THE LIGHTNING THIEF, CURIOUS GEORGE and More Set for Westport Country Playhouse's 2014-15 Family Festivies Series

THE LIGHTNING THIEF, CURIOUS GEORGE and More Set for Westport Country Playhouse's 2014-15 Family Festivies Series

Westport Country Playhouse announces its 2014-15 Family Festivities Series beginning in the fall, featuring productions based on children's classic stories, including "Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse," "The Lightning Thief," "Dog Loves Books," and "Curious George." Tickets are now on sale.

There will be a free-of-charge Family Festivities Kick-off Party on Sunday, November 9, 1 to 4 p.m., with games and activities for kids as well as information about the upcoming performances and one-day-only special ticket offers for the Family Festivities Series.

Family Festivities shows are presented on selected Sundays from November through March, at 1 and 4 p.m. Tickets are $20, and include pre-show activities one hour prior to each performance. Family Festivities Corporate Sponsor is Pitney Bowes. Family Festivities Partner is Darlene Krenz. The Family Festivities Series is also supported by the Westport Young Woman's League.

Opening the 2014-15 series will be "Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse," a charming adaptation of Kevin Henkes' award-winning children's book, on Sunday, November 16. Lilly loves everything about school, especially her cool teacher Mr. Slinger. But when he confiscates her prized possession, a purple plastic purse that plays music, joy turns to misery, testing Lilly's resolve. Produced by Omaha Theater Company, the show is recommended for ages 4-8.

"Frosty," on Sunday, December 14, is about a young orphan named Billy who discovers magic in a stolen hat when he places it on a snowman's head and that snowman comes to life. But can Frosty the snowman help Billy find his real family in time for Christmas? Produced by the Barter Players, the show is recommended for ages 4-10.

"Stella, Queen of the Snow," on Sunday, January 18, tells the story of two children as they spend the day playing in the snow, discovering the world of winter together. First published in 2000, the book by Marie-Louise Gay remains a favorite with worldwide fans. This hour-long production will feature puppets, scenic effects, and original music. Produced by Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia, the show is recommended for ages 3-7.

"The Lightning Thief," based on the popular book series by Rick Riordan, will play Sunday, February 8. Mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy Jackson's Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, Zeus's master lightning bolt has been stolen and Percy is the prime suspect. Produced by Theatreworks USA, the show is recommended for grades 2-6.

"Dog Loves Books," Louise Yates' New York Times best seller, comes to life on Sunday, March 1. The musical is about the irresistible Dog who loves everything about books and decides to open his own bookstore. But no customers come. Dog begins to read the books in his store and discovers that when customers finally come in to his store, he knows exactly which books to recommend. ArtsPower's new musical celebrates the power of the imagination and the satisfaction that comes from sharing books with others. Recommended for ages 5-8.

"Curious George," the inquisitive, lovable little monkey of books, movies, and the award-winning PBS television show, is the star of this new musical on Sunday, March 29. On All-You-Can-Eat Meatball Day, George always helps his friend Chef Pisghetti cook meatballs, and serve them to the hungry crowd. But this year, the crowd had vanished! Phinneas T. Lightspeed and his speedy Meatballs O'Matic machine are keeping them away. In despair, Chef Pisghetti vows to cook no more, until George enters the Chef's meatballs in the world-famous Golden Meatball Rome. Produced by Theatreworks USA, the show is recommended for grades pre K - 3.

In conjunction with the Family Festivities Series, the Playhouse will once again host a book collection for Read to Grow, Inc., a statewide nonprofit organization that helps parents take an active role in their children's literacy development by providing free children's books to families with limited access and to community resources that serve them. At each Family Festivities performance, bins will be located in the Playhouse lobby for donations of gently used and new children's books which will be given to families and programs in the greater Fairfield County area through Read to Grow. During last season's Family Festivities series, the Playhouse collected nearly 300 books.

Everyone in the audience requires a ticket. For more information or tickets, call the box office at (203) 227-4177, or toll-free at 1-888-927-7529, or visit Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, off Route 1, Westport. Tickets are available online 24/7 at Stay connected to the Playhouse on Facebook (Westport Country Playhouse), follow on Twitter (@WCPlayhouse), or view Playhouse videos on YouTube (WestportPlayhouse).

Westport Country Playhouse, named Theater Company of the Year by The Wall Street Journal, is a nationally recognized, not-for-profit, professional theater under the artistic direction of Mark Lamos and management leadership of Michael Ross. The Playhouse creates five live theater experiences, produced at the highest level, from April through October. Its vital mix of works---dramatic, comedic, occasionally exploratory and unusual---expands the audience's sense of what theater can be. The depth and scope of its productions display the foremost theatrical literature from the past---recent as well as distant---in addition to musicals and premieres of new plays. During the summer, the Playhouse is home to the Woodward Internship Program, renowned for the training of aspiring theater professionals. Winter at the Playhouse, from November through March, offers events outside of the main season---Family Festivities presentations and Script in Hand play readings. In addition, businesses and organizations are encouraged to rent the handsome facility for their meetings, receptions and fundraisers.

As an historic venue, Westport Country Playhouse has had many different lives leading up to the present. Originally built in 1835 as a tannery manufacturing hatters' leathers, it became a steam-powered cider mill in 1880, later to be abandoned in the 1920s. Splendidly transformed into a theater in 1931, it initially served as a try-out house for Broadway transfers, evolving into an established stop on the New England straw hat circuit of summer stock theaters through the end of the 20th century. Following a multi-million dollar renovation completed in 2005, the Playhouse became a state-of-the-art producing theater, preserving its original charm and character.

Today, the not-for-profit Westport Country Playhouse serves as a cultural resource for patrons, artists and students and is a treasure for the State of Connecticut. There are no boundaries to the creative thinking for future seasons or the kinds of audiences and excitement for theater that Westport Country Playhouse can build.

Westport Country Playhouse's 2014 season: Noël Coward's "A Song at Twilight," an exquisite battle of wits, exploring the nature of passion, the cruelty of love, and the price of hidden secrets, directed by Mark Lamos, April 29 - May 17, a co-production with Hartford Stage; "Sing for Your Shakespeare," a world premiere musical revue with selections from Broadway, pop, rock, jazz, opera, film, and Tin Pan Alley, exploring how the American Songbook has been inspired by Shakespeare's works, directed by Mark Lamos, co-conceived by Wayne Barker, Mark Lamos, and Deborah Grace Winer, playing June 3 - 28; "Nora," Ingmar Bergman's adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's "A Doll's House," a story of love, blackmail, and the little lies people tell, translated into the English language by Frederick J. Marker and Lise-Lone Marker, directed by David Kennedy, Playhouse associate artistic director, July 15 - August 2; "Things We Do for Love," Alan Ayckbourn's wickedly funny play that questions just how sane anyone really is when it comes to love, directed by John Tillinger, August 19 - September 7; and "Intimate Apparel" by Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage and directed by Mary Robinson, an intricate tapestry of the joys, sorrows, tragedy, and triumph of a gifted but lonely African-American seamstress in early 20th century Manhattan who's negotiating the choice between a love that is accepted and one that is true, October 7 - November 1.

Pictured: "The Lightning Thief" at Westport Country Playhouse on February 8.

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