Great River Theater Festival returns for a third year

SAXTONS RIVER — Main Street Arts is pulling out all the stops for its third annual Great River Theater Festival, with a mix of tradition, edge, comedy, dance, social satire, and puppets, plus an opening Great Tent Event with a Bake Your Art Out dessert contest thrown into the mix.

The festival opens Friday, July 5, for a two-weekend run with performances of the landmark musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Loom Dance Ensemble's What the Jellyfish Knows, both at 7:30 p.m.

It continues Saturday, July 6, with the Great Tent Event at 11 a.m., featuring the dessert contest, a Sandglass Theater rod puppet workshop, music by Christy Wendlandt and Brendon Thomas, a community jam session, and food for sale by Jamaican Jewelz.

That evening, a production of Gilbert & Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore opens at 7:30 p.m. on the stage at the Horowitz Performance Center at Vermont Academy. It will be repeated Sunday, July 7, at 2 p.m. and Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, July 11, 12, and 13 at 7:30 p.m.

Hedwig has additional performances on Saturdays, July 6 and 13, at 7 and 9 p.m., Sunday, July 7, at 7 p.m., and Friday, July 12, at 7:30 p.m. The viciously funny landmark musical tells the story of a searching transgender punk-rock singer whose sex change operation went wrong. Viewer discretion is advised.

Jellyfish, a tale of the natural world and the urgency of protecting the oceans, will also be performed Saturday, July 6, at 1:30 p.m.

Loom's production of Prime will run the second week, with performances Saturday, July 13, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, July 14, at 2 p.m. After performing in Dubai and other parts of the world, the Loom Ensemble has recently decided to make Vermont its home base.

A Molière adaptation L'Odeur De Molière: The Doctor and the Dowry will be performed by the homegrown Vermont Suitcase Company Sunday, July 14 at 2 and 7 p.m. at Main Street Arts, while over at Horowitz at 7:30 p.m., Happenstance Theater will present BrouHaHa, a clown-esque escapade.

On Saturday, July 6, at 4 p.m., Sandglass is hosting a “Tape Guy” rod-puppet workshop under the tent at MSA for a $5 fee to cover setup and materials.

Other events under the tent Saturday, July 13, are free and include a Fairy Tales and Fairy Houses workshop with Tracy Girdich from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and a Teen Storytelling session from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

Ticket prices vary for the performances, with a festival pass at $50 ($40 seniors) and youth prices for all shows except Hedwig, to which those under 16 are not admitted.

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