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A Performance Art Experience for All Ages in the Majestic Poconos

Northeastern Pennsylvania’s stunning mountain vistas, charming towns, and variety of attractions make it one of the most visited destinations in the region with more than 26 million visitors in 2016. Outdoor enthusiasts should make sure that the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is on their itineraries. The Area sprawls over 70,000 forested acres featuring more than 100 miles of trails, three beaches with lifeguards, waterfalls, and more. From Scranton's outdoor activities and attractions to Milford’s art galleries and historical landmarks, Northeastern Pennsylvania has destinations and activities for everyone.  


The Pocono Mountains Music Festival has provided unique live performances and performance art education to thousands since 2009, and it will take place from May 19 to August 4 at locations around Northeastern Pennsylvania. This year’s event kicks off with two pre-festival special events: Summer Kickoff Cabret: The Marcy & Zina Show (May 19) and You’ve Got A Friend: The Music of the Brill Building (June 15). The primary festival events begin with the Century of Song: A Centennial Celebration (July 27) which is a tribute to music legends such as Leonard Bernstein, Jerome Robbins, Ella Fitzgerald, and more. At the Southern Comfort: A Down-Home Country Music Jamboree (July 28) attendees can listen to Southern Comfort perform a variety of country classics and modern hits. Love Letters: A Play by A.R. Gurney (July 29) is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated play starring Barbara Andres and Tony Roberts that highlights the main characters 50-year life stories. Another significant part of the event is the Performance Art Camps. Here 9th graders through graduated seniors can take workshops to enhance their skills in a variety of disciplines including musical theater vocal coaching, musical theater dance/choreography, and more. For the full schedule of events, stop by the event website for additional information. interviewed Event Representative, Laurie Guzda, to learn more about this unique celebration of music and performance art.


RAL: Tell me a little bit about the event.

LG: The Festival presents the highest quality of entertainment in Broadway, cabaret, classical and Jazz in intimate and large venues, surrounded by the pristine beauty of the Pocono Mountains. A common theme throughout all performances is the commitment to not only entertain our audiences but to educate them as well in the art form they are seeing. Consistent with that we have a performing arts camp for this year up to 100 students who will not only put on their review but will participate in many of the other events with the professionals.


RAL: How long has the event been running?

LG: The Buck Hill Skytop Music Festival was established in late 2009 with our first season in the summer of 2010.  For the first eight years, we operated under the name of the Buck Hill Skytop Music Festival, but as we expanded and began to reach many other local communities. We changed our name to the Pocono Mountains Music Festival in 2017. This year, with the addition of performing at The Cooperage in Honesdale, we encompass the entire Pocono Mountains region.


RAL: How many annual attendees do you draw?

LG: On average, over 2,000 people attend our events. We attract lovers of the performing arts who want to experience a variety of genres in one festival. We also introduce families to the theater arts who come to see their children perform with music and theater professionals.


RAL: What demographic does your event attract? Children? Families? Couples?

LG: All! We provide entertainment that appeals to adults and children.  We are a family-friendly festival, and we are passionate to expose local youth to the theater.


RAL: What makes this event unique?  

LG: The variety of genres available. There will be cabaret, Broadway musical theater, jazz, country, and this year for the first time a staged play “Love Letter” starring Broadway and TV stars Barbara Andres and Tony Roberts. Also, this year we were chosen among all the festivals in the country as one of four winners to receive the ASCAP Foundation’s Jerry Herman Award. Jerry Herman, the famous composer of such Broadway classics as Hello Dolly, MAME, La Cage Aux Folles, is devoted to keeping the music of the Broadway stage alive. As part of the award, the Foundation underwrites the cost of bringing five Broadway stars who will be performing with a Broadway orchestra as one of our main events.


RAL: Take me through a day at the event. What can I expect as an attendee?

LG: As a resident or visitor, you will be entertained by the world-class talent in your backyard. Our events take place in many different locations throughout the Poconos, so our venues vary from intimate settings of about 150 people to larger sites of up to 1,000 and everything in between.


RAL: What can an attendee expect to find for local lodging?

LG: There are a wide variety of accommodations available to attendees, including the beautiful and historic Skytop Lodge, bed and breakfast locations like the Frogtown Inn, and rental properties in Buck Hill Falls.


RAL: Are there any lodging specials that are set up for the event?

LG: Skytop Lodge offers an incredible package of $249 which includes elegant accommodations, tickets to most of the events and breakfast. The festival event tickets included in this package are: The Marcy & Zena Show (May 19), Century of Song: A Centennial Celebration (July 27), Southern Comfort: A Down-Home Country Jamboree (July 28), The Room Where it Happens (August 3), and Jerry Herman: The Broadway Legacy Concert featuring the Pocono Pops! (August 4). Tickets for the remaining performances are available for purchase.


RAL: What does this event mean to the community?

LG: The Performing Arts Camp is an extraordinary opportunity for emerging talent. Some of these young people have never even visited NYC even though it’s less than 100 miles away!


RAL: Does the event support a particular cause in the community?

LG: Absolutely. We are a 501(c)3 organization and written into our mission statement is a strong commitment to the education of both the audience and the children through our Performing Arts Camp. Also, each year we bring an artist to the seven regional libraries of Monroe County and the artist talks about their art form. The young children participate in activities that incorporate the art form. This year we are featuring Conny Andres, a Broadway dancer, and teacher. Her program last year was so successful that she is returning this year. The seven libraries were extremely impressed with her interaction with the children. As part of our Access to the Arts program, we are proud to donate 10% of our tickets to families that participate in the National School Lunch Program in local area school districts.


For more information about the Poconos Mountains Music Festival and Performing Arts Camp, please visit the event website.