Monday, May 8, 2017

Centenary Stage’s Young Performers to present ‘Spring Festival of Shows’

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Centenary Stage Company’s Young Performers work tirelessly to perfect their dance moves, learn all of their lines, and get their vocal harmonies just right for the culmination of their training session and this spring is no exception. These talented young thespians between the ages of 8 and 18 fill the Little Theater with musical theatre favorites for their annual Spring Festival of Shows May 26 through June 4.   Hailed as a “state treasure” by Peter Filichia of the Star Ledger and bringing in youth from Morris, Warren, Hunterdon and Sussex counties, Centenary Stage Company’s Young Performance Workshop is one of the few young actor training programs in the country that combines formal training with practical application.

This year’s anticipated Spring Festival of Shows will feature Company, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Nice Work If You Can Get It.  All performances will be held on select dates in the Little Theatre on the campus of Centenary College at 400 Jefferson Street in Hackettstown.

Featuring a brilliantly brisk and energetic score containing many of Stephen Sondheim's best known songs, Company, is largely regarded as a trailblazer of the dark-comedy, modern-musical genre and the winner of seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Score, Best Lyrics and Best Book.  On the night of his 35th birthday, confirmed bachelor, Robert, contemplates his unmarried state. Over the course of a series of dinners, drinks and even a wedding, his friends – "those good and crazy people [his] married friends" – explain the pros and cons of taking on a spouse. The habitually single Robert is forced to question his adamant retention of bachelorhood during a hilarious array of interactions.  Performances of Company are Saturday, May 28 at 8pm; Sunday, May 28 at 1pm; Friday, June 2 at 8pm; Saturday, June 3 at 1pm and Sunday, June 4 at 7pm.

Adapted from Mark Twain by Sara Spencer with music by Barbara Buruham, all of the major adventures of Tom and his friends are brought to stage in the literal musical adaptation of the legendary tale in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.  This version features Tom's story in its entirety—the famous whitewashing, the schoolroom episodes, the graveyard experience, the pirate adventure on Jackson's Island, the return to their own funeral at the village church, the trial of Muff Potter, finding and losing a treasure, getting lost in MacDougall's Cave and the rejoicing of the village at their rescue.  Performances of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer are Saturday, May 27 at 1pm; Sunday, May 28 at 7pm; Saturday, June 3 at 5pm and Sunday, June 4 at 1pm.

With a book by Joe DiPietro, Music & Lyrics by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin and inspired by material by P.G. Wodehouse & Guy Bolton, Nice Work If You Can Get It is a screwball musical comedy that pokes fun at the Prohibition Era in a hilarious clash of elegant socialites and boorish bootleggers, all set to the glorious songs of George and Ira Gershwin.  Performances of Nice Work If You Can Get It are Friday, May 26 at 8pm; Saturday, May 27 at 5pm; Sunday, May 28 at 4pm; Saturday, June 3 at 8pm and Sunday, June 4 at 4pm.

The YPW program has been led by Broadway, film and television veteran, Michael Blevins, for over 20 years. YPW is dedicated to the enrichment of young lives through experience in the theatre arts, and serves as a venue for cultivating young theatre performers. The program is one of only a handful in the nation that offers both formal training and production experience for young people.  The Young Performers Workshop is part of the educational arm of the professional Centenary Stage Company, a professional Equity theatre in residence on the campus of Centenary University.

Tickets to the YPW Summer Festival of Shows are $12.50 for adults and $10 for children under 12.  Tickets may be purchased online at centenarystageco.org or by calling the CSC Box Office at (908) 979-0900.  All performances will take place in the Little Theatre located on the campus of Centenary University at 400 Jefferson Street in Hackettstown, New Jersey.

The 2016 -17 season of performing arts events at the Centenary Stage Company is made possible through the generous support of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the NJ State Council on the Arts, the Shubert Foundation, the Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, the Sandra Kupperman Foundation, and CSC corporate sponsors, including Premier Season Sponsor Heath Village Retirement Community, Silver Sponsors Hackettstown Medical Center, Home Instead Senior Care (Washington), The Holiday Inn in Budd Lake, and Fulton Bank of New Jersey, and Centenary Stage Company members and supporters.

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