Sharing arts with youths is important Reminiscing: 1995 was a good year for cultural events, but if the arts are to survive they must build a larger audience of children.

December 24, 1997|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The end of the year is a time to reminisce, and there is cause for celebrating the number and quality of cultural events offered in Anne Arundel County. But the audiences present another issue. Those that I've been part of over the past year have been overwhelmingly middle-aged.

To survive, the arts need to attract more young people. Doing my part, I have been sharing an array of cultural diversions over the past year with my granddaughter, Marie, who is nearly 6.

Like most children, she is a tough, honest critic, unwavering in her loyalty to favorite performers and characters.

Together, she and I have most enjoyed the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra's Family Concert in March, where the children sat attentively as conductor J. Ernest Green explained his job as that of a coach. We were entranced by Susan Whitenach's singing and acting as Offenbach's doll.

In June, Talent Machine's high-energy variety show amused the children, and that spilled over to the adult audience. Marie especially liked Matthew Wetzel, who had remarkable stage presence.

Later in June, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's Star Spangled Concert at the campus of Anne Arundel Community College was a child-pleaser. Marie liked the fireworks and the communal singing of "Yankee Doodle Dandy" best.

In July, we enjoyed Talent Machine's production of "Grease," with its great dancing and singing and awesome 15-year-old Chris Pastin.

In September, Anne Arundel Community Concert Association and the Performing Arts Association of Linthicum opened their seasons. At the former's opener, a spectacular dance troupe called Russian Seasons amazed the adult audience and pleased Marie and the other children, who also loved the brilliant costumes.

When Annapolis Opera's singers came to the Performing Arts Association of Linthicum, I expected Marie to be ready to leave at intermission. She chose to stay for the entire fast-paced performance.

In early October, we enjoyed the Tamburizans, a folk troupe at PAAL. The Lost Caravan's country-western production of "Jack and the Beanstalk" at Chesapeake Music Hall was delightful, fun for parents and their children. Marie and I admired the Giant, played with zest by David Reynolds.

Having seen "The Music Man earlier in November," I returned with Marie, who enjoyed it so much she asked at intermission, "Can we go back now? I want to go back in."

We ended the year's entertainment last week with an introduction to a talented group of players from Children's Theatre of Annapolis in "Charlotte's Web -- The Musical."

New to us, the Children's Theatre of Annapolis was organized in 1959. The group has completed a successful two-week run of "Charlotte's Web," with several sold-out performances. Thirty-two young actors brought the show to life with lovely music and fine singing from Zachary Bernhard as Wilbur the pig and Theresa Sise as Charlotte the spider and a hard-working supporting cast. Young critic Marie said her favorite was Wilbur.

Auditions will be held Jan. 3 and 4 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. for Children's Theatre's next production, "Once Upon a Mattress," which will be presented in March by a cast of 12- to 18-year-olds.

Call the theater's hot line at 410-757-2281 for more information.

Marie had a good year and has become a more sophisticated theatergoer who knows when to applaud and when to stand for an ovation. I enjoyed watching her grow.

As Sinatra would say, it was a very good year.

Pub Date: 12/24/97

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