Acting like children

Do you remember what life was like as a child?

Things were pretty good when the only worries came when playtime was about to be over, or when it was time to sneak out mom’s cooking in a napkin after she prepared that one uneatable meal.

For folks who may feel too far removed from their carefree, youthful days, a hardworking group of young actors from Huntsville’s Alpha Omega Academy are preparing to take audiences on a trip down memory lane as they present “How to Eat Like a Child” at the Old Town Theatre this Saturday at 7 p.m.

“I love this show because in its simplicity, it’s just funny and fun and it takes you back to when you were a kid,” Alpha Omega teacher and the show’s director Marjean Creager said Wednesday. “There’s a real sweetness to this show.”

Written by best-selling author and playwright Delia Ephron, the musical comedy takes the audience on a hilarious trip back through childhood as the actors present sketches on a few of the standard dilemmas that all young ones must inevitably face.

With 12 segments including “How to Beg for a Dog,” “How to Understand Parents” and the all-important finale of “How to Refuse to Go to Sleep,” the play is sure to bring laughs to audiences of all ages.

“It has a little bit of that New York humor to it and it’s a real quick, kid-like humor, which I love,” Creager added. “It’s also a very simple play to put on since it’s just blue jeans and T-shirts and you don’t have to have a big fancy set.”

In keeping with the all-ages theme, the show itself will be presented by a talented troupe ranging from the first grade all the way up to high school. After weeks of practice, the students are ready to show off their hard work and perform on the big stage this weekend.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” freshman Will Stewart said. “We get to hang out with our friends after school and have a good time rehearsing. Now that most of the sports are over here, everything has been moving toward this play and we’re having a great time.”

“We’ve just been preparing and rehearsing and I’ve been enjoying it a lot,” freshman Abby Ferguson added after rehearsal concluded Wednesday. “We’ve been practicing every day and working really hard to make it as perfect as we can for the audience. It’ll be really fun.”

Unlike many of their past plays, “How to Eat Like a Child” will be presented under the bright lights of J. Philip Gibbs, Jr. Centre for the Performing Arts downtown, giving AOA students the chance to see what professional actors face when the big curtain rises.

“I’m a little nervous,” Ferguson said regarding the venue. “I’ve never done anything like this, but I’ve always been interested in drama and I think it’ll be good to be on the big stage. We’ll just have to adjust to it and I think it’ll turn out great. You just have to be confident and express yourself to have fun with it.”

“We’re going to have a dress rehearsal Saturday morning at the Old Town Theatre. We’ve been in individual rooms practicing and today was our first day rehearsing in the gym,” Creager added. “We’ve been working on our stage voices and I know they are going to do great. Don’t miss this show. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Tickets for the show are $3 for students and $5 for adults and can be purchased at the theater before the show begins on Saturday night.

Tight races, runoffs abound in primary voting

Texas voters hung onto familiar candidates and sent a few new ones into runoffs at the polls on Super Tuesday as both incumbents and newcomers battled stringent challengers in key races. 

Amidst a full card of conservative opponents, longtime U.S. Representative for District 8 Kevin Brady narrowly avoided a runoff election against challenger Steve Toth by securing 64,745 of 121,260 votes, or 53 percent of all ballots. 

After hovering near the 50 percent mark for most of the night, the race was called by the Associated Press with nearly two-thirds of precincts reporting Brady with a 54 percent lead late Tuesday night. Toth, Brady’s closest challenger, received 44,266, or 38 percent of the votes. Craig McMichael took 6,021, or less than 5 percent of the total votes, and Col. Andre Dean rounded out the race with 5,196 ballots, or 4 percent. 

“I’m blessed with great supporters, especially my wonderful wife, and I deeply thank you for sending me back to keep fighting for families and local businesses,” Brady said in a prepared statement late Tuesday after winning the 2016 Republican primary.

In a hotly contested race to fill the seat left vacant by District 18 Representative John Otto, Republican business attorney Keith Strahan and conservative agri-businessman Ernest Bailes are heading into a runoff set for May 24. 

With six names on the crowded ballot, Strahan took home 6,363 votes, or 28 percent, while Bailes locked up 26 percent with 5,842 of the 22,531 votes Tuesday night. Liberty County Attorney Wesley Hinch (4,654, 22 percent) narrowly missed the runoff cut, while Walker County’s James Morrison (989, 9 percent) and J. Turner (814, 7 percent) and San Jacinto businessman Van Brookshire (673, 5 percent) rounded out the race. 

“We are blessed to live in a free country where we can influence change through our electoral process,” Bailes said in a prepared online statement. “Bailes for Texas has a solid seat in the (House District 18) runoff and I could not have done this without my family, team, and the countless volunteers who gave of their time and resources in order to make this successful.”

In Walker County, runoffs were the name of the game Tuesday night as both Precincts 1 and 3 county commissioner races will be heading back to the polls on May 24. 

Citizens narrowed down Precinct 1 commissioner candidates — Danny Kuykendall, George Williamson, Jim Willett and Tom DeYoung — and Precinct 3 candidates — Bill Daugette, Bill Tutor, G.A. Creagor, Glen Ray Reader and Paul Webb — to just two candidates each.

Kuykendall and DeYoung will face off in the commissioner Precinct 1 runoff election on May 24, while Daugette and Reader advance to a runoff in Precinct 3.

In Precinct 3, Reader garnered 389, or 27 percent of the unofficial total votes, while Daugette collected 342, or 24 percent. The returns for Precinct 1 showed Kuykendall with 796, or 43 percent of the unofficial total votes, while DeYoung collected 490, or 26 percent of the total.

Top candidates vying to become the next constable of Precinct 2 in Walker County will also be heading back to the ballot box in May. 

Out of the three candidates — incumbent Reed Prehoda and challengers Shane Loosier and John French — only two will be headed to the runoff election. Prehoda earned a spot in the runoff election with 1,071, or 40 percent of the unofficial total votes. Facing him in May will be Loosier, who picked up 844, or 32 percent, of the total votes.