The Asante Children’s Theatre (ACT) is a professional theatre organization committed to preserving the tradition of African and African-American performing arts. Instructors and mentors use theatre, music, dance and storytelling to develop the life skills of young people ages 12 to 21.
“I believe that we can help to rescue youth and deter crime by giving them a safe haven, a sense of purpose as well as teaching them life skills,” said ACT founder, Deborah Asante.
The young performers of ACT provide family-friendly entertainment that educates audiences of all backgrounds. The youth are currently performing in “Hip Hop Be Bop Doo Wop.” The show features dance, original poetry, rap, jazz, neo-soul and a capella vocals. The performance has something for everyone.
“We’re serving up a musical gumbo that will tickle your tongue, warm your tummy and curl your toes,” added Asante.
The show features hip-hop standards such as “On and On” by Erykah Badu and “The Battle Zone” from the Rize Soundtrack.
“We wanted to get the kids to listen to different music and to talk about the traditions behind the music. By adding hip-hop we wanted the parents to take a closer look at the culture their children generate and participate in,” explained Keesha Dixon, Executive Director, ACT.
One of the acts of the show features an audition similar to what the youth must endure to perform with ACT. Feelings of nervousness, fear, and excitement are displayed prior to the audition but not during the performance.
In addition, the skit “Rumors” showcases the importance of not spreading rumors or believing everything you hear. The skit also touched on the sensitive topic of AIDS, in a mature manner.
“Strange Fruit” is a historical interpretation of the widely popular song about the “strange fruit” of African-Americans being lynched in the South and “Straighten Up and Fly Right” is a charming, endearing and comical performance by Jarrett Weathers. “Them Their Eyes” was a stirring rendition by performer Janae’ Smith.
“Crank Dat ACT” is a positive play of the song and dance made popular by Soulja Boy. The ACT version of the song stresses the importance of originality and education.
“The show is a celebration of creativity and power,” said Dixon. “People should feel good to know what our young people are capable of when they are given a chance to exercise their artistic gifts.”
The performers display their artistic gifts during “Rain Dance,” a creative dance using umbrellas and performed to Missy Elliot’s “I Can’t Stand the Rain” and Rihanna’s “Umbrella.”
Gifted and talented young dancers Kellise Anderson and Nicholas Jones performed beautifully to “Imagination” by Miki Howard. This performance by the youth shows a level of skill and maturity beyond their young years. The performance was touching, moving, inspirational and powerful beyond measure.
“It is important for the community to support the show because here is an opportunity to encourage young people who have stepped up to the challenge of working hard,” explained Dixon.