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Lithgow to perform in PA Ballet’s premiere of Carnival of the Animals

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From the company:

Pennsylvania Ballet Announces Special Celebrity Guest

Actor John Lithgow to perform in Pennsylvania Ballet’s premiere of Christopher Wheeldon’s Carnival of the Animals at the Academy of Music June 6-14, 2008

Pennsylvania Ballet Artistic Director Roy Kaiser is pleased to announce that 2-time Tony Award-winner John Lithgow will appear in 3 performances of Pennsylvania Ballet’s premiere of Christopher Wheeldon’s Carnival of the Animals; a co-production between Houston Ballet Foundation and Pennsylvania Ballet. Lithgow will narrate this fantastic tale of Oliver Percy, a young boy who inadvertently spends a night at the museum on opening night, Friday, June 6 at 8 p.m., as well as the noon and 8 p.m. performances on Saturday, June 7. Paul Hope, a member of the Alley Theatre Company in Houston and a regular guest performer at the Houston Grand Opera, will take on the role for the remaining performances.

Set to the familiar Camille-Saint Saëns score of the same name, Lithgow wrote the narration around which the ballet was built for New York City Ballet in 2003. Lithgow and choreographer Christopher Wheeldon had previously worked together on the smash Broadway hit Sweet Smell of Success, a performance that garnered Lithgow his second Tony Award (the first was for David Storey’s The Changing Room). When Wheeldon was commissioned to create a ballet directed at younger audiences, he enlisted Lithgow to devise the story. In Carnival of the Animals, Lithgow plays Mabel Buntz, a pert pachyderm who dances to the notable “Elephant Waltz.”

John Lithgow needs little introduction. He may be most widely known for his Emmy-winning role as Dr. Dick Solomon on the NBC sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun, but he has received accolades for his work in many performing arts disciplines, including Academy Award nominations for his work as Roberta Muldoon in The World According to Garp, and as Sam Burns in Terms of Endearment. Everything from Shakespeare to story books for children, and now Lithgow has taken a foray into the wonderful world of ballet.

At its Houston Ballet premiere in May 2007, the Houston Press said “this cute, sassy ballet is the best one for children since The Nutcracker.” Also on the program are new works from contemporary choreographers Matthew Neenan and Peter Quanz. Pennsylvania Ballet would like to thank lead sponsor, Bank of America, The Philadelphia Inquirer, US Airways, and WRTI for their generous support for the Company premiere of Carnival of the Animals. Major funding for Carnival of the Animals and the Peter Quanz world premiere was provided by The William Penn Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Performances of Carnival of the Animals are as follows:

§ Friday, June 6 at 8 p.m.

§ Saturday, June 7 at noon & 8 p.m.

§ Sunday, June 8 at 2 p.m.

§ Thursday, June 12 at 8 p.m.

§ Friday, June 13 at 8 p.m.

§ Saturday, June 14 at 2 p.m.

Ticket prices for Carnival of the Animals range from $22 – $124 and can be purchased by calling 215.893.1999 or online at www.paballet.org. Groups of 10 or more can purchase discounted tickets by calling 215.587.6921.

2008 – 2009 Season Subscriptions are available by calling 215.893.1955 or online at www.paballet.org. Full season subscription prices range from $95 to $515. Subscribers receive many benefits over single ticket purchasers including a 20% discount, priority seating, convenient partial payment plan, easy ticket exchanges, discounts to fine restaurants and other area cultural institutions, advance ticket purchasing for George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker and more!

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