Wednesday, September 12, 2012



The Ephrata Performing Arts Center is playing host to the zombie apocalypse!

Well, actually, it’s the Zombie EPAC-alypse, and it’s going to be a “thriller” of a fundraiser.

The Zombie EPAC-alypse Dance-a-thon is a way to have a fantastic time during the Halloween season AND support the theater we all love! It’s being held at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12, in the ballroom at Lily’s on Main, 124 E. Main St., Ephrata.

There will be dancing, refreshments, a cash bar and prizes for the top fundraisers. Liz Frank, whom you’ve seen perform in such EPAC shows as “Chicago” and “Cats,” will teach everyone the steps to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” dance.

Participants in the dance-a-thon will dance from 7 until 10 p.m., and then watch a fun zombie movie while the fundraising results are being tallied.

Like so many local arts organizations affected by the economic downturn over the past few years, EPAC is always in need of funds to continue presenting the edgy, interesting, provocative, entertaining and soul-shaking theater for which it’s famous. By shaking your zombie booty at the dance-a-thon, you can join fellow friends of EPAC in a fun evening of dancing, laughter, fellowship and fundraising.

To sign up for the Zombie EPAC-alypse Dance-a-Thon, visit the event’s Web site and create a fundraising page. Share it with your friends on social media, and get them to help you raise money for your evening of dancing.

You’ll need to raise a minimum of $75 in order to be admitted to the ballroom for the event; if you raise $100, you’ll get a zombie T-shirt. Gift certificates and other prizes will be awarded for those who raise $200 and $400. And the top fundraisers can choose from prizes including a two-night stay at the Landgrove Inn in Vermont.

Hurry up and register: The names of the first 25 people to register a fundraising page will be put in a special drawing for an additional prize.

Even if you’re unable to attend the event, you can still raise money for EPAC; you can still create a fundraising page and support the theater.

Note: Those under 21 must be accompanied at the event by a parent or guardian.

If you need more information, e-mail questions to:

     Mary Ellen ("Merv") Wright

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Top: Kristie Ohlinger and Tim Riggs as Hannah Jelkes and Lawrence Shannon.

Above, Kristie Ohlinger portrays Hannah Jelkes in EPAC's "Night of the Iguana." 

Below: Tricia Corcoran, as Maxine Faulk, pursues Rev. Lawrence Shannon, played by Tim Riggs.


Did you ever sit down to watch a play, and found yourself instantly transported into the world of that play?

That’s what happened to me earlier this week, as I watched one of the final rehearsals of Ephrata Performing Arts Center’s production of Tennessee Williams’ “Night of the Iguana.”

Though the air conditioning made the theater cool and comfortable, I instantly felt the heat, the humidity and the sea air as the actors conjured up a summer, 1940, day in the life of some troubled tourists meeting in the seedy Costa Verde resort in Mexico.

Wearing a rumpled white suit, Tim Riggs will make you feel the mental and physical exhaustion of ex-minister Lawrence Shannon, who has led a bus-tour group of griping Baptist biddies (and one sweet young thing) to the hotel.

Shannon, who has already been “locked out” of his former pastorate in Virginia and has been institutionalized for a breakdown, needs a sea breeze on his face and a long rest in a hammock. He’s dragging enough emotional and spiritual baggage to fill that tour-bus 10 times over.

But there’s no rest for the … wicked? … in this play. No one will let Shannon be.

Maxine Faulk (Tricia Corcoran), the pushy, earthy widow of Shannon’s old friend, is trying to get him into her bed in a most un-subtle fashion. Underage Charlotte Goodall (Hannah Smith) is also pursuing him relentlessly, while her guardian, Judith Fellowes (Elizabeth Pattey) browbeats him and tries to get him fired from his low-rent tour gig.

You’ll instantly feel how completely ex-minster Shannon is – like the titular, captive iguana in this play – at the end of his rope

When a destitute, unmarried artist – they called such ladies “spinsters” back then – named Hannah Jelkes (Kristie Ohlinger) and her elderly-poet grandfather, Jonathan “Nonno” Coffin (John Kleimo) check in, the wind shifts.

Characters connect and help each other examine their lives. Shannon is forced to confront his past, his future and his understanding of God.

This is among director Ed Fernandez’s favorite plays, and he’s wanted to direct it for a very long time. He’s clearly happy with how his cast is bringing his vision to life on the stage of the Sharadin Bigler Theatre.

The play is heated and intense, all right, but it’s also funny. Tennessee Williams really understood people – their joys, troubles and wounded psyches. The dude knew how to develop characters, and write dialogue that both wounds and tickles! And this great cast of EPAC veterans knows just what to do with Williams’ great gifts.

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen “Night of the Iguana,” and I have only a vague recollection of how it ends. I still want to be surprised. So, I watched part of the rehearsal – the play is in three acts with two intermissions – and then went home early.

I want to experience “Iguana’s” ending when I can see the full production on its feet later this week.

This show will get under your skin. If you want to experience the world of “Iguana” – learn the characters’ secrets, woes, hopes and motivations as only Tennessee Williams could conjure them up – call the EPAC box office for tickets at (717) 733-7966. You can also order online on the EPAC Web site.

The show opens Thursday, Sept. 6 – hey, that’s tonight! – and runs through Saturday, Sept. 22.


All those who work for, perform for, volunteer for or enjoy the theater created by the Ephrata Performing Arts Center want to thank John and Mary Hayes from the bottom of our hearts. They’re sponsors for “Night of the Iguana.”

We also thank EPAC’s season sponsors, GreenMountain Cyclery and the Farrington family, and and BlueRidge Communications.

Without support of sponsors like these, EPAC would, quite simply, not be able to boast of such an extraordinary history of well-made, thought-provoking and entertaining theater.

Thanks, also, to Lily’s on Main, 124 E. Main St., Ephrata, which is sponsoring the opening-night after-party tonight. If you’re attending opening night tonight (Sept. 6), your ticket stub will get you into the party after the show. Meet the cast, and enjoy light refreshments, a cash bar and a light-fare menu.

EPAC also loves its loyal subscribers, who also help keep the place humming along.

The theater is always looking for new subscribers and new sponsors, but also for that extra, small donation from new and long-time friends.

Theatergoers’ budgets are tight, and, therefore, times are really, REALLY tough in the arts right now. EPAC can always use whatever support you can give, and will always be extremely grateful for it. Thanks!


Speaking of support: EPAC is holding a really fun peer-to-peer fundraiser, called the Zombie EPAC-alypse Dance-a-Thon, from 7-10 p.m. Friday, Oct. 15, at Lily’s on Main, 124 E. Main St., Ephrata.

Visit this page to learn all about how you can become a dancing fundraiser at this event, which benefits the theater.

There will be prizes for the top fundraisers, and a drawing for a prize among the first 20 people who register their fundraising pages.

You’ll learn the “Thriller” dance, enjoy an evening with people who love EPAC as much as you do, and help raise money to help EPAC continue its important work.

There will be more details in the next blog post.

--- Mary Ellen “Merv” Wright