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Arts & Culture

First Coast Connect: Atlantic Beach Experimental Theatre Celebrates 25 Years

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The Atlantic Beach Experimental Theatre is celebrating 25 years of Children’s Musical Theatre at the beaches.

There will be a gala reception at the Beaches Historical Museum starting at 6 p.m. Thursday, followed by a reunion cabaret performance at The Foundation Academy at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Director Lee Hamby, Jane Bull and Judy Hulett of Atlantic Beach Experimental Theatre discussed more about their silver anniversary on Tuesday’s First Coast Connect.

The Beaches Historical Museum’s exhibit will feature Youth of the Beaches Art Guild memorabilia. The Youth of the Beaches Art Guild was a summer art school for children, founded in 1980 and lasting till 2005.

The museum will keep up the exhibit for two weeks and then part of it will remain on display in its archives for other generations to view.

Bull and Hulett said they cannot wait to see the guild alumni perform in the cabaret show.

“We are looking at kids that we were involved with us from when they were 10 to 18 years old, who now have their own kids, and are now coming back to perform,” Bull said.

The Atlantic Beach Experimental Theatre began as one of the few resources at the beaches for kids to get involved with creative and entertaining work.

“They take some real chances on plays and musicals,” Hamby said.

At the time of its opening, the Atlantic Beach Experimental Theatre was one of the first theaters at the beaches to cast roles that were race and gender neutral.

Fast forward to 2016, and the theater still takes pride in producing traditional musicals with an experimental element added to them.

“It’s amazing because (the theater) has an older audience most of the time, but I am so happy, especially being from that generation, that they have been so accepting and willing,” Bull said.

Hulett said the event is a way for everybody to remember the past 25 years and also a look ahead towards the future.

Tickets to attend the gala or performance may be purchased from their website.