Make Believe

The PlayGround offers theater for tots and big people alike

For pieces that the PlayGround has produced for adults and young adults, like The Beast, Kheyfets has been surprised by the response. The company has received letters from high school seniors thanking them for taking the risk — "for not having a happy ending," says Ansin.

"The biggest, warmest response has come from young adults," adds Kheyfets. "I don't remember that in Russia."

The couple hopes that today's young audiences will grow up to form a culture of theatergoers in Miami. "In ten years, the six-year-olds will be sixteen; the ten-year-olds will be twenty, and theater will have become a part of their lives. In countries with a strong theatrical tradition, that is how it's done," Kheyfets explains. "In this country, to play sports is considered natural, to be healthy is natural. We hope it will be natural to feel the need for theater."

Details

The Love of Three Oranges: Written by Carlo Gozzi. Translated by John Louis DiGaetani. Directed by Stephanie Ansin. Presented by the PlayGround Theatre at 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. December 23 at the Shores Performing Arts Theater, 9806 NE 2nd Ave, Miami Shores; 305-751-9550, www.theplaygroundtheatre.com.

The Steadfast Tin Soldier: Written by Hans Christian Andersen. Adapted and directed by Vyatcheslav Dolgachev. Presented by the PlayGround Theatre at various times January 5-7 at the Colony Theater, 1040 Lincoln Rd, Miami Beach; 305-674-1040, www.theplaygroundtheatre.com.

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As the lights dimmed at Wednesday's performance, the crowd of children from wildly differing Miami cultures hushed in anticipation. When the chubby piggy bank shuffled her wide berth across the stage, they cackled with laughter. When the ballerina pirouetted, they sighed in amazement. And while cautiously attentive adults led a near-constant procession of tykes to and from the bathroom, the LEDs on their sneakers blinking in the darkness, the young audience, it is safe to say, was nothing short of enraptured.

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