SFA’s SummerStage Festival to present popular children’s musical

NACOGDOCHES, Texas – Summer vacation time has arrived, and that means the popular SummerStage Fesitval at Stephen F. Austin State University is just around the corner.

The School of Theatre and Dance at SFA selected the children’s musical “The Wind in the Willows” as this year’s featured show of the SummerStage Festival, slated for June 28 through July 1. Based on the book by Scot Copeland, W.S. Gilbert and Kenneth Grahame and music by Paul Carrol Binkley and Sir Arthur Sullivan, “The Wind in the Willows” is adapted from the book by Kenneth Grahame and the songs of Gilbert and Sullivan.

SFA SummerStage presents the story of Mole, Ratty and Badger as they try to help Mr. Toad after he becomes obsessed with motorcars and gets into trouble. Through clever and daring antics set to sparkling melodies, the woodland friends pull together, and the world is once again set right.

Although “The Wind in the Willows” is great entertainment for the entire family, its target audience is children who are still learning about the value of true friendship, according to Jen Malmberg, lecturer in the School of Theatre and Dance and the play’s director and choreographer.

“This story takes us on the journey of four friends: Mole, Rat, Badger and Toad. We see our four friends each evolve, through many adventures, into better versions of themselves than they were during that fine spring morning at the beginning of the musical,” Malmberg explains. “It is a twisty, turning talethat highlights the need for friendship to help us see the best version of ourselves. We cannot wait to bring audiences along for the adventure!”

This year’s festival is an abbreviated version of the annual summer event. The School of Theatre and Dance will be moving throughout the summer into the newly renovated and expanded Griffith Fine Arts Building, and time would only allow for one show to be rehearsed, staged and presented. Students and faculty are eager to move into their new and renovated spaces, according to Cleo House Jr., the SummerStage artistic director and director of the School of Theatre and Dance.

“The excitement around moving into the new building isn’t just about the new spaces we’ll be getting to utilize, but about all the great opportunities for our students and the more professional-level experience for our audiences,” House said. “In summer 2024, we’ll be back to doing our usual two SummerStage shows with “Little Women” and the musical “You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown.” It really will feel like ‘Christmas in July’ as we make the move this summer and anticipate all the wonderful things to come.”

All performances for “The Wind in the Willows” are in Kennedy Auditorium. Show times are 10 a.m. Wednesday, June 28; 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, June 29 and 30; and 2 p.m. Saturday, July 1. Tickets are $15 for adults; $10 for senior adults 62 and older; $8 for SFA faculty and staff; and $5 for youth. To purchase tickets, visit boxoffice.sfasu.edu or call (936) 468-6407 or (888) 240-ARTS.

For more information about “The Wind in the Willows,” call the School of Theatre and Dance at (936) 468-4003 or visit sfasu.edu/theatre-dance.