Day of firsts

‘Chasing George Washington’ draws 1,800 children to Center’s first school production

More than 1,800 Blount County school children turned out on Feb. 24 to watch “George Washington” get chased on stage at the Clayton Center for the Arts.

“Chasing George Washington” was the first play for school children at the center and marketing/public relations director John Cherry said the two shows put on by a troupe from the Kennedy Center for the Arts were successful.

Cherry said schools represented included Maryville, Alcoa and Blount County school systems as well as private and home school students.

“It was great,” Cherry said. “The kids loved it. The one-hour musical was well received by the audience. The theater worked very well for the performers and for the audience as well. We learned a lot about how our events are going to work, especially for school events, and obviously we’re going to implement adjustments to the way we do business based on what we learned.”

Cherry said they learned traffic management issues as well as vehicular traffic. “We learned our lobby and corridors are more than ample to handle large crowds in and out of the theater. Our ushers and staff gained valuable experience working with a younger audience to make sure they got in and out of the theater in a timely fashion and make sure they enjoyed the show in comfort,” he said.

Cherry said the company from the Kennedy Center was pleased with the space and the reception they got from the audience. “They gave us feedback about backstage logistics. We’ll make adjustments based on that feedback,” he said. “The reviews by the company were praiseworthy of the center and the amenities back stage.”

Cherry said he would encourage the school systems and educators to definitely consider the Clayton Center when they’re looking for field trips for cultural events for the kids. “The children were obviously in awe of the size of the building and the quality of the theater and the experience,” he said.

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