Stephen F. Austin State University

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SummerStage Festival offers pair of fun, lighthearted productions

May 11, 2016 - Robbie Goodrich
This year's SummerStage Festival is slated for June 24 through July 16 in W.M. Turner Auditorium on the SFA campus and features the School of Theatre's presentations of the children's musical "A Year With Frog and Toad" by Robert and Willie Reale and "Picasso at the Lapin Agile," a witty comedy by actor, screenwriter and stand-up comic Steve Martin.
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - The 2016 SummerStage Festival at Stephen F. Austin State University will entertain audiences of all ages with a pair of lighthearted productions.

This year's SummerStage Festival is slated for June 24 through July 16 in W.M. Turner Auditorium on the SFA campus and features the School of Theatre's presentations of the children's musical "A Year With Frog and Toad" by Robert and Willie Reale and "Picasso at the Lapin Agile," a witty comedy by actor, screenwriter and stand-up comic Steve Martin.

The SummerStage Festival was launched in 2014 as the School of Theatre sought to reach out to new audiences looking for a fun and easy-going way of spending warm-weather time with family and friends, according to Scott Shattuck, the school's director.

"The festival brings people together by bringing engaging stories to life," Shattuck said. "Half the fun is the audience. It's full of neighbors laughing together and greeting each other before and after the show and at intermission, families making memories, and friends chatting about the amusing experience they've shared."

Angela Bacarisse, the director of the smash hit "Spamalot" and the summer kids' favorites "The Emperor's New Clothes: The Musical" and "How I Became a Pirate," now brings to SummerStage the only children's show ever nominated for the coveted Tony Award for Broadway's Best Musical. In "A Year With Frog and Toad," based on the books by Arnold Lobel, the beloved suburban amphibians leap to tuneful life with irresistibly upbeat Frog lifting the spirits of his worrywart neighbor Toad.

"I remember reading these books to my son when he was younger," Bacarisse said. "We still have them on our bookshelf. I'm sure many parents and children will love seeing these characters brought to life."

Inga Meier will make her directorial debut on the Turner stage with "Picasso at the Lapin Agile," a hilarious play about an imagined meeting in 1904 between a would-be scientist called "Einstein" and an irresistible-but-unknown painter named "Picasso" in a Paris café called the Lapin Agile. Wit and whimsy fuels their talk of creativity and inspiration with the bistro's unforgettable cast of regulars until a very different kind of genius mysteriously arrives from the future. This play is recommended for mature audiences, who are invited to call it "Picasso," leaving out the unpronounceable locale in the title.

"One of the compelling things to me about Steve Martin, whether as a playwright, novelist, actor or stand-up comedian playing a banjo with an arrow through his head, is his incredibly unique style of humor," Meier said. "All bets are off. The rules of time and space and story don't apply at all, and yet everything ties together in a delightfully magical way. He crafts worlds that are just so much fun to explore."

Performances of "A Year With Frog and Toad" are at 10 a.m. June 28 and July 13 and 15; at 2 p.m. June 24 and 27 and July 14 and 16; and at 6:30 p.m. June 25 and July 9 and 13. General admission tickets are $7.50.

Performances of "Picasso at the Lapin Agile" are at 7:30 nightly July 5, 6, 7, 8, 12, 14, 15 and 16. General admission tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and $7.50 for students/youth.

For tickets or more information, visit http://www.finearts.sfasu.edu/ or call (936) 468-6407 or (888) 240-ARTS. All performances are in W.M. Turner Auditorium in the Griffith Fine Arts Building on the SFA campus.