Summer theater season under way

By Trina Trice

A cast of hundreds is coming to a performing arts center near you.

The 14th year of the Clayton Alliance for Summer Theatre is under way beginning with its first production of "Snow White" last week.

This week a production of "Aladdin" begins.

Mary Kraack is the creator and director of the program.

"We always pick fairytales that have books associated with them to encourage reading," she said. "That's why we picked "Snow White" and "Aladdin." We also want shows that the children can relate to and have fun with."

C.A.S.T. productions star children from elementary school age to high school.

"We have more involvement this year, more than ever before," Kraack said. "Disney has really pushed these two stories, even though our versions are a little different. We have a 14-year reputation. Parents are trying to get their children involved because they know it's a good program."

Melissa Hunt, drama teacher for Campbell High School in Cobb County, started out in C.A.S.T. when she was in the 10th grade.

"This is a really good outlet for their energy, ?cause they have so much of it," Hunt said. "It's a great way to get them involved in creativity and theater. So few of our population go to the theater."

Lisa Ward of Sesame Kids Daycare in Riverdale brought more than a dozen children to watch a morning performance of "Snow White," as did Eugenie Mills from Lollipop Daycare in Forest Park.

"It's very entertaining for the kids," Mills said. "Instead of seeing it on tape or on video, they see kids their own age performing. It encourages them to find their own creativity."

Doriane Alston, 9, played the role of the Wicked Queen in "Snow White."

"I think it's fun," she said. "I would like to be an actor and a singer."

Getting young children to experience or perform in theater could lead to a future young star, said Charity Smith, assistant director of "Snow White."

Smith is a theater performance student at Columbus State University and plans to go to England soon to study drama.

Smith would like to see more people, young and old, frequent the theater.

"A lot of people aren't expecting it to be as good as it's going to be," she said. "Once they come and see it, they'll realize what kind of talent we have in this county."

"Aladdin" shows are Tuesday through Friday at 9:45 a.m. Evening shows are Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. A Sunday show is at 2:30 p.m.

Tickets are $6 for adults and $3 for students.

For more information, call (770) 473-2950.