WOODSTOCK – The first but sure-to-be-annual Byrdcliffe Festival of the Arts, a three-day celebration of music, voice, dance, film, theater and playwriting, performance art, storytelling, drumming, memoir, mental gymnastics and more (whew!), is set to take place July 13th, 14th, and 15th.


Honcho'd by School of Rock founder and now Woodstocker Paul Green, the weekend-long celebration features 17 area arts groups, with shows and events running day and night at The Byrdcliffe Theater, Byrdcliffe Barn, Kleinart/James Arts Center, The Colony Cafe and other locales around town.


Tickets can be purchased for full Festival passes or specific. A full listing of the events calendar, pricing, locales and times can be viewed at the website byrdcliffefestival.org


Green and Executive Director of the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild Matthew T. Leaycraft, give credit to what they admiringly refer to as “The Core Nine” – the original group participants, including Clyde Forth Visual Theater, Garry Kvistad's Drum Boogie Festival, Happy Traum, Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice, VOICETheater, the Woodstock Film Festival, Woodstock Players, and the Woodstock Writers Festival – who gathered on many Saturday mornings to hammer out scheduling and plan the chock-a-block weekend.


Highlights  -- and there are many – include:


"Jesus Christ Superstar," featuring Tracy Bonham, Joey Eppard, Connor Kennedy, Lindsey Webster and Paul Green on guitar, to name a few of the cast. "The Music of Jesus Christ Superstar" differs from the usual Broadway style musicals, in that this production will instead put the band front and center onstage to present the music of this "timeless piece of rock goodness," says Green.


Other musical treats include a Happy Traum concert celebrating the birthday of Woody Guthrie, featuring lots of special surprise guests.


The Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice will be presenting "An Unusual Night At The Opera," an interactive opera soiree with renowned singers Maria Todaro, Louis Otey and Kerry Henderson.


On the film front, Woodstock Film Festival is showing a special screening of Academy Award nominee Ron Nyswaner's Why Stop Now, starring Academy Award winner Melissa Leo, as well as Jesse Eisenberg and Tracy Morgan, with writer/director Phil Dorling on hand for Q&A. The WFF also is hosting "Let's Talk About Film," an actor and director-led seminar with filmmaker/director Griffin Dunne, Festival co-founder Meira Blaustein and others.


The Woodstock Writers Festival will be offering one of its signature Memoir A Go-Go panels (this time with FOUR New York Times bestselling authors) and a social media how-to workshop with WWF’s Martha Frankel, Daily Freeman’s Ivan Lajara, webmaster Ken Schneidman and writer/media manager Kitty Sheehan.


Salsa and drumming workshops, teenage mentalist extraordinaire Lucas Handwerker and an assortment of dance, voice and theater round out the three-day festival.


“I've spent my life in the arts.  From playing in bands as a young man to founding School of Rock, my primary aim has been to create and teach music.  At School of Rock, I enjoyed wonderful opportunities to participate in so many artistic pursuits: music festivals, motion pictures, magazines, records, and more.  All of this eventually led me to Woodstock, a place that I am immensely proud to call home,” says Green. “We have come together in harmony to build an event emblematic of our little corner of the world, and I am tremendously excited to share it with all of you.”


Leaycraft adds, “This initiative sprung from a stated but undefined desire on our part to organize some kind of arts festival that would exemplify the spirit of Byrdcliffe in a contemporary way. This incubated over a year or so and then sprung to life as a group of extraordinarily talented people spontaneously came together in a creative field of energy that has characterized Byrdcliffe from its founding in 1902. It is our hope that the Festival will offer an artistically rich and varied experience for the public through works both contemporary and traditional and it’s been a true pleasure and a real honor to bring together the talents of all of our participants.”