John Tartaglia Named Ambassador of Bucks County Playhouse Student Theatre Festival

John Tartaglia Named Ambassador of Bucks County Playhouse Student Theatre Festival

This past October, the Bucks County Playhouse (BCP) and Newtown Arts Company announced the return of the famed student theater festival competition to the newly reopened Playhouse next spring after an absence of two years. The BCP Student Theater Festival, produced by Newtown Arts Company and The Playhouse, will be open to participating middle and high schools.

Now, Broadway and television star John Tartaglia has come on board as the official Ambassador of the festival. He is best known as executive producer, creator and star of the 8-time Emmy Award-nominated "Johnny and the Sprites" (now airing worldwide), receiving a nomination for "Outstanding Performance in a Children's Series." He earned a Tony Award nomination for his Broadway debut in the Tony Award-winning musical, Avenue Q, for which he originated the roles of Princeton and Rod. Other roles on Broadway include starring as Lumiere in Disney's Beauty and the Beast, and most recently, in the role of Pinocchio in Shrek The Musical. A 12-year veteran of "Sesame Street," Tartaglia is one of the youngest puppeteers ever to perform on the show, starting at the age of 16.

"I am so honored to be the official ambassador for the Bucks County Playhouse Student Theater Festival and thrilled that this wonderful tradition has returned to The Playhouse stage," said Tartaglia. "I have seen firsthand how theater arts can shape a student's life in the classroom and beyond."

During the festival students will have the opportunity to perform on the landmark Playhouse stage, graced by such luminaries as Angela Lansbury, Liza Minnelli and Robert Redford, and receive constructive feedback from theater professionals during the seven-day event taking place in April and May 2013.

"The student theater festival was hosted by the Bucks County Playhouse for 43 years until its recent closure," said Jed Bernstein, BCP's Producing Director. "The Newtown Arts Company brilliantly stepped into the void and continued the tradition. We are delighted the festival is returning to its home and equally delighted to be partnering with Newtown Arts Company."

The Festival will also feature stagecraft workshops presented by special guest instructors. Each day of the event will culminate in an awards ceremony recognizing excellence in different aspects of the theater arts.

Kristin Kauffman, Artistic Director of the event, loved attending the New Hope festival while in high school. After The Playhouse closed in 2010, she "couldn't bear for students to lose this opportunity to celebrate theater and learn from each other as well as the pros."

Kauffman spearheaded the development of the Newtown Student Theatre Festival, produced by Newtown Arts Company, a nearby Bucks County community theater group, and Newtown Theatre, a historic movie house and performance venue. "We kept the festival alive for two years and now we're excited to help bring it back to the place where it all began," adds Kauffman.

The current schedule for the 2013 festival is as follows:

• High School Play Performances - April 22 and 30; May 1
• High School Musical Performances - April 23 and 29
• Middle School Play Performances - May 6
• Middle School Musical Performances - May 7

The general public is also invited to join the audience at the 2013 festival. One-day tickets, as well as passes to the entire event, will be available.

The Bucks County Playhouse is located at 70 South Main Street in New Hope, PA.

For more information and to register your school for the 2013 BCP Student Theater Festival, please contact us at

Located 90 minutes from New York City, the Bucks County Playhouse opened in 1939 on the site of a grist mill dating from the late eighteenth century. Ironically, the structure was at that time in danger of demolition; however playwright Moss Hart and the local community rallied to save the building and re-opened it as a theatrical venue, which quickly became one of the country's most famous regional theaters, with a veritable who's who of American theatrical royalty including Kim Hunter, Helen Hayes, Kitty Carlisle, Colleen Dewhurst, Shirley Booth, Lillian Gish, June Lockhart, Grace Kelly, Robert Redford, Bert Lahr, Leslie Nielsen and Walter Matthau and remained in continuous operation until December 2010. Thanks to the Bridge Street Foundation, the non-profit family foundation of Kevin and Sherri Daugherty with Tanya Cooper as President, this beloved theatrical landmark was re-opened and celebrated on July 2, 2012, exactly 73 years and day from when it originally opened in 1939

Newtown Arts Company, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, is dedicated to supporting and promoting the theater arts in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and surrounding areas. Founded in 1983, the company presents a season of family-friendly dramas, comedies and musicals at the historic Newtown Theatre and develops theater arts education programs for area residents. Newtown Arts Company has awarded over $92,000 in scholarships to students pursuing higher education in the fine and performing arts over the past three decades. The company is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.

Photo Credit: Walter McBride / WM Photos

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