A celebration and preview of the 5th Annual Readers and Writers Festival

| 03 Jun 2022 | 03:54

Milford–The mood was festive on May 7th in St. Patrick’s church as the Milford Readers and Writers Group (MRAW) gathered to celebrate being out together in person after a two-year Covid hiatus. They were also paying tribute to the lyrics of the late Stephen Sondheim and to friends and supporters of the festival. This May celebration has been a tradition and a time for the group to reveal the Main Stage events at the forthcoming festival (Sept 16-18), to have a silent auction, offer early bird ticket prices, and solicit festival sponsorships.

Previously it was held at the homes of Rebecca and Robert Lindsey, or Sean Strub and Xavier Morales. For the first time, they decided to have it in St. Patrick’s, partially to accommodate the band and singer Michelle Oram. Oram sang a medley of Sondheim’s songs and commented on each one for the audience. The Craig Graham Trio (Graham on guitar, Kirk Driscoll on drums, and Michael O’Brien on Bass) accompanied Oram, and as their sound wafted through this very large hall, people started to relax and enjoy the entertainment. But more than the music, as Bob Levine pointed out, Sondheim’s lyrics were the best kind of writing.

People were seated at tables. and food platters, catered by Board member Jennifer Zeigler, were passed around. Edson Whitney, co-chair of the Festival with Carol McManus, remarked that Zeigler got up at 6 a.m. to cover the strawberries with chocolate. Rebecca Lindsey provided centerpieces from her garden. Many contributed in one way or another to the event. And as Bob Levine described each of the main stage events, they cheered and whistled and clapped.

Bob said, “It’s great to welcome back all our friends after a most difficult two year absence. We’re really proud of this year’s program. It’s diverse, entertaining, and relevant.”

The Festival headliner is Nelson DeMille, author of 21 books, six of which were New York Times best sellers. His latest book, “The Deserter,” was co-written with his son, Alex. Both Alex and Nelson will explore and describe their relationship as they were writing this book. Former publisher (now publishing consultant) Steve Rubin will interview this father-son author duo.

Books You May Never Get to Read is one of the main stage events. It integrates the world of books with the world of current politics. A distinguished panel of publishers, editors, and agents will discuss having to make publishing decisions in the context of current politics.”

Book Banning couldn’t be a more relevant topic and Levine said, “We are incredibly lucky to have George Johnson, author of ‘All boys Aren’t Blue.’ His memoir of growing up gay and black in this country has been listed as one of the ten most banned books in America.” Levine incredulously added, “Imagine what it’s like to have your own memoir banned!”

A rock and roll writers event is a first for MRAW, and controversial publisher Bob Guccione will moderate a panel of other music journalists, including Sheila Weller, author of Girls Like Us, about the lives of Joni Mitchell, Carole King, and Carly Simon.

A food writer event is another first for the festival. Writer Paul Friedman, professor of history at Yale, is also a foodie. He has written two books on food; “10 Restaurants that made America Great” (e.g. Howard Johnson) and “What is American Cuisine?”

The reception on Saturday night will give Pass Holders an opportunity to mingle with speakers.

The Friday night event will be a reading of “The Gin Game,” by the famous Len Cariou and his wife Heather Summerhayes. Cariou is known for his portrayal of Sweeney Todd in the original cast and his role on the TV show “Blue Bloods.” Summerhayes is an actress and producer. This husband and wife team has appeared in MRAW before and they were a sensation.

Other events on Saturday are Lillian Longendorfer’s panel of science fiction writers and a children’s program at the library. On Sunday, there will be free panels throughout Milford.

“People are thrilled by the lineup and, as always, we have something for everyone,” said Edson Whitney, an event committee member.

“This, hopefully, will become an institution in Milford,” said Levine. “We are so happy to be in the new Milford theater. That will make it so much better for everyone.” See sidebar for ticket information.

Milford Readers and Writers Festival
September 16-18
Milford Theater, 114 East Catherine Street, Milford, PA
Passes for all main stage events and the authors reception
are $150 at the early bird special rate until June 7.
After that they go up to $175
Individual tickets go on sale in August
$500 gets 2 passes
$1,000 4 passes
2,500 4 passes
$5,000 4 passes
For more information, visit https://milfordreadersandwriters.com/