'Honk': German couple treats Wiesbaden military community youths to theater afternoon
Wiesbaden military community youths meet members of the cast of "Honk" folowing a performance Jan. 16 at the English Theater Frankfurt. About 50 U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden community members were treated to free tickets.

WIESBADEN, Germany - Their smiles told the story.
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As members of the musical "Honk" sang and danced at the English Theatre Frankfurt Jan. 16, some 45 youths from the Wiesbaden military community followed every twist and turn in the action with laughter and applause.
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The U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden youths were treated to free tickets to the musical adaptation of the classic Hans Christian Anderson fairytale ("Ugly Duckling") as performed by members of Theatre Unlimited thanks to a donation by a German businessman and his wife.
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"It's great to see their excited faces," said Dr. Wilfried Kastening, treasurer of the Frankfurt International School, who along with his wife, Astrid, Theatre Unlimited's business manager, have made it an annual tradition to invite military youths to a free performance by the English-language children's theater. "They are a wonderful audience. They are so lively and really react to what is going on onstage."
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"I liked it a lot," said Wiesbaden 10-year-old Christian Dunlap. "I got to shake everyone's hands. It was really fun."
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Following the performance, Dunlap and other Wiesbaden community youths, some of whom have a parent currently deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, were invited onstage to mingle with the actors, meet Frankfurt U.S. Consul General Edward Alford and were treated to a small gift.
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"I came last year," said Krystal Cook, one of the chaperones from Wiesbaden School-Age Services. "I think they really enjoyed the show. They like seeing kids their age performing."
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"It was fantastic," added fellow SAS chaperone Ami Sansone. "I thought they did a wonderful job."
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After the performance and meeting the U.S. military youths, Consul General Alford, who was on hand to bid farewell to members of 1st Armored Division on their way to Iraq in late December, talked about why it is important to support military families. "I loved the show. I think it's wonderful for the military children. Parents deploy a lot now - there's such a high ops tempo; it's been rough. It's rough on both the kids and the adults."
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Alford added that "you do what you can" to help make life a little better for those who stay behind when service members deploy.
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For Dr. Kastening, who remembers what it was like as a boy to be given his first chocolate bar by an American Soldier in the days after World War II, treating the American children to the play performance is his way of thanking the United States for its support of the German people since the war.
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"The children onstage are very aware of these children whose parents may not be there ... therefore they perform with even more dedication," said Debra Damron, musical director and vocal coach for Theatre Unlimited.
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Damron, who hails from New York and teaches at the Frankfurt International School in Oberursel, described how the Theatre Unlimited experience brings children of many nationalities together while sharing English as "a common denominator. ... It's wonderful to see our young performers grow as individuals. Through several months of rehearsal and then performances, the kids gain a great deal of confidence, become more thoughtful of others, become more respectful of others and learn to share their own feelings of excitement about singing, acting and performing with others."
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The theater also provides an opportunity for families to share in the process with many parents and siblings involved backstage helping with makeup, props and costumes. "This gives parents an opportunity to see the children's emotional and creative growth," said Damron.

Page last updated Mon February 1st, 2010 at 09:48