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ART BEAT: The Actor's Edge shines a spotlight on bullying through a time-traveling fairy tale play

There is a lot of activity buzzing about The Actor's Edge with two performances and the start of spring classes within the next several weeks. Feb. 25 marks the beginning of acting, singing and dancing instruction. Saturday will see the presentation of a humorous play titled "Reading, Writing and Little Red Riding Hood," and March 9 is the premiere of a very interesting project titled "Mirror Image."

"There aren't many parents who haven't heard their children recount at least one lecture given at school recently about bullying," TAE director Patricia McKeon said. "We will do our best to weigh in on this subject with our children's production of 'Mirror Image.'"

The talented cast, ages 7 to 17, will bring this important theme to light for their peers and they will accomplish this in an entertaining way.

"'Mirror Image' is first set in the fairy tale world, where princes are charming and stepsisters are wicked," McKeon said. "But when Cinderella's stepsisters find a portal to another world, they get zapped into a very real high school."

Of course the stepsisters want to stay in the modern world because they want to be popular. As the story unfolds, jocks take down the nerds and meanness gets rewarded with power. Do-gooders get defamed.

"However, as we journey with both the high school and fairy tale heroes, we learn that the values of trust, honesty and kindness conquer all. Princesses discover that they don't need to be rescued -- they can save their own day," McKeon said.

"Mirror Image" will be presented on March 9, 10, 11, 16, 17 and 18 at the Dancing Goat Theatre, a part of Performing Arts North. This facility is located at 10700 State Bridge Road in Johns Creek. Friday and Saturday shows start at 7 p.m. and Sunday matinees start at 3 p.m. Tickets are $10 and are on sale at performingartsnorth.org.

Audiences can also enjoy TAE Children's Theatre on Saturday at 7 p.m. for a one-time-only performance of a "Fractured Fairy Tale." "Reading, Writing and Little Red Riding Hood" takes the classic story and gives it a twist, asking, "What if the Big Bad Wolf was neither big nor bad but just wanted to be a school teacher? Tickets are $8 general admission and are also on sale at performingartsnorth.org.

Young actors travel from as far away as Brookhaven, Snellville and Suwanee to participate in TAE classes and productions. TAE classes are held at Notre Dame Academy, 4635 River Green Parkway in Duluth. Intown mom Michelle Bartolozzi said, "The drive to Duluth can get hectic. However, it is worth every minute since I know my children will be a part of an amazing, high-quality performance that will be entertaining to all. Pat McKeon is an amazing director. My children are working hard and motivated to do so."

TAE is now in its fifth season and offers year-round performing arts classes, full-staged musicals and plays, and summer camp programs for children ages 4 to 17. For more information about TAE and their productions and classes, call 770-846-6721 or visit www.theactorsedge.com.

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