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Friday, December 15, 2017, 3:58 p.m.

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Area actors to perform at Arkansas Arts Center

By Carol Rolf/Contributing Writer

This article was published November 26, 2017 at 12:00 a.m.

Memory, left, played by Angelina Bearden of Maumelle, comforts Humpty Dumpty, played by Sharon Combs of Conway, in this rehearsal scene from Mother Goose Christmas. The play will open Thursday and continue through Dec. 17 at the Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre in Little Rock.

LITTLE ROCK — Two actors from the River Valley & Ozark Edition coverage area will appear in the Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre’s production of Mother Goose Christmas. The play will open Thursday and continue through Dec. 17.

Angelina Bearden of Maumelle plays the role of Memory, a young girl who has never heard of Mother Goose or her nursery rhymes. Sharon Combs of Conway plays one of those nursery-rhyme characters, Humpty Dumpty.

The play is written by Keith Smith and directed by John Isner, both of Little Rock.

“This play has so much imagery with the coming-to-life of all the nursery-rhyme characters,” said Isner, who is also a company actor with the Children’s Theatre. “It fits well in the Christmas season.”

The plot of Mother Goose Christmas revolves around Memory, who comes to stay at the Piper House. Bella Piper and her Grandpa Andy learn that Memory has never heard of Mother Goose. They take her on an adventure in Mother Goose’s Realm of Romp and Rhyme, where she meets Mother Goose and all her nursery-rhyme children. Memory also learns that family may be found anywhere and that everyone deserves love, even her.

Angelina, the 12-year-old daughter of Legenia Bearden of Maumelle, is a student at Maumelle Middle School. She is making her first appearance with the Children’s Theatre.

“I have been in plays with my mom’s company, Bearden Productions in North Little Rock,” Angelina said.

“My character, Memory, has just moved in with the family and is kind of shy and timid,” Angelina said. “She doesn’t want to get involved, but toward the end of the play, she opens up.

“She meets Humpty Dumpty, who is mourning. He just fell off the wall, and all the king’s men are trying to put him together again. He’s a little grumpy.”

Angelina plays basketball and plays flute in the band at her school. She said she hopes to make a career in the theater.

Combs, a daughter of Nancy H. Combs of Conway and the late Larry Combs, is a 2007 graduate of the University of Central Arkansas in Conway with a degree in theater. She has served as a guest artist at the Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre and is now a company member.

“I am very lucky I have been able to make a living as an actor for the past five years,” said Combs, who is also active with the Arkansas Shakespeare Festival in Conway. She has acting credits in New York City as well.

“I grew up in Conway and was home-schooled except for the time I attended Sallie Cone Elementary School. I have acted ever since I was a kid. I commuted to Little Rock … anywhere I could to act. I also was part of the Youth Theatre of Central Arkansas,” she said.

“I am having a blast in this play and with my character, Humpty Dumpty,” Combs said, laughing. “Humpty is one of those over-the-top super characters … very dramatic. He’s the classic Humpty Dumpty from your childhood. He just wants to be loved by all the people and needs all the king’s men to put him together again.

“Memory finds him in the play, along with other nursery-rhyme characters, makes new friends and finds a family,” Combs said.

Rivka Kuperman of Little Rock is the stage manager for the play. She also graduated from UCA in 2007 with a degree in theater.

“This is my fifth season with the Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre,” Kuperman said. “I grew up in Little Rock and spent most of my childhood at the Children’s Theatre.”

Mother Goose Christmas performances include a Pay-What-You-Can preview at 7 p.m. Thursday. Tickets must be purchased that day and in person from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Stephens Inc. Visitors Desk on the atrium level of the Arkansas Arts Center,

501 E. Ninth St. in Little Rock, or from 6-6:45 p.m. at the Children’s Theatre Box Office in the lower-level lobby.

Additional public performances will be at 7 p.m. Friday and again Dec. 8 and 15; at

2 p.m. Saturday and again Dec. 9 and 16; and at 2 p.m. Dec. 3, 10 and 17.

Tickets may be purchased online at arkansasartscenter.org or in person from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $12.50 for adults, $10 for Arkansas Arts Center members and $10 per person for groups of 10 or more. Children 2 and under are admitted free, but the child must remain in an adult’s lap at all times.

Additional activities planned for this production include the Opening Night Dinner in the Canvas restaurant, which opens at 5 p.m. Friday; Pajama Night on Dec. 8; and an American Sign Language-interpreted performance Dec. 9.

For more information, call the Arkansas Arts Center at (501) 372-4000 or visit arkansasartscenter.org.

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