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Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016

Kids get serious about play

Sunday, June 19, 2011

At right, Grandmother Fox (Kenzi Hockaday) is less than pleased when Reddy Fox, center (Lydia Martin) brings home Blackie Crow (Arin Harwell) instead of Peter Cottontail. The children's play will be at the Fly June 24-26.
(T-G Photo by Mary Reeves)
"Here comes Peter Cottontail,

Hoppin' down the bunny trail..."

Most people know the song, but do they know the play? If they get to the Fly next weekend, (June 24-26), they will. The children's theater group is putting on their own version of "Peter Cottontail," and it's got less to do with "hippity-hoppity" and Easter than it does with B'rer Rabbit and B'rer Fox.

Or maybe the Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote.

"Peter gets chased by Reddy Fox," said Ashley Brinkley, who is directing the children's play for the third year in a row. The first year was "A Hairy Tale," and last year's was "Hansel and Gretel."

"Reddy wants to take Peter home to his grandmother's to have him for lunch," she went on. "There's lots of action. It's fun!"

The play will begin at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m., Sunday. Tickets are $7 for center seats, $5 for side seats and all students are admitted for $2. Reserve tickets by calling Janice Cole at 703-7613.

Perfect fit

The children in the play range from kindergarten to 6th grade and Ashley loves working with them.

"I'd been involved with the Fly for three years, off and on, and I wanted to direct," she said. "Janice thought I would be a good fit with the kids. We tried it one year and it seems to have stuck."

The children enjoy her as much as she enjoys them.

"We work with her to find out what works best for us," said Arin Harwell, who plays Blackie Crow. "It depends on our characters. She helps up come up with ideas."

"I think sometimes they think the things I tell them to do are dorky, but I have to tell them to have faith, it looks good," said Ashley.

Working with Ryan Clanton as her assistant director, Ashley has been herding 26 children through rehearsals, teaching them stagecraft along with their lines.

"We're off book," said Kenzi Hockaday, who plays Reddy's rabbit-craving grandmother., meaning their lines were memorized.

"We worked on the blocking first," said Cara Barker, who plays Old Mrs. Toad, talking about stage directions.



The children are learning even more than stagecraft and lines.

"Confidence," said Ashley. "Especially Cara -- she has just blossomed this year."

"It gives me something to do and it helps my reading," said Cara.

"It helps me express my feelings," said Kenzi.

"I just enjoy doing it," said Arin. "I have a big personality and I can get it all out on stage."

Lydia Martin, who plays the bad guy, Reddy Fox, is just having fun with her character (even if she does have to be in the play with her little brother, Timothy.)

"I'm trying to be a diva and a villain at the same time," she said with a grin. "We're trying to make it very funny!"

But what about Peter? That would be Javan Smith -- Ashley's son. He admits getting roped into the part by his mom -- but he also admits having a good time performing. "It's a lot of fun," he said.

Parents help

Not all of the performers' parents are directors, of course, but most are helping out with the production in many ways, from making costumes to painting faces.

"Arin's mother, Kathy Harwell, is doing the face painting," said Ashley. "And we're all making costumes."

The children got to add their own input when it came to costume design ("Mine is all black and I've got a feathered cap," said Arin), but there's no doubt they're getting a lot more out of it -- and so will anyone who goes to see "Peter Cottontail" at The Fly.