SELMA – Maybe everybody wants to be a cat, but not just anybody can be an actor. When you ask the Cool Kid Players actors involved in the Selma Arts Center’s theater group about what it takes to put on a musical, they’ll tell you about memorizing lines, rehearsing dance routines and dealing with pre-show jitters. But they love it and say the latest production, “The Aristocats Kids” is a jazzy show worth coming out to see.
“This is something every single little kid has worked hard for,” said Fowler’s Jack Steele, 13, who plays Thomas O’Malley. “We’ve worked hard and honestly all of us think this will be a great show.”
Sasha Young and Emily Dixon are directing “Aristocats” which is an adaptation of the Disney film based on a story by Tom McGowan and Tom Rowe. Kimberly Houston is in charge of costumes and there are 45 kids ages 7 to 13 comprising the two casts.
“‘Aristocats’ has always been one of my favorite Disney movies,” Dixon said. “I love cats and jazz music and this show has a good amount of both.”
Dixon has directed for Cool Kids Players before, but this is the first time she’s teamed up with Young.
“It’s been a wonderful journey. I starting doing theater seven years ago but it wasn’t until two years ago that I became the in-house stage manager and assistant director of the kids’ program,” Dixon said.
In the musical, the eccentric millionnairess Madame decides to will her entire fortune to her cats, Duchess and her three little kittens. After her villainous butler Edgar schemes to gain his mistress’ fortune and dumps the Aristocats in the country, rough and tumble alley cat O’Malley agrees to help the felines find their way home.
Selma’s Hannah Armenta, 13, has the role of Edgar. She said playing a male character will be a challenge, but it will only add to her repertoire. Hannah’s been involved in acting for seven years now and she admits at first she was rather shy.
“I’ve gained a lot of confidence doing this. It’s definitely helped grow my personality. I’m not afraid to be who I am, and I’m not afraid to stand up for what’s right.”
Hannah said she likes the jazzy music in “Aristocats” and that she gets to stretch as an actor. For this part, she’ll don a moustache, wear a tux and pull back her hair to be more a convincing bad guy.
“It’s the first time I’m playing a guy. When I saw the cast list, I thought this will be interesting and I’m going to do it and won’t complain. It’ll give me something to put on my resume that I can play a gender that’s the complete opposite.”
Hannah said even the youngest of the actors is doing their part to be ready for opening night on Feb. 22.
“We have a lot of younger kids. It’s very interesting to see these little kids take on these roles and remember their lines. It’s really cool. It’s a very big thing for them, but they’re doing it,” she said of her cast mates.
Jack agrees and said with only two weeks to go before opening night, they’ll definitely be rehearsing to prepare.
“It’ll be a challenge, but the best thing about musicals is you get to be somebody you probably couldn’t be in real life. You get to act out somebody else’s character and be somebody else and feel that way. The first time you’re up there, you feel pretty nervous, but afterward, you just keep doing it and you feel pretty good.”
Dixon invites jazz lovers, Disney lovers and cat lovers out to see the musical which runs Feb. 22-25.
“These kids have a fantastic energy when they’re on stage being cats, dogs, geese, mice and even humans. It’ll be hard to find entertainment like this for the whole family to enjoy for only 5 or 10 dollars a ticket.”
Performances are 7 p.m. Feb. 22, 23, 24 and 25 and 2 p.m. matinees are Feb. 24 and Feb. 25. See www.selmaartscenter.com/youth for performer list of Cast A and Cast B. To purchase tickets, go online to http://bit.ly/2BlWoTn. A processing fee applies for online purchases. You can also purchase tickets at the Selma Arts Center, 1935 High St., from 1-6 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays. Details: 891-2238.