It’s Comeback Season for the Prescott Park Arts Festival

Experience great talent and performances in picturesque Prescott Park

A photo from a past performance at the Prescott Park Arts Festival. This year’s musical is “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”

Following a one-year break due to coronavirus-related precautions, the Prescott Park Arts Festival is back and ready for an outstanding season.

As usual, the festival will feature a musical, film series and concert series. In addition to the performing arts, there will be community collaborations and showcases as well as the return of their theater education camp “Camp Encore!”

However, the similarities to past years mostly end there. The festival has been reimagined to be COVID-safe. Instead of the typical crowds of people in front of the stage, there will be assigned socially distanced “pods,” spread either three or six feet apart, depending on guidance at the time. Mask-wearing will be required when walking around, but can be removed when sitting at your pod. Suggested donations can be made online ahead of time, and food will be ordered through an app. The entire event will be contactless and cashless, different from previous years. These changes will provide for a safer and more fun experience for all — and hopefully everyone will feel like a VIP.

“All of the COVID protocols will make the festival experience very different this year. This in essence will be one of the largest public gatherings since COVID and the shutdown. We’re looking at everything we do through the lens of safety and proper crowd management, making sure that people have appropriate distance and really working to ensure customer confidence in the return to arts and culture,” says Prescott Park Arts Festival Executive Director Courtney Perkins.

The festival offers a variety of family-friendly activities and entertainment throughout the summer months.

The highly-anticipated 2021 summer musical will be “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” It will run from July 9 through August 15. The show is based on the “Peanuts” comic strip by Charles M. Schulz. “With charm, wit and heart, ‘You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown’ explores life through the eyes of Charlie Brown and his friends in the ‘Peanuts’ gang. This revue of songs and vignettes, based on the beloved Charles Schulz comic strip, is the ideal musical for audiences both young and old,” says the festival’s description. Perkins said they have assembled a diverse cast with talent from across the country. The show is sure to be a hit!

The concert series is still in the works, but several talented artists are already on the books, including Zachary Williams of the Lone Bellow, Rachael Price of Lake Street Dive & Vilray and Son Little. These are part of the “All Together Now” series, a collaboration between Prescott Park Arts Festival, The Music Hall and 3S Artspace.

It takes an entire team to put on this signature summer event. Perkins said they go from having only a few full- and part-time employees throughout the year — a “small but mighty team” — to hiring 75 to 80 people for the summer season, in addition to many helpful volunteers and the volunteer board.

The entire event is family-friendly, but Camp Encore! is another opportunity for Seacoast area kids. There are several sessions offered — the first will be “Moana Jr.” and the second will be “Frozen Jr.” These sessions are open to kids ages 8 to 17. There will also be a one week camp for teens, working on a production of “Spamalot!” This is open to teens aged 13 to 18.

The team is currently fundraising to potentially livestream the performances and events, in hopes of increasing accommodation and accessibility.

“The diverse, family-focused performances offer exposure to appeal to all members of the community, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or socio-economic status and offer exposure to a wide range of performance genres. In addition, it is also fully accessible to those with disabilities, underlining the true sense of community that the Festival relies on and promotes,” they write.

Perkins is looking forward to experiencing the excitement and talent of the festival firsthand. Having moved here from Chicago just last June, she has spent the last year getting to know the “festival family” and hearing all of their stories about the events.

The team asks for patience from patrons as they navigate this new challenge — creating a masterful arts festival during a pandemic.

“I am thankful in advance for the patience and the latitude that we hope our patrons will give us this summer as we figure out how to do this safely; it’s going to be very different. But it’ll be different with intention to keep the community safe. Their support has been critical over the last year, from words of support to philanthropic donations, have been so critical and will continue to be over the next year,” Perkins says. “We’re just looking to give back in the other direction this summer.”

Currently, the team is working with the city of Portsmouth to potentially get overflow seating for the concerts and performances. The latest updates and information about the Prescott Park Arts Festival can be found here, and follow along on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Categories: Family-friendly things to do, Guide to Summer, Music & Movies, Things to Do