School shows move kids

Published 8:35 pm Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Kids bopped in their seats, stood up and swayed their hands back and forth as Black Violin rocked the house at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts on May 1.

The 10 a.m. show marked the last student show of the season at the center, which has welcomed more than 3,600 students from schools and day care centers in Suffolk and surrounding localities this season.

“They get a passion from it,” center Executive Director Jackie Cherry said. “It does make a difference in their outlook. It’s eye-opening for them.”

Email newsletter signup

The programs for the schoolchildren included the Virginia Opera’s production of “The Princess and the Pea,” the Virginia Stage Company’s production of “Meet Mark Twain,” Lynn Ruehlmann’s presentation of “Hug a Bug” and the Barefoot Puppet Theater’s productions of “Galapagos George” and “Little Bread Hen,” in addition to Black Violin.

“Thinking outside the box is what this whole show is about,” said Wil Baptiste of Black Violin, trying to impart lessons to his young audience.

“Whatever you do, just make sure you’re doing it better and different than anyone else has ever done it,” Black Violin’s Ked Marcus said to the students.

The show blended classical pieces with Black Violin originals and remixes of contemporary hits like “Uptown Funk.” The students at their show on May 1 were quiet during the classics but then buzzed with recognition at the sound of their modern favorites.

“It was awesome,” said Thomas Cooke, a Nansemond-Suffolk Academy student, as his class filed out of the theater.

Thanks to a number of sponsors, the programs are offered free of charge or at greatly discounted ticket prices. Cherry said it was the first visit to a live theater performance for many of the students.

“A little snippet may make a difference to one or two or 10 kids,” Cherry said. “You just never know.”

Cherry recalled Black Violin’s evening performance two years ago, which, like this year’s show, was preceded by the morning performance for students. She encountered a young girl and her grandmother waiting in the hallway and realized the girl had been at the school show that morning.

“Anybody that can talk to my granddaughter and teach her the things that they taught her today, and she can repeat to me when she gets home, I’ll sit through anything,” Cherry recalled the grandmother saying. “The grandmother was thrilled to be here, because she thought the kid got so much out of it.

“That’s what it’s all about,” Cherry added.

Partners in the school show series included Suffolk Public Schools, Franklin Public Schools, the Walter C. Rawls Library, Rawls Museum Arts, the Early Childhood Development Commission, the Virginia Commission for the Arts, the Suffolk Foundation, the Suffolk Fine Arts Commission, the Camp Foundation, Franklin Southampton Charities and Target.