Festival 56 is a professional theater organization in Princeton, Illinois, with a packed summer schedule. Founded in 2004 on the idea that a small community like Princeton—population 7,500—can support quality theater, it is presenting six full-scale productions, a new works reading, and a series of cabaret shows—a wide breadth of performances offering something for everyone.
The season opens with Pinkalicious: The Musical on June 21, followed by Rabbit Hole, Othello, Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins, I Do! I Do! A Musical About Marriage, and Little Women. The majority of the performances will be held at the Grace Performing Arts Center, located at 316 S. Main Street. The production of Othello is free of charge and will be performed outdoors in nearby Soldiers and Sailors Park. I Do! I Do! A Musical About Marriage will be held at the Prairie Arts Center in Princeton.
This summer, Festival 56 is supporting women in theater, featuring women’s stories and a full female directorial staff. A majority of women make up this year’s design crew. In addition, Othello will have a cross-gender cast, with the roles of Othello, Iago, and Cassio performed by women, and their wives played by men!
Listen to the conversation with Tommy Iafrate, Producing Artistic Director of Festival 56, about how a community this size manages to stage over 60 productions in the summer, the behind-the-scenes work necessary to pull off a season like this, and how the people of Princeton have embraced and supported not just theater, but the arts in general.