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June 18, 2004

Lauren Center Presents Theater For All Audiences

From: Queens Chronicle - Rego Park,NY,USA - Jun 17, 2004

by Keach Hagey, Arts Editor

There is a long strain of theatrical thought that maintains that theater is at its best when the actors talk less. This might be especially true in Queens, where it is impossible to pick a language that doesn't exclude large portions of the local population.

This Friday, June 18th at 8 p.m. and Saturday, June 19th at 3 p.m., Jackson Heights' Ralph and Ricky Lauren Center for the Performing Arts—which has been serving primarily the Lexington School for the Deaf since its opening two years ago—begins a new, more public era by presenting "Untie The Boat From The Ugly Wharf," a language-barrier-free pantomime designed for all audiences.

For the production, the center brought together the overseas professional touring companies of The Hong Kong Theatre of the Silence and the Australian Theatre of the Deaf to perform a family-oriented show about a woman and her baby who, after a series of misfortunes, sets out on a long journey in search of a distant aunt in Singapore.

"It's opening up a merging of both the hearing and the deaf worlds," said David Tein, director of development and external affairs for the Lexington School.

The production also represents a new direction for the center, which until recently has been dormant much of the time, despite the fact that it houses state-of-the-art technology found nowhere else in the world.

The 427-seat theater is equipped with plasma TV screens, an infrared digital video system, computer-generated lights, sprung dance floor, 40-foot proscenium stage, a movie projector and retractable screen, air conditioning and parking.

Last weekend, the center officially became the artistic home of the Manhasset-based Children's Orchestra Society, which held its annual spring concert there.

Led by Dr. Yeou-Chen Ma, daughter of the orchestra's founder and sister of cellist Yo-Yo Ma, the 175-piece orchestra has performed everywhere from Weill Recital Hall in Manhattan to concert halls in Taiwan, Canada and the Philippines. The decision to partner with the Lauren Center had special meaning to Ma, a developmental pediatrician who works with children with hearing impairments.

"As someone deeply involved in children's communication, I am thrilled with our connection with the Lexington School through our affiliation with the Ralph and Ricky Lauren Center for the Performing Arts," Ma said.

The Ralph and Ricky Lauren Center for the Performing Arts is located at 30th Avenue and 75th Street in Jackson Heights. For tickets, call 718-350-3316.

©Queens Chronicle - Mid Edition 2004