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ART BEAT: Aurora caters to younger crowd with Children's Playhouse season

Juggler Ron Anglin performs with unicyclist Jimmy Robinson at the Aurora Theatre's Children's Playhouse on August 20.

Juggler Ron Anglin performs with unicyclist Jimmy Robinson at the Aurora Theatre's Children's Playhouse on August 20.

It isn't just the grownups who get to enjoy Aurora Theatre's stellar lineup of theatrical offerings. Gwinnett's professional theater has quite a schedule of shows for the younger crowd, and it all starts Aug. 20 with "The Ron J Show -- Juggling and Unicycle Duo," featuring the dynamic Ron Anglin.

The Aurora Theatre, located at 128 E. Pike St. in Lawrenceville, has announced 18 performances from August through May that are aimed at children.

"Aurora Theatre has assembled the best children's performers in the region, bringing them to Gwinnett County in order to give parents and their children a chance to experience their artistry in our amazing facility," Aurora spokesman Al Stilo said.

"This year, Aurora will offer a tremendous variety, with more shows than ever before, and many exciting new performers as well as audience favorites. The slate of performances for this August is a perfect example, featuring a juggling and unicycle duo, puppets and traditional dance from India."

The Aurora Children's Playhouse Series shows are held on Saturdays at 10 a.m. unless otherwise noted. The shows are about 45 minutes in length. Tickets are $7 for all ages, and a special "Playhouse Tix" opportunity allows 10 admissions to be used any time for $50.

The series kicks off with juggler Ron Anglin and unicyclist Jimmy Robertson presenting "Quite A Catch." The show is packed with clever stunts and amazing feats of skill that highlight teamwork, discourage cheating and dispel stereotypes.

Anglin has performed more than 4,300 shows. A former Army helicopter pilot and high school teacher, he says "I never left the classroom. I just found a bigger one." He has performed extensively in Georgia and in 23 states. His shows and workshops teach science, geography, character traits or summer reading themes. Lessons are illustrated by ball juggling and bouncing, club juggling, box manipulation, plate-spinning, Chinese yo-yos, rhythm-sticks, dice stacking, soap bubble tricks, Shaker cups, a balance board, a unicycle, the Japanese kendama and old school rapping.

Young audiences have a lot to anticipate in the weeks to come. On Aug. 27 the stage will be filled with the puppetry of "All Hands Productions' who are fresh from a sold-out, eight-week run at Atlanta's Center for Puppetry Arts. Their show is titled "Billy Goats Gruff and Other Stuff" which retells classic fairy tales and a few original stories.

The performance on Sept. 3 will be "Kuchipudi: Telling a Story through Indian Dance." The Academy of Kuchipudi Dance, Inc. presents a beautiful and unusual combination of dance and drama, taking its name from the village where it was popularized during the 14th and 15th centuries. Performers are dressed in the traditional Kuchipudi costume of shimmering patterned silks and jingling ankle bells. Dancer Sasikala will mesmerize the audience with her mastery of the art form's intricate footwork, flowing movements, rhythmic syllables and dramatic facial expressions as she tells stories from Indian folklore.

Future shows will feature "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," Aesops Fables, more puppets, "If You Give A Mouse a Cookie," The Wow Show, Latin American Folktales, and something with the fascinating name of "Beethoven and The Big Note Band" among other performers and themes.

For more information about the Aurora Theatre Children's Playhouse, visit www.auroratheatre.com or call 678-226-6222.

Holley Calmes is a freelance writer and public relations consultant specializing in the arts. Email her at hcalmes@mindspring.com.