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Amazing Grace

a Children's Theater
CATEGORY :
by Shay Youngblood (adapted from the book by Mary Hoffman

COMPANY : Horizon Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Horizon Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
ID# 3799

SHOWING : July 14, 2010 - August 08, 2010

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Young Grace and her friends take center stage, acting out Nana’s stories in games of make-believe that celebrate the diversity and spirit of our youth.


CAST & CREW LIST
Producer Lisa Adler
Director Spring Mason
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

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Floating on the Wings of Imagination
by Dedalus
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
4.5
What is it that I find so compelling about a child discovering the joys of story-telling and first stretching her wings of imagination? Is it the simple Daddy-pleasure all fathers get when they see that their own child has an independent mind and is discovering how to use it? Or is it something in the nature of imagination itself?

These are the questions that I pondered after I attended the (unfortunately) closing weekend of Horizon’s Theatre’s second collaboration with Atlanta Children’s Theatre, “Amazing Grace,” based on the successful series of “Grace” books by Mary Hoffman. Of course, during the show itself, there was no time for any pondering, as director Spring Mason had put together a highly energetic romp that was really a series of staged stories, all springing from the fertile imagination of Grace, a young girl living with her “Ma” and “Nana.” Found objects became instant wings or swords or capes or whatever was needed, all in the way children have played “make-believe” since the days of Lucy and our Australopithecus ancestors (or, if you prefer, since Cain and Abel).

As they do with “Madeline’s Christmas,” the producers have double-cast the show, so I can only judge the work of the “Blue Cast,” led by tiny dynamo Livi-Simone Grant as Grace. Ms. Grant is a natural on the stage and showed as much joy in performance as does her character. She dove into the stories with a fearlessness than any father can recognize, and succeeded in winning over crotchety old grown-ups who may have stumbled into the show afraid of watching ”someone else’s kids” recite their lines.

She was ably supported by a well-rehearsed, wildly energetic ensemble of eleven of her peers, jumping from character to character with the precision of pros. The three adults in the cast (Greta Glenn, Katherine LeRoy, and Yakini Horn) were the anchors around which the kids soared, grounding the production without holding the kids down. This was a fine group who took obviously pleasure in every moment of this too-short play.

Adapting well to the “Shakin’ the Mess out of Misery” set, the production relied on our imaginations as well, giving us a semi-realistic kitchen from which all the stories wafted like the aroma of Nana’s baked cookies to whatever locations and places the kids could suggest, from a forest swamp to Peter Pan’s Neverland.

So, to answer my post-show ponderings, maybe the joy I took in this show had nothing at to do with the kids or with being a father or with story-telling at all. Maybe it was a result of the show’s reliance on my own imagination, on letting me soar with the kids, on remembering how integral the art of make-believe is to growing, even as I soar closer to my “golden” years.

This show is definitely a welcome addition to the roster of kid’s theatre experiences that fill our summer stages, and I hope Horizon has the good sense to let it return year after year. I suspect it’ll be one of those plays that never grow old, that speaks to every generation that I’ll always look forward to seeing. Maybe next year, I’ll even share it with my own young wingling.

“Amazing Grace” a reminder of how great it can be to be a kid and to discover how high a good imagination can take you!

-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com)

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