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Summer Music Theatre

Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre 32nd Season features old, new, borrowed, and … purple

Allentown, Pa. (May 15, 2012) -- Summer theatre festival opens June 13, featuring 'Hairspray,' 'HMS Pinafore,' 'Harold and the Purple Crayon'

If you've planned a wedding recently, then you'll find something familiar about the lineup for this summer's Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre season. In the spirit of bridal couture, the 32nd MSMT festival will feature something old, something new, something borrowed, and something — well, purple.

The "something new" is the regional professional premiere of "Hairspray: The Broadway Musical" that opens the season, June 13 – July 1. Adapted from the John Waters movie that was partially filmed right here in the Lehigh Valley, "Hairspray" will feature Angela DeAngelo as Tracy Turnblad and SMT mainstay Bill Mutimer as her mother, Edna. MSMT co-founder Charles Richter directs.

The "something old" is Gilbert & Sullivan's "HMS Pinafore," the duo's first commercial hit (way back in 1878), and a precursor to the Broadway blockbusters of today. The show runs July 11-29. Muhlenberg Theatre & Dance Department chair James Peck directs.

This season's production for young audiences, "Harold and the Purple Crayon," accounts for both the "borrowed" and the purple. The play is a movement theater adaptation of Crockett Johnson's beloved children's book, created by Enchantment Theatre Company. "Harold" plays June 20 – July 28.

"Hairspray: The Broadway Musical" features a book by Mark O'Donnell, music by Marc Shaiman, and lyrics by Shaiman and Scott Wittman. It's 1962. Beehive hairdos are in, rock 'n' roll is young, and Baltimore teenager Tracy Turnblad dreams of dancing on "The Corny Collins Show." Plump and proud, Tracy wins a role on the program, then uses her newfound fame as a platform to rally support for racial integration.

Winner of eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Book, and Score, "Hairspray" is a big, goofy, good-hearted celebration of young people, rock 'n' roll, and doing the right thing. Ken Butler is the musical director, and Karen Dearborn is the choreographer.

"HMS Pinafore" was the first big hit by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan, whose 19th century comic operas have been featured regularly on the MSMT stage. In this romantic comedy, Ralph Rackstraw, "the smartest lad in all the fleet," is in love with the captain's daughter, Josephine, but her father has a more sophisticated suitor in mind.

Full of hijinks and silliness, as well as the duo's trademark wit, satire, and tunefulness, the production features musical direction by Ed Bara and choreography by AlexJo Natale.

"Harold and the Purple Crayon" adapts Crockett's 1955 picture book about a curious four-year-old boy who, with his purple crayon, has the power to create a world of his own simply by drawing it. The play follows Harold's adventures as he explores oceans, braves dragons, and finds friendship.

The production is created by Enchantment Theatre Company, whose "Cinderella" was a hit during the 2011 MSMT season. The show tells Harold's story through movement, narration, and imagination, with innovative animated scenery and an original score by Charles Gilbert. Enchantment founder Leslie Reidel directs.

The show is recommended for ages 4 and up. The actors wear masks and full-body costumes throughout the show, and parents of young children are encouraged to bring their children at least ten minutes early to meet members of the cast without their masks on. Cast members will be available after the show to talk to audience members and sign autographs.

Tickets for the first four performances of both "Hairspray" and "HMS Pinafore" are $32 regular admission; seniors are $28; students and children are $18. For the remaining 11 performances, tickets are $38 regular admission; seniors, $35; students and children, $20.

All tickets to "Harold and the Purple Crayon" are $10 for June performances and $12 for July performances.

Sundays are Family Matinee day; tickets for children ages 5-18 are just $10 when purchased with a full-price or senior ticket. (Limit two discounted tickets per full-price ticket.)

Subscriptions to "Hairspray" and "HMS Pinafore" are available for $50 for the first four shows, or $60 for the remaining 11 shows. Group discounts are available for groups of 15 or more.

Open Captioning and Audio Description will be available at the Sunday, June 24, performance of "Hairspray." Call 484-664-3087 for tickets in the accessible section of this performance.

Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre performance information and tickets are available at 484-664-3333 or www.muhlenberg.edu/smt/.