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Marietta Teacher Celebrates History, Music on Stage

Marietta Middle School teacher Kayce Grogan-Wallace stars in her fifth production at the Strand Theatre.

Kayce Grogan-Wallace, a native of and theater teacher at , starred in the Atlanta Lyric Theatre's production of Ain't Misbehavin'

"It's one of the best musical reviews of all time," Grogan-Wallace said. "It's a great expression of the music of the late '20s."

Ain't Misbehavin' is Grogan-Wallace's fifth show with the Atlanta Lyric Theatre. "It's an amazing experience," Grogan-Wallace said. "The Lyric always has great concepts, great visions, and the production always turns out wonderful."

Grogan-Wallace played the part of a very matured woman who "has lived through a lot, seen a lot of things and has a relationship between two guys on the stage. It's a very broad character.

"I'm a pretty big personality, but she's really big," Grogan-Wallace said of her part. "I'm not as open with some of the things she's doing, but it's a lot of fun to play her."

While there are a lot of good scenes in the production, Grogan-Wallace said her favorite was "a part that takes the focus on where we were at that time period as African Americans, the song Black and Blue. It talks about being treated like everyone else, how you can have all these things but at that time period it really doesn't matter to everybody."

Grogan-Wallace was in Hairspray, Music Man, Rent and Leader of the Pack. "I've been performing since I can remember," she said. She started singing when she was two. When she was five she was Little Miss Georgia. At nine she received her first recording contract with Columbia Records. When she was 13, she got her second recording contract as a solo artist.

"Working with the Atlanta Lyric is a really good experience," Grogan-Wallace said. " has been around for a long time, and these productions are a great addition. Ain't Misbehavin' is awesome. It's one of those that has you go away singing and dancing. It has great characters and is very stylized. The Lyric always picks good productions."

As a life-long Marietta resident, performing at the Strand has a special place in Grogan-Wallace's heart.

"I've heard stories from my parents about the Strand from when segregation was still going on," she said. Grogan-Wallace recalled her father saying he sat on the floor up front as a boy to watch films because their family was friends with workers at the theater.

"All the black people in the balcony saw him, and it was a bit of a hubbub, but it wasn't a problem for my dad because everyone knew him. Back then there were all these rules for us. 'You're not supposed to do this and not supposed to do that.' It was a different time; but now I'm on stage here, and it says a lot about how we have grown as a society."

Grogan-Wallace has been a theater teacher at for three years. She started her teaching career at where she taught music and theater. Grogan-Wallace's students will present Into the Woods on March 22.

"Everything that I've ever done has always been the love of it," Grogan-Wallace said. "That's something I try to convey to my students. Always be real. Whatever it is you're doing always stay true to what it is you're supposed to be doing. One thing audiences can pick up on is if you're being real or not."

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