Theater lovers who live in or near
Folsom are blessed with a continuous bounty of live shows to choose
from. Harris Center provides touring Broadway musicals, youth musicals,
dramas, and an array of concerts, dance performances, and variety shows.
Community theaters usually offer entertaining plays and musicals well
performed. But only one, to my knowledge, has great entertainment for
kids almost every weekend of the year. I’m speaking, of course, of
Sutter Street Theatre in Folsom Old Town.
Sutter Street’s newest treat for
children of all ages is the Kids version of Disney’s 1970 cartoon,
The Aristocats. This wonderful entertainment, skillfully directed by
Sutter Street newcomer Alison Gilbreath, features a cast of twenty
delightful performers, all under age eighteen.
The story involves the four “Aristocats,”
who are fortunate to live with wealthy Madame, played by charming Jennie
Vaccaro. These lucky cats — mother
Duchess (played opening weekend by Cassie Hamilton, who alternates with
Hannah Hurst in the part) and kittens Berlioz (Shane Magennis), Marie (Caelyn
Anderson), and Toulouse (Jack Shelton) —
live in luxury, watched over by Madame’s butler Edgar, performed
to perfection by Hayden Namgostar. This young actor put me in mind of a
young Joel Grey in Cabaret; he has that kind of semi-nasty stage
presence and is an outstanding singer and dancer.
Edgar, who sings about how much he
hates the Aristocats, discovers that Madam plans to leave her fortune to
their care. He immediately plots to eliminate them by kidnapping them
and leaving them far from home.
The lost cats are soon discovered by
a pack of Alley Cats, whose leader, Thomas O’Malley, is played by Amanda
Ramos. Ramos is always one of my favorite Sutter Street performers, and
here again she steals the show, singing, dancing and acting like she
owns the stage. O’Malley agrees to help Princess and her kittens find
their way home, but a threat arises when a pack of dogs, led by Kyle
Namgostar as General Napoleon, chases them. Marie falls into a river,
and O’Malley dives in to save her, but both are finally rescued by
Amelia and Abby Gabble, cute geese played by the talented Comstock
sisters Mia and Zoe.
O’Malley and the Alley Cats attempt
to persuade the Aristocats that the free life is best
—(“Ev’rybody Wants to Be a Cat”) —
but Duchess insists that they must return home. Being a Disney
story, it must have a happy ending, and the Alley Cats, assisted by
Roquefort, a friendly mouse (Natalie Ann Collins), and, surprisingly, by
Napoleon’s pack of dogs, insure Edgar’s punishment for his evil ways.
The show, including intermission,
runs about ninety minutes, and the non-stop action, singing, and dancing
never slow down, so there is not a dull moment. Even children as young
as five will be absorbed the entire time, and adults in the audience
will be charmed by the skillful singing, dancing, and acting on display.
As always, the wonderful costumes by Eileen Beaver and the uncredited
animal makeup make the antics a pleasure to watch. Aristocats KIDS
plays Saturdays and Sundays at 1 p.m. through May 3.