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Princeton Festival's Opera and Musical Underway

Rehearsals for The Princeton Festival’s “The Marriage of Figaro” and “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” are underway in preparation for the opening of the Broadway musical on June 12 and Mozart’s opera on June 13. Artists from the worlds of opera and musical comedy gathered together briefly in a “Meet and Greet” morning coffee on May 18 before going off to their respective first rehearsals.


Winner of two 2005 Tony awards, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” tells the tuneful, hilarious, and sometimes touching tale of six quirky middle-schoolers anxiously competing for spelling glory. It is a fast-paced and rollicking scene in which the Vice-principal is the official “pronouncer”, improvising some strange examples of the word to be spelled as used in a sentence. Unique to the show is that four members of the audience are invited to join the spelling contest on stage. Vice-principal Panch is played by Patrick James, familiar to Festival audiences from his roles in “Once Upon a Mattress” and “The Boy Friend.” He is joined by a young and sparkling cast under the direction of Melissa Firlet. For those who want to know more about “Spelling Bee,” the co-director of the world premiere, Michael Unger, will speak of the show’s origin and development at Princeton Art Museum on June 16 at 7pm. There will be ten performances of the Festival’s “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” at 185 Nassau Street, Princeton, on June 12, 18,19, 20, 25, 26 and 27 at 8pm, and on June 14, 21, 28 at 4pm.


Mozart’s opera “The Marriage of Figaro” was first produced in 1786 and is still one of the world’s most popular and revered operas.  It too is a comedy, a musical exploration of the human comedy with its laughter, anger and pain. Bringing to life this turbulent wedding day is a cast of singers from the Metropolitan and leading regional opera companies. Richard Tang Yuk is the conductor and Steven LaCosse the director, the team which has led many of the Festival’s productions including “The Flying Dutchman” and last year’s “Porgy and Bess.” “Figaro” opens on Saturday, June 13 at 7:30pm at the McCarter Theatre, with 3pm matinees on Sunday, June 21 and June 28.


Bringing the opera to life is the subject of an Artists Round Table presented by The Princeton Festival Guild on Wednesday, May 27. The artists and production staff of “The Marriage of Figaro” will interrupt rehearsals to discuss how they develop their roles, interpretations, and staging of the opera. Marian Burleigh-Motley of the Metropolitan Museum of Art will moderate the one hour forum. This free event will take place in Scheide Hall at Princeton Theological Seminary at 7pm.


For more information and a link to ticket sales (handled by McCarter Theater), visit To purchase tickets by phone, call McCarter Theatre at 609-258-2787.




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