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Pianos "Busting Out All Over" at Summer Fringe

Do you remember “June is Busting Out All Over” from the Broadway musical Carousel? That rip-roaring tune that just makes you want to dance? The Susquehanna Trail Road Rally steers Tioga County into June, with the

Laurel Festival following in its wake. We barely have time to catch our breath before Wellsboro offers up a week of the arts in its Summer Fringe—a week to celebrate music, dance, theater, art, writing, poetry, comedy, storytelling, and photography. As an arts lover and piano player, it makes my blood run and my breathing heavy!

Imagine: you come to town with the idea of a little shopping, and, as you park your car, you hear music—not recorded, but live. You glance up the sidewalk and see a brightly colored piano, with a sign saying, “Play Me! I’m Yours!” Someone’s on the bench playing a tune. Surprised, you stop to listen—an instantaneous symbiotic relationship—performer and audience. You walk on the other side of the street and there’s another piano. In fact the town will be “busting out all over” with them.

You have just walked into the Summer Fringe.

You pick up a schedule and discover there are planned activities and performances all week from morning to evening in various venues, open to the public. Some are geared to kids and teens, others to adults. The week starts off with a bang on Sunday, June 22, at 4 p.m., with a Hamilton-Gibson cast and crew reunion for anyone who has ever been involved with the group, be it performer, stage hand, musician, or volunteer. Even seniors will get into action on Tuesday, June 24, at 2 p.m. at the Warehouse Theatre, with the Senior Reader’s Theater of “Acting Out!”

If you play the piano, you can do what I’m going to do: simply sit down and play a tune. Bring a friend and play a duet—even “Chopsticks”! Haul any budding pianists with you and give them a turn. Sadie Green Sales music man David Driskell is tuning the many donated pianos from the community—some of which have great stories to tell. My goal is to play them all. You should, too, or at least check them all out. Local artists will have painted them for Summer Fringe, and you may even know some of them. Check for their signatures and enjoy a smorgasbord of sound.

On another street corner, you might see a mime or someone playing guitar. You never know what’s going to crop up, but it’s a bet it’ll be one of the arts, and maybe something new and on the fringe. Speaking of “the fringe,” I understand “Raymond, The Amish Comic” from Lancaster is being headlined for adults only.

Summer Fringe had its inception two years ago, as Hamilton-Gibson Productions stuck its toes in the water with a number of activities for young people, adults, and seniors scheduled during the day, with performances held in the evenings. The great response prompted a repeat performance. Herb Johnson, “busting out all over” with new ideas and additions to the schedule, is chairing this year’s event.

I plan on attending these intriguing activities and evening performances, and running a writing workshop for young girls Monday through Friday. I’ll probably find it difficult to wait ’til the end of the week for the Dueling Pianos concert, an evening where a number of pianists and I will sit down to play—solo and with each other—all styles of music, some extemporaneously. Wonder who the others will be?

Most indoor activities are “pay what you can,” with the proceeds going to the Summer Fringe expenses. There will be a Summer Fringe button for you to purchase for five dollars that will let you into most of the activities and concerts. They are also looking for those individuals or groups who might want to organize something in the arts for that week. Check the Hamilton-Gibson Web site ( for details. If you need a venue, contact Hamilton-Gibson at (570) 724-2079.

Join in the festivities and fun while supporting the arts. You might even find an old piano player willing to play a request.

She’s warming up her fingers already!

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