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Sleeping Beauty wakes
WonderQuest first produced an Asian version of Sleeping Beauty in 2004, with Mayes Hopkins as the Emperor and Emily Barnes as Princess Dawn Blossom. This year’s production features a newly imagined palace and costumes.

‘Sleeping Beauty’

When: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 26 and 27 and Oct 3 and 4 and 2:30 p.m. Sept. 28 and Oct. 4 for the general public; 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. Sept. 25 and 26 and Oct. 1-3 for school matinees

Where: Brenau University’s Pearce Auditorium, 500 Washington St. SE, Gainesville.

How much: $10-$12 for adults and $7-$8 for students

More info: or 678-717-3624.

Many know the story of “Sleeping Beauty” as a Disney classic. Some know the Grimm brothers folktale. But very few know where the story actually began.

The Gainesville Theatre Alliance WonderQuest plans to present the original Asian fairy tale to kick off its 35th season next weekend at Brenau University’s Pearce Auditorium.

The story tells of a princess who is cursed with prolonged sleep by a jealous fairy, and the only thing that can wake her is “true love’s first kiss.”

However, GTA plans to deviate from the familiar tale with director Gay Hammond penning a revamped version. She explained the new production will have less of a “princess” quality and more of a cultural depth.

To accomplish that goal, Jeannie Crawford and Larry Cook have worked tirelessly since the summer to design the costumes and sets.

“I have been to thrift shops from Blairsville to (Atlanta),” Crawford said of her search for the perfect materials.

After seeing the costumes, however, one would think they were originally from Asia. In fact, the set pieces may have the audience believing he or she is actually in Asia.

“This play will be rich in visual imagery,” Hammond said, adding the image of a cherry blossom inspired her to choose the play.

Set designer Larry Cook did grant her the cherry blossom tree. In addition to the tree and other props, Cook has a surprise for the audience — a 30-foot-long, non-fire-breathing creature storming through the aisles.

In combination with 18 actors and actresses and six backstage crew members, Hammond said the play will have a “special meaning” by unearthing an appreciation for love and kindness. Similar to the theme of all versions of Sleeping Beauty, “characters must overthrow honor for love.”

Although it is arranged for a younger audience, the production targets all ages.

“I had one woman tell me that they were bringing four generations to the play,” Hammond said.

Performances of “Sleeping Beauty” will be at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 26 and 27 and Oct 3 and 4 and 2:30 p.m. Sept. 28 and Oct. 4. Tickets are $10 to $12 for adults and $7 to $8 for students. The play will be in Brenau University’s Pearce Auditorium at 500 Washington St. SE, Gainesville.

School matinee performances are scheduled for 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. Sept. 25 and 26, and Oct. 1-3. Teachers may get in for free. Student tickets are $6.

The theater also will have a Meet-the-Actors reception following the Sept. 26 performance, allowing the audience to get up close and personal with the performers. An ice cream social with the cast be after the Sept. 28 performance. Both events are free.

To cater to the younger audience, a Cherry Blossom & Dragon Tea will be at 6:30 p.m. before performances on Oct. 3 and 4. Children ages 6 to 12 may  participate in arts, crafts and dragon games, complete with snacks. Tickets are $5.

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