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Children’s Theatre of Winston-Salem sets the stage for 2011-’12 season

by Mark Burger

Illustration by Robin Preiss Glasser. From Fancy Nancy by Jane O’Connor, HarperCollins Publishers

The Children’s Theatre of Winston- Salem has arranged and announced its line-up for the 2011- ’12 season, which marks the 71 st for the theater. It is not only one of the oldest and most established children’s theaters in the region, but in the entire nation. It’s hardly an exaggeration to say that the Children’s Theatre has entertained entire generations of Piedmont Triad natives over the years, and continues to enthrall and delight audiences of all ages.

The Pushcart Players’ production of classic Russian folktale Peter & the Wolf gets the season off to a howling start when it opens Friday, Oct. 7, featuring the music of Sergei Prokofiev. Showtimes are 10 a.m. and noon, with an 11 a.m. performance Saturday, Oct. 8, followed by a kick-off party celebrating the season opener. Audience members are invited to meet the cast, enjoy refreshments and more.

Next is Henry & Mudge, an adaptation of Cynthia Rylant’s best-selling series of children’s books as presented by TheatreWorksUSA, will be presented 10 a.m. and noon Friday, Oct. 21, and 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 22.

To commemorate the holiday season, the Children’s Theatre presents its annual holiday classic presentation with the ArtsPower production of Hans Brinker & the Silver Skates, based on the classic Mary Mapes Dodge Story, which will be presented 10 a.m. and noon Friday, Dec. 16, and 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 17.

The Children’s Theatre then hits the ground running for the new year — and in a light-hearted spirit — with its first presentation of 2012: The Stinky Cheese Man & Other Fairly Stupid Tales, at 10 a.m. and noon Friday, Jan. 6, and 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 7.

Based on the popular children’s novel by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith, which features a bevy of classic characters —

Cinderella, Goldilocks, Rumplestiltskin, Jack (from Jack and the Beanstalk) and others — but with a more farcical, fun-filled attitude this time around. The Griffin Theatre of Chicago will journey from the Windy City to the City of the Arts for this production.

TheatreWorksUSA returns to the Children’s Theatre from New York City for its production of Fancy Nancy & Other Story Books, a collection of six short musicals (including “Duck for President,” “Pirates Don’t Change Diapers” and the title tale) that will be presented at 10 a.m. and noon Friday, Jan. 20 and 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 21.

In honor of Black History Month, the Children’s Theatre reteams with ArtsPower for the historical musical drama Four Score and Seven Years Ago, which will be presented at 10 a.m. and noon Friday, Feb. 24. Set during the Civil War, the story focuses on two young men — one a Northerner, the other a Southerner — who unexpectedly become friends despite being on different sides. Courage, loyalty, humanity and sacrifice are among the themes explored in this special presentation.

TheatreIV’s in town for the production of Are You My Mother?, which will be presented 10 a.m. and noon Friday, March 2 and 11 a.m. Saturday, March 3. Based on PD Eastman’s picture book, this whimsical and warm-hearted musical adventures details the efforts of the newly-hatched Baby Bird to locate her mother, duly accomplished with the help of some fourlegged new friends including Cat, Dog and Hen.

TheatreIV’s back in town only a month later, to cap off the Children’s Theatre’s 71 st season with its production of The House at Pooh Corner, based — as you might have guessed — on AA Milne’s timeless series of Winnie the Pooh children’s stories. Winnie’s brought all of his friends along, too: Piglet, Eyeore, Rabbit, Tigger, Kanga and Roo, and Christopher Robin. Showtimes are 10 a.m. and noon Friday, April 13 and 11 a.m. Saturday, April 14. Following that performance, there will be a special season finale reception to which the audience is invited.

All performances are held at the Arts Council Theatre (610 Coliseum Drive, Winston-Salem).

Individual tickets are $8 (general admission) and $12 premium seating (Saturday shows only). Various ticket packages are also available, including Family Season Pass, Saturday Matinee Pack and Family Four Pack. In any event, it’s always advisable to get tickets in advance; the Children’s Theatre remains one of the region’s hot tickets, and sellouts are not uncommon.

For more information, call 336.725.4531 or visit the official website: www.childrenstheatrews.org.

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