Last updated: August 18. 2014 11:10AM - 525 Views
By - rpratt@civitasmedia.com - 740-353-3101

Submitted photoHansel and Gretel
Submitted photoHansel and Gretel
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Joseph Pratt


As summer comes to a screeching halt and the seasonal affective disorder of a new school year takes over students, causing them to capitulate to school administration, Portsmouth Area Arts Council (PAAC) prepares for ways to entertain and educate students in fun and unique ways throughout the school year.

PAAC Executive Director Becky Lovins said she is excited for the upcoming season, because she feels like it is composed of shows that will grab the interest of local students, especially their main stage shows, “Big Nate” and “ArcAttack.”

“Every season has a different feel and we love this year’s. We start shaping a season 18 months in advance and we work very hard to book shows that aren’t gender specific,” Lovins said. “This one worked out very well and I feel like it is going to be very, very exciting.”

The two main stage shows are open to the public in the evening.

The first main stage production is “Big Nate,” which will run on November 20 at 10 a.m., noon and 7:30 p.m. The show is based on the best selling comic strips and novels by Lincoln Pierce.

Nate Wright, a detention-riddled sixth grader is drummer for the “greatest garage band in the history of the galaxy,” Enslave the Mollusk. Wright hopes to woo Jenny away from Artur, her boyfriend, by winning “The Nickelodeon”, the first prize in his school’s Battle of the Bands. When Artur and Jenny team up with Gina, Nate’s arch-rival, to form the sap-pop band Rainbows and Ponies, he knows he has to take his game to an all-star level.

The second main stage production is “ArcAttack,” which will perform for entertainment in the evening at the Vern Riffe Center for the arts at 7:30 p.m. on March 3, 2015.

The crew of “ArcAttack” uses their high tech wizardry to generate a truly ‘electrifying’ performance. Two custom engineered, hand built Tesla Coils throw out electrical arcs up to twelve feet long.

The flying arcs of lightening act as instrumentation, mimicking a sound very close to early synthesizers. A robotic drum set accompanies the spectacle, it’s high power LED’s flashing bright colors with the stroke of each mechanically actuated stick, while “ArcAttack’s” six members churn out rhythmic instrumental melodies.

During a school performance, “ArcAttack” will provide a comprehensive curriculum for children that meets National Science Education Standards. The group strives to be a leader in educational entertainment inspiring students across the world to pursue their interest in physics mathematics, chemistry and engineering.

PAAC has attempted to book ArcAttack for three years, but couldn’t ever be fit into a touring schedule. Lovins said she is very excited to see this one come through Portsmouth this year.

PAAC will be providing several outreach shows this season, in which they will hire professional touring companies to perform at local schools. The outreach programs are funded through grants from the Ohio Arts Council and offer performances at significantly discounted prices. Openings in the scheduling are still available for some of the mentioned shows.

“Hansel & Gretel” is available from September 22-26, 2014. Grades preK through four are advised to book showings, with curriculum connections in classic Literature, reading, writing, fairy tales and music.

In “Hansel & Gretel,” something mysterious is happening in the woods, and Hansel and Gretel are hot on the trail. This musical features a strange old lady in the woods who happens to be part giant, part ogre, part elf & part troll. Could she be a witch too? Students will follow the two sleuths as they sing, dance, and discover the hidden truth about the old lady in that gingerbread cottage.

“Anne Frank” will be available from September 22-26, 2014. Grades five through 12 are advised to book showings, with curriculum connections in classic literature, reading, writing and history.

Anne Frank’s diaries have always been among the most moving and eloquent documents of the Holocaust. Join them in the secret annex where Anne and her family hid from the Nazis for two years. This compelling story of adolescents in the face of human tragedy comes to life in this riveting adaptation of a classic piece of literature.

“Young Abraham Lincoln” is available on March 12 and 13, 2015. Grades three through eight are advised to book this title, with curriculum connections in classic literature, reading, writing and history.

This production brings President Lincoln to life in a new and tangible way. Young Abraham Lincoln takes us on a journey through the president’s life, examining the drive that he had to educate himself and spread love and equality. Enjoy the story of a hero and a legend in our telling of Young Abraham Lincoln, how a brave hero came to be.

“Pinocchio” will be available on March 12 and 13, 2015. Grades preK through two are advised to book this title, with curriculum connections in safety and stranger danger education.

Pinocchio may have started as a simple block of wood, but he very quickly becomes a real live walking, talking, puppet. Despite his best effort, Pinocchio seems to always find himself in trouble. Will Pinocchio listen to the blue fairy and become a real boy? Pinocchio shows the importance for rules and listening to one’s elders, as well as avoiding talking to strangers.

PAAC will also be offering “Midsummer Night’s Dream” for the third annual showing. The show will be the first PAAC brings in to perform in the Portsmouth Area Children’s Theatre’s new location at 614 Third Street, right behind Garage Café and beneath Portsmouth STEM Academy.

The new location will have limited seating and will offer a traditional Shakespearean education, as students enter and are seated in an arena similar to what the Bard’s productions would have originally been produced in.

“The production of ‘Midsummer’ that we bring in is really meant to be performed for a smaller crowd. We are still able to seat about 400 kids between two shows, which is only slightly smaller than what we normally offer at the Vern Riffe,” Lovins said. “We are excited to be able to present in a more intimate space and build around the needs of the company. Especially with this show, because the interaction with the crowd in “Midsummer” is very intense.”

“Midsummer Night’s Dream” will run on November 12, at 9 a.m. and noon, for grades five through 12.

Tickets for performances are still available. Schools interested in educational shows can reach Lovins in her office for further details. Evening tickets will go on sale at the McKinley Box Office in October.

PAAC’s office is on the third floor of the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts. They can also be reached by phone at 740-351-3642 or through email at paac@shawnee.edu. More information can be found online at www.paac4kids.org or through facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Portsmouth-Area-Arts-Council.

Joseph Pratt can be reached at the Portsmouth Daily Times 740-353-3101, EXT 1932, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.

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