South African play amongst worldy slate

COLORADO SPRINGS — The fourth annual Colorado Festival of World Theaterreturns to the Pike’s Peak region Sept. 20-30, with a full slate of performances and workshops, including a tribute to Stephen Sondheim and the American premiere of the groundbreaking South African production “Truth in Translation.”

Sondheim will be at the Broadmoor Sept. 22 to receive this year’s Donald Seawell Lifetime Achievement in the Theater Award followed by a production of the newly minted “Beautiful Girls — A Sondheim Tribute,” drawing on the Oscar- and Tony-winning composer-lyricist’s songbook for women.

Headlining the cast will be Chita Rivera, who, along with Marin Mazzie and Jen Colella, will be under the direction of Broadway vet Lonny Price. Longtime Sondheim collaborator Paul Gemignani conducts a full orchestra.

Narrated by thesp Zoe Caldwell, the revue journeys through the stages and emotional complexities of a woman’s life, incorporating a selection of hits from “Follies,” “Into the Woods,” “A Little Night Music” and “Company,” among others.

A future for the revue is under consideration.

Michael Lessac and Hugh Masekela’s acclaimed “Truth” tells the story of the transition from apartheid to black rule. In arranging for the show, the festival became its primary American producer and tour catalyst.

New this year at the CFWT is the “Festival Institute” — master classes and seminars presented by Caldwell, Royal Shakespeare Company member Janet Suzman, scribe Peter Shaffer, director Joseph Hardy, thesp Brian Murray and actor-scribe-composer Daniel Beaty.

The U.S. debut of the Hungarian musical group Etnorom, who perform European gypsy music and dance merged with contemporary world music, swing and elements of jazz; Beaty’s newest cabaret show, “The Broadway Songs I Love”; and physical comic Avner the Eccentric’s “Exceptions to Gravity” are also featured, completing the multigenerational-targeted festival lineup.

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