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African American Repertory Theater, DeSoto’s best kept secret

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AART (2007-2012), begins its fifth season with the production Crowns

By Mia Castillo

Crowns launched the season’s opening night on Oct. 26 and will run through Nov. 18.

Strong singers, engaging actors, and witty dancers all took the stage last Saturday night to produce a play full of laughter, joy and tears.

Crowns is the first production of the African American Repertory Theater’s (AART) fifth season. The play is a musical that uses hats to explore African American history. Hats, which hold a special significance in African American culture, are used to tell stories ranging from church life to street life. Traditional gospel music and rap are also showcased to help interpret history as well as contemporary life. Crowns can be seen at AART’s resident theater, The Corner Theater, at 211 E. Pleasant Run in DeSoto.

The cast is a power-house of natural talent, the music is powerful, and the story itself is memorable. There is only one problem – getting the surrounding community to come see what they are missing. With only 15 or so in attendance on a Saturday evening, director Sonya Andrews says that if people would give the theater a chance the seats would fill up.

“Every community needs the arts,” said Andrews.  She believes that once members of the community experience AART’s productions, they will want to come back for more. “It’s like we are still a well-kept secret, that shouldn’t be a secret. People need to get here and see what is being produced,” she said. Andrews believes that AART fills an artistic niche that exists in the southern sector of Dallas.

AART produces four to five shows each season. Crowns launched the season’s opening night on Oct. 26 and will run through Nov. 18.

Crowns is a phenomenal show and script that has been staged across the country,” said Andrews. “We are very happy to be able to stage it here.”

Andrews is not the only one pleased with the production. Actors Liz Francisco and Tommy King both agree that their experience in AART and in Crowns has been momentous.

“The atmosphere is full of joy, love and peace,” said Francisco who plays Mabel in Crowns. “The production is filled with spirit.”

King, who plays multiple roles in Crowns, has had an amazing experience with his cast members. “It’s a great team of professional people who are highly skilled at their craft,” said King. He believes that the cast feeds off of one another while performing. “It has been really rewarding just being able to be part of a cast which seems like more of a family.”

King believes that the name “African American” Repertory Theater should not prevent people from coming. “The focus of AART is to take the experience of theater and the joy of the arts and allow the WHOLE community to take part in it,” said King. “In the end, we all benefit by sharing cultural experiences with one another.”

For ticket information you can visit the AART website at www.aareptheater.com or call (972) 572-0998.

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