Community theatre at its finest: Florida Chautauqua Theatre presents 'The Aristocats'


"The Aristocats" is based off of the 1970 Disney animated film, which was later taken to the stage just like other Disney classics such as "Mary Poppins," "The Lion King," and "Aladdin."

Special to The Sun
Published: Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 03:55 PM.

The Florida Chautauqua Theatre's current production is the cat's meow.

Culminating the theatre's fall Music and More Workshop, children from kindergarten to eighth grade will come together to showcase Disney's "The Artistocats" on stage. Based on the 1970 animated movie, the story follows a family of well-to-do felines who are saved by an alley cat after being kidnapped by their butler. The film was the last project that Walt Disney worked on before passing away in 1966. The film was later introduced to the stage, which the local theatre based its production on.

"It follows the movie pretty closely, but there's more music — wonderful jazz music," explained Beth Campbell-Work, director of Florida Chautauqua Theatre. "It's a fun show and it's not long, so it's a great way to introduce your children to theater."

The theatre represents the very definition of "community theatre." Everybody, from the parents to the board of directors have a role.

"We have 13 board members and nine are actively involved," Campbell-Work said. "That shows what kind of organization this is. It is all volunteer-run. We have two ladies who make all of our costumes, and I'd put them up against anybody's."

During a non-rehearsal day, parent volunteer Barbara Cooper is painting a background scene for the stage. Brand-new to DeFuniak Springs, Cooper enrolled her son Aidan in the Music and Me workshop. Upon hearing that she had artistic talents, Campbell-Work quickly put her to use.

"We have a rule that every parent must take a job or we couldn't possibly do this," Campbell-Work said. "None of it's elegant, but we try to make it work."

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