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WITH THE KIDS

Small town vs. big business

May 12, 2005|Lynne Heffley

Children's theater -- and nary a little pig or fairy princess in sight.

When the nonprofit Silverlake Children's Theatre Group puts on a show, big issues in comic trappings are the order of the day. Past shows have tackled the Iraq invasion and stressed-out teens. Life, death and art are themes in an upcoming show, "The Window," slated as part of L.A.'s 2005 Edge of the World Theater Festival in the fall.

The group's current venture, "Buy America," takes on the issues surrounding the effect that megastores such as Wal-Mart have on small towns.

Co-written by 16-year-old company member Phoebe Minette and artistic director Broderick Miller, and featuring an original score by Andy Chukerman, it centers on an ambitious corporate executive who learns something about community -- and herself -- as she tries to persuade small-town residents to ease zoning laws for an incoming megastore.

The actors, ages 6 to 18, engaged in lengthy discussions about issues the play raises, and that "is an organic part of the writing," Miller says. "The main message is not to demonize Wal-Mart and Costco but that every community has an identity and that's an important thing to protect." It may sound serious, but all the group's shows, staged by volunteers, are "funny, honest," Miller stresses. "And we present both sides of the issue," including the importance of such stores to families on tight budgets. "You don't have to hit people over the head with messages.... This isn't heavy-handed propaganda. It's provocative, smart theater for kids."

*

"Buy America," Hollywood Assistance League Playhouse, 1367 N. St. Andrews Place. 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 1 p.m. Sunday. $10. (323) 634-2595.

-- Lynne Heffley

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