Everybody Wants to be a Cat…Literally! by Carmel Grace Cowart
“Wow! Forty-eight… FORTY-EIGHT students! Wow!”
That was the thought in the forefront of my mind on the first day of Fall classes. I teach Creative Dramatics I, which is a 12-week musical theatre program for elementary school students, commonly called CD1. We are so happy to have this many young children interested in the magical art of live theatre! I’m pretty sure it’s the highest enrollment we’ve had for a class show in the six years that I’ve been teaching at SCT, and we could not be more EXCITED about it!
Upon hearing about our enormous enrollment, many people have been asking me two simple questions…
1) What show are you doing?
2) How are you going to do it with that many kids?
Well, I’d be happy to tell you! Our CD1 class show this Fall is Disney’s Aristocats Kids. It’s a high-energy musical, set in Paris, about a family of cats trying to find their way home after being cat-napped by the jealous butler of their owner, who has decided to leave her fortune to her precious pets. On their journey, assisted by a smooth-talking tomcat, they encounter a dog brigade, gabbling geese, and a whole gang of jazzy alley-cats who explain to them (in song and dance of course) why EVERYBODY WANTS TO BE A CAT!
To accommodate such a large group of students, I decided to double-cast the show. This means that there are two separate full casts of Aristocats! Woo-hoo! Isn’t that exciting!? Each cast rehearses in the same two-hour class on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and each cast will have a full weekend of performances in November. To direct two full casts simultaneously is actually quite do-able. It simply takes some creativity and organization.
During class, all forty-eight students are led in a physical and vocal warm-up and then play a theatre game together. Here’s all of them (well, almost) posing in a game called Family Portrait…
After warm-ups, we split Cast A from Cast B. For about forty-five minutes, one group works on either learning their music or blocking, while the other group learns choreography. Then, they swap! This way, each group gets a well-rounded class period filled with learning the three most important aspects of being in a musical; dance, music, and character development. Here’s Cast A circled up and learning their music for Thomas O’Malley with Ms. Lauren, our Musical Director. Because of the size of our group, we have to do some of our rehearsal in the costume department!
Here’s Cast B learning choreography for the opening number with Ms. Ali, our Choreographer….
At the end, I like to wrap up the rehearsal with both casts together. We typically play a theatre game and each cast gets to perform what they just learned for the other cast. Not only is this fun for the students, but it also helps them retain everything they’ve been taught.
We are thrilled to have this many children participating in a class show, and they are very much looking forward to sharing their experience with you! Please mark your calendars for November 14-16, and come out to see these awesome students in Disney’s Aristocats Kids, because EVERYBODY WANTS TO BE A CAT! Don’t you!?