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ART BEAT: New London Theatre to take audiences to Oz again

Holley Calmes

Holley Calmes

Audiences will have an opportunity to revisit a favorite musical as New London Theatre presents "The Wizard of Oz (Junior)" on Saturdays and Sundays from May 14-22 and again on June 4. The performances will take place at the New London Theatre facility located at 2485 W. Main St. in Snellville, Georgia.

A cast of more than 50 youngsters, all between the ages of 5 and 16, will represent New London's "Broadway Bound Children's Theatre," a group created by NLT's Chairman of the Board Dawn Berlo and Artistic Director Scott Rousseau. The concept is to provide shows directed at younger audiences and also provide opportunities to an age range that don't typically get to have shows they can call their own.

Although the play was presented at NLT only a year ago, this production will be surprisingly different. Dawn Berlo said, "Anyone thinking they will just see last year's show with kids instead of adults will be pleasantly surprised."

"This gives the opportunity for some kids who were in the previous performance to have starring roles," Berlo said. "For example, last year's flying monkey is this year's Dorothy. And nothing is cuter than a 9-year-old Cowardly Lion or a 16-year-old Coroner Munchkin."

To further expand the opportunities provided, Lawrenceville resident Rachel Wagner, one of the actors who played Dorothy last year, is the assistant director of this show. Having portrayed a number of roles in other NLT productions, Wagner now gets to experience the play from a different perspective.

"She's been a wonderful asset due to her acting abilities and musical talent," Berlo said.

Families constitute a great part of NLT's participation. Some families have two, three and even four children in the show. Parents will also be a part of the play, although behind the scenes taking care of everything from lighting to sound to the all important "kid wrangling." Participants come from all over Gwinnett, with children from Snellville, Lawrenceville, Lilburn, Loganville, Duluth and more a part of the show.

Tickets are $10.60 and can be purchased through the website at www.newlondontheatre.org or by calling 770-559-1484.

An additional group of young artists from Gwinnett will be making a big sound in another part of the county on May 22. Nine bands comprised of students from the Gwinnett School of Music will be taking over the stage at Wild Bill's to perform for family, friends and the public. Admission is $5.

The names of the bands are Bona Fide; Fear Not; Cold Combustion; Train Track Feedback; Margarita Jar; No, Not really; Special 20; Off the Grid; and the Tsaiclones.

Will Bill's is located at 2075 Market St. in Duluth. For information about tickets and other questions, call the Gwinnett School of Music at 770-982-0640 or visit their website at www.gwinnettmusic.com.

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