Two final events wrap up Festival 56 season in Princeton

PRINCETON — To wrap up the summer season, Festival 56 announced two final events.

The first is the New Works performance beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 24. The second is the closing cabaret at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 25. Both events will feature the artists of the 2021 summer season and conclude 19 years of theater.

The New Works production this season is “Spittoonia on the Erie” with music by David Mallamud and words by Nathan Christensen. Picture the classic story of Cinderella … but the American version, set along the Erie Canal in 1825, as improvised by a modern-day dad who is trying to comfort his teenage daughter after her first heartbreak. As they get caught up in the fantastical world that springs to life around them, he spins a funhouse ride of a story that bounces between singing muskrats, aggressive woodpeckers, a sweatshop and a surprisingly effective séance. “Spittoonia on the Erie” is a snarky, historically inaccurate, musical romp that flips fairytale conventions on their head. As an added bonus, there will be a talkback after the show, with Mallamud and Christensen, to discuss the development process and to share audience experience with them.

Mallamud is an active classical composer. His music has been performed by many classical ensembles, including the Albany Symphony, New World Symphony, the Harrisburg Symphony and the Westchester Philharmonic. His acclaimed CD, “The Wild & Whimsical Worlds of David Mallamud” (Broadway Records), won a Broadway World Album Award for Best New Compilation. It earned praise from Amy Biancolli (Albany’s Times Union). He has been a MacDowell Fellow, a Dramatist Guild Fellow, A Leonard Bernstein Fellow (Tanglewood), received two ASCAP Morton Gould Awards and a Charles Ives Scholarship from The American Academy of Arts and Letters. He holds degrees from Juilliard, Eastman and Tisch, and has pursued additional graduate studies at Yale.

Christensen earned an MFA in musical theatre writing from New York University, and his musical theatre work has been honored with a Richard Rodgers Award, a Jonathan Larson Award, a Daryl Roth Award, a Dramatists Guild Fellowship and an O’Neill Theater Center residency. He has also been a professional concert violinist, tutored Kazakhstani jewelers in entrepreneurship, produced a live comedy variety show, served as a missionary in South Korea, conducted experiments in sonoluminescence, written greeting cards, co-founded an exotic fruit-growing business, composed a women’s jazz quartet that is performed around the world and was a theater critic in Tucson, Ariz.

To find out more information on “Spittoonia on the Erie” or to learn more about the creative team, visit

The closing cabaret will consist of a number of performances. There will also be sneak-peek performances to announce the new season.

Different from years past, all of Festival 56′s performances will be held on an outdoor stage behind the Bureau County Metro Center, 837 Park Ave West, Princeton, in order to ensure the health and safety of all artists and patrons. Concessions will be available, but audience members should bring their own lawn chair, bug spray, or sunscreen.

Tickets to the cabaret are $8 in advance or $10 at the door. For more information or to purchase tickets, call or visit the box office from noon to 5 p.m. Monday throughSaturday at the Grace Theater, 316 S. Main St., Princeton; call 815-879-5656; or visit www.festival

The season sponsors are Norberg Memorial Home, Central Bank, and Heartland Bank & Trust Company. This production has also been made possible by a grant from The Arts of Starved Rock Country Community Fund.