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Stories like 'If You Give a Mouse a Cookie' come to life on stage

Chaunice Chapman is one of those lucky people who knew as a youngster what she wanted to do.

“I’ve always wanted to go into theater, ever since I was a child,” she said.

Her mother was a dancer and very much into the arts.

Chapman also always wanted to do theater for young audiences. At 27, she looks a decade younger, she said, which helps when doing children’s theater.

“Most people think I’m 17,” she said. “I’m very animated and I do what the kids do. Children are so involved in the play. They can see the whole world happen, and I always love the opportunity to teach” about drama.

“I love theater. That’s amazing.”

Chapman is on her third tour of “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and Other Story Books.” It’s the first time on the road for her since the last “Mouse/Cookie” tour in 2007-08.

“Everybody’s new,” she said of the cast. “It’s an entirely new cast. And they are great to work with.”

Besides “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” the other excerpts from children’s story books include “Amazing Grace,” “Borreguita and the Coyote,” “Imogene’s Antlers,” “Martha Speaks,” “Master Man,” “Math Curse” and “Owen.”

Local theatergoers may be familiar with “Amazing Grace,” which was adapted into the play by Columbus novelist, playwright and artist Shay Youngblood.

It’s about an African American girl who wants to audition for her school’s production of “Peter Pan.” The other children tell her that Peter Pan is not black.

“It’s one of my favorite stories,” Chapman said. “It always makes me tear up inside. It has such a great, positive message.”

There are six actors and a stage manager who travel together in two vans that carry all the costumes, lights and sound equipment, as well as their personal luggage.

“We do it all,” Chapman said of the production by putting up the stage, taking everything down after the performance and packing it back in the vans. “We’ll do a show and afterward, we’re all exhausted. It takes a whole lot of energy.”

Born and reared in the Bronx, New York, she now lives in Queens when she’s not on the road.

Chapman says while she’ll always perform, her goals have “kind of morphed.” She wants to “enlighten and teach. I’d like to do film. I want to do everything. You know, art really enriches life.”

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