Curiosity Cat Brings Kids Together Around the Shore


Cast members attend Northampton, Kiptopeke, Occohanock, Nandua, Broadwater, and Cape Charles Christian schools.


May 16, 2014

The harsh winter has finally subsided and given way to warm sun, and the hope of the coming summer. I have to admit, with chronic seasonal affective disorder, it was hard for me to get through this one (they seem to get harder each year). One thing that helped me survive was being able to spend each Saturday morning directing the youth cast of this spring’s youth show, Curiosity Cat: A Danceable Drama for Cats.

I understand that over the past few years, there have been some worries about the plight of our Shore schools, and the kids that inhabit them. From talking to some folks, you would think that we’re talking about inmates in a prison rather than students in a school. Spending any amount of time with this delightful cast would put those fears to rest.

One of the great things about Arts Enter is its commitment to bringing the arts, and the training of the arts, to so many on what is still one of the most historically underserved areas in the state. This has been highlighted with this production, where we have brought kids from all up and down the Shore, from Northampton, Kiptopeke, Occohanock, Nandua, Broadwater, and Cape Charles Christian School. This young cast brought so much energy, passion, and dedication to the task, that by now, it’s even starting to wear this old man out. Tired as I am, I wouldn’t miss a second of it — it seems each time we meet, someone does something so creative and serendipitous, so out of the box, something that fits the production so well, I sometimes have to just sit down and shake my head, thinking, “Where’d they come up with that bizzaro idea — but it works!”


Curiosity Cat is an all-ages show, ranging from 6 to 16 (well, also a 50+ geezer, if you want to count my short cameo as a homeless guy). It combines a narrative play with original choreographed dance. We have actors and dancers who are appearing on stage for the first time, as well as seasoned pros such as Hannah DeMarino, Colton Collins, and Rachel Creed. The beauty of having this type of age dispersion is that the older performers also acted as mentors for our younger cast members, especially the brilliant and talented Mr. Collins (his performance as Coot is a must-see!).

So many times in life, whether it is at work or volunteering, you are thrown together with people that just don’t get you and you don’t get them. You try to make it work as best you can, but sometimes the end result is less than optimal. That has not been the case with Co-director Amy Watkins and myself. We have been working together for a few years now (everything from Hansel and Gretel to Cemetery Man), and our motivations, both creatively and socially (we both love putting on the youth shows) always seem to mesh. Ms. Watkins is also one of the most creative choreographers you will find — especially when working with very young dancers.

When I first read the script for Curiosity Cat, I was immediately struck by its familiarity. We have all heard this tale somewhere before, what Joseph Campbell in his book Hero with a Thousand Faces calls a monomyth: “A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man”. This play is very pleasing, because the trajectory is just that. Yet, there is something else, something closer and more personal that makes it work for us in Cape Charles.

Curiosity states several times during the play that “There is no such thing as a stray cat, only ones that haven’t yet found their homes.” And I think, “Isn’t that us in Cape Charles.” Whether you’re from here, or have come here, in the end, we’re all strays that have found a home here. With that evil winter finally beginning to recede into memory, the election behind us, a new mayor, there is a feeling that Cape Charles is a bit like Hazel from Richard Adam’s Watership Down, “running easily down through the wood, where the first primroses were beginning to bloom.”

It’s the beginning of summer, the Benefit by the Bay is just around the corner, and I can’t think of a better way to kick the whole thing off than an evening with the cast of Curiosity Cat.

Shows are May 16 and 17 at 7 p.m., and Sunday, May 18, matinee at 3 p.m. Adults $10, Students $5.



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