By: Beth Giuffre - Updated: 3 months ago
Applause Children’s Theater will take on the Disney Classic “Peter Pan,” with the Musical Theater International version: “Peter Pan Jr.” coming up on April 27 and 28 and May 4 and 5 at the George Flamson Middle School auditorium in Paso Robles. Two casts of student actors, ages 7 to 16 (and even one 5-year-old girl), will take turns on the different evenings and matinees, playing the popular characters.
“We double-casted the show this time to give more kids the opportunity to have leads,” said Applause Children Theatre (ACT) Director Vikky Mullin. “My goal is to have them on stage as much as possible.”
Mullin added,“We have two wonderful casts of kids. So what that means is the chorus stays the same but the leads are doubles, so we have two Wendys, two Peters — two of every lead.” During the shows when the children are not playing the leads, they perform in the chorus. When Mullin is often asked if the performance quality is elementary school-level, she always says with a laugh, “It’s really not. What we do is put on a Broadway production with miniature actors.”
“Our choreography is amazing,” she said. Mullin will often pull in local talent for guest choreography, as she did for “Peter Pan Jr.”
Applause Children’s Theatre’s mission is to give local youth the opportunity to perform in Broadway musicals. Any child who signs up and auditions is cast in the show. ACT tries to involve the children in other areas of production, such as set design and choreography. Parents, Mullin, and even some of ACT’s board members get involved with costumes and set design.
The theater group became a reality for Mullin in August of 2017, when the group met for the first time and performed the “Wizard of Oz.” ACT’s 58 youth actors performed three shows and sold out each time.
One parent was blown away with the even larger group Applause is able to accommodate for the upcoming production of “Peter Pan Jr.”
“It has been an amazing experience, not only for our daughter but to watch Miss Vikky and her team pull together 76 children in a relatively short time,” local parent Karen Ritchey said.
Well-loved and appreciated by parents, Mullin is also the founder of Singing Hands Children’s Choir, a Paso Robles performing group for deaf children. Recently, Mullin, a Cal Poly grad, former elementary school teacher, sign language teacher and mother of four, who has lived on the Central Coast for almost 35 years, was recognized as ‘Roblan of the Month’ by the Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce. Mullin is a familiar PRJUSD volunteer and started the after-school sign language drama program at Georgia Brown Elementary School in 2002.
“I love what I do,” Mullin said. She said the greatest joy of her career is watching a play go from “nothing” to a fully-costumed production.
Her goal is to develop the children’s love of drama so they join the theater program in high school.
“If they don’t love theater when they’re younger, they’re not going to want to do it when they get to high school,” she said. “You know, sports isn’t for everybody! These kids are just finding their niche in the arts.”
“We have some amazing sponsors in town who stepped up,” said Mullin, who explained that local businesses help offset production costs for ACT, “That’s just how we are able to put this together,” she said. ACT's biggest sponsor this year has been Fred Bruen, Realtor at ReMax Parkside. Other sponsors include Vicki Neider, Keller Williams and Steve Allen, Connect Home Loans, Paso Robles Optimist Club, Mike Burke Construction, Gatherings Thrift, Cold Stone Creamery, Adelaide Inn, CalSun Electric & Solar Systems, Congregation Ohr Tzafon, Houge Inc., Paso Robles Police Association, North Coast Engineering, Eileen Rogers, Karla Murray, Mary Kay Cosmetics, Chilis, Barbara and Chip Kurtzman, Farwest Line Specialties and Atascadero Community Band.
For “Peter Pan Jr.,” Mullin and her team held a December workshop to receive the script and learn the songs, and then auditions and rehearsals began in January at the ACT studio in Paso Robles. The children rehearsed three days a week from 5 to 7 p.m. depending on which scene ACT was working on.
Applause will be holding a two-week long “Broadway Bound Summer Camp” from June 18 to 29, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day. The summer camp will be packed with daily activities, including musical theater study, acting development, set design, costume design and face painting. A special show for parents will conclude the camp. The cost will be $285 per child, with a $20 discount for siblings.
Applause will also be offering acting workshops this fall, including Kid Jr. play and a Broadway Glee program. ACT’s next full production will be “Annie.”
Performances of “Peter Pan Jr.” will be April 27 at 7 p.m. and April 28, at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. as well as May 4 at 7 p.m. and May 5 at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m at Georgia Flamson Middle School Auditorium on 2405 Spring Street in Paso Robles. Tickets are $15 (3 and under free on lap). For more information on performances, summer camp or upcoming workshops please visit www.applausechildrenstheater.com or call 805-610-7187.