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CFCI Grant Supports Free Shakespeare in the Park

Posted August 3rd, 2017

CFCI Grant Supports Free Shakespeare in the Park

For the fifth consecutive year, the Community Foundation of Central Illinois (CFCI) awarded a grant to the Princeton Theatre Group in support of a free Shakespeare production in Princeton's Soldiers and Sailors Park. The grant was made possible by the Russell F. and Eleanor Sikes Peters Performing Arts Fund administered by CFCI.

This year's grant provided support for the Festival 56 production of The Comedy of Errors, performed Sundays and Wednesdays during the month of July. 89.5 WNIJ News, OmniArts, the Illinois Arts Council, the Sun Foundation, Walmart, and other businesses and individual donors also provided generous financial support.

"Because of the generosity of foundations such as CFCI, as well as corporate and individual supporters, Festival 56 was able to offer its 14th season of free Shakespeare in Soldiers and Sailors Park," said artistic director Shannon Hill. "Festival 56's production featured a commedia dell'arte version of The Comedy of Errors, complete with mistaken identities and hilarious physical comedy, delighting all ages."

The Comedy of Errors was one of six plays offered during Festival 56's 2017 summer season. Other productions were Disenchanted!, Seussical, Five Women Wearing the Same Dress, Stop Kiss, and Sweet Charity. For further information about Festival 56, including volunteer opportunities, please visit or call 815-879-5656.

Princeton Theatre Group Receives Grant from Walmart

Posted June 27th, 2017

Princeton Theatre Group Receives Grant from Walmart

The Princeton Theatre Group/Festival 56 received a $2,500 grant from the Walmart Community Grants Team through the Walmart Distribution Center, Spring Valley. Festival 56 Artistic Director Shannon Hill accepted the award from DAR Manager Miguel Hermosillo. The grant will be used to fund 2017 Shakespeare in the Park.

Princeton Theatre Group Receives National Endowment for the Arts Grant

Posted June 19th, 2017

Princeton Theatre Group Receives National Endowment for the Arts Grant

The Princeton Theatre Group has been awarded a $10,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to support actor salaries and associated activities for Festival 56's 2017 season.

In granting the award, NEA Chairman Jane Chu said, "The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support the excellence and diversity of arts programs across the country, including organizations like Princeton Theatre Group, that make the arts accessible to people in Princeton, Illinois, and further enhances the vitality of their community."

"We are delighted to receive such a generous grant from the NEA," says Maureen Droessler, President of the Princeton Theatre Group Board of Directors. "As with virtually all professional theater enterprises, ticket sales count for only a portion of the Festival's annual budget. Support from the National Endowment for the Arts allows Festival 56 to offer another full season of musicals, dramas, and comedies."

Artistic Director Shannon Hill extends her appreciation to the NEA as well, adding, "Thanks to the National Endowment for the Arts, I have a wonderful professional company eager to put on an exciting summer of shows. The season kicks off on June 23 with Disenchanted! followed by Seussical™, featuring our Camp 56 students as part of the chorus ensemble."

The NEA is the federal agency that supports and funds the arts to give all Americans the opportunity to experience creativity and participate in the arts. NEA programs and funding support thousands of activities in communities large and small across the country. To learn more about the National Endowment for the Arts, please visit Follow the conversation about this and other NEA-funded projects on Twitter at @NEAarts.

The Princeton Theatre Group is a volunteer-driven, non-profit arts organization dedicated since 2003 to developing Princeton and the surrounding regions as a home for professional theater and theater arts education. The box office and main theater are located at the Grace Center for the Performing Arts, 316 South Main Street, Princeton, Illinois. For additional information, please visit, email, or call 815-879-5656.

Festival 56 Announces Winners of 2017 New Works Festival Playwriting Competition

Posted June 2nd, 2017

Thank you to all who submitted! We had a fantastic bunch of over 500 plays. Congratulations to the winners! The winners will be given a professional staged reading on August 5th at 2pm at the Grace Performing Arts Center.

One Act Play, Winner:

The Hired Help by Kyle Burch

One Act Play, Honorable Mentions:

Boots by Talia Green
Almost Vacant by Stephen Wylie

Ten Minute Play, Winners:

Insulation by Bara Swain
Summer Solstice by Matt Henderson
That Night "Butcher" Pete Wilcox Got Knocked Out by Jessie "The Cannon" Tesori by Jonathon Cook
The Bloody Cow by J. C. Svec
What's A Little Ax Between Friends by Joe Starzyk
Seasons by George Sapio

Ten Minute Play, Honorable Mentions:

Joseph Receives Unsettling News by Richard Davis
Oxymoronic Parallels by Alexandra Williams

Festival 56 Announces Its 2017 Season

Posted May 25th, 2017

Festival 56 Announces Its 2017 Season

Artistic Director Shannon Hill announces the launch of Festival 56s 14th season of plays and musicals. "This year," she says, "we explore the idea of equality through stories that celebrate differences."

The Festival's summer season opens on Friday, June 23, with Disenchanted! by Dennis T. Giacino. The show runs through July 1 and features Snow White and her posse of disenchanted princesses who have come back to life to set the record straight. Poisoned apples. Glass slippers. Who needs 'em? These royal renegades toss off their tiaras to bring their subversive, not-for-the-kiddies musical to the Festival 56 stage. Fairy tale princesses will never be the same again!

Festival 56 once again presents free Shakespeare in the Park on Sundays and Wednesdays in July. This year's production is The Comedy of Errors. Syracuse and Ephesus are twin brothers, separated for years after surviving a shipwreck. Together with their twin servants, both named Dromio, the brothers descend upon the same town in search of their missing family. Two sets of twins, mistaken identities, long-lost family members, and pregnant wives: What could go wrong?

Seussical™ by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty opens on July 7 and runs through the 15th. Based on the books by Dr. Seuss, this family-friendly musical brings everyone's favorite Seuss characters together to tell the story of Horton the Elephant as he tries to save the tiny world of Whoville. Featuring The Grinch, The Cat in the Hat, and Gertrude McFuzz, Seussical™ will warm audience-goers' hearts with its rollicking music and lovable characters.

Alan Ball's Five Women Wearing the Same Dress runs from July 18-23. This play, which takes place during an unfortunate wedding, tells the story of five bridesmaids who form a common bond over more than just their hideous dresses. Raise a glass to Frances, Mindy, Georgeanne, Meredith and Trisha in this wickedly funny and touching celebration of women's spirit!

Stop Kiss, which runs July 21-29, tells the story of Callie and Sara, who meet and unexpectedly fall in love. Their first kiss leads to a violent attack that changes their lives forever. In this poignant and enchanting story, playwright Diana Son explores the meaning of love and how life can change in an instant.

The summer's final production is Sweet Charity by Neil Simon, with music by Cy Coleman and lyrics by Dorothy Fields. Running July 28-August 6, this production follows the adventures of taxi dancer Charity Hope Valentine, who wants nothing more than to fall in love. She dates all types of men, hoping to find "the one." Along the way, she sings, dances, and laughs with her friends in this sharp, witty, and entertaining musical. With songs like "Big Spender" and "The Rhythm of Life," Sweet Charity has become a much-loved classic.

Festival 56's summer season also includes four cabarets and the 2nd Annual New Works Festival, featuring staged readings of short plays submitted by playwrights from around the world.

The Grace Performing Arts Center is completely accessible with ample parking nearby. To purchase tickets, visit our online ticket sales, call 815-879-5656, email, or stop by the theater. The box office will be open for season ticket holders on June 1 and 2 from noon to 5 p.m. Beginning June 3, general box office hours are noon to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and one hour before performances. Tickets are $29, $26 (seniors 65+) and $14 for students, with a $5 Seussical™ special for children 14 and under. Ticket packages and gift certificates are also available.

Camp 56 Open for Registration

Posted May 12th, 2017

Camp 56 Open for Registration

Learning Stage, the education committee of Princeton Theatre Group, is offering Camp 56, a two-week summer day camp for youth entering third grade through 2017 graduating seniors. Participants will have the opportunity to experience and take part in live performances, while immersing themselves in the many aspects of producing a show.

The camp is held in cooperation with Festival 56, which this summer marks its 14th season of bringing outstanding professional theater to local audiences. Camp 56 itself is returning for its seventh consecutive year of providing a theater-based camp for young people.

The camp will be held weekdays from June 19-30. Camp director Lisa Gadomski will engage campers in a series of fun-filled activities including song, dance, makeup, costuming, trips to the Festival sets, and visits with cast and crew. The culmination of the camp experience will be an onstage appearance - as part of the chorus ensemble - in several performances of the Festival 56 production of Seussical™. Two AmeriCorps volunteers will assist the director in introducing new, age-appropriate curriculum. The volunteers include Nicki Butler, returning as co-director, with Taylor Tieman providing supporting and leadership roles with the campers and at other Festival 56 venues.

The camp fee is $100 per child. Need-based scholarships are available as are family discounts. Registration forms can be accessed online at Interested persons may also email or call 815-879-5656 to obtain .pdf or printed registration materials. Completed registrations, along with the registration fee, should be mailed to the Festival box office at 316 S. Main St., Princeton, IL 61356.

Camp 56 is grateful to its sponsors, including OmniArts, the Sun Foundation, the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, Kinji Akagawa, Mary Child, Eureka Savings Bank, Hallmark Metamora Fixtures, First National Bank of Lacon, Keith Kostelecky, Marc Decker, Rome Industries, Jim and Sue Weber, Church Women United, Hal Kuehl and Sharon Mercer, and Bob Glaser. Additional support comes from St. Matthew's Lutheran Church, Monical's Pizza, and AmeriCorps.

For more information, contact Amber Harper, Princeton Theatre Group board member and liaison for Camp 56, at 815-379-2031.

Youth Employment in the Arts 2017

Posted May 9th, 2017

Festival 56 is announcing an exciting summer opportunity for high school students. The theater is offering up to four students, including this year's graduates, the opportunity to work as paid apprentices with the resident professional company. Responsibilities will cover various aspects of theater production. The Youth Employment in the Arts program is made possible through federal funds and is sponsored by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

Over eight weeks, each high school student will be assigned to work in one or more of the following areas: scenic design (including properties and scenic art), technical direction (including scenic construction), costume design (including construction and wardrobe), directing (including choreography and/or music direction), lighting and sound design (including electrics and engineering), production and stage management, and public relations (including marketing and audience services).

Apprentices will work 19 hours per week and will have the opportunity to enter into a mentorship with one of the company's professional artists. Apprentices will also have the opportunity to volunteer additional time in one or more areas of theater production. Applicants must be available to work June 12 through August 6.

To apply, please submit a cover letter stating previous experience, goals relating to future studies or a career in the theater arts at the college or professional level, and a personal artistic statement. Letters may be mailed to the theater at 316 S. Main St., Princeton, IL 61356, dropped off at the box office, or emailed to with the subject "Apprentice."

Following a review of the applicants, those moving on to the next level will be invited to the theater for an interview. One letter of recommendation will be required from a teacher or artistic mentor.

The Illinois Child Labor Law (820 ILCS 205/1 et seq.) regulates the employment of minors under the age of 16 years and requires all minors to have employment certificates.

Required procedures for teens under 16: "Letter of intent to hire" must be obtained from all prospective employers. The letter must outline hours worked. Teen and parent or guardian must bring this letter to an issuing officer at the minor's school or school district to obtain the required work permit. The issuing officer will review criteria and verify safety before issuing the work permit. Visit the Festival website at, for more information.

Applications should be received by 5 p.m. Wednesday, May 24.

Festival 56 Announces AmeriCorps Volunteer Opportunities

Posted March 30th, 2017

Festival 56 Announces AmeriCorps Volunteer Opportunities

Learning Stage, the Education Committee of the Princeton Theatre Group, has three AmeriCorps positions open for the summer 2017 season. The successful applicants will be on site from June 1 through August 6. AmeriCorps Volunteers volunteer 300 hours and receive approximately $3,000 separated into a living stipend and a college tuition waver.

Camp 56 will be the primary responsibility for one volunteer, with another volunteer providing limited support. Camp responsibilities include programming, supervision of campers ages 8-18, paperwork, and communicating with parents and Festival 56 staff.

The other two volunteers will be responsible for multiple educational platforms. They will serve as moderators for three venues: Meet The Plays, a panel discussion with directors, technical staff, and genre experts concerning the upcoming season; Basic Bill, a 10-minute lesson on the life and times of Shakespeare, including the play The Comedy of Errors, to be presented before each of nine performances; and Opening Night Talkbacks, five post-performance discussions with the actors, production staff, and directors. Additional duties include backstage education and Dr. Seuss storytime for young people as well as general audience education during the New Works Festival, featuring staged readings of ten-minute and one-act plays.

The volunteers will gather specific data throughout the season. This includes a count of patrons for demographic purposes and interviews with play-goers, providing the staff with informed data to drive the future. Each AmeriCorps Volunteer will be mentored initially with the goal of becoming independent by the end of the season.

Individuals can access the application and reference form HERE. The documents need to be printed to fill out. Upon completion, the forms can be emailed to Lisa Peck, faxed to 815-835-5213 or mailed to:

ABC AmeriCorps
173 IL Rt. 2
Dixon, IL 61021

Three references must be on file within 30 days from the interview.

Individuals are encouraged to contact the Sauk Valley AmeriCorps Office if they have any questions about the program.

Sun Foundation Continues Support for Festival 56

Posted March 8th, 2017

The Princeton Theatre Group is pleased to announce that the Sun Foundation has recently authorized 2017 grants to both Festival 56 and Camp 56.

Festival 56 will receive support for its free production of The Comedy of Errors, to be performed in Princeton's Soldiers and Sailors Park on Wednesday and Sunday evenings in July. The second grant will provide support to Camp 56, a two-week theatre summer day camp, offered by Learning Stage, the education committee of Princeton Theatre Group.

The Sun Foundation's "Community Arts Access Regranting Program" has made these grants possible. The regranting program is funded by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency with funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. A matching 25% of the 2017 grant money was given by local donors: Kinji Akagawa, Mary Child, Eureka Savings Bank, Hallmark Metamora Fixtures, First National Bank of Lacon, Keith Kostelecky, Marc Decker, Rome Industries, and Jim and Sue Weber. The 2017 grants were dispersed through Marshall, Stark, Bureau, and Woodford counties.

"Because of the generosity of our foundation, corporate, and individual supporters, Festival 56 will be able to offer our 14th season of free Shakespeare in Soldiers and Sailors Park," said Shannon Hill, the Festival's artistic director. Amber Harper, Princeton Theatre Group board member and Learning Stage committee member, added her thanks to the Sun Foundation: "We are grateful the foundation has continued to support Camp 56. The camp program gives area youth ages 8-18 the opportunity to have a firsthand experience in the theater arts-whether it's learning about costuming, makeup, and set design, conferring with Festival 56 cast and crew, or appearing on stage in a full Festival 56 production."

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