Photo courtesy of Desert Foothills Theater
Desert Foothills Theater debuts its 2012-2013 schedule with Disney Aristocats Kids, which runs Sept. 28 – Oct. 7, in the Black Box Theater at Cactus Shadows Fine Arts Center.
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Desert Foothills Theater debuts season with Aristocats

MARC BUCKHOUT ~ MANAGING EDITOR~ 9/19/2012

“Talented and really darn cute,” is the way director Mitchell Vantrease describes the cast for Desert Foothills Theater’s production of Disney Aristocats Kids. The show runs Sept. 28 – Oct. 7 in the Black Box Theater at Cactus Shadows Fine Arts Center.
The season premiere for the theater centers around Duchess and her kittens, who have lived the high life in the home of Madame Adelaide Bonfamille, but are forced to find their way home after being abandoned in the countryside by the story’s antagonist, Edgar, the butler.
“People should be ready for a show with some heart to it,” said Vantrease, who makes his directorial debut after serving as assistant director for last season’s production of Beauty and the Beast. “The story is about family and about how family can take on many different forms.”

The no-cut musical has a cast of 32, ranging in age from 8 – 14.
“I love working with kids,” Vantrease said. “In a sense I feel like a teacher. There might be a stigma with no-cut shows, but this is one of the most talented groups I’ve seen. Some of our leads have 15-20 shows to their credit and even the inexperienced kids are learning quickly.”
The story, which was in movie theaters in the early 1970s, and the final film Walt Disney worked on before his death, hits on topics such as letting go of preconceived ideas about people, or in this case, cats.
After being left in the country by Edgar, who is hoping to swoop in and claim an inheritance set aside for the cats, Duchess and her three kittens come across a group of alley cat led by Thomas O’Malley, played by Mason Reeves.

“He is sort of a suave cool cat, but even though they have different lives he feels like he should help them,” the 14-year-old freshman at Pinnacle High School said.
Having lived a life of privilege, Duchess, played by Meagan Multz, is concerned about accepting his assistance, asking if he eats out of dumpsters.
“I like playing her because she’s very prim and proper,” Multz said.
Eventually she and her kittens are won over by O’Malley and they begin their adventure back to Paris.
In directing the show, Vantrease said its is taking him back to his childhood.
“It was one of my favorites growing up,” he said. “The artists have made some great backdrops,” he said. “My vision is for it to have a cartoonish look with video projections and bright colors.”
Multz said she really enjoys the dancing in the play, particularly in the opening. The musical numbers include  Disney favorites “The Aristocats,” “Scales and Arpeggios” and “Ev’rybody Wants to Be a Cat.”
She said she’s excited overall for the opportunity.
“I have been in a number of shows, but usually I’ve been with an older cast,” she said. “In this one I’m with a mostly younger cast so I’m getting an opportunity to play a bigger part. I think it’s a cute story people will enjoy.”
Reeves said he likes the jazz flavor of some of the dances revolving around the alley cat lifestyle.

“That’s different,” he said. “I really like it. “
The run of the show begins with a 7 p.m. performance Sept. 28 and continues with two matinee performances with 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. shows on Sept. 29. The following weekends bill includes a 7 p.m. performance Oct. 5, a 2 p.m. performance Oct. 6, a 7 p.m. performance Oct. 6 before the closing show at 2 p.m. on Oct. 7.
Tickets range in price from $10 – 20. For information on tickets or to purchase go to desertfoothillstheater.com.