The Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center is offering three productions in March that will have audiences laughing and singing along to their favorite tunes.
At 2 and 7:30 p.m. March 12, the musical comedy “Church Basement Ladies – Rise Up O Men” will be presented at the arts center, located on the Pitt-Johnstown campus in Richland Township. It will question what the church ladies are going to do when men invade the parish basement.
This sidesplitting, uplifting peek into the lives of the rural Norwegian Lutherans, who audiences first fell in love with in 2005, is the sixth chapter of the story that began in the original “Church Basement Ladies.”
It features familiar faces – Mrs. Mavis Gilmerson, Mrs. Vivian Snustad and Mrs. Karin Engleson – who would never leave the basement kitchen unattended.
But as the women busy themselves with preparations for the church’s participation in the town’s 1964 Centennial Celebration, their comings and goings are seen from the eyes of the men, who have their own problems to solve.
Series staple Pastor E.L. Gunderson is joined in brotherhood with Karin’s husband, Elroy; farmer, Carl; and war veteran, Arlo.
Their camaraderie unites them as they deal with a furnace salesman, looming retirement, rival Protestant denominations, the pastor’s bad jokes and Arlene’s cooking.
Autumn O’Ryan, who plays Vivian Snustad, said her character is the matriarch of the kitchen and quite conservative with no gray area in her life.
“She runs the place with an iron fist but she has a heart of gold, she just doesn’t let it show that much,” she said.
“She loves the kitchen and her church, but she does not like any change.”
O’Ryan said Vivian can’t stand having men in her kitchen but has to learn to adapt.
“This is a story about change – a lot of things happen and a lot of things go wrong – but in the end, it’s a strong message of who you are in the community, who you are as a person and that we are all one together,” she said.
O’Ryan said the story will take audiences back to a simpler time.
“We’re in such an age of high tech and we can’t slow down and we forget what’s important and that’s community and family,” she said.
“It’s a reminder of who we were. People will laugh and they will remember days gone by, and if something did happen, there was someone who had your back.”
Tickets are $35 for premium and $31 for regular.
Classical crossover music
The sounds of classical crossover music will fill the PPAC when Vox Fortura performs at 7:30 p.m. March 14.
Recently seen as semi-finalists in “Britain’s Got Talent,” Vox Fortura stormed the competition with a powerhouse display of vocal panache and sheer class.
Vox Fortura, described by fans as “the next Il Divo,” brings classical vocals back into the mainstream and fills the stage with personality and style with almost every era or genre of music in their iconic crossover style.
Elias Hendricks, a member of the group, said they formed in 2016 in London.
“I personally have wanted to infuse the classical world with elements of African-American culture since I was studying opera in college at Southern Methodist University,” he said.
“Once we got started and sang together for the first time, we knew we had something.”
He being a semi-finalist on “Britain’s Got Talent” gave them the platform to get the group going.
“As the first all black male classical vocal group, we have pioneered a new genre what we call ‘Classical Soul,’ which is a blend of our two favorite genres – opera and soul,” Hendricks said.
“In our show, you’ll hear the most iconic opera songs like Pucinni’s “Nessun Dorma” and Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana,” and songs from your favorite soulful artists like John Legend, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson. We’ve even managed to mash up Mozart and James Brown.”
Hendricks said it’s the first time anyone has ever done music in this fashion.
“I hope the audience leaves with a unique musical experience that only a Vox Fortura show can provide,” he said.
Tickets are $35 for premium and $31 for regular.
The laughs keep coming when Andy Gross brings his stand-up show to the performing arts center at 7:30 p.m. March 29.
Gross is one of the hottest stand-up comics, magicians and ventriloquists working today.
His videos have more than 1 million views, and he is considered to be one of the best by his peers in the entertainment industry.
Gross is known for his television and film appearances, and for his live touring show called “Andy Gross’s Mind Boggling Variety Show.”
“I do mainly comedy, magic and ventriloquism so it’s a combo of all three,” he said.
“I like to keep mixing it up a little bit and moving along so it’s not one thing.”
The show includes a lot of audience participation where they assist Gross with some tricks.
“We levitate someone from the audience – it’s an unprepared person who we bring on stage and I raise them 5 feet into the air and a hoop is passed around their body,” he said.
“When they come down, they have no idea what happened.”
He said many people are surprised at how much comedy is in the show since he’s looked at as a magician and ventriloquist.
“The entertainment aspect of it is first and foremost and that somebody is having a good time and laughing,” Gross said.
“I want people to be amazed. Some of the stuff I do is pretty mind-blowing.”
Tickets are $39 for premium and $35 for regular.
To order tickets for the shows, call 814-269-7200 or visit www.upjarts.org.