Series gives sneak peek at hot shows in downtown State College

Summer is a busy time for theater in State College. From the Boal Barn to the State Theatre, productions are happening everywhere.

The annual Broadway on Allen series, sponsored by Penn State’s School of Theatre, provides an opportunity to preview some of those shows for free over the lunch hour.

The series began June 10 and continues through the end of the month at the Penn State Downtown Theatre Center. This year, the school is partnering with Fuse Productions to present three weeks of free lunchtime performances.

Fuse’s Disney Tribute concludes June 12, and preview performances of “Les Miserables” begin June 17. Fuse Producing Artistic Director Rich Biever said the company will be doing 40-minute excerpts from the show, which opens June 26 at Eisenhower Auditorium.

“Les Mis is being rehearsed, all we have to do is come down there and sing it,” Biever said. “With the Disney tribute, it was fun to go back and rediscover all of those great songs from ‘Mary Poppins’ to ‘The Jungle Book.’”

Following “Les Miserables,” the School of Theatre will take over the stage to preview Neil Bartram and Brian Hill’s adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s novel “Something Wicked This Way Comes” June 24-26. That production will be previewed in advance of the school’s NU. Musical Theatre Festival in July.

This is the first time that “Something Wicked This Way Comes” is being performed, and Bartram and Hill are in residence for the production, said NU. Musical Theatre Festival Artistic Director Raymond Sage.

Having the writers here means the script and music are subject to change as Bartram and Hill put the finishing touches on it.

“There is some amazing sight reading going on because this is a new show, no one had a frame of reference as far as tunes or melodies,” Sage said. “It’s a beautiful thing and one of the great things about working with brand-new musicals.”

Broadway on Allen will conclude with a “Cabernet and Cabaret” event at 7 p.m. July 3. All performances are held at the Penn State Downtown Theatre Center, 146 S. Allen St., State College.