BWW Previews: Aristocats KIDS is a PURRRFECT PLAY for Families at Straz Center For The Performing Arts' TECO Theatre

BWW Previews: Aristocats KIDS is a PURRRFECT PLAY for Families at Straz Center For The Performing Arts' TECO Theatre
Photo by Soho Images

What do you get when you cross 26 adorable second through fourth graders, ages 7-10, with the magic only found in a Disney classic play, Aristocats KIDS?

"Great comedic timing, charismatic goofiness, song and dance," said The Aristocats KIDS director Sarah Berland. "Expect very talented young people - 17 returning actors and 9 that this is their first time on stage at TECO."

Five middle school and high students serve as apprentices on the production.

The Patel Conservatory will present The Aristocats KIDS, on February 15 - 18 in the Straz Center for the Performing Art 's TECO Theater.

With musical direction by Timothy Wilt and choreography by Jane Geddings, set in the heart of Paris, the play is about Duchess and her three kittens, recipients of their eccentric owner's estate, their catnapping by the greedy, bumbling butler, and their rescue by alley cat Thomas O'Malley, and his band of swingin' jazz cats.

The kids' costumes are designed so that they are not full fur, that the animal characters have a little more humanization and the audience can see the facial expressions of the child actors, letting their personalities shine through.

"In Aristocats KIDS, I love the comic bits and physical comedy, but overall every second, it's great. The kids are so excited to learn, so excited by the material and it's very contagious. I love how passionate they are," said Sarah. "The really want to put on the very best possible show. They don't want to put on a little kid show. They are passionate about being professional young actors, which I find very refreshing."

One such actor, "almost ten" year-old Hannah Carey plays Aristocats owner, Madame Bonfamille. Hannah has been performing for 5 years and hopes to pursue theatre as a career.

Hannah said her character in Aristocats KIDS was really funny, but could also be sweet and nice.

"Madame Bonfamille is a really fun role to play - probably my favorite that I've played," she explained. "My favorite part of being an actor is all the opportunities. If you can't do one show, there's other opportunities to do another. It's really fun being an actor. Patel has helped me not be afraid to be myself. I used to be shy, but I feel like now that I've been at Patel for a while, it's helped me become more of myself."

Disney's The Aristocats will be presented in the TECO Theater Feb. 15 - 18. Performances are Thursday and Friday at 7 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday at 1 and 4 p.m. Regularly priced tickets start at $15 and may be purchased by calling 813.229.7827, in person at the Straz Center Ticket Office or online at www.strazcenter.org.

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