Reclaiming Beauty 

Thanks in part to the Walt Disney Company, the story of Sleeping Beauty has become a familiar part of pop culture — a young, beautiful princess cursed to sleep forever is awakened by the kiss of her one true love. But if for some familiarity has bred contempt, the upcoming production of Sleeping Beauty — staged by local acting troupe the Actors’ Company at Southfield’s Youtheatre — is sure to shed a new light on the classic tale.

Think of it as Sleeping Beauty, the new and improved version. The basic elements — an evil witch and a cursed princess — are still there, but added to the mix is singing, dancing and a whole lot of fairies. According to Michael Gravame, founder and artistic director of the Actors’ Company, these changes make the story a lot more fun for children and adults alike.

Founded in 1989, the Actors’ Company has performed everything from Broadway musicals to lesser-known dramatic works, but focuses primarily on children’s theater. Its plays, Wizard of Oz and Cinderella, were two of the most successful performances ever staged at Youtheatre. Cinderella alone drew 1,100 theatergoers.

Youtheatre is a nonprofit organization that produces fun and educational performances for children. It also offers a Field Trip to Broadway program, which provides educational kits for teachers, and the Summer Conservatory program, a six-week children’s workshop for the theater arts.

Both organizations strive to make theater accessible to children at a time when most kids are more familiar with navigating the Web than playing make-believe. Sure, being technologically literate is an advantage in the 21st century, but the advantages — and fun — of live theater shouldn’t be so easily discounted.

“Kids are so bombarded with media and computers and TV today, they don’t have the interactive level,” Gravame says. “They can’t yell at a TV screen and get a response. It’s important for kids to have that interactive experience.”


Performances are Saturday, Jan. 22, and Sunday, Jan. 23, at the Millennium Centre, 15600 J.L. Hudson Dr., Southfield; 248-557-7529. Tickets are $8.

Megan O'Neil is a freelance writer. Send comments to

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