Tiny toddlers with bright eyes and big smiles bounced around their chairs as
colorful actors retold a classic tale.
Rags-to-Riches Theatre for young audiences entertained about 50 children ages
3 to 5 Thursday morning at the Carver Community Center.
During a 40-minute recounting of the classic tale, "The Emperor's New
Clothes," actors ran into the audience and cued the children to respond by
clapping, whooping and making funny noises at key points in the play.
Whenever the word "emperor" was uttered, the children quickly formed
make-believe trumpets and sounded out a few notes announcing his presence.
With video games, television and Internet entertainment gobbling up so much
of children's attention, the show aims to be interactive and keep kids engaged,
said Lou Peters, one of Rags-to-Riches' founders.
The three-actor traveling troupe is based in Durham, N.C. and tours the
Southeast and the East Coast performing classic and original plays for children.
But the group mixes in a few jokes that the adults can understand too, said
Brenda Manning, Carver Library and Center manager, said she'd been contacted
by Eric Traynor, head of children's theatre at Jacksonville State University.
The play was a treat for the children and the center, Manning said. A handful
of senior citizens across the hall followed the noise and found seats in the
gymnasium to watch the show.
Onstage, a local actor, Kelly Summers of Jacksonville, boogied to various
musical beats as the emperor's personal clothing assistant.
Wrapped in a pink feather boa, floppy hat and baggy pants Summers had the
children laughing, and a few dancing in the aisles, as she and fellow JSU
graduate Coty Cockrell chased Peters around the room.
Summers and Cockrell both said having such a small group of actors performing
in the traveling show offers its own challenges and rewards.
The small group is able to perform in places that might not ever see a play,
such as libraries and community centers, Summers said.
With just three actors the group prepares their costumes, sets the stage, and
cleans up afterward.
The group has performed at area elementary schools throughout the week and
has two scheduled performances at JSU's Ernest Stone Performing Arts Center in
Jacksonville. The showtimes are 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $5.
For more information, call 782-5648.
About Todd South
Todd South covers Oxford, Lincoln and Munford for
The Star. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia.
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