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5 things to do in the Valley this weekend

Youngstown native Lawrence Brownlee and the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra will present a program of arias; we have plays about plays; and a retired NHL star will be a guest at the Phantoms game.
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Youngstown native Lawrence Brownlee will perform with the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra on Saturday at Powers Auditorium. (Contributed photo)

It's the first full weekend in March, so here we go!

Lawrence Brownlee returns

DeYor Performing Arts Center patrons on Saturday will welcome back Youngstown native Lawrence Brownlee, a renowned opera singer.

The Youngstown Symphony Orchestra, led by Randall Craig Fleischer, will present a program of arias, spirituals and songbook standards in “Spiritual Journey” at 8 p.m.

Brownlee is an acclaimed tenor associated with the bel canto repertoire. Speight Jenkins, general director of the Seattle Opera, said of Brownlee: “There are other singers that sing this repertory very well, but I don’t think anyone else has quite as beautiful a sound and as rounded a tone.”

Brownlee, whose first singing job was belting out pop tunes at Cedar Point, is a graduate of Anderson University (undergraduate) and Indiana University (graduate). A Pittsburgh Steelers fan, Brownlee sang the national anthem before a Browns-Steelers game at Heinz Field in 2015.

Among the honors he has received are the Richard Tucker Award and Marian Anderson Award (both in 2006). His recordings include “Spiritual Sketches” and “The Heart That Flutters.”

Saturday’s concert will feature the voices of Singers Together, Simple Gifts Choir and the Youngstown Connection. Excerpts of speeches by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will be heard.

For ticket information, call 330-744-0264.

Plays about plays

Two Youngstown stages have plays on tap, both about creating plays.

Hopewell Theatre, 702 Mahoning Ave., will stage Ira Levin’s comedy thriller “Deathtrap.” Curtain times are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

The play is about a successful Broadway playwright struggling to come up with a new hit. When he reads a script by one of his students, he schemes to change his fortunes.

Nick Mulichak and Regina Rees are co-directing this production. The cast includes Terry Shears, John Monroe and Terri Wilkes.

For ticket information, call 330-746-5455.

Over at the Youngstown Playhouse, 600 Playhouse Lane, the comedy drama “Venus in Fur” will be staged for two weekends. This offering also features a struggling playwright, this one seeking an actress to play the lead in a sadomasochistic tale. He may have met his match when a vulgar, desperate actress auditions.

Curtain times this weekend are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

For ticket information, call 330-788-8739.

‘Festival of New Works’

Youngstown State University’s Department of Theatre and Dance will unveil the third annual “Festival of New Works” at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The event at Bliss Hall’s Spotlight Theater honors creativity in playwriting, choreography, designing, filmmaking, directing and acting.

The event is free, but donations will be accepted for an endowment.

Special guest at Phantoms game

Finally for sports fans, the Youngstown Phantoms are back in town for two games against the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders at the Covelli Centre.

Friday’s 7 p.m. game will have a special guest, retired NHL star Keith Primeau, signing autographs.

Twenty years ago this May, Primeau ended the Pittsburgh Penguins’ longest game in history. On May 5, 2000, Primeau scored the winning goal in the fifth overtime of the Philadelphia Flyers-Pens game at Mellon Arena. (The game began on the evening of May 4 and ended at 2:37 a.m.) 

The Flyers, which included NBC analysts Brian Boucher and Keith Jones, tied the series with the win then went on to capture the Stanley Cup Playoff series in six games.

Primeau’s later struggles with concussions are documented in Ken Dryden’s 2017 book “Game Change: The Life and Death of Steve Montador, and the Future of Hockey.”

The Phantoms and RoughRiders also will face off at 7 p.m. Saturday.

For tickets, call 330-747-PUCK or click here.