Arts on the Horizon has a new production called Sunny and Licorice and I was very lucky to be able to attend recently. Arts on the Horizon is a non-profit theatre company focusing on performances and educational programs for youngsters ages 0 to 6. This particular play was best suited for 2 to 5 year olds. It was written by Miriam Gonzales and directed by Kate Debelack. There were 3 actors and 1 musician performing this day. The length of the play was perfect for my young sons and kept their attention the entire time.
I brought my two sons, ages 3 (Walter) and 5 (Garrett). When we arrived, I was thankful right away that parking was plentiful and finding the theater was easy. I saw many families heading towards the show and my anticipation started creeping up. This would be my older son’s first play. He really had no idea what to expect, but I was excited for him! We were welcomed by two Arts on the Horizon representatives who offered us some information about the play and directed us to a playroom until the play started. In the room they had plenty of toys to manipulate and handle. They also had books, and dress up hats for the children to explore. We were in this room about 10 minutes.
We were then ushered on to the large theater room with a stage and floor seating. There were chairs set up in the back for those adults or children who desired one. Seating was clearly marked and stated up front for the child’s safety. On the stage, my boys immediately realized there was a gorilla! A girl gorilla (actor)! She was looking around, and playing in her nest of newspapers.
She was having a grand time all while a musician played clarinet and saxophone music for us. We sat down and watched the little gorilla entertain us. Then the play began. In this story, a gorilla in the zoo becomes very lonely all by herself. But one day, the zookeeper brings her a friend! But this gorilla is very different in personality and what he likes and doesn’t like.
The theme throughout the play is that everyone is different, but can’t we all be friends? It was so sweet and encouraging with a positive message for my boys to see. Another important part of the play is that there is absolutely no talking by the actors. They are able to convey the gorilla’s personalities through body language and facial expressions.
My 5 year old immediately was able to follow the story line and I was so impressed when he came home and retold the whole story to his older sisters. He got all the important parts! After the show ended, they invited any of the children who wanted to to come on up to the stage and meet the actors, touch the instruments, ask questions, or just take a photo.
My boys loved this and I loved seeing how these actors were so at ease with the little ones. It was a very charming play and the actors are very talented. This is a well-run, well-organized company that is able to successfully include young children in having positive theater experiences.
Sunny and Licorice is at The Lab at Convergence in Alexandria, Virginia. Remaining shows are June 11, 12, 13 and 14, 2014. Tickets are $8 for children and adults. Children under 12 months of age are admitted free of charge.