Mu­si­cal the­ater

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS in New York

The sec­ond an­nual Elsie Fest, a one-day out­door mu­sic fes­ti­val cel­e­brat­ing the­ater stars, is set for Sept 5 at the Ford Am­phithe­ater in Coney Is­land, New York.

This fall, the fa­mous ConeyIs­land­board­walk­will host some spe­cial hot dogs with a Broad­way fla­vor.

The sec­ond an­nual Elsie Fest, a one-day out­door mu­sic fes­ti­val cel­e­brat­ing the­ater stars, is set for Sept 5 at the 5,000-seat Ford Am­phithe­ater, of­fer­ing a new lo­ca­tion and a new slate of singers.

This year’s per­form­ers in­cludeMe­ganHilty, Ti­tuss Burgess, Dar­ren Criss, Evan Rachel Wood, com­poser Ja­son Robert Brown, Tony-win­ner Lena Hall, Corey Cott, Tony-win­ner Cyn­thia Erivo, ra­dio host Julie James and the com­pos­ing team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.

“There is truly noth­ing else like this fes­ti­val,” says Criss, the Glee star who helped cre­ate the fes­ti­val. “There was this yearn­ing for some­thing like this that just kind of made it easy. The meat just kind of fell off the bone.”

Burgess, a Broad­way star cur­rently on The UnBreak­able Kimmy Sch­midt, will be in Coney Is­land for the first time, but last week still wasn’t sure what he’ll be singing. “I’m go­ing to see what is near­est and clos­est to my en­ergy and that’s prob­a­bly what I’ll be able to ex­e­cute best.”

The con­cert is the brain­child of Criss, tal­ent man­ager Ricky Rollins, and Broad­way pro­ducer and Ju­jam­cyn Theaters Pres­i­dent Jor­dan Roth. Last year’s fes­ti­val drew some 4,000 peo­ple to a mid­town pier. Tick­ets start at $60.

Criss hopes to grow Elsie Fest over the next fewyears, turn­ing it into a two-day event with art, food and cul­tural of­fer­ings.

“It’s about an ex­pe­ri­ence to me. Like any fes­ti­val. It’s not just the con­cert,” says Criss. “We’re re­ally work­ing on build­ing that out as much as pos­si­ble to make it a full-on ex­pe­ri­ence and not just a se­ries of con­certs.”

Criss, who has been on Broad­way in Hed­wig and the An­gry Inch and How to Suc­ceed in Busi­ness With­out Re­ally Try­ing, says he’s been tap­ping his tal­ented friend­sto­jointhe­move­ment.

Last year, he man­aged to get Les­lie Odom Jr. to rush from a per­for­mance of Hamil­ton to ap­pear on the Elsie stage, and this year he lured Burgess to Coney Is­land when both were star­ring in a con­cert ver­sion of The Lit­tle Mer­maid at theHol­ly­wood Bowl.

“Ask­ing tal­ented friends to do any­thing is a re­ally hum­bling ex­pe­ri­ence,” says Criss. “No mat­ter how nice peo­ple are about it, I just al­ways feel so slimy about it. Hav­ing last year un­der my belt made me more con­fi­dent.”


Dar­ren Criss will par­tic­i­pate in the sec­ond an­nual Elsie Fest.

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