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Storyland Theatre Plans Hybrid Season

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The intermission may be over for some performing groups, but Storyland Theatre’s executive director is proceeding with caution for the 2021-2022 season.

“We recorded the audio on Tuesday and Wednesday for ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes,’” said Barbara Feldman, who is planning an animated version of the production for schoolchildren to view in October.

Written by Rick Davis with music and lyrics by Susan Burgess, “The Emperor’s New Clothes” is “one of our favorite shows,” she said.

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The animated version will have some differences from the stage play, and Feldman said she’s excited to see how it will turn out. She’s still working with the artist and videographer to get the production together.

Austin Rhodes is one of the featured actors in the production.

“While I most definitely mourn the loss of our planned live production of ‘Emperor’ this season, we are excited to know our work on this animated production will live forever online. The enthusiastic feedback we get from our live audiences is priceless, but our consolation is knowing our voices and illustrated creations will continue to entertain children for many, many years to come,” he said in a text message.

This is the second feature with illustrations that the organization has done.

Storyland’s core audience is comprised of schoolchildren who attend performances as part of field trips. The last time the group took the stage for a live show was in January 2020. The group was in the middle of rehearsals for “Beauty and the Beast” when COVID-19 forced it to shut down.

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To keep audiences engaged during the 2020-2021 school year, the organization released two videotaped productions on YouTube: “Cinderella” and “Jack and the Beanstalk.” In April, Storyland released “Humphrey Clinker Gets His Wish,” a mix of illustrations, music and voice acting.

Feldman said more than 6,000 schoolchildren viewed “Humphrey Clinker Gets His Wish” to great reviews. The organization also provided teachers with lesson plans according to Georgia and South Carolina standards and coloring pages to tie the production into their curriculum, as well as giving the children the experience of taking a field trip without ever leaving the classroom.

“The kids loved it,” she said.

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Feldman said she’s hopeful to return to the stage in March 2022 with the production of “Beauty and the Beast” that was interrupted in 2020.

In a typical season, Storyland performs for more than 20,000 schoolchildren. The non-profit organization offers tickets at a nominal fee giving free admission to military family members and discounts to disadvantaged students. The non-profit relies on grants and donations, she said.

To learn more about Storyland or find links to its recorded and illustrated productions, visit storylandtheatre.org

Charmain Z. Brackett is the Features Editor for The Augusta Press. Reach her at [email protected].

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