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Metro area performers bring entertainment to local children

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

It began on Wednesday morning with unicorns running over the heads of children, and it ended with a clown spraying "tears" all over the youths.

It had a flying cat, and a Chinese parade dragon, which "swam in water," flew around the stage and created a "tornado."

It was a puppet show starring Peter Hart, an Atlanta-based puppeteer, and organized by Freestyle Productions, at the Clayton County Performing Arts Center.

The show was the latest in a weekly series, in which entertainers from across metro Atlanta come to the Performing Arts Center to put on shows for children.

"A lot of these shows, you'd have to go downtown to see, and that can be very expensive when you pay for the gas to get down there, and the tickets to get in the door," said Michael Burrell, the promoter who schedules the weekly events.

"We try to make it affordable for everyone ... Also, I'm trying to raise the quality of entertainment in the county, and this is one of the nicest facilities around."

All of the puppets, including the unicorns, Roger the Daredevil Cat, and the dragon were popular with the two dozen children in the audience, but it was Pierrot, the water-squirting puppet, which provoked the most enthusiastic responses.

Hart made Pierrot, who has a single red tear painted on his right cheek, lip synch to Boy George's "The Crying Game." Whenever he got to the point where the song title was uttered, Hart made streams of water spray out of Pierrot's eyes.

"I always had this image of doing something with that song, but I didn't know what, at first," Hart said. "Then, one day I was performing at an outdoor festival, and I noticed how hot everyone looked. I thought it would be a great idea to come up with a puppet that could keep the audience cooled down a little bit."

The children where given a plastic tarp to protect themselves from the water, but it did not save everyone.

"I got wet!" exclaimed Christian Jackson, 4, of Stockbridge, who attended the show with the Primrose School from his hometown. "It was a good show, I liked it all."

The final installment in the summer series, a presentation from a storyteller, will take place on July 30, at 10 a.m., at the Performing Arts Center, 2530 Mt. Zion Parkway, Jonesboro. In September, a monthly series will begin with performances on the first Wednesday of every month.

Contact Burrell at (404) 391-3035, for more information about future presentations.