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ART BEAT: Southern Ballet Theatre presents 'Rapunzel'

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Special Photo: Southern Ballet Theatre's cast of "Rapunzel" is, from left to right, Brooke Bennett, Kelly Rayborn, Brandon Chitwood, Caroline Deedy and Michelle White.

A 30-foot tower and a lot of hair are involved in Southern Ballet Theatre's production of "Rapunzel," which will be presented at the Gwinnett Performing Arts Center today through Sunday. The fairy tale about the captive princess with the long, long locks will provide a happily-ever-after ending appropriate for all ages.

Shows will be today and Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday afternoons at 2:30 p.m. Advance tickets, available through Ticketmaster are $16.50 for adults, $14.50 for students and seniors, and $11.50 each for groups of 10 or more. Tickets at the door are $18.50, $16.50 and $11.50 respectively.

"'Rapunzel' is a timeless tale, known and loved by all ages," said Alicia Chitwood, SBT's Associate Director. "We want the audience to join us for a magical experience. We will infuse the splendor of the ballet with lots of energy, excitement and humor."

The cast will include more than 30 of SBT's company dancers, a soaring musical score, original costumes designed by Michele Deedy and special effects. In addition to the company performers, the cast will also include young dancers from the Southern Performing Arts Academy. These young artists will appear as flowers, fairies and "little pub rascals."

Audience members who attend the evening shows will have the opportunity to meet the cast members outside and set off lanterns into the night sky.

Dancing in the lead roles are SBT's Artistic Director Brandon Chitwood as Flint, Kelly Rayborn as Rapunzel and Brooke Bennett as Gothel. The ballet also includes two characters called the Stabella Sisters, who will be danced by Caroline Deedy and Michelle White.

Rayborn and White are both seniors. Rayborn is graduating from Peachtree Ridge High School and White from Brookwood High School.

However, this will not be the girls' last performing opportunity with Southern Ballet Theatre. SBT belongs to the Southeastern Regional Ballet Association, which will be celebrating its annual festival in Jackson, Miss., at the end of April.

SBT will be performing two pieces at SERBA. Alicia Chitwood's "Heaven" will be a part of the Emerging Choreographers performance, and Brandon Chitwood's piece "The Prestige" will open the Friday evening performance.

"The Prestige" will feature an alluring corp de ballet and a pas de deux performed by Brandon Chitwood and Rayborn. Rayburn plans to continue her dancing career as a professional dancer while attending college courses after she graduates.

Southern Ballet Theatre, established in 1991, is located at 3370 Sugarloaf Parkway in Lawrenceville. For more information, call 678-682-9238 or visit www.southernballettheatre-ga.com.

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