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FAMILY : Young Playwrights Get Their Moment in Sun

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Gender equality and murder figure into a make-over for nursery rhyme team Jack and Jill, and an 8-year-old Jewish boy sends a letter to Santa in two of four winning submissions to the California Young Playwrights Contest that will receive full professional productions at San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre on the Cassius Carter Center Stage, beginning today.

Part of the Globe’s “Plays by Young Writers ’95" series, the productions are presented in two separate programs, staged by professional directors and actors:

Program X: “Santa Does a Mitzvah,” a comedy by Chula Vista teen-ager Mabelle Reynoso, and “Jason’s Mask,” a drama about high school’s often painful social stratification, by Frank Teplin, now a freshman at UC San Diego.

Program O: The dark comedy “And Jack Came Tumbling After,” by Northwestern University freshman Stephen Kaplan, and “Visions of the Woman,” a surreal odyssey about teen-age despair by 14-year-old Marie Auyong, revolving around the disabling societal and familial pressures felt by three young Asian women.

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* Program X: Sunday, 7 p.m. (Weekday show for school groups, today, 12:30 p.m.; performances today and Thursday at 9:30 a.m. and Friday at 8 p.m. are sold out.)

Program O: Thursday, Saturday, 8 p.m. ; Sunday, 2 p.m. (School shows, Wednesday, Friday, 9:30 a.m.)

Tickets are $7.50-$11. Reservations: (619) 239-2255. Playwrights Project information: (619) 298-9242.

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Still Going Strong: There is nothing slick or syrupy about Ella Jenkins, a seminal figure in children’s music, still going strong after more than 40 years. Jenkins’ refreshingly straightforward “call and response” style, the deceptive simplicity of her own instrumentation and her ability to choose songs that resonate with young children have inspired decades of children’s singers.

For definitive Jenkins, don’t miss “Ella Jenkins: Multicultural Children’s Songs,” a no-nonsense title for a treasure trove of rhythm, rhyme and heart for preschoolers and young children, inspired by Jenkins’ global travels. The singer introduces each participatory song such as “On Safari,” “Jambo,” “Counting in Swahili” and “May-ree Mack” in her teacherly manner and then the music magic begins.

* “Ella Jenkins: Multicultural Children’s Songs,” Smithsonian Folkways, CD: $13, cassette: $8.50 (plus shipping). (800) 410-9815.

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Parakeetheads: If adult fans of Jimmy Buffet and his laid-back, tropical rhythms are called Parrotheads, what are fledgling fans called? The answer is in the title of a new release for children from Buffet’s Margaritaville Records, “The Parakeet Album: Songs of Jimmy Buffett.”

Aimed at “parakeets,” this collection of upbeat story and family songs such as “Jolly Mon Sing,” “Little Miss Magic,” “Off to See the Lizard” and “Delaney Talks to Statues” is performed by the W. O. Smith Music School Singers of Nashville, a children’s chorus made up of 10- to 15-year-olds with a trained but sweet and natural sound.

The musicians include current and former members of Buffet’s Coral Reefer band, who donated their union fees to the nonprofit music school that serves children from low-income households. A portion of the album’s royalties go to the school.

* “The Parakeet Album, Songs of Jimmy Buffett , " Margaritaville Records, CD: $15.98, cassette: $9.98. Widely available.

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