PRINCETON - If this were a normal year, Princeton would be eagerly anticipating the arrival of Festival 56’s creative staff and ensemble to the Grace Theater and the construction of a stage in Soldiers and Sailors Park. But 2020 has been anything but normal.
After a long discussion over several possible scenarios, producing artistic director Tommy Lafrate and the Festival 56 board of directors decided that postponing the 2020 summer season to summer 2021 would be the most responsible option for the health and safety of the Festival’s patrons, performers, staff and volunteers, as well as the wider community. They hope that by next summer, public health concerns will once again support the type of live, professional theatre provided by Festival 56.
Festival 56 has become an important part of the community with the influx of young performers and visitors from out-of-town adding life and vibrancy to Princeton’s summer celebrations. In addition, a summer season in Princeton has been a launching pad for many theatrical careers, both on and offstage. As evidence, Festival 56 alumni have been offering videos with songs of hope and fond memories of time spent with host families on the Festival 56 Facebook page.
As Festival 56 counts down another year to when it can again open a summer season, the board of directors is looking for other ways to provide connection to the arts. They are studying options that would allow Camp 56, Festival 56’s theater camp for third-grade through high school, to take place at the end of the summer within health and safety guidelines. A fall/winter season of music and other performances is also being outlined for whenever restrictions allow audiences to safely return to the Grace Theater, with additional measures taken for health and safety.
For 17 years, Festival 56 has been part of this vibrant community. With the continued support of patrons and sponsors, it will continue to be part of the scene for years to come.