Over the past eight years, as High Falls-based author/arts administrator Edward Versailles has been tweaking March in the Parade: A Play with Music for Young Audiences, racial tensions in America have continued to mount. But tough times for race relations have only served to reinforce the playwright’s conviction that “the arts are one of the most effective ways to reach people (and especially the younger set), to change perceptions and to make lasting social improvement.” March in the Parade finally gets its world premiere next Saturday, July 30, with two shows at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. at the Rosendale Theatre.
Versailles and his collaborators and sponsors are hoping that scouts from schools, libraries and cultural centers will be on hand for this showcase presentation of what they hope will become a touring production – not to mention plenty of kids in the target 5-to-12 age range, along with their families. March in the Parade provides a handy way to broach some complex subjects with your kids, including race-based conflicts and the challenges that people face in learning to get along with other people who are in some way “different.”
“When you’re 8 or 9 years old, what could be more fun than riding your decorated bike in the Fourth of July parade with your best friend at your side? What if, in an angry fit, you accidentally tell her that you hate her and it drives your friend away?” asks a kid-friendly play description that could also serve as a class discussion or writing prompt. “Joey, a white boy, has got an even bigger problem. He told his best friend Antoinette, who happens to be black, that he hates all black people, too! What would you do? What would you do if you were Antoinette?”
March in the Parade’s “very hummable” jazz-flavored score for Versailles’ lyrics was composed by Harvey Kaiser. The play’s aesthetic style is minimalistic and the “fourth wall” comes down all the time as the audience is coaxed into participating in the songs. AnnChris Warren directs, with music direction by Andrea Shaut. The ethnically diverse cast includes Elizabeth Thomas, Thomas Netter, Antique Mascara, Cheyenne See, Jennelle Liscombe and Jovan Bradley.
All tickets cost $5, purchasable in advance at www.brownpapertickets.com or by calling (800) 838-3006, extension 1. For more information, visit www.rosendaletheatre.org. The Rosendale Theatre is located at 408 Main Street in Rosendale.