Mosher, host of the Line Up at Bird Land Jazz Club in Manhattan’s theater district.
“Susie is a fabulous actress and the show gives an overview of the whole season,” says Scott Coulter, artistic director of the festival. “There’s a little bit of something for everyone, and it kicks the festival off as sort of a party atmosphere.”
On Saturday, July 23, listen to some of Broadway’s beloved tunes during "Valijean, Cosette and A String Quarter,'' featuring Tony nominee Josh Young (“Jesus Christ Superstar,” ”Amazing Grace) and Emily Padgett (“Rock of Ages,” ”Bright Star,”), vocalists and husband/wife duo.
The couple will perform hits from musicals such as ”Les Miserables,” and ”Miss Saigon,” at Pocono Mountain East High School, 231 Pocono Mountain School Road, Swiftwater.
Closing the festivities on Saturday, July 30 will be a homage to New Jersey’s homegrown artists: Frank Sinatra, Whitney Houston, Frankie Vallie, Jon Bon Jovi, Dionne Warwick, Leslie Gore and Gloria Gaynor.
The show, ”Pocono Pops: Jersey Boys and Girls,” takes place at the Sherman Theater (524 Main St., Stroudsburg) and features a 24-piece orchestra conducted by Dale Rieling, music director of ”Phantom of the Opera,” as well as a handful of vocalists including two Broadway darlings, Jessica Hendy (“Cats,”) and Melvin Tunstall III (“Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,”)
Showcasing young Poconos talent at festival
Local talent will grace the stage during the Pocono Pops performance, and also as part of their own student showcase Friday, July 29 at Pocono Mountain East High School.
The festival organizers also will host a free camp July 18 to 29 for 36 local teens entering 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grades.
Led by professional singers, dancers and choreographers, the students learn dance numbers and musical sets to prepare for their big day on stage.
Tap dancer and choreographer Savion Glover teaches performing arts students from the Pocono Mountains Music Festival. The students will perform at the festival July 29 - 30.
Mentoring youth is a big part of the festival’s mission, Coulter says. (All ticket sales, along with private donations, go towards the tuition-free student camp, educational opportunities and programming.)
“Last year, the Pocono Pops closed our season, but the kids also sang, and the Broadway singers choked up during the numbers with the students because it was really beautiful … the whole circle of life, passing of the baton, inspiring their minds, we’ve all been there,” Coulter says. ”We’ve all been that high school kid on the stage singing with the choir. It’s a really great moment when everyone comes together, doing what they love no matter their resume experience or if they are just starting out. Everyone is doing what they love together.”
The talent that Coulter recruits — professionals on the road and involved in long-running musicals — enjoy coming to the Poconos for a change of pace.
“Performers like to perform because they like to share their talent and their gifts. They like the energy from the audience and the audience here is so supportive. Everyone who has been here over the years has raved about the experience. You are close with the audience. It’s more intimate than it is in a Broadway house and you really get to see the effect that you have on people and vice versus,” he says.
“I’m already thinking about next season. We have unique opportunities in the Poconos and also unique settings. We do a lot of our concerts in smaller spaces which are great spaces to see artists up close and personal. You’re not getting a lot of lights or big sounds and bells and whistles. The focus is on the artists themselves.”
If you go
Thursday, July 21 to Saturday, July 30 at Pocono Mountain East High School, the Tennis Tea in Buck Hill Falls and the Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg. Tickets (included package options for the full festival or either weekend) are available at poconofest.org. The Sherman is also selling tickets for the Pocono Pops show at shermantheater.com