This Sunday, Family Series performances at the Hylton Performing Arts Center and George Mason University’s Center for the Arts will achieve their common mission through two delightful but very different styles of theater.

“Our goal is to introduce young people to the magical world of the theater as well as to provide an opportunity for families to spend a memorable time together,” said programming manager Adrienne Bryant Godwin. “We strive to feature shows that will engage parents and grandparents as well as children, and, in choosing the artists we bring in, I try to present a diversity of types of experience.”

‘Peter Rabbit Tales’

The widely popular—and aptly named—Enchantment Theatre Company will bring to life the beloved, mischievous and curious bunny, Peter Rabbit, and his triplet sisters (Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail) and their risky adventures with Farmer McGregor, his cat, Mr. Tod the fox, and Tommy Brock the badger. Like Beatrix Potter’s original books, which have transported generations of children to a magical world of lovable, animated animal characters for more than a hundred years, this production sparks audience members’ imaginations as they become the co-creators of the stories of the bunnies’ exploits and misadventures.

For nearly 20 years, the Enchantment Theatre Company has brought inspiration, joy and points-to-ponder to young audiences around the world. Presenting original work based on classic stories from children’s literature, the company employs its hallmark blend of agile, masked actors who mime the action told by a storytelling narrator, larger-than-life puppets and fanciful sets, while original musical scores convey the mood and atmosphere of the scenes.

Sunday’s performance includes young Peter Rabbit’s disobedient and dangerous escapade into Farmer McGregor’s garden as well as “flashback” reenactments. Benjamin Bunny and Peter Rabbit (now older and wiser) take a trip down memory lane and rejuvenate an appreciation of the selfless bravery of Benjamin’s father, (now elderly) Mr. Bouncer, along the way.

Guests are encouraged to arrive 30 minutes before this performance to participate in a host of related children’s activities and hands-on crafts in the lobby.

‘Moon Mouse: A Space Odyssey’

As the title of this performance indicates, the action of another of this weekend’s features, “Moon Mouse: A Space Odyssey,” takes place in a realm that is a far cry from Beatrix Potter’s idyllic English Lake District. Likewise, the dramatists who bring this tale to life employ cutting-edge theatrical techniques that were unimaginable when Peter and his relatives first appeared onstage.

Through trailblazing artistry, using electroluminescent (EL) wire, the actors of the innovative Lightwire Theater company depict the action and emotion through simple glowing neon lines and outlines on a darkened stage. This description may spark a memory among the millions of folks who viewed the entrancing feats of Lightwire artists when they appeared as semifinalists on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.”

In this production, nimble, athletic dancer/actors, equipped with EL wires—powered by backpacks containing a total of more than 100 batteries—tell the saga of little Marvin the Mouse and his myth-like journey to discovery and self-discovery. Ostracized by the Cool Rats who consider him to be a geek and loser, and yearning for acceptance, Marvin retreats to the fantasy inspired by his science books. That is the threshold for the venture of his lifetime in which he travels via his homemade rocket to the surface of the moon, where he encounters a spectrum of creatures that some may see as “misfits” but that he views as fascinatingly unique.

Along the way, Marvin confronts both infinite danger and awesome beauty and, in the course of these encounters, he emerges as a hero and comes to understand a powerful, empowering life lesson about celebrating and valuing differences.

“Both of these productions will ignite creativity and imagination and bring both children and adults on a delightful journey through very different forms,” said Godwin. “The experience of live performances will be a fun shared experience that can be a treasured family memory and spark some thoughtful discussions afterwards.”

Collette Caprara is a local writer and artist.

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