For many young—and young at heart— fans of PBS television show “Mister Rogers Neighborhood” who long to travel into The Neighborhood of Make-Believe, that dream may soon come true through music and storytelling.
The Arts at First Presbyterian Church 2012-2013 season’s final session, “Jazz for Kids,” will be held April 7 at the First Presbyterian Church, 300 School St., Clarks Summit, at 4 p.m.
This free event, open to all ages, will feature live jazz renditions of compositions by the late Fred Rogers, creator of the TV show.
The concert’s lineup of musicians will feature Rev. Bill Carter, pastor of the church, and the Presbybob Quartet, along with regional musicians Marko Marcinko on drums and Tony Marino on bass; Erin Malloy on vocals and Jeff Stockham, who was recently featured as a musician in the Academy Award-winning film “Lincoln,” on trumpet and French horn.
A special visit will be made by Mr. McFeely from the TV show, as played by David Newell, who, along with some puppets from the show, will share stories with those in attendance. He will also be available for meet-and-greets with the children after the concert.
“The idea originated in my mind after Mr. McFeely (David Newell) and I did a joint program together last July in the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum,” said Carter. “We hit it off immediately, and I thought it would be a great thing to bring him to ‘our neighborhood’…I thought it would be a lot of fun to bring together a group of NEPA’s amazing jazz musicians, all for the benefit and delight of children and those who love them.”
Newell expressed equal enthusiasm about the event, saying concerts like it are important for families and reflect the ideals of Fred Rogers’ career.
“It’s exposing children and adults to different types of music,” he said, adding that all are welcome, as it is a community event, not a religious one, despite the location.
“It will be a nice little concert for young and old,” said Newell.
According to Carter, the event will be highly participatory for the children, who will receive the best seats up front.
“We want to make this a very accessible event for children,” Carter said. “The music will be lively and positive, with lyrics on a child’s level of understanding, and rhythms that will set everybody’s toes to tapping.”
There is no charge and no tickets required for the show, which is made possible by a Lackawanna County Arts and Cultural Grant, a Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts grant and gifts from individual donors.
Those who wish may bring donations of slightly used or new sweaters for a sweater drive in honor of Fred Rogers and his famous sweaters. The clothing, according to Carter, will later be shared with those who utilize the St. Francis Soup Kitchen in Scranton.
Newell explained many sweater drives have been held at similar events, and throughout the years, over five million sweaters were collected so far.
“It all goes back to representing Fred Rogers,” he said, “and his reaching out to children and families.”
For more information or directions, contact the First Presbyterian Church at 570.586.6306 or visit fpccs.org.