Shearer Musical Theatre to present ‘101 Dalmatians’

Published 10:00 am Thursday, March 2, 2017

A cast of more than 70 students from Shearer Elementary School will bring to life a classic and “fur-tastic” Disney tale of kidnapping villains and courageous puppies this weekend.

Shearer Musical Theatre will stage “101 Dalmatians KIDS” during three showings at Campbell Junior High School.

The musical production is based on Disney’s classic film and tells the story of Roger and Anita, the owners of Pongo and Perdita, a couple of Dalmatians raising a litter of spotted puppies.

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Roger and Anita’s neighbor, Cruella de Vil, is set on growing her collection of rare fur coats and thinks the spotted fur of the puppies would make her best coat yet.

The Dalmatians must rally a collection of all the dogs in London to save their puppies from Cruella’s cruel plan and her henchmen, Jasper and Horace.

Shearer music teacher Collin Berner is directing his fourth musical production with his biggest cast yet.

Berner said auditions for the show began in the fall and the cast includes students from kindergarten to fourth grades.

Berner said while the cast is much larger, the number of students who audition for the annual musicals has grown each year.

With almost twice as many cast members as some of this other productions, Berner said he’s faced both challenges and rewards during this production.

“There’s much more movement and motion on stage,” he said. “(Having a cast this size) requires much more instructions. There are more kids who need to know what to do.”

The choice of “101 Dalmatians” was two-fold, Berner said.

“As far as the cast is concerned, this show has been an exciting one to work on because a lot of the older cast members either had small parts in previous shows or are brand new to the program,” he said. “We’ve been able to train up these leaders at the same time we’re training up the younger cast that looks up to them.

“As for the show itself, I tend to enjoy producing shows with really cool villains. We had Miss Hannigan in ‘Annie’ and Maleficent from ‘Sleeping Beauty.’ This time we’ve got Cruella de Vil. That character stands out and it’s been fun to create that character.”

Berner said the production is high-energy and the cast includes some students who have become regulars in the school’s budding theater program.

After school’s first major production of “Annie” the district went through major redistricting, so the next production included a nearly all-new cast.

However, one “Annie” cast member has returned this year, he said.

Fourth-grader Zoey Roberts acted in “Annie” as a first-grader and returned to the Shearer district this year. She will portray Sgt. Tibbs, a tabby cat who helps rescue the puppies.

Roberts said she thinks the classic tales teaches that “crime doesn’t pay,” but mostly has enjoyed making new friend through the production.

“This is a nice children’s comedy and we’ve worked really hard to get the show ready for everyone to see,” she said.

Besides the actors, Berner said he has a dedicated crew of volunteers, from parents, teachers and other active thespians in the community, who help make the shows possible.

His stage manager, Veronica Brown, has been with him since his first show, and many actors from previous shows return to help after aging out of the school.

Kelly Estes, director of Winchester Players, has taken charge of costuming and make-up for the large cast, he said.

Shearer Musical Theatre’s production of “101 Dalmatians” will be staged at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Campbell Junior High School.

Tickets are $6 for adults or $4 for children four and younger. Tickets can be purchased at Shearer Elementary School or at the door.

About Whitney Leggett

Whitney Leggett is managing editor of The Winchester Sun and Winchester Living magazine. To contact her, email or call 859-759-0049.

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