Young Performers Workshop returns

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HACKETTSTOWN — Centenary Stage Company’s critically acclaimed Young Performers Workshop returns with their annual Winter Festival of Shows running Dec. 9 through Dec. 17.

These talented young thespians between the ages of 8 and 18 fill the Little Theater with musical theatre favorites including The Pajama Game, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and A Class Act.

Young Performers will also be featured in Centenary Stage Company’s Family Holiday Spectacular Disney’s Newsies The Musical which runs November 24 through December 10 in the Sitnik Theatre of the Lackland Performing Arts Center.

Hailed as a “state treasure” by Peter Filichia of the Star Ledger and bringing in youth from Morris, Warren, Hunterdon and Sussex counties, Centenary Stage Company’s Young Performance Workshop is one of the few young actor training programs in the country that combines formal training with practical application. Performances of The Pajama Game, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and A Class Act will be held in the Little Theatre located at 400 Jefferson Street, Hackettstown.

Base on the novel, 7½ Cents by Richard Bissell and featuring a book by George Abbott and Richard Bissell with music and lyrics by Jerry Ross and Richard, The Pajama Game was awarded the 1955 Tony for Best Musical and, over half of a century later, claimed the award for Best Revival of a Musical, proving that the story is truly timeless. With an energetic score by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross (Damn Yankees), The Pajama Game is brimming with songs and dances that have become musical theatre standards, including "Steam Heat" and "Hernando's Hideaway." Conditions at the Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory are anything but peaceful as sparks fly between new superintendent, Sid Sorokin, and Babe Williams, leader of the union grievance committee. Their stormy relationship comes to a head when the workers strike for a 7½ cent pay increase, setting off not only a conflict between management and labor, but a battle of the sexes as well. Performances will run Saturday, Dec. 9 at 5 p.m.; Friday, Dec. 15 at 8 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 16 at 5 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 17 at 7 p.m.

One of the most enduring shows of all time, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat features lyrics by Tim Rice and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. It is a reimagining of the Biblical story of Joseph, his father Jacob, eleven brothers and the coat of many colors. Told entirely through song with the help of a main character Narrator, the musical follows preferred son, Joseph. After being sold into slavery by his brothers, he ingratiates himself with Egyptian noble Potiphar, but ends up in jail after refusing the amorous advances of Potiphar’s wife. While imprisoned, Joseph discovers his ability to interpret dreams, and he soon finds himself in front of the mighty but troubled, Elvis-inspired, Pharaoh. Joseph’s solution to Egypt’s famine elevates him to Pharaoh’s right-hand man and reunites him with his family. The magical musical is full of catchy songs in a variety of styles, from a parody of French ballads (“Those Canaan Days”), to country-western (“One More Angel in Heaven”) and calypso (“Benjamin Calypso”), along with the unforgettable classics “Any Dream Will Do” and “Close Every Door.” Performances will run Sunday, Dec. 10 at 5 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 16 at 2 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 17 at 1 p.m.

The Tony Award winning lyricist of A Chorus Line, Edward Kleban was determined on writing both the words and music for a Broadway show, a goal unrealized in 1987 when he died of cancer at the age of 48. Kleban’s music and lyrics combined with a book by Linda Kline and Lonny Price the biographical musical A Class Act garnered the acclaim Kleban always deserved. Ed got his start in the BMI Musical Theater Workshop where he largely amasses the charismatic songbook that has been arranged in "A Class Act" to dramatize Ed's often hilarious, ultimately heartbreaking journey. An ensemble of 7 inhabit the colorful gallery of friends and loved ones in Ed's life including the legendary acerbic Lehman Engle, the relentlessly peppy Marvin Hamlisch, and Uber-creative Michael Bennett. Fourteen years after his death, one of the theater's unsung champions finally got the recognition he always deserved in this vibrant musical about musicals. Performances will run Sunday, Dec. 10 at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 16, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 17 at 4 p.m.

Finally, Centenary Stage Company’s main stage Family Holiday Spectacular Disney’s Newsies The Musical, running November 24 through December 10 will feature Young Performers Workshop students in various principle and ensemble roles. The 2012 Tony — Award winning musical featuring music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Jack Feldman and a book by Harvey Feirstein is based on the Disney film written by Bob Tzudiker and Noni White. It is New York City 1899 and Jack Kelly and his ragtag of newsboys make a meager living selling newspapers on the city streets. But when the prices of "papes" are hiked and the newsies are hung out to dry, there is nothing left to do but "open the gates and seize the day"!

The YPW program has been led by Broadway, film and television veteran, Michael Blevins, for over 20 years. YPW is dedicated to the enrichment of young lives through experience in the theatre arts, and serves as a venue for cultivating young theatre performers. The program is one of only a handful in the nation that offers both formal training and production experience for young people. The Young Performers Workshop is part of the educational arm of the professional Centenary Stage Company, a professional Equity theatre in residence on the campus of Centenary University.

Tickets to the YPW Winter Festival of Shows (not including Disney’s Newsies The Musical) are $12.50 for adults and $10 for children under 12. Tickets for Disney’s Newsies The Musical range from $29 to $32 for adults and $20.00 for children under 12. Tickets may be purchased online at or by calling the CSC Box Office at (908) 979-0900. Performances for The Pajama Game, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and A Class Act will take place in the Little Theatre located on the campus of Centenary University at 400 Jefferson Street in Hackettstown, New Jersey. All performances of Disney’s Newsies The Musical will be held in the Sitnik Theatre of the Lackland Performing Arts Center at 715 Grand Ave. Hackettstown, New Jersey.

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