PRINCETON — Festival 56 will open its 11th season at 7:30 p.m. June 20 with the “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” the first of three Broadway musicals offered through the summer. This Tony Award-winning hit musical runs June 20-28 at the Grace Center for Performing Arts, 316 S. Main St., Princeton.
The other two are “Oliver!,” the musical adaptation of Dicken’s “Oliver Twist,” and “Into the Woods,” Stephen Sondheim’s haunting musical take on several Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales. “Oliver!” will be shown July 11-25 and “Into the Wood” will be shown July 26-Aug. 8.
Interspersed with the musicals will be the romantic comedy “Sylvia” shown July 3-8. A dog, played by a human, is the foil for a couple in a midlife crisis. Also presented will be “Boeing, Bowing” July 15-19. A self-styled Lothario tries to keep an airline hostess girlfriend in every port, so to speak, until they all converge at his Paris apartment.
The Grace Theatre is the venue for all shows except “Oliver!,” which will play at the Princeton High School Council Auditorium.
During July the festival will once again offer free Shakespeare in Princeton’s Soldiers and Sailors Park. This year, the troupe will perform “As You Like It” at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Sundays July 6-27. No tickets are required; lawn chairs are recommended.
For the first time, Festival 56 is offering a new Broadway Pass, a ticket package just for the three musicals, along with the usual summer or full season subscriptions. The full season subscription includes three fall plays as well. This year the Preview Cabaret at 7:30 p.m. June 14 at the Grace is included in subscription packages. This special event showcases the musical talents of the summer’s company of actors.
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.festival56.com, call 815-879-5656, ext. 11 or stop by the Festival 56 Box Office at the Grace. The box office is open from noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and an hour before each performance.