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Posted: March 18, 2009 12:00 a.m.

Class of 3000 LIVE makes the grade

Courtesy of the Alliance Theatre/

Who says school can't be fun?: Former international music star Sunny Bridges (Sinatra Onyewuchi) jams with his new students Li'l D (Bernard Jones) and Madison (Wendy Melkonian) in the World Premiere Class of 3000 LIVE, based on the hit animated se...

As a parent of a 9-year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl, I’m always on the lookout for activities they both can enjoy. So when I learned the Alliance Theatre was going to stage Cartoon Network’s "Class of 3000," I was more than excited. After all, my kids watch the cartoon. And anything that has to do with Andre Benjamin, one-half of the musical duo "Outkast," is going to be interesting.

So the night of the show, I expected the kids would dance and sing along with the production. However, I didn’t expect I would be doing the same. But that is exactly what happened.

I was pleasantly surprised by the adult appeal of Class of 3000 LIVE. It wasn’t so juvenile the adults lost interest, but it didn’t try to veer from the cartoon, which kept the kids’ attention.

The brightly colored set with cartoon-like structures seamlessly connected the stage play to its animated twin. The actors also remained true to their cartoon versions, especially Sinatra Onyewuchi, who played Sunny Bridges, the character based on Benjamin. Somehow the casting director was able to find a musical actor who looked more like Sunny Bridge than Benjamin. Adding to the familiarity is the play’s plot, which is a live version of the cartoon’s pilot episode. My four-year-old didn’t mind, but my nine-year-old pointed out the fact as soon as we got in the elevator. In fact, as far as I could tell, the only difference between the pilot and the play was the addition of the musical pieces, which transformed a 30-minute television episode into the 50-minute production. Although my son had seen the episode before, he didn’t hesitate to sing along with the theme song (and the other children in the audience) and said it was different seeing it live on stage.

I was most impressed by the musical score, which definitely had Andre 3000’s touch. The infusion of funk, base and hip hop, which had most people in the theatre rocking and dancing in their seats, created a score that was appropriate for the young audience without the cheesiness that often accompanies children’s productions.

If you’re looking for a way to introduce kids to the world of live theatre, "Class of 3000 Live" is a sure bet. For a children’s play, it gets a thumbs up from me, and with a run time just under one hour, it’s a perfect outing for the families with small children.

"Class of 3000 LIVE" runs through March 29 at the Alliance Theatre, 1280 Peachtree St. in Atlanta. Tickets are $25 to $35. For more information call the Alliance Theatre box office at (404) 733-5000.

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