Kids star in Cats, Seussical, Guys and Dolls

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Anthony Bean Community Theater and NORD present Cats.
  • Anthony Bean Community Theater and NORD present Cats.

By Emily Jensen

Charmaine Neville is surrounded by a pack of nearly one hundred 7- to 17-year-old kids singing and dancing in elaborate cat costumes. You would think her head would be spinning, but the award-winning singer and actress, who is starring as Grizabella in Anthony Bean Community Theater/New Orleans Recreation Department Summer Youth Program’s production of Cats, is as cool as a dish of milk.

“The kids are fabulous,” she says, “I mean, this isn’t their first production, they’ve been in many others — and they’re really, really into this.” Summertime may be playtime for many children, but for kids involved in Anthony Bean Community Theater/NORD Summer Youth Program, the end of school signals the beginning of a season of hard work.

Jefferson Performing Arts Society and Southern Rep also have summer programs that culminate in productions open to the public.

The Anthony Bean/NORD production of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s musical composition based on T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats challenges the kids to portray a slew of quirky felines at their annual Jellicle Ball, where one cat will be chosen to be reborn. Their efforts caught the attention of City Council Vice-President Arnie Fielkow, who has requested that the cast present a preview at the Council Chamber Thursday.

Regular performances kick off Friday, July 22, and continue through July 31. Neville assures that audience members “will be as excited as the kids are.”

The Jefferson Performing Arts Center also has a lineup of children’s musicals about to begin, with two camp sessions featuring more than 180 kids and teens. Three weeks of intensive rehearsals culminate in a production of Seussical, starring 3rd-7th graders, and the Broadway classic Guys and Dolls, starring 8th-12th graders.

Southern Rep’s summer campers will keep the musicals coming in August with a production of Rent: The School Edition, starring a cast of teens, and Willy Wonka: The Musical! performed by its 5 to 13 year olds.

Performances:

Cats
8 p.m. Fri.-Sat. July 22-23; 3 p.m. Sat.-Sun. July 23-24; 8 p.m. Thu.-Sat. July 28-30; 3 p.m. Sat.-Sun. July 30-31
Anthony Bean Community Theater 1333 South Carrollton Ave. 862-7529; www.anthonybeantheater.com
Tickets $20 general admission, $15 children (15 years and under)

Seussical
7:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat.; 2 p.m. Sun. July 24
Westwego Performing Arts Theatre, 177 Sala Ave., Westwego, 885-2000; www.jpas.org

Guys and Dolls
7:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat. July 29-30; 2 p.m. Sun. July 31
Jefferson Performing Arts Center, EJHS Auditorium, 400 Phlox Ave., Metairie, 885-2000; www.jpas.org

JPAS tickets $15 general admission, $12 students/seniors/military, $10 children (12 and under)

Rent: The School Edition
7 p.m. Thu.-Sat. Aug. 4-6; 2 p.m. Sat. July 6
Southern Rep, 365 Canal St., third floor, 522-6545; www.southernrep.com
Tickets $5 and up

Willy Wonka: The Musical!
August 11-13, times TBA
Southern Rep, 365 Canal St., third floor, 522-6545; www.southernrep.com

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