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Sorry! Wrong Chimney! at Festival 56

Posted September 18th, 2017

Sorry! Wrong Chimney! at Festival 56

Sorry! Wrong Chimney! features David Tuttle, a struggling young executive who is moonlighting as a department store Santa so that he can buy his wife a fur for Christmas. He tells her he’s working late at the office, but she finds out he isn’t at the office. A suspected other woman, hypnotism, the notorious Santa burglar Kris Kreigle and his gun-toting fiancée, and a confused policeman add up to a rollicking tale that makes for hilarious Christmas entertainment. Appropriate for all ages.

The Grace Performing Arts Center is located at 316 South Main Street in Princeton and is completely accessible with ample parking nearby. To purchase tickets, visit our online box-office, call 815-879-5656, or email boxoffice@festival56.com. Tickets are $29, $26 (seniors 65+), and $14 for students. Beer, wine, and soft drinks are available for sale at the lobby bar. For further information, please call the box office at 815-879-5656.

NOTE: This play replaces the previously scheduled Gift of the Magi. All season tickets and gift certificates will be honored for this show, which runs December 7–10 at the Grace Performing Arts Center.

Artwork by Cameron Slawnyk



Changes in the Air at Festival 56

Posted September 12th, 2017

Changes in the Air at Festival 56

Changes are in the air as Festival 56 prepares for its 2018 season of live professional theater.

Shannon Hill, who first came to Festival 56 as an actor in 2014, and has served as Artistic Director for the last two years, has stepped down from that position. Among her many achievements in the 2017 season was serving as director for The Comedy of Errors, which, after a full summer run as the Festival's free Shakespeare in Soldiers and Sailors Park, still drew 200 people to its final performance.

"I want to thank the Princeton community, the Princeton Theatre Group Board, and my fellow artists for an amazing two years," said Hill. "I can't wait to see how the Festival grows in the years ahead."

Laura Brigham, who has been the Festival's casting director from the very beginning, has been hired to serve as Interim Artistic Director. She has already begun fine-tuning the 2018 summer season schedule and hiring the individual show directors and technical department heads. Brigham is well known to Festival patrons as a superb actor, director, and a partner with her husband, Dexter Brigham, in starting Festival 56 in 2004.

Princeton Theatre Group (PTG), the nonprofit organization that governs Festival 56, will also see some changes. Maureen Droessler, who has served as PTG President for many years, is stepping down from that role. "It has been my honor to represent the Board and work closely with Festival 56 patrons, donors, and the community," Droessler said. "As a team, this Board has made great strides in developing support for the arts in our area."

Board member Liana Hall has been elected the new PTG President. "Festival 56 has been a staple in our community for a decade and a half, and I consider it a privilege to be trusted to lead the Festival into its next era," said Hall. "With 250 kids in the seats this year during Seussical, it is clear there is a continuing passion for the arts that is beyond exciting!

"I welcome everyone's suggestions, feedback, and thoughts about Festival 56," continued Hall. "I want to thank Maureen for her steadfast leadership and all of our patrons, donors, and sponsors who have gotten us to this point. Here's to many more successful seasons of live professional theater right here in Princeton, Illinois!"

A nationwide search is currently underway for a permanent Festival 56 Artistic Director. More information about this position can be found on the Employment page of this site and Facebook page, along with information about special fall events and the Festival's holiday show December 7–10. Princeton Theatre Group is a volunteer-driven, nonprofit arts organization dedicated to developing Princeton and the surrounding region as a home for professional theater and theater arts education.



Boy Scouts Help Festival 56 Move to New Storage Facility

Posted September 6th, 2017

Boy Scouts Help Festival 56 Move to New Storage Facility

On September 2, Boy Scout Troop 63 helped Festival 56 move to new storage facilities. Scout leaders and troop members gathered at the city warehouse behind the Princeton recycling center at 8:00 a.m. to load up props, set flats, doors, lumber, and other theater equipment. The troop made several trips south of town, where they unloaded the set pieces into barn space donated by Rick and Sarah Brooks. Princeton Theatre Group board members Greg Anthony and Larry Smith commend the boys for their outstanding service and extend thanks to city council member Ray Mabry, who organized the work day.

Photo: Front (boys), left to right: Wyatt Gott, Khristian Whitfield, DJ Sousa, and Andrew Bartolocci. Background (adults), left to right: John Bartolucci, Norm Harris, and Jeremy Whitfield



Elvis Through the Years at Festival 56

Posted August 22nd, 2017

Elvis Through the Years at Festival 56

Elvis Through the Years rocks the Festival 56 stage on Saturday, November 18, at 7:30 p.m. This tribute to the King of Rock and Roll features father and son duo, John and Jonathan Lyons. Twenty-year-old Jonathan performs the music of a young Elvis, while his dad, John, takes the stage as Elvis during the concert years. Put on your Blue Suede Shoes and enjoy Good Rockin' Tonight!

The Grace Performing Arts Center is located at 316 South Main Street in Princeton and is completely accessible with ample parking nearby. To purchase tickets, visit our online box-office, call 815-879-5656, or email boxoffice@festival56.com. Tickets are $18 in advance, $20 at the door. Beer, wine, and soft drinks are available for sale at the lobby bar. For further information, please call the box office at 815-879-5656.



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 www.festival56.com 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 arts.gov. 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 www.festival56.com, email boxoffice@festival56.com, 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



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