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Summer Theater of New Canaan Kicks Off Season

New Canaan, Conn. -- Waveny Park will again host a summer of outdoor theater and events presented by the Summer Theatre of New Canaan, Fairfield County’s acclaimed professional summer theater company. Performances are in a state-of-the-art open-air tent theater and will feature four popular shows: Tony award-winning Broadway musicals “ Carousel” and “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” along with “ A Year With Frog and Toad” and “Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse” for young audiences. In addition to the main stage productions, special events are presented throughout the summer to complete a full festival season.

Melody Meitrott Libonati, founding artistic director of the Summer Theatre of New Canaan and the Summer Theatre Festival at Waveny Park, will be directing the season-opening family musical “ You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brow n,” based on the Charles Shultz comic strip. Melody adds, “It is a fun, quick-paced show that captures the simple wisdom of one of America’s favorite comic strips.” The talented cast portrays the lovable characters of Snoopy, Lucy, Sally, Linus, Schroeder and, of course, Charlie Brown. The first performance is 7:30 p.m. June 18, and the show runs through July 9, with shows Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.

For Father’s Day, June 19, all fathers are admitted free to “ You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” with a ticketed child. Festivities include gelato from Gelatismo on Forest Street, and kites will be available for purchase to decorate and fly at 1 p.m. prior to the 2 p.m. matinee performance. Also, the latest family cars will be on display from Karl Chevrolet of New Canaan.

On June 24, there is an opening night pre-show benefit reception with cast and a dinner option.

The 2011 Festival season continues with Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical jewel “ Carousel” July 9 through Aug. 6.  “ Carousel” changed the course of the Broadway musical when it opened over 60 years ago, and its songs are still among the most beautiful and moving ever written for the stage.  This powerful love story features such cherished songs as “If I loved You,” “June is Busting Out All Over” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” Join the cast on Sunday, July 19, for a real New England Clambake brought to your stage-side table. More info at .

To make the theatre season more accessible to seniors, a  Senior’s Sunday is being offered. For the 2 p.m. June 26 matinee performance of “ You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” and July 17 matinee of “ Carousel,” all senior tickets are $25. Please call the box office for reserved seats or just come to the performance on Senior’s Sunday. For complete listing of events visit the Summer Theatre of New Canaan website at .

Popular with young families are the Theatre for Young Audience shows on weekends. Two shows, “ A Year With Frog and Toad” and “ Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse,” will run in repertory this season to provide a fun and exciting live theatre experience for children under 12.  “ A Year With Frog and Toad” is a musical based on Arnold Lobel’s successful book series about the friendship and challenges shared by Frog and Toad.  This show opens Saturday, June 25, and will perform on weekends at 10 a.m. Saturdays and noon Sundays thru Aug. 6. Opening July 23 and running through Aug. 6 will be “Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse,” based on Peter Henkes’ best-selling book series for early readers.

This season, the summer theatre is creating a Special Needs Pilot program that introduces children with special needs to live theatre and performing. These children will have professional actors as mentors from the cast of “ A Year With Frog and Toad” and will learn selected parts and perform at 4 p.m. June 30 for a special needs family audience. If you have a special needs child and are interested, email or call (203) 966-4634.

New this season will be a performance of a musical by the newly created Junior Company of the Summer Theatre of New Canaan. Middle school students will rehearse for three weeks in July and present Disney’s musical “ Camp Rock.” The performance is 3 p.m. July 29 and admission is free.

This summer come see our 12 high school apprentices from Connecticut, who will study with summer theater in a pre-college program. Each student takes classes with professional actors, directors and designers and assists our staff. On July 24 they will create and put on a presentation at the tent theatre. The presentation is open to the public free of charge. Also, you may get to meet some of the theatre’s 10 college interns, who are working side by side with professional staff to deliver an exciting season.  You may see them at the productions or talk with them when you call the box office.

At the tent theater you can picnic or dine at stage-side tables or orchestra dining box tables. Tables now available to reserve for all shows.

There is convenient parking for events at the Summer Theatre Festival at Waveny Park adjacent to the tent theatre at New Canaan High School, 11 Farm Road in New Canaan. Tickets, show info and directions are online at , or contact the box office at (203) 966-4634 between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. The box office at Waveny Park theatre opens one hour prior to the beginning of shows or events. The Summer Theatre of New Canaan is a non-profit theatre and its mission is to present high quality theatre to multigenerational audiences and provide learning opportunities for those interested in the theatre arts.

The cast of “You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown” (first photo):

Front row: Nick Reynolds (Linus), Kate Bodenheimer (Lucy),  Christian Libonati (Snoopy).

Back row: Malika Petty (Sally), Edmund Bagnell (Charlie Brown), Stephen Schellhardt (Schroeder).

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