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BWW Feature: THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN at Synchronicity Theatre

There is so much theatre out there that sometimes you just want something totally different. Something that is off brand and comes out of left field with no warning. (Side note: Ever heard of Hamilton? That's another article, though.) Synchronicity Theatre's THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN is exactly the piece of theatre-goers are craving just for that reason.

I had the opportunity to attend a rehearsal for the show in the Early Stages and was drawn in immediately. The show tells the story of Atlanta Zoo resident, Ivan the Gorilla, and his friendship with Ruby, an orphaned elephant as told by Katherine Applegate in her Newbery Award-winning novel of the same title. The novel, based on the true story, inspired the show, directed by Julie Skrzypek and choreographed by Sandra Hughes.

Chris Hecke, playing the titular role, was exceptional in the brief moments I saw his work. Delving into major character work and movement, Hecke makes a point to show the audience what makes Ivan tick and how the primate sees the world. His acting is raw and uncensored (in a non-traditional sort of way), yet deliberate and unwavering. Hecke and the rest of the cast are doing more than putting on a children's show. They are putting on a piece of work that is bold and unlikely, but it works. The rest of the cast includes Renita James, Benjamin Sims, Jeffrey Sneed and Precious West.

During rehearsals, Skrzypek and Hughes did an excellent job at thinking outside the box. They could see the set, costumes, animals all from the beginning. It is with their powerful thoughts and distinct choices that the show was able to start coming to life within the first week of rehearsals. Needless to say, I am very excited to see the final product.

Synchronicity Theatre is a staple in the Atlanta theatre community, known for giving women in the arts a voice and developing new works year after year. Their production of THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN runs from February 3 through 26. Show times are Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. School matinee performances are on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 10:30 a.m. Tickets are available here.

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From This Author Justin Cole Adams