Friday, March 24, 2017

Emmet Belknap Performs "The Aristocats"

The Emmet Belknap Drama Club performed the first of three sold out performances of “The Aristocats” Thursday evening at the school’s auditorium. These are 5th and 6th grade kids, and their show was a whole lot of fun to watch. Again, this is not your typical high school musical, but Corliss is in this one. All I can say after watching it is, once they get to the high school, they will be a fine-honed machine entertaining the entire community.

I’ve heard each of the songs being sung in this musical for most of the past month or so. Corliss really gets into these shows and knows everyone’s lines by the time the show begins. She sang them well, but there is nothing like hearing the ensemble sing those songs together. At that age, I did a stage show, but I stayed in the back, out of the spotlight. These kids are not afraid to go right to the edge of the stage, showing the audience what they can do.

Nicholas Pickard played the lead role of the tomcat, Thomas O’Malley. With a natural twinkle in his eyes, he strutted on stage like he owned it, essentially capturing the very spirit of the lead alley cat. He shows just a hint of the trouble he can be while still holding onto the goodness he feels towards others in trouble.

The Aristocats are played by Marissa Taylor, Nico Radwanski, Kennedy Doran, and Sadie Igoe. The mother cat, Dutchess, was Taylor’s role. As the mother cat, she kept her kittens in line, and showed an air of maturity in doing that. The songs she sang were wonderful. She is a good singer. As cleverly as the show was done, I almost expected her to come out with the Zsa Zsa Gabor accent from the Disney movie.

Nico Radwanski makes sure every time he’s on stage that you’re going to notice him. As Toulouse, his mannerisms bring the character to life. His interaction with his castmates draws them all together closer and ends up making a better performance.

I love watching Sadie Igoe act, dance, and sing. As Marie, one of the Aristocats, her facial expressions give an incredible amount of depth to her role. Her sad eyes when the cats were in the travel crate to Timbuktu portrayed the desperation that the cats would have felt. Kennedy Doran was the quietest of the Aristocats. As the youngest of the cats, she followed the lead of her older siblings. She was the perfect little sister to Toulouse and Marie.

My favorite character of the night was Petra Bish as Edgar, the butler. She played betrayed and cantankerous very well. Her stomping around and conniving across the stage reminded me of my own 11-year old. All the stuff we get a face full of at home, but mostly hides when she’s in front of others. It must have been fun to let it all out on stage.

There are so many wonderful actors and actresses at Emmet Belknap it would be difficult to take the time to talk about each one. Collectively, they put on a great show for the packed auditorium. The singing and dancing was quite wonderful. I think it’s impressive that they all can remember all those lines, the songs, and the dance moves.

We have a wonderful theater in Lockport with the Palace Theater that relies on local actors and actresses to fill roles. With programs like the Emmet Belknap Drama Club, there is an ever-growing group of thespians who will continue to grace the stage long after their school days are over. This program solidifies the innate talents for each child. As they move through their school years together, they will only get better. They will hone their skills and learn to work together to make even greater shows as they reach high school and beyond.

All three shows for “The Aristocats” sold out ahead of the shows. It was with good reason. These kids are talented. They are good enough for a larger venue. Maybe next year they could utilize the high school stage to allow more people to enjoy their talents. Even better -- they could take out the wall at the back of the auditorium and open it to the music room upstairs. It’s an honest to goodness balcony up there. How cool would that be?

I'd like to extend a big congratulations to Kelly Tokash, Ericka Milczarski, Tim Martin, Naomi Moore, and all the others who helped to put on this terrific show. Enjoy the shows tonight and Saturday.

Craig Bacon enjoys watching young actors and actresses blossoming on stage in front of a receptive audience.

Photos courtesy Ericka Milczarski