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Central PA Theatre & Dance Fest Is Back and Bigger for Its Second Year

by on June 18, 2019 11:00 AM

The Central PA Theatre & Dance Fest is back for a second year, Friday through Sunday in downtown State College. Expect more than 125 events occurring over 12 venues, with performances for all ages and across a wide array of genres, from musical theater to comedy and improv, burlesque to kid-friendly.

If you attended the festival last year, there are a few new things you can expect. In addition to the indoor activities, the festival takes over the 100 block of South Allen Street with family-friendly programming starting at 11 a.m. Friday and Saturday and noon Sunday, followed by a community dance party 6–8 p.m. each evening. Each dance party has a theme and dance lessons are offered in the preceding hour, so attendees can brush up on their line dancing, swing skills and Latin steps.

You can also likely expect bigger crowds this year. Last year’s festival drew approximately 3,000 people and Elaine Meder-Wilgus, one of the festival’s co-founders, says she hopes the number doubles, thanks to the addition of the outdoor events.

According to Meder-Wilgus, this year’s festival also boasts many more community partners, all helping provide free programming over the three days.

“Osher Lifelong Learning Institute is sponsoring several literary events and Schlow Memorial Library is our partner with Adam Swartz Puppets to bring the circus to the upper part of Allen Street on Saturday between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. just outside of Schlow,” she says.

Other community partners include The Art Alliance, Woskob Family Gallery, Millbrook Playhouse, Nittany Knights, Penn State Centre Stage, the Tides Program, Seven Mountains Media, Stacie Bird Photography, Centre LGBTQA Support Network, Movement Arts Studio and Nittany Valley Offset.

There are 20 “legacy companies” that partner with the event to provide performances and classes, and several outside companies Meder-Wilgus says are responsible for their own productions during the festival. She and her co-founder, Cynthia Mazzant, are the primary organizers.

“We provide the venues [and] the free programming, in addition to Cynthia producing several productions through her own company, Tempest Productions, Inc., under which the festival is organized,” Meder-Wilgus says.

Playwriting competition readings are among the more than 125 events planned for the second annual Central PA Theatre and Dance Fest, June 21-23 in downtown State College.

Some of this year’s festival highlights include a showing of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” on Friday evening at The State Theatre. Audience participation is highly encouraged — there’s a dance lesson prior to the film, so you can learn the Time Warp, and prop bags are available at the door. There’s also a sing-a-long showing of “Mary Poppins,” “Jesus Christ Superstar” presented by FUSE Productions, and “The Last Day” presented by the Penn State Musical Theatre department.

“I really hope that folks who want to try new things take advantage of myriad classes and workshops throughout the festival. Many of them are free or free with a class pass, available on our website, at Schlow, The State Theatre or Webster's Bookstore Cafe for $35. Our program guide lists the locations, pricing and description of all of the events,” adds Meder-Wilgus.

The class pass gives guests access to more than 40 events that would otherwise be $10–$12.50 at the door.

You can check out all of the festival’s events at

The second annual Central PA Theatre and Dance Fest includes opportunities to both watch performances and get involved in workshops.

Holly Riddle is a freelance food, lifestyle and entertainment writer. She can be reached at [email protected]
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