Busy season planned for center

By Greg Gelpi

While actors and actresses are rehearsing lines, crews are creating sets and costumes, the county is preparing for its winter season of plays.

The Clayton County Schools Performing Arts Center will kick off the season with the Clayton County Honor Musical production of "Annie" Jan. 21, but workers are already preparing facilities.

"Making sure young people get heard in that big room is always a challenge," Mary Kraack, the technical operations manager of the Performing Arts Center, said.

Preparations for the coming season include "general maintenance," but also checking to see if the facility has enough microphones, Kraack said. Organizing and planning make the show possible.

"Otherwise, all of the pieces of the puzzle don't come together like they're supposed to," she said.

Not only is the play a learning experience, the school system has turned preparations for the season of plays into a learning experience, as well.

"I have a class of students that is outstanding this year," she said. "They actually help run all of the shows."

Students from throughout the county work on the plays and work on preparations for the plays, Kraack said. She teaches a class of fine arts students the workings of theater, showing them around backstage so that they can work the lighting and audio for the season of productions.

"It prepares them for all sorts of jobs," Kraack said. "It also prepares them for scholarships if they want to go to college."

The season of plays will begin with the All County Honor Musical production of "Annie," which will first be presented at 9:45 a.m. Jan. 21.

All eight of the high schools in the county have drama programs, as well as a couple of the middle schools, Paul Robbins, the coordinator of fine arts for Clayton County schools, said.

"All of our elementary schools have music and art programs," Robbins said. "We're one of the few counties that have that."

In his eight years as coordinator, he has seen the fine arts program grow and envisions it continuing to grow, he said.

"I'm totally committed to the total education of all our students," Robbins said. "I always look forward to our students performing in whatever area of the arts."

He added that the arts "enrich the community."

The Performing Arts Center has released its schedule of plays for January and February.

The All County Honor Musical production of "Annie" will be at 9:45 a.m. Jan. 21, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 22 to Jan. 24 and 2:30 p.m. Jan. 25. Jonesboro High School will perform "Steel Magnolias" at 7 p.m. from Feb. 11 to Feb. 13. North Clayton High School will have a black history musical at 7 p.m. Feb. 13. Forest Park Middle School will present "North Star" at 10 a.m., noon and 7 p.m. Feb. 20 and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Feb. 21. Lovejoy High School will perform "The Tempest" at 7:30 p.m. from Feb. 26 to Feb. 28 and 2:30 p.m. Feb. 29.