BWW Previews: AURORA CHILDREN'S PLAYHOUSE SUMMER EDITION at Aurora Theatre
It's a Saturday morning, and I'm at the Aurora Children's Playhouse at Aurora Theatre. We're waiting for Wendy Bennett's interactive performance of Cinderella to begin. That exciting electricity of patrons eagerly anticipating a show dances in the air. Most of this morning's patrons are between the ages of 4 and 10. And many are dressed like princesses. I've counted two Jasmines, three Cinderellas, and a Belle. Wendy Bennett, bouncy and bright, walks onto the stage and comments excitedly on the number of princesses in the audience. One little girl in a white summer dress pops up from her chair and says, "Look at me." Another little girl in the back who's wearing a blue tulle ballerina skirt won't be outdone. She stands on her chair and shouts, "Look at me!" And those exchanges are perfectly indicative of the spirit of this fun presentation where, at any moment, children might be pulled onto the stage to become pumpkins or white mice or even Prince Rupert (who's giving a ball) all while Wendy Bennett sings songs and waltzes with puppets. It's a morning of sheer delight.
Mornings like this one aren't uncommon at the Aurora Children's Playhouse. In fact, Aurora Theatre has made a considerable investment in bringing high-quality programming to the children of Gwinnett County by engaging some of the region's best children's performers. For instance, on Saturday, May 20 the playhouse will welcome the All-Hands Production of The New Adventures of Brer Rabbit, a puppet presentation that showcases the beloved Joel Chandler Harris characters in all-new adventures like "Brer Rabbit and the Fly" and "Brer Rabbit and the Beehive." The show plays at 10:00 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., and the tickets are a reasonable $7. And that admission fee can be even less for patrons who purchase the PlayhouseTix punch card that entitles the bearer to any 10 Playhouse admissions for $5 each.
After the last school bell rings later this month, the Aurora Children's Playhouse will present its Summer Edition which features exciting and diverse programming on Wednesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. There's Flamenco Fantastico for Kids presented by the Calo Dance Company on June 7, Shakespeare for Kids: Shrew! presented by the Atlanta Shakespeare Company on June 14, and The Great Pirate Race presented by Story Ship on June 21. In addition, the playhouse offers great summer theatre camps, many of which culminate in a public performance opportunity.
There's something to be said for lazy summer afternoons at the community pool. There's also something to be said for mornings at the theatre where children are enhancing literary knowledge, improving vocabulary, learning about empathy and tolerance, and employing critical thinking skills. That latter is what Aurora Theatre has to offer, a chance for young theatregoers to reap the benefits of attending live theatre.
For more information on The New Adventures of Brer Rabbit and on the Playhouse's summer programming, visit http://www.auroratheatre.com/education/childrens-playhouse/.