Aristocats

 Marking the fifth year for the Children’s Theatre Experience, the hep-cats at Duncan Little Theatre is hoping Stephens County will “pick up that feline beat,” as the group of youth PUR-formers takes their show “The Aristocats, KIDS,” on the road.

Producer Leigh McEntire said this was a way to spread the arts.

“The goal of the Children’s Theatre Experience program is to provide a live theatre experience for all of the children of Stephens County each year at no cost to the students or to the schools,” she said. “Many children do not have the opportunity to experience live theatre and this program may be the only experience many area children have with live theatre each year.”

McEntire said they selected to use children from Stephens County as the ambassadors of this program.

“We hope that by seeing their classmates participate in our productions that students realize that the theatre arts are something that they can not only enjoy as spectators, but as participants,” she said.

So the children audition, rehearse and then put on a few public shows before touring the local schools.

Public performances are set for 6 p.m. Sept. 6 and two on Sept. 7 at 2 and 6 p.m. at the Hodgson Studio of Music and Drama, 814 W Walnut. Tickets will be $10 for adults and $5 for students.

“Following the public performances, the cast and crew of our children’s theatre show travel to all Duncan elementary schools and pre-k centers, as well as Marlow, Central, Comanche, Empire and Bray elementary schools to perform for pre-k through 5th grade students,” McEntire said. “The children perform for over 4,000 students in 6 school districts in Stephens County.”

Not only are they performers, but also some special youth positions help the younger actors.

“We have expanded the program to include teen assistants who serve as stage managers, sound technicians and encouragers for our young performers,” McEntire said. “The cast has an intense rehearsal schedule, practicing three to five times each week for approximately five weeks to put together a fully staged production with costumes, sets and props.”

While many people volunteer time, it is still not always enough according to McEntire.

“The program continues to struggle financially. Duncan Little Theatre must pay royalty fees for each school performance even though we do not charge the students or the schools for admission,” she said. “The total budget for the program is over $6,000 each year. Nearly half of this budget is funded by the Oklahoma Arts Council.”

Ticket sales, fundraising and donations make up the remainder of the budget. Currently, community partners include the Aequalis, Kiwanis, Optimists and Rotary clubs.

To donate to the program contact McEntire at (580) 252-9494.

Purchase tickets for “The Aristocats, KIDS,” in advance at https://www.tututix.com/client/dlt/ or at Distinctive Decor (901 W Main St). Remaining tickets will be sold at the door prior to the performances.

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