New theater opening at Susquehanna Valley Mall

SELINSGROVE – Lovers of live theater entertainment will be able to look no further than the Susquehanna Valley Mall, where a new theater will be put in. Located in the courtyard of J.C. Penney, the theater will be known as the Courtyard Theater, and it will feature talent from the local area performing Broadway plays and musicals.

The theater will be run and opened by Producer Art Lieberman and Director Bob Taylor, and it also will be used for other various mediums of live visual entertainment, such as concerts, corporate events, fashion shows and anything else that can be done in a theatrical environment.

Productions performed at the Courtyard will be under the direction of Bob Taylor. Taylor has experience in local theaters as a director, actor, set and costume designer and high school drama instructor for the Muncy Area High School.

Taylor also performed with the Valley Players in July for the performance they put on of the comedy “The Art of Murder.”

Lieberman and Taylor came to be suitable business partners through a love of theater. Performing in several plays professionally, Lieberman has performed in “Oklahoma,” “The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd” and “Stop the World, I Want to Get Off.” He also spent time as a piano entertainer for more than 40 years, and he also features a large knowledge of Broadway music. During his 35-year career, Taylor has directed and performed more than 300 plays.

Lieberman attempted to produce the SUN Area High School Musical Awards, and began to seek a director to oversee the production. This is when Lieberman met Taylor, when they produced and directed a version of “The Rocky Horror Show” in the Pajama Factory, 1307 Park Ave.

According to Lieberman, the Pajama Factory wasn’t the best acting facility, as the heating system was loud and it was hard to hear the actors voices over it, and it did not draw the best crowd.

Together, the two-men found “Custom Taylored Productions,” as well as working on two more dramas to be put on at the Pajama Factory, when they began to seek a theater to call their own. Preit called them and accommodated an open space at the Susquehanna Valley Mall for them.

“They made us an offer we couldn’t refuse,” said Lieberman. The theater will be opening the second week in October for their performance of the musical “Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street.” Nine performances will be schedule for the last three weekends in October, each having evening performances on Friday and Saturday nights, along with a Sunday matinee held at 2 p.m.

On Aug. 5, 6 and 7, open auditions were held for “Sweeney Todd.” A keyboard was provided for those that auditioned as they came prepared to sing songs. A total of nine major characters were sought, including all of the chorus parts as well as a boy to play a 10-year-old.

A schedule already has been put together by Lieberman and Taylor for the rest of 2013 and all of 2014. The schedule includes the musicals “Rent,” “Assassins,” “1776,” along with the Mel Brooks comedy “The Producers.” “Deathtrap” and “Same Time, Next Year,” will be among the non-musical pieces performed, along with two others, one being an original production.

According to Lieberman and Taylor, the mall has been very supportive and cooperative of their efforts for the theater, including agreeing to raise the roof over the stage to 23 feet in order to accommodate the height needed for the multiple stage levels.

Stores in the mall may even consider giving discounts to customers and showgoers, including Garfield’s Restaurant, who are considering running a special “dinner and a show” discount.

Both Lieberman and Taylor hope that the new theater will bring new entertainment and become a popular venue for those located in the area.

Lieberman expects the theater to perform well, “being that we are the only legitimate theater close in the area as well as there being a lot of untapped talent – there are thousands of kids who do the high school productions and Bob Taylor is extremely talented and great at getting the talent to come out of people.”

For more information, contact Custom Taylored Productions at 966-0080, The Courtyard Theater box office at 374-0060, Art Lieberman at 412-7488 or visit the website at