‘Aristocats’ is rollicking musicalWho let the dogs out, not to mention the cats, geese and mouse? That would be the Superior school district. During rehearsal for Disney’s “The Aristocats” on Friday, children dressed as animals ran offstage to circle the audience in a mad dash to save a family of cats from a jealous butler’s plot.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
Who let the dogs out, not to mention the cats, geese and mouse?
That would be the Superior school district. During rehearsal for Disney’s “The Aristocats” on Friday, children dressed as animals ran offstage to circle the audience in a mad dash to save a family of cats from a jealous butler’s plot. The story and tunes come straight from Disney’s animated movie, released in 1970. The energy comes from 35 children in grades 3-12.
“I love acting, just being able to express myself while I’m singing, dancing,” said Jessie Molitor, 17, who plays both a dog and a goose. “You get that freedom feeling.” The Superior High School senior has been in the district’s three previous summer musicals — “Mulan,” “Oliver” and “Alice in Wonderland.” But this year’s play, she said, really reaches out to kids more.
“Kids love animals,” Jessie said. “Everybody loves cats. They can relate to animals.”
The story line follows a Parisian cat, Duchess, and her three kittens. When their wealthy owner, Madame, decides to leave her money to them, her butler, Edgar, takes things into his own hands and cat-naps the family. They are rescued by a smooth-talking alley cat and his friends. Add in a pair of gabbling geese, a pack of hounds and a mouse who just might save the day. The show is sprinkled with catchy tunes, like “Ev’rybody Wants to be a Cat,” and “Thomas O’Malley Cat.”
Isabelle Johnson, 9, has enjoyed giving a sassy twist to her character, Duchess’ kitten Marie.
“She’s on the snooty side, she can be a bit bossy,” Isabelle said. “She has a little kick in her.” The 9-year-old said audiences will like the kittens’ piano scene and Marie’s crush on O’Malley.
Alley cat Hayley Olson, 12, said the musical has a great message about acceptance and the importance of not giving up. The animals unite for a common cause, Jessie said, “Putting differences aside to beat the bad guy.”
While the past three summer musicals have been junior plays, this one is a shorter kids’ play, said director Cheri Tesarek. The set and costumes are simple, but the large cast treats viewers with some truly grand musical numbers. In addition, the show has been double-cast. Each night, a different set of students will step into the starring roles. On the other night, they will play supporting cast.
“Everybody, at least one point, has a line,” Tesarek said. The double-casting also allowed students with musical solos to practice together, which helped boost their confidence levels.
Mixing students from grade school, middle school and high school together gives the summer musicals a generational quality.
“I think the high school kids are really good role models for all of us,” Hayley said. “And I like being in the middle because I get to help younger kids with things.”
This is Hayley’s first acting role, but she is no stranger to the stage. The middle-schooler has been dancing for nine years. Tesarek said that experience led to her being named dance captain. Other students have stepped into leadership roles for the play, as well.
“The Aristocats” will appeal to animal lovers and anyone who wants to see young thespians shine, cast members said. It’s also a lot of fun. The show will be performed at 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday in the Superior High School Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $5 at the door.