For the first time, children in the Fine Arts Magnet Program at a county elementary and middle school will combine their singing, dancing and acting talents to present their combined musical stage production of, “The Phantom Tollbooth Jr.” at the Clayton County Performing Arts Center.
Molly Knowles, drama teacher at James A. Jackson Elementary School in Jonesboro and chairwoman of the county’s Fine Arts League, announced that students from Jackson Elementary and Roberts Middle School will present the musical Friday and Saturday at the Performing Arts Center, 2530 Mt. Zion Parkway in Jonesboro. Curtain time each night is 7 p.m.
More than 100 students combined from the schools, including children from kindergarten through the sixth grade, auditioned for roles in the production with 50 actually making the cast.
Knowles is directing the production along with choreographer Kyle Ward and musical director Michael James.
The play features Kem Kimbrough, Jr., son of former Clayton County Sheriff Kem Kimbrough, Sr., in the lead role.
“The musical production is about a boy named Milo who is bored with everything and all he wants to do is lie on his bed and stare at the wall,” Knowles said.
However, in a surprising turn of fate, Milo’s wardrobe closet transforms into a tollbooth that transports him to the “Castle in the Air.”
As Milo journeys to the castle, Knowles explained, he meets many interesting math and language arts-related characters along the way and discovers that his true purpose for being there is to rescue the “Princesses of Rhyme and Reason.”
“This is a wonderful musical about the importance of imagination and the need to use both numbers and words correctly,” Knowles said.
Ward emphasized that parents of the children in the production chose to enroll them in an arts-based magnet programs so as to highlight their individual talents.
“Molly, Michael and I wanted these young students to experience being in an actual Hollywood-style musical stage production which includes musical numbers and choreography,” Ward said.
Jones explained that the play incorporates fine arts and language, “and we hope they learn from this experience and continue to sharpen their singing, dancing and acting talents.”
The three agreed they wanted the young students to take something from this performance and not only learn from it but build upon it, Jones said.