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Happy birthday, Children’s Theatre of Winston!

by Mark Burger

Widely (and justly) renowned as one of the premier producers and purveyors of live entertainment in the Piedmont Triad region, Richard Emmett is also the executive director of the Children’s Theatre of Winston-Salem, one of the most venerable institutions of its kind in the nation – never mind the region.

This month marks the Children’s Theatre’s 68th birthday, and everyone’s invited to the kick-off bash from 4-6 p.m. Sept. 23 in Winston Square Park (226 N. Marshall St., next to the Sawtooth Center, in Winston-Salem). You can learn all about the theater and what it has to offer, and the Greensboro Storybook Theatre will present its production of Robin Hood.

This is Emmett’s second year as the Children’s Theatre’s executive director and his first year programming the schedule. (His predecessor, Les Epstein, had essentially mapped out last season before his departure.)

“It’ll be a wonderful season,” Emmett says. “We’ve got all of the old favorites coming back. We try to program for a fairly broad age range – pre-K to eighth grade – so we’ve got a couple for the small kids, a couple for the bigger kids and a whole bunch in-between. We’ve got some classics and we’ve got some new works. I think it’s a really good mix.”

Given his illustrious history in the area’s music scene, Richard Emmett knows all about a good mix.

The theater’s 2007-’08 season boasts 10 programs (33 overall shows), and will open with the Arts Power production of E.L. Konigsburg’s award-winning classic, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (Oct. 4 and 5), followed by The Amazing Adventures of Anna Marie (Oct. 19 and 20), an original production from the Open Dream Ensemble, a children’s theatrical troupe affiliated with the NC School of the Arts.

This year’s lineup includes such favorites as Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen (Jan. 17 and 18), as performed by the Hudson Vagabond Puppets; Harry the Dirty Dog (Feb. 22 and 23); Alexander & the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (March 7 and 8), a musical based on the Judith Viorst children’s book; The Ugly Duckling (March 13 and 14), another Andersen adaptation, this one by Theatre IV from Richmond, VA; and If You Give a Pig a Party (May 15 and 16), based on the stories by Laura Numeroff.

Among the special holiday shows are the Pushcart Players’ production A Season of Miracles (Nov. 30 and Dec. 1) and the Tarradiddle Players’ production The Littlest Angel (Dec. 5 and 6) for the Christmas season, and the Walltown Children’s Theatre original production of Waiting for Martin (Feb. 12 and 13) to commemorate MLK Day and Black History Month.

All shows will be presented in the Arts Council Theatre, 610 Coliseum Dr., Winston-Salem.

The Children’s Theatre of Winston-Salem is, no joke, one of the hottest tickets in the Triad. Many of the shows sell out in advance, which is why tickets are available now, more than a month before the season opens. Get ’em now, because later may be too late. General admission tickets are $8, and reserve seats are available for $12 for all Family Series presentations.

For more information about the Children’s Theatre, call (336) 725-4531 or see childrenstheatrews.org

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