Tuesday, February 28, 2012

This Ugly Duckling Glows

“The Ugly Duckling” at Westport Country Playhouse on March 18. Credit: Corbian/Lightwire Theater
Westport Country Playhouse will combine two timeless tales with modern technology when its Family Festivities series presents glow in the dark puppet versions of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Ugly Duckling” and Aesop’s fable, “The Tortoise and the Hare,” on Sunday, March 18 at 1 and 4 pm for ages 6 and up. 
Produced by CORBiAN/Lightwire Theater, the show uses large, three-dimensional puppets brightly lit with electroluminescent wire (EL Wire), choreography and music, ranging from classical to jazz to pop, to literally bring the renowned stories into a new and brilliant light.
One hour before each performance, Kool to be Kind (K2BK) will conduct a kindness and empathy workshop led by high school students and designed for children. K2BK is an empathy-based anti-bullying program in which high school students are trained to lead interactive, experiential lessons for elementary school students on how to stand up to and protest against bullying.
K2BK was created by four Westporters - Cindy Eigen, Lynne Goldstein, Sarah Green and Melissa Shein - and inspired by the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) programs for older children. Workshops begin at 12 noon and 3 p.m. Admission is included in the Family Festivities ticket price.
In Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Ugly Duckling,” of the five eggs in Mother Duck's nest, one is the largest and last to hatch. Bigger and paler than the others, this last hatchling is treated as an outsider by Mother Duck and her ducklings. Knowing only rejection, this Ugly Duckling goes out into the wild alone, where he sees a wily cat creeping in the direction of Mother Duck's nest. The Ugly Duckling follows and watches as one lagging duckling is captured and taken back to the cat's lair. Will the Ugly Duckling save the day and be a true hero, or will he remain an outcast? 
Aesop’s fable, “The Tortoise and the Hare,” tells of the Tortoise, ridiculed by the Hare, challenging him to a race. They set off and the Hare takes a commanding lead right away. Thinking he will win easily, the Hare allows himself to be distracted with many modern day activities: texting, video games and the paparazzi. The Tortoise continues to trudge along at his methodical pace. Will the swifter creature win or the one with discipline and fortitude?
The Family Festivities Series, part of “Winter at the Playhouse,” will continue with “Nearly Lear,” on April 1, 1 and 4 p.m. Using exuberant storytelling, music and film, “Nearly Lear” retells Shakespeare’s story of “King Lear” as seen through the eyes of the King’s endearing goofball clown, Norris, who, in good Shakespearean tradition, is actually Noreen disguised as a boy. Mischievous, funny and tender,the production is a vaudevillian take on a classic play that will entrance both lovers of Shakespeare as well as newcomers to the Bard. Recommended for ages 9 and up,“Nearly Lear” is by Susanna Hamnett.
In conjunction with its Family Festivities Series, the Playhouse is hosting a book collection for Read to Grow, Inc. Bins will be located in the Playhouse lobby for audience donations of gently used and new children’s books which will be given to families and programs to promote early literacy and reading development for children in Connecticut.
Family Festivities Sponsors are Meredith and David Bukzin. Family Festivities Corporate Sponsor is First Niagara/Pierson& Smith.
Tickets are $18. Birthday party rental facilities may be scheduled in advance. Everyone in the audience requires a ticket. For more information or tickets, call the box office at 203- 227-4177, or toll-free at 1-888-927-7529, or visit Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, off Route 1, Westport. Tickets are available online 24/7 at www.westportplayhouse.org.

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Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)

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