MARIPOSA -- Ev'rybody wants to be a cat.
That's the theme of "The AristoCats," Mariposa County High School's upcoming drama production.
The story takes place in Paris at the turn of the 20th century, where Duchess and her three kittens enjoy a pampered life with their wealthy owner, Madame Adelaide Bonfamille.
The butler, Edgar, doesn't share her devotion. When the millionairess wills her entire estate to her feline family, Edgar plans their demise.
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But after putting sleeping pills in their food and dumping them in the French countryside, an alley cat named Thomas O'Malley thwarts his plans by rescuing the cat-napped kitties.
Adapted from film to stage, the play is full of fun, with music, dancing and storyline twists and turns. A jazzy soundtrack keeps the characters singing and swinging.
Costumes and props are simple. And the kids' performances are impressive.
An exercise bike stands in for a motorcycle as Edgar races from Paris to do his dastardly deed. Played by Myles Jellison, a junior, he sings:
"Nighty-night kittens, just go with the flow. Soon you'll be history, and I'll get the dough!"
Actually, he doesn't. But let's not spoil things by giving away the ending.
For Bryan Starchman, the high school's drama coach, "The AristoCats" is the 26th play he's directed at the high school since he began teaching there seven years ago.
Once, when a student pulled out because of low grades, Starchman filled the role himself -- holding a newspaper to hide the script as he read his lines.
Rod Fiester directs everything musical, and takes part on stage when necessary. In "The AristoCats" he plays Scat Cat.
"Not a lot of guys who could sing auditioned, so Bryan cast me in the role," Fiester says.
Being able to carry a tune was definitely a prerequisite. Grady Northrup plays the irresistible and daring O'Malley. The challenge of acting in a musical appealed to him.
Besides having fun on stage, the kids value the close friendships they've developed while acting together. Most of Laura Hill's friends are involved in drama. She's been in at least half a dozen of Starchman's productions, and plays a convincing Duchess.
Sage Hart plays Roquefort, the mouse, who saves the day. As a young, slightly built freshman, he doesn't mind being cast for his size.
For an hour of lighthearted entertainment, and in support of local students' artistic efforts, "The AristoCats" is one event not to be missed.
Debbie Croft writes about life in the foothills communities. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at her Sun-Star blog: City Girl, Country Life.