0

Preschool Pops Series features storytellers, animal trainer

The Preschool Pops Series will include "The Reluctant Dragon," a puppet show by David Stephens, on March 5 and 7.

The Preschool Pops Series will include "The Reluctant Dragon," a puppet show by David Stephens, on March 5 and 7.

photo

Singer and guitarist Wendy Bennett will perform "Once Upon a Tune" for preschoolers in Conyers on April 24 and 28.

photo

Brenda Bean will bring her parrots to educate and entertain as part of the Preschool Pops Series on Feb. 5 and 7.

Features Editor

karen.rohr@rockdalecitizen.com

The 2013 Preschool Pop Series, presented by the Conyers Rockdale Council for Arts, will feature several entertainers returning to the Rockdale Auditorium stage for repeat performances -- and one show new to the line up.

The shows take place during the months of February, March and April and are designed to provide preschoolers, ages 3 through 5, exposure to the arts. The cost to attend a show is $3 for a child and free for parents. Kids R Kids Honey Creek sponsors the series.

All shows are held at the Rockdale County Auditorium, 903 Main Street in Olde Town Conyers, at 10 a.m. The shows are open to the general public and the audience is also comprised of children from church preschools and public preschools.

"This is the first experience that some of the young children have as a live audience," said Jackie Sprague, executive director of the Conyers Rockdale Council for Arts. "We're bringing back some favorites such as (singer) Wendy Bennett and (puppeteer) David Stephens. They're awesome."

The series opens on Feb. 5, accompanied by a Feb. 7 performance, by Parrot Productions, a program featuring Brenda Bean and her feathered friends. During the two performances, Bean, a parrot trainer for over 30 years, will bring several of her birds and discuss their behavior, habitat, food and health. The birds will also perform vocal and physical demonstrations, and children will have an opportunity to touch the animals.

On her website, www.parrotpro.blogspot.com, Bean said parrots are emotional animals that are more like us than we realize.

"Parrots teach us respect. Respect for the environment. Respect for the out of the ordinary," Bean said on her site. "They make us aware of other intelligent species with which we coexist."

Next in the line-up of shows is puppeteer David Stephens who brings his production of "The Reluctant Dragon," to the stage on March 5 and 27. It's the story of a princess who befriends a dragon, only to find that he might have to battle a dragonslayer. The tale unfolds as one of friendship and understanding.

A performer at the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta and with Sesame Street, Stephens uses colorful, moving-mouth hand puppets he created to perform his show.

Master storyteller and writer Donna Kokumo Buie, known as performer Mama Koku, visits the Rockdale stage on March 26 and 27. Buie, who holds a degree in theater arts from North Carolina Central University, is a member of the National Association of Black Storytellers and the Southern Order of Storytellers, and is the official teller for the National Black Arts Festival's Children's Educational Village.

According to her website www.mamakoku.com, her interactive storytelling builds literacy skills and self-esteem through participation in the shows. Her preschool shows includes "Seven Continents, Seven Stories," which takes children around the world in stories, as Buie wears traditional garb from each region while sharing the tales. Children also get to wear hanging masks as they play the different characters and sing and chant during the show.

The Preschool Pops season is rounded out by singer, guitar player and puppeteer Wendy Bennett, who is set to perform on April 24 and 28. An entertainer with Young Audiences for over two decades, Bennett presents an interactive program, "Once Upon a Tune".

The show is comprised of musical vignettes that draw from classics such as "Green Eggs and Ham," "Little Red Riding Hood," and "Oh, the Thinks You Can Think."

To learn more, visit www.conyersarts.org or call 770-922-3143.