Fluvanna County Library Director Cyndi Hoffman is excited about a unique experience for children this summer at the library: two live theater performances of Pinocchio and Beauty and the Beast performed by the Hampstead Stage Company, a traveling troupe of actors based in New Hampshire.

The company was named for the four founders who were originally from Hampstead, England, and realized their dream of having a theater company to engage and educate. The theater has been around since 1983 and has grown into one of the largest educational theater companies in the U.S. with 2,000 shows a year.

Through the animation of two actors who perform multiple roles and quick changes, their shows encourage reading books and plays through the magic of performing. Children are treated to original adaptations drawn from literary classics, including Frankenstein and Robin Hood as well as authors like C.S. Lewis and Charles Dickens. Fairy tales and fantasy are brought to life by actors who energize their young audience, nurturing imagination and wonder.

Their summer touring season includes Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio, the familiar tale of a woodcarver, Geppetto, who carves a boy out of a block of wood. The wooden boy, Pinocchio, embarks on a journey to become real. 
The other feature is Beauty and the Beast, which most children are familiar with from the recent Disney buzz. A French fairy tale of a selfless young woman who takes her father’s place as a prisoner in a far-off castle, she learns to love the terrifying beast for who he is in his heart and not what appears on the surface.

These classic stories teach children valuable life lessons about relationships. The actors point out through their performances that children can learn empathy and an understanding of the human condition through a different perspective.

The company introduces children to live theater who otherwise might not have the opportunity to experience it. The actors themselves admit they get “fired up” and love telling stories that connect with children and open their eyes in new ways through an unfamiliar medium.

With a colorful 15-foot wide and 7-foot high set and costumes that bring an extra dimension to their characters, they engage the audience for nearly an hour of entertainment. The actors who perform admit they are passionate about what they do and alternating into and out their characters. Though it is not an easy life on the road, they bring enthusiasm to their performances. They have to work as a team and that in itself teaches their audience something worthwhile.

Through theater, children are brought into a different world and feel the magic unfold before them as they learn.

The summer programs at the library are free. Pinocchio will be on Saturday, June 24, at 11 a.m. They will be back on Saturday, July 15, at 11 a.m. with Beauty and the Beast. For more information contact the library at 434-589-1400.