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Summer Youth Theater

Summer Youth Theater production is the 'CATS pajamas'

By Gretel Kauffman

WHAT: Batavia Players Summer Youth Theater production of CATS

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 18-20th at 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Batavia High School auditorium, 260 State St., Batavia

For most musical theater productions, the actors prepare by learning their lines, listening to show tunes, and practicing choreography. However, this year's Batavia Players Summer Youth Theater production of CATS required some slightly unorthodox preparation: the 64 young people who make up the cast got into character by watching their pets.

"Since I have three cats at home, it was easy to observe their movements and their habits and to draw from that to create my character," said Maryssa Peirick, who has the role of Victoria. This is not Peirick's first time playing a feline on stage: "I played the Cat in the Hat in "Seussical the Musical," though he's a very different kind of cat, and the Cheshire Cat in "Alice in Wonderland," who actually does have catlike mannerisms."

Those cast members who live in cat-less homes, such as Batavia High senior Melzie Case, were forced to draw their inspiration from "cat lessons" and multiple viewings of the 1998 movie.

"It was rather challenging at first to act like a cat," said Case, who portrays "motherly" cat Jellyrolum. "The arm and leg movements are obviously much more different than those of humans. You also have to crawl on the ground instead of simply walking, and it's also good to scratch your 'fleas' every now and then." 

CATS, which opens tonight, is an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical that is based on T.S. Eliot's "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats." The show first opened in the West End in 1981 and then on Broadway in 1982. Its 18-year run made it the second-longest running show in Broadway history, and it has won numerous awards, including the Laurence Olivier Award and the Tony Award for Best Musical.

Peirick, a recent Batavia High grad who is headed to Fredonia in the fall to major in vocal performance, said she was not immediately thrilled when she heard CATS had been chosen as the summer show despite its popularity.

"Initially I was completely repelled by it, but as auditions neared and I watched more, I became slowly interested in the characters, who seem to have quite extensive back stories -- even if not all of them are known," she said. "Though it is seriously lacking in plot, it makes up for it in creativity and visual entertainment, so there really is no such thing as a boring moment."

Director Pat Burk said he chose the show because of its uniqueness.

"It is a dream show that needs to be done correctly in order to be effective on stage," he explained. "It also allows for a large cast and you can do a tremendous amount with dance and music because it is an all-dance, all-music show. It is more like a modern opera."

The extensive dancing could easily have been a problem, but the young actors handled it like pros.

"It's so different from conventional theater, and because we're a community theater youth production, we simply don't have professional dancers to fill up the stage," Peirick said. "However, long hours of intense dance rehearsals have caused everyone to really come together and make the choreography come to life. I'm constantly impressed with my fellow cast members' progress."

Burk says he has been very impressed with the young actors' hard work and character interpretations, and is confident that the production will be a success.

"Judging from pre-sale tickets, which are more than double of last year's show, it will be well-received. The dress rehearsal went extremely well and it is quite a magical show."

The only downside to the experience?

"Now that we've been acting like cats for so long, we're starting to act like cats in real life!" Case said.

Tickets for CATS can be purchased online at or by calling 1-866-967-8167.

'Seven Brides for Seven Brothers' to be performed at BHS

By Daniel Crofts

Batavia Players, Inc. presents "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers," their 2010 Summer Youth Theatre production.

The play will be performed at Batavia High School, at 260 State St. in Batavia. Show dates are Thursday, Aug. 19, Friday, Aug. 20 and Saturday, Aug 21. All performances will begin at 7:30 p.m. and last about 90 minutes.

"Seven Brides..." is the story of Adam Pontipee, a backwoodsman living in 1850s Oregon. He brings a new wife home one day and then, all of a sudden, his six brothers want to get married, too!

Filled with energetic dance numbers, great music, colorful costumes and the performances of 54 youth from Genesee, Livingston, Wyoming, Monroe and Seneca counties (ages 4 to 21), this play is sure to please. Don't miss it!

Tickets are $10 for general admission, $8 for students and seniors. For more information, please call 343-9313, ext. 31.

Batavia Players holds auditions for 'Seven Brides for Seven Brothers' at John Kennedy School

By Daniel Crofts

Batavia Players will host auditions for their Summer Youth Theater production of "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" on Tuesday, May 25 and Wednesday, May 26.

Auditions will last from 6:30 until 9:30 p.m. and will be held at John Kennedy Elementary School, at 166 Vine St. in Batavia.

This is open to kids ages 12 through 21. For more details, contact the director, Patrick D. Burk, at 343-9721.

Jesus Christ, Superstar

By Philip Anselmo

Genesee County's Summer Youth Theater Program will present Jesus Christ, Superstar at Batavia High School August 14, 15 and 16. A cast of 70 actors from all over western New York have come together for this production originally produced by Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice.

The story is based on the days following up to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It is told from the perspective of the Apostles and followers of Christ including Judas Iscariot. There is rarely any spoken word in this musical. The entire story is told in song.

Director Patrick Burk:

“This musical rock opera is full of phenomenal singing and choreography. We have been very fortunate over the past 12 years to be able to mount productions that include top quality music and dance.”

Jesus Christ, Superstar tickets are available during rehearsals at Batavia High School, at Roxy’s Music Store on 228 West Main Street in Batavia or at GO ART! at 201 East Main Street, Batavia. There is both reserved seating and general admission. Tickets are $10 for Adults and $8 for Students and Senior Citizens. For further information please call 585-343-9721.

Check back with The Batavian later this week for an exclusive behind-the-scenes video of the cast in rehearsal.


By Patrick D. Burk

Donations Needed for the 2nd Annual Batavia Players Summer Youth Theater Yard Sale

Saturday, July 19th & Sunday, July 20th

Donations of Yard Sale Items are greatly appreciated.  No CLOTHING OR SHOES. 

Items May be dropped off at Batavia High School, 260 State Street Tuesday, July 15th -  Thursday, July 17th.  From 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM

 Items can also be donated on Saturday, June 19th in the morning.

Please help to make this another successful Summer Youth Theater Season.


AUGUST 14th - 16th - Batavia High School


Tickets at GO ART or ROXY's or at the High School on Nights or afternoons of Rehearsals

Finding IT

By Patrick D. Burk the proverbial question was just asked of me again.  I had made a call to try and obtain some help with  my current Batavia Players Summer Youth Theater Production of Jesus Christ, Superstar and the person on the other line informed me that "time really does fly by...was it time for this again".  Then came the proverbial anticipated question.  Why do I do this year after year, summer after summer and place your life on hold over the nicest months to do a musical show in Batavia?  I assured her that yes, it was "that time of year again" and continued with my conversation to see if they could be of some help.  I added some simple platitude like, "Someone has got to do it!"  I was certain we would digress and since listening is a skill I sometimes have to hone, I decided to give her a listen.

After a few moments listening,  I realized she was just one more person out of millions that expected happiness to find them....I have often thought  that most people really want to be happy but rarely are they happy in the quality or quantity that they believe they deserve.  Most people also believe it is up to happiness to find them.... Not lifting a single little finger to achieve this goal on thier own.  Her discussion of the uninhabital weather, the cost of gas, the price of milk and the need to crack down on some expenses sent me into a quandry.  She actual asked, "How can you be happy with the price of  milk being what it is these days?" 

So we did digress and my mind wandered and soon the person on the other end was getting my uh-huhs and oh gee's etc...... and I was thinking of some basics in my life.  When I was a little kid and the price of milk went up or there was a need to conserve, we just did it.  I remember my mom mixing non-fat dry milk with water and then adding a quart of regular milk to it so that is was 80% powdered milk product and 20% the real thing.  She told us it was healthier and we drank it and obtained the proverbial milk reality she was trying to save money.  Mom was never really a stellar cook, but we did have some treats from time to time.  We were not allowed to eat chips or snacks.  We ate popcorn.....freshly popped.   In her words....."It is much better for you and you get a natural product".  In reality, a bag of popcorn would provide my family a week's worth of snacks for 29 cents.  I particularly liked lemon/grape kool-aid with only half the sugar ( YOU guessed it if you knew that Mom said it was "better for us than soda with less sugar")  The reality was it saved money).  I even learned to like the milk mixture.

The point of this whole discussion is this.  When we were challenged financially, and there were times when were and times when we were not, we adapted and smiled and laughed and did everything pretty much that we liked to do.  We just had to be resourceful.   We made things, we had 4-H Meetings, we walked to the neighbors and we took care of our farm and animals.  We may have complained about the heat of the summer while putting up hay or the price of gas going over 40 cents a gallon, but we adapted.  We were always just fine.

Today I wonder.  Do we actually buy happiness?  Are those that have money any  happier than those that need or want?  Do we expect happiness to take its merry stroll through the universe and find us????  When I think back to lemon/grape koolaid and fresh popped popcorn and working on the farm I realize the answer.  IT really is up to us to find happiness and to take as much of it as we can hold.  It is the one component of this world where there is always enough, you can't take too much and it is found everywhere.  It is a simple process, being happy.   I happen to find happiness when I am creating the Batavia Player's Summer Youth Theater Production and working with such great young people.  I happen to find happiness when I sit with my grandchildren and read, play or rock them while watching television.

I find little things and big things to make me happy.   So when you think you are going to complain too much and you are falling in a trap of the doldrums....go out on an adventure.  Scrape up your last change and see a funny movie or rent a DVD, sit next to a children ladden with laughter playground or look at a baby.   Grab a good book and read or take the time to stare at some birds at a feeder.  The abundance of happiness is out there......even in the darkest times it can be found....and there is only one cardinal rule when you do find it..... Share It....Look for someone else who is looking for happiness and give them a hug full. 

The only thing better than finding happiness for yourself is sharing happiness with another. 

IT Begins & IT Ends

By Patrick D. Burk

And so it begins and ends again.  When you think of it that is what happens in our lives.   Each and every day something begins, something else ends and we deal with more and more things that are in the middle.   I sometimes wonder if my life was a book how I would create the chapters and exactly how many of them there are exactly.... who knows.

This week I started Directing and Producing the 2008 Summer Youth Theater Show - JESUS CHRIST, SUPERSTAR.  It will be held this year at Batavia High School in August.  This is a real treat for me because once upon a time, I was Jesus in Superstar and it was an amazing experience.   My wife played Mary Magadeline in fact.  Now it comes full circle.  I am working with 70 plus young people to bring this classic to the stage.  I find that all truly amazing.  So that was this week's beginning. 

The ending was the successful vote for the propositions and the City of Batavia School Budget.  This was my friend Dick Stutzman's last budget, he retires in July.  Dick and I have been through a ton of budgets and we were successful with most all.  If the public knew all the work it took to put to together a $39 Million budget, you would understand.   We have succeeded here because of the due dilligence of Dick Stutzman, first as our Assistant to the Business Administrator, then as the Business Administrator and finally as our Superintendent of Schools.  Batavia City Schools have been so lucky to have this wonderful caring veteran working daily on the behalf of our students. One thing I can say about him is that he always participated, always was willing to learn and share and always worked hard for the children.  He cared for this district.  If you see him - pass along some thanks.

And now to the future.  A little vacation the end of this month, the end of the long Primary Season that will bring us our nominees and more late nights and trips to the south of Warsaw to relax and have fun...doing summer stuff.....which reminds me.... The average temperature for the month of May is like 65..... Have we hit that yet....????  Who knows...that is probably in another chapter.





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