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ART BEAT: Young artists from The Actor's Edge prepare for holiday production

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Young actors from the Actors Edge prepare for their holiday production of eThe Great Christmas Mash-Up.

The Gwinnett area has many schools and programs to nurture the creativity of our youth. The Actor's Edge is one of these organizations and its students are currently busy preparing to present a special holiday production, "The Great Christmas Mash-Up," which will be held on Dec. 15 at 3 p.m. at the Dancing Goat Theatre.

One of the students is particularly enjoying her venture into acting -- 12-year-old Julia Hope York, who is overcoming a battle with cancer. York had been studying her first love, dance, but the treatments necessary for her recovery left her too fatigued to participate.

"However, the arts have always been an important aspect of this brave, kindhearted young artist's life," said Actor's Edge founder and director Patricia McKeon. "In search of a creative outlet, Julia found the Actor's Edge. We are pleased and proud to have Julia in our production. She is an inspirational child whose joy for life is shared with everyone she meets."

Participating in "The Great Christmas Mash-Up" should break out the smiles in actors and audiences alike. The play offers a wide variety of holiday themes, all taking place in the magical village of Christmastowne, USA.

The play introduces the audience to such characters as flu-filled carolers, striking Santas, missing reindeer and spoiled children who've forgotten the true meaning of Christmas. There are Madison Avenue ad executives pitching for Santa to relocate to Santa Monica, ditch the sleigh and deliver presents in a minivan. These humorous story lines converge to entertain, inspire and provide a very needed chuckle during this admittedly stressful time of year.

The Actor's Edge is located in Duluth, offering high-quality performing arts education. The school's motto is "Changing the world, one thespian at a time." The Actor's Edge offers a wide variety of classes, productions and summer camps to students of all ages and experience levels.

"The skills learned at The Actor's Edge support students in all aspects of their lives: building confidence in public speaking, learning to work creatively and collaboratively with others, increasing their ability to memorize and retain information, develop their technique in acting, dance and voice, and making new friendships are all a part of their training," McKeon said.

Being inspired by others is another benefit of attending the Actor's Edge, especially with York as a role model. According to York's mom, her daughter has found the unwavering support of her fellow actors and has shared that, "my class doesn't see my cancer, they just see me." This type of peer support is important to McKeon, who said, "Our goal is to create a safe and nurturing environment where children can grow in their craft and express their creativity, while supporting and respecting one another."

Tickets for "The Great Christmas Mash-Up" are $8 for children under 13 and $10 for all others. They can be purchased by calling 770-846-6721 or at the door. The Dancing Goat Theatre is located at 10700 State Bridge Road in John's Creek.

For more information, visit www.theActorsEdge.com.

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