RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY
PDT Staff Writer
The Portsmouth Area Arts Council (PAAC) has prepared another season of performances at the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts, at Shawnee State University in Portsmouth.
The season begins Oct. 1 with the Portsmouth Area Children’s Theatre Junior Company (ages 6-13) presenting a performance of “The Music Man, Jr.” Based on the original 1957 musical by Merideth Willson — that inspired a popular movie starring Robert Preston in 1962 — PAAC Director Becky Lovins said this is one of the most advanced and complicated shows that PAAC children have ever attempted to perform.
“I think Music Man is going to be really head and shoulders above anything we’ve done before,” she said.
“The Music Man, Jr.” will be performed at the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts Oct. 11 at 10 a.m. and at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 12 at noon and 7:30 p.m., and Oct. 13 at 7:30 p.m. Matinee tickets are $3 and evening shows are $8.
Tied into the upcoming show, The Portsmouth Area Arts Council is also partnering with the Wheelersburg Cinema to offer free musical movie showings, starting with “The Music Man” on Aug. 13 at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free, and concessions are regular price.
Then on Oct 24, magician Stephen Knight presents “The Magic of Reading” at noon, followed by “Magic of the Night” at 7:30 p.m.
“About 18 months ago we had Stephen Knight in. We had about 800 people in attendance and everybody loved it. He has a show called ‘Magic of the Night’ and it’s just for Halloween. It’s kind of a family-friendly show, with a lot bigger tricks. There’s pyrotechnics and lots of fire. It’s a really funny, funny show,” Lovins said.
She said the noon show, “The Magic of Reading,” is shorter than the evening performance and would be great for little children and pre-schoolers.
Tickets for the noon show are $3, and tickets for the evening show is $8. Both shows are performed at the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts. More information about Knight’s act can be found online at www.magicofthenight.com.
The Cincinnati Shakespeare Company then returns on Nov. 16, for a performance of “MacBeth.” The company performed “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts last year, which Lovins said earned a standing ovation mid-show.
“They’re a very progressive Shakespearean Company, in that they do traditional productions but they also do very updated productions as fas as costumes and set. We find that kids can very much relate to the way the story is told if it’s in a little bit more contemporary setting,” Lovins said. “The language isn’t changed at all. The language is strictly from the book.”
She said the story about a young man having family troubles is very easy for some children to relate.
“The thing we love about presenting Shakespeare is that students get to see it and love it the way it was intended rather than just reading it on a page, which not everybody finds enjoyable,” Lovins said.
Tickets for “MacBeth” are $3, and the show begins Nov. 16 at 10 a.m. The company will also present a special private outreach showing for students at Wheelersburg High School.
Another popular act also returns this year: “Mystic Drumz: The Button People” will perform at the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts at 10 a.m. and noon on Nov. 19.
“Think of Steve the Crocodile Hunter with bongos on Red Bull. He is extremely energetic. He tells a story through world percussions. He has a story of these lost people called the Button People, and the audience goes in search of the Button People. The audience very much participates in the process of finding them through learning about percussion, participating in the songs, they’ll stand up and dance and they’ll stand up and sing,” Lovins said.
She said the last time the show was in town two-years ago it was nearly sold-out, and teachers and parents kept coming to her asking to bring it back.
“He actually has a six-part series, so we might be seeing ‘Mystic Drumz’ for a while,” Lovins said.
Tickets for “Mystic Drumz: The Button People” are $3 each.
On March 6, 2013, the popular children’s book character Junie B. Jones comes to life in a performance at the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts. Written by Barbara Park with illustrations by Denise Brunkus, the adventures of 5-year old Juniper Beatrice (“Junie B.”) Jones have been followed across a series of successful children’s books since her debut in 1992 — nearly 30 books in all. The character is also getting a feature film, slated for 2015 release.
“We’ll be giving away about 100 Junie B. books to teachers for their students at the show. Teachers who come will get at least two or three for their classroom library. Part of those have been purchased from our Scholastic Book Fairs that we have every year, and then part of them were donated by the Literacy Council of Scioto County,” Lovins said.
“Junie B. Jones” will be performed March 6, 2013, at 10 a.m. and noon. Tickets are $3 each.
Closing the season this year, the Portsmouth Area Children’s Theater Senior Company (ages 14-18) is presenting their performance of “Legally Blonde: The Musical” on March 15-17. The show is originally based on the book by the same name, written by Amanda Brown. The book was made into a movie starring Reese Witherspoon in 2001 (and a 2003 sequel and direct-to-DVD movie in 2009), and the musical debuted on Broadway in 2007.
Show times for “Legally Blonde: The Musical” are March 15 at noon and 7:30 p.m., March 16 at 7:30 p.m., and March 17 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $3 for the Friday noon showing, and $10 each for all other shows.
Tickets for all of the shows are available the McKinley Box Office in the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts, and available at the door before the show while they last. Each of the shows in the new season are also available for teachers to attend with their classes, and participate in special curriculum activities related to the performance. Outreach performances for local schools are still available for next year’s season of shows, which include “Sword in the Stone,” “Sleepy Hollow,” “Rumpelstiltskin,” and “The Rosa Parks Story.”
For more information about PAAC and upcoming events and shows, visit them online at www.paac4kids.org.
Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 235, or firstname.lastname@example.org.