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Light the candles and cut the big cookie cake. Voices of the South's superfun Memphis Children's Theatre Festival turns 4 this year. The springtime festival, which launched at TheatreWorks, spilling out onto the blazing asphalt parking lots of Overton Square, evolved into a much more comfortable affair after the event moved to the grassy, shady, kid-friendly grounds surrounding the McCoy Theatre at Rhodes College.

Friday night kicks off at 6 p.m. with a bring-your-own picnic on McCoy's lawn. Strolling performers will entertain the crowd with live music and "wild, circus-style performances." After that, Voices of the South — the company responsible for giddy and imaginative classics such as The Ugly Duckling and Pandora's Box — presents a new adaptation of Andrew Clements' Frindle, the story of a fifth-grade time-waster who decides to invent his own word. Friday night closes with a cookies and milk buffet.

Pay-what-you-can Saturday starts at 9:30 a.m. and promises artist workshops, all manner of outdoor activities, wandering performances, and a different show on the main stage every hour. The cast of characters includes an aerialist, stilt walkers, mimes, and magicians.

Voices of the South has developed a solid reputation for using narrative theater techniques to adapt Southern classics to the stage and also for the outrageous comic stylings of Sister Myotis. But witty, intelligent children's theater is their calling card.

Memphis Children's Theatre Festival, Friday-Saturday, may 22nd-23rd, McCoy Theatre at Rhodes College. Tickets are $10. Saturday is pay-what-you-can. For more information, go to voicesofthesouth.org.

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