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'The Ugly Duckling' to descend onto stage in Pearce Auditorium

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Family performances of "The Ugly Duckling" will be 7:30 p.m. Sept. 27 and Oct. 4 and 5, 4:30 p.m. Sept. 28, and 2:30 p.m. Sept. 29 in the historic Pearce Auditorium on Brenau's campus at 202 Boulevard in Gainesville.

It's been almost 10 years since Gay Hammond penned a play featuring animals as the main characters. This year she felt compelled to write a new script for WonderQuest's fall production and decided to use a classic fairy tale as inspiration.

As Gainesville Theatre Alliance's (GTA) Theatre for Young Audiences, WonderQuest will present Hammond's adaptation of "The Ugly Duckling" in September to launch GTA's fall 2019-20 season. GTA is a nationally acclaimed collaboration between the University of North Georgia (UNG), Brenau University, theater professionals and the northeast Georgia community.

Based on a Hans Christian Andersen story, "The Ugly Duckling" addresses a common problem many children face — being bullied because they are different.

"I think children especially worry about fitting in and not being smart enough," said Hammond, director of WonderQuest and associate professor of theater at Brenau. "I think we all need to be reminded in today's climate, it's not a case of us and them. It's all of us."

Hammond, who is a graduate of GTA and Brenau, said she picked the animal-based production because of the freedoms it affords.

"With an animal story, children can identify with the feelings of an animal more immediately and clearly than they might with a human," she said.

The story also offers the cast and crew flexibility. For example, animals can be portrayed by a male or female actor. Costume and scene designers are not restricted with a time period or genre. They can be more creative because it is a fairy tale.

Despite that, "The Ugly Duckling" does impart a single truth.

"Our tagline is 'everyone is beautiful,' and that's the message we are driving home," Hammond said.

Family performances of "The Ugly Duckling" will be 7:30 p.m. Sept. 27 and Oct. 4 and 5, 4:30 p.m. Sept. 28, and 2:30 p.m. Sept. 29 in the historic Pearce Auditorium on Brenau's campus at 202 Boulevard in Gainesville.

A free stage tour for a peek behind the scenes will be at 6 p.m. Sept. 17 in Pearce Auditorium. Attendees will hear from Hammond, the play's director, and Celeste Morris, the scenic designer, and William Mellette, costume designer. Mellette is a GTA graduate and has been working professionally in costumes in New York City for the past 10 years.

A free meet-the-actors reception will follow the Sept. 27 performance, and a free ice cream social with the cast will follow the Sept. 29 performance.

Tickets are $12-$15 for adults and seniors, $8-$10 for UNG and Brenau students and children, depending on seat location. A 20% discount is available for groups of 12 or more. Tickets may be purchased online or by calling the Box Office at 678-717-3624.

All theater patrons may receive a 10% discount for purchasing tickets to "The Ugly Duckling" and one more GTA production at the same time. The next GTA production is "Legally Blonde: The Musical."

For more information, visit GTA's website.

'The Ugly Duckling' performances

When: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 27 and Oct. 4 and 5, 4:30 p.m. Sept. 28, and 2:30 p.m. Sept. 29

Where: Pearce Auditorium, Brenau University, 202 Boulevard, Gainesville

Cost: $12-$15 for adults and seniors, $8-$10 for UNG and Brenau students and children, depending on seat location; 20% discount for groups of 12 or more

More info: Call the Box Office at 678-717-3624 or visit GTA's website

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