The Black Box | The Pitter Patter of an Arts Renaissance

words by Josy Jones; photos by Eartha L. Goodwin

Those trying to organize children and teenagers tend to carry a certain aura. You can see it wafting off them as they run here and there trying to make sure everything is just right. Their urgency helps ensure that everything goes as planned and that kids get a chance to shine. I see that aura surrounding a lot of adults as I enter The Rialto Theatre to see “Alice in Wonderland.”

I’m a wanderer, so eventually I find myself doing just that. The Rialto has a high ceiling and art decorating its walls, fine compliments for “Alice in Wonderland.” A picture of a little girl whose head had turned to smoke while holding a teddy bear, a beautiful surreal mountain and a warped image of Cleveland’s Skyline on the walls really help put me in the mindset of “Alice in Wonderland.”

The soft strum of a ukulele floats through the room and commands me to cease my wandering and take my seat. Shortly after, soft vocals intertwine with the strumming of a ukulele. I look up to find that the voice and the strumming is coming from two teenagers. I find it cool that Kenmore Youth Theater gives young people the opportunity to be involved in show preparation. But it’s more extensive than that.

These two teenagers are a part of the newly formed Kenmore Youth Theater, where youth is “in charge from script to final bow.” Even the director, thirteen-year-old Chloe Freeman, is a part of the movement that intends to cultivate creativeness in Kenmore. Chloe and her cast are beneficiaries of this renaissance. It gives youth the opportunity to be empowered and explore their talents. It puts them right in the line of action and has their community encourage them all the way through. Even the local church, Park United Methodist, has allowed the group to use their space to rehearse.

Now comes the pitter patter of little feet as the show begins. The youngest cast/crew member is 4 years old and the oldest is 18. The show starts and the kids pull us into Wonderland, where we meet the Cheshire Cat, 9th grader Cierra Jacobs with her sassy banter, the absolutely mad Mad Hatter, 11th grader Allisa McElroy.  

I am especially impressed with the Red Queen, played by Laci Gregory, who keeps the show going even though she is wearing a cast (which I found punny to say the least) because she obviously understands that the show must go on, even as a 9th grader. I am entranced by Alice, played by 9th grader Jordan Meeker, whose professionalism helps carry the show to the final bow.  

Kenmore has presented the opportunity to help keep the arts alive here in Akron and grow our creative community from the ground up. I encourage Akron to help support the artists of tomorrow by supporting Kenmore Youth Theater and Kenmore Kreative when you get a chance. Thank you, Kenmore, for cultivating art in our community. I look forward to seeing the seeds you’ve planted bloom.


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