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BWW Interviews: CATCO Is Kids is Alive and Exceedingly Well with Expanded Offerings


I recently caught up with Joe Bishara, who while currently performing as a featured actor in the sell-out production of CATCO's "Forbidden Broadway's Greatest Hits: Vol. 1" down at the Riffe Center, is also the Associate Producing Director of CATCO. Bishara manages the day-to-day operations of the Columbus Performing Arts Center (CPAC) at 548 Franklin Ave as well, which is home to amongst many other projects, the ever-expanding CATCO Is Kids program.

There is still some miscommunication out there as to what Catco Is Kids is about and what you offer. Can you clear that up for anyone who may still be confused, please?

"In early 2010, CATCO merged with Steven C. Anderson's children's theatre group, The Phoenix Theatre for Children, creating our current evolution entitled CATCO is Kids. This new moniker allows us to bundle ourselves into a single brand. It's still the same imaginative and captivating programming."

As of this Fall, the CATCO IS Kids school-year, weekend children's theater education class offerings are changing this year as well, correct?

"Yes. I am really excited about that! We had begun the Saturday morning Musical Theater School 4 years ago, and what we noticed, after this 4th year, was that it was time for a change. We are still going to be teaching the same core principles in acting, singing, and dancing, but it's going to culminate in a weekend of performances, 3 times a year, of an actual junior version of a musical. Starting this fall, we'll have 9 weeks of camp (from 9am-12pm on Saturdays), with the conclusion being a weekend of performances that 9th week (2:30 matinees on Saturdays and Sundays), open to the general public, for the ticket charge of $5 per ticket." (For additional information of Saturday Morning school-year classes, go to: )

Less than a trip to a movie!

"Very reasonably priced. In the Fall, we're going to start with "Aladdin, Jr.". In the Winter, the session will work the same way, but it will be the musical, "Snoopy", and then, in the Spring, it will be the junior version of "Suessical". For 9 weeks of instruction each session, the fee is $200 (27 hours of instruction)."

This is not the extent of the Catco Is Kids season, however. You also have a full season of shows for children.

"We do. We are actually starting our first show of the Catco Is Kids 2013-14 season as a camp- an all kids camp- that culminates in a weekend of performances of a show called "The Rude Mechanicals", which is adaptation of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream", written specifically for kids by Ed Graczyk. Our next show will be "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer", a 3 person adaptation including the perspective of Mark Twain as a character. After that, we will be launching the Ohio premiere of a new adaptation of "The Cat In the Hat". We are really excited about that! There will be 2 children's roles available in that show, and we will also be offering a week-long audition prep class for any local children who would like to get ready for that audition. The next show on the books is a World Premiere of Steven C. Anderson's (who has written over 50 shows) new play called "The Wolf Tales", which involves all of the fairytales that contain a wolf told from the wolf's perspective."

Educators will love that one, as it's much like the children's book favorite entitled, "The True Story of The Three Little Pigs"...

"Yes, and then last, but not least, our 2013-14 season for kids concludes with an all-kids production that is an adaptation of "The Wizard of Oz", called "Dorothy and The Wizard of Oz", but it's an audience participation version. So, when Dorothy first meets the scarecrow, for instance, the kids are going to be able to come up and help Scarecrow put his stuffing back in on stage."

Catco is Kids is known for its large degree of audience participation, which the entire audience, especially the younger folks, adore.

"It's loads of fun. Our Education director, Heather Burley, will be directing that production. She has taught in many of our school-year classes and our at-risk school based program as well, but this will be her directorial debut."

There are all sorts of "firsts" going on at Catco Is Kids this year!

"We're really offering 8 productions a season now, if you include the Saturday morning productions, which will be great shows, in addition to the traditional season. Our actual season can still be viewed as individual show tickets, or purchased as a 5-show package. For that 5 show package, 1 adult and 1 child can come see every one of those 5 shows for under $100 total. We try to keep our pricing reasonable, so that it can be accessible to families."

There are half-price preview shows of "Tom Sawyer", "The Cat In the Hat", and "The Wolf Tales' available, and you also offer school matinee performances as well. (Interested parties should visit: for additionl information on dates/times/pricing). I love that there is an opportunity for a budding performer of any experience level to learn and grow here at Catco Is Kids.

"That's truly what we want to have here. It's really, really important for us to be offering those types of opportunities for all children. Whether or not a child chooses to pursue theater as their profession moving forward, what we are trying to do is instill confidence in them that can transcend the stage. One of our old taglines from our Phoenix days was, "Light the spark of imagination.", and it still rings true today in everything that we do. That's what we aim to do, whether it's in a child seeing the show, a parent, or a future theater performer. We're very proud of the program."

The CATCO Is Kids ticket price may be one of the best deals in the city for quality, family-friendly live theater these days, so be sure to check out the Catco Is Kids 2013-14 season, as well as the offerings available for children of all ages in its theater education program by going to :

PHOTO CREDIT: Columbus Parent

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Lisa grew up participating in community theater groups such as Cincinnati Young People's Theater (CYPT) in suburban Cincinnati, Ohio, both in front of and behind (read more...)