Darke County Center for the Arts’ Family Theatre Series celebrated its 20th year during the just completed 2017-18 “Arts Count” season! Appropriately for a season with a numerical theme, record numbers of patrons attended DCCA’s three Family Theatre presentations at Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall.
Lightwire Theater’s “A Very Electric Christmas” literally lit up the stage on Sunday, Nov. 19, brightening the holiday season for little kids and adults alike. The fantastically executed show featuring neon characters performing in the dark while wearing puppet-like costumes outfitted with glowing electroluminscent wire brilliantly brought to life a charming tale featuring nutcrackers, toy soldiers, mischievous mice, birds and more as well as a baby bird named Max who desperately wants to make it home for Christmas. Many parents and youngsters were fascinated with the technology as well as with the delightful story, adding another dimension to this gentle yet dramatic presentation featuring dazzling visuals, poignant storytelling and evocative music to create an enlightening experience for all concerned.
E. B. White’s beloved masterpiece “Charlotte’s Web” provides universal insight and eternal truth that can be appreciated at many different levels, all the while remaining a sweet, charming and appealing tale that never grows old. Theatreworks USA’s performance of the classic tale on Sunday, Feb. 22 aptly demonstrated why this timeless story about the true meaning of friendship continues to inspire joy and uplift spirits over 65 years after it was first published. The plot’s themes of love, bravery, life and death, friendship, and new beginnings provoke thought and emotion above and beyond that expected from a story detailing daily doings in the lives of farm animals.
DCCA’s 2017-18 Family Theatre Series closed on Sunday, April 8 with Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia’s retelling of Sam McBratney’s “Guess How Much I Love You” paired with “I Love My Little Storybook,” based on the book of the same name written and illustrated by Anita Jeram, the artist whose gentle watercolors enhance McBratney’s simple, direct and true words in his incredibly popular creation. The tale of the Nutbrown Hares competing to measure their love for one another opens with Little Nutbrown Hare beginning the competition by declaring his love is as big as his arms can reach, a claim immediately outdone by Big Nutbrown Hare’s claim that his love is as big as his even longer arms can go; the one-up-man-ship sweetly escalates from there. Masterfully designed puppets, evocative music and a recorded narration by actor Beau Bridges thrilled children and charmed adults, creating a memorable experience that continues to resonate for audience members of all ages.
Family Theatre presentations help families grow together by sharing positive experiences and discovering new ideas. DCCA’s goal to help our community grow through the arts is also well-served by providing a summer theatre residency from Missoula Children’s Theatre, offering area youngsters the opportunity for hands-on participation in a full-blown musical at historic Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall. Last season, the busy week opened with auditions on Monday, July 31, where 60 first through 12th grade students were chosen for roles in “Aladdin;” intense rehearsals ensued throughout the week, culminating in two glorious performances on Saturday, Aug. 5 in which each participant had an opportunity to shine. MCT’s mission to develop life skills in children through participation in the performing arts is magically achieved while youngsters not only learn lines, music and choreography but also lessons of group dynamics. Many wonders ensued during that one short week; participation in a true community effort where each person involved has an equal part to play regardless of the size of their role teaches self-reliance, develops social skills and enhances communication skills, helping develop beneficial essentials that serve throughout a lifetime.
These presentations by Darke County Center for the Arts along with the organization’s Arts In Education Series, which presents professional performing artists to students in every grade of each Greenville City and Darke County public school district, all add up to another successful effort to make the arts count, enriching lives in innumerable ways.