Central PA Theatre and Dance Festival returns this weekend with 120 events in State College

When the inaugural Central PA Theatre and Dance Festival was held last year, more than 3,000 people showed up to check out dozens of performances at venues throughout State College.

This year, festival co-founder Elaine Meder-Wilgus hopes the event is even bigger, and she thinks one major change will help.

“This year we’re closing down Allen Street, and I think the extra room will encourage more people to join in on the fun,” Meder-Wilgus said.

The three-day festival starts Friday, with more than 120 events planned through Sunday. There’s readings, workshops, theater, dance, film, events for kids and more. Most of the events are free.

Meder-Wilgus said that Allen Street being closed is the biggest change the festival has added this year, but it’s not the only change they’ve made to try and draw in more visitors.

Other changes include the addition of three-day intensives designed to help visitors strengthen their knowledge of a specified form of dance. The intensives include “creating a stage persona and developing an act, costuming for burlesque, and connecting with your audience,” according to a press release.

Other events include “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” a family-friendly community dance party each night from 6-8 p.m. and Drag Queen Bingo at Webster’s Bookstore Cafe.

“It’s really impressive. The depth of quality, and what exists in the region is really something great,” Medler-Wilgus said.

The Next Stage Theatre Company will participate, and producing artistic director and co-founder Mary Skees said she’s excited about how the festival provides a “delicious sampler of local arts.”

“I’m excited by the fact that people of all ages can enjoy a huge choice of theater and dance events, workshops, and performances, all within the space of a few blocks. Watch, listen, learn — even participate if you like,” she said.

Organizers received a grant from the Central Pennsylvania Convention & Visitors Bureau to put on the event.

“I’m already excited for next year’s festival. We’ve been granted $30,000, and that will give us the room we want to expand,” Meder-Wilgus said.

For more information and a full schedule of events, visit https://centralpatheatre.com/.