Courtesy photo Elizabeth Bellotte (from left), Rene Gonzalez, Alex Vega, Daneris Mercado and Neaychma Fogle rehearse the number ÔDog Show Tonight' with score composer Barry David Butler on the keyboard.
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published: Sunday, June 30, 2013
'Dog Show - the Musical' to open Monday at AP's Children's Academy of Theater
By BARRY FOSTER
AVON PARK - It started out slowly, but in the end there were 19 youngsters that signed up for this year's Children's Academy of Theater's summer program. The crown jewel of their efforts will take to the stage Monday morning with the inaugural performance of "Dog Show - The Musical."
Penned by playwright and lyricist Phillis Barish, the show features music composed by Barry David Butler.
He has been at the Avon Park Community Center each day for the past several weeks working with the young cast to bring the production to life.
"Anybody who loves dogs, dog shows, great music or loves the underdog is going to love this show," said Butler.
Krista Flores, who created the Children's Academy of Theater, said this year's group represents a wide cross section of youngsters.
"We have kids ranging from 7 to 17," she said.
Flores has overseen every aspect of the production ranging from sets and costumes to music and staging.
The story revolves around Luigi, a streetwise mutt who sees a $100,000 prize for the winner of an international dog show. He then begins a complex scheme to win the cash.
Along the way he runs into contestants including a Doberman, a Chinese Chow, a British Bulldog and a beautiful French Poodle named "Diva."
To help the youngsters develop their acting skills, Flores enlisted the aid of Ann Hall. She has served as a dialect coach and has been helping the dogs "get into character."
The costumes were designed by local artists Phyllis Behrens and Pamela Kay.
"These are right on. These women worked their fingers to the bone and each of the outfits has captured the essence of each pooch," Flores said.
Each of the pedigreed show dogs has their own song, plus there's a tune for the mutts, the judge sings her own number, plus there are a couple of ensemble tunes.
"In total there are 15 songs," Butler said. "It's wonderful the way the numbers advance the plot and help break up and enliven the show."
The sets were constructed by Robert Flores, Krista's husband. He has used lumber, paint and cloth to transform the multi-use community center into a theater setting with lighting and sets. In fact, the youngsters also were employed in all facets of the performance including set construction, prop procurement and even ticket sales.
"We wanted each of them to have as much theater experience as we could," Flores said.
Morning shows will dominate the performance schedule, with the curtain to rise on the weekday shows at 11a.m. on Monday, Tuesday Wednesday and Friday. The final performance will be at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Tickets are $5 for general admission.
"We will lower that price to $3 each for groups of 10 or more," Flores said.
In fact, there already are numerous groups from schools and churches who have booked blocks of tickets, with as many as 90 youngsters coming in for the Wednesday morning performance.
Flores pointed to the Highlands County Optimist Club, the city of Avon Park and the Avon Park Community Redevelopment Agency for helping to underwrite the program.
Those wanting tickets or additional information may call Flores at 449-1023.
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