Thunder Bay Theatre is going to the dogs.
The theatre's next production, a children's show, features a full complement of local youngsters cast as the canine crew in "101 Dalmations." Performances of this dog-dominated musical are slated for this Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Not only are there nearly 25 kids appearing in the show, but high school sophomore Molly Stricker also is serving as the show's director. Stricker caught the theatre bug at a young age and has appeared in numerous Alpena High School Masquers Club and TBT productions, including "Willy Wonka" and "White Christmas."
The full cast for “101 Dalmations”
"Molly's doing a heck of a job, but she's got her work cut out for her," said TBT Artistic Director J.R. Rodriguez. "She's handling it like a pro."
Rodriguez believes in giving youth a chance to grow and shine in theatre. He made the decision early on to step back from directing the show himself and hand over the reigns to one of the high school students he has worked with in recent seasons.
"She was one of several students who stuck out in my mind," Rodriguez said. "I think Molly's a wonderful performer, but she also has an eye for what's going on around her, and I wanted to give her every opportunity here before she goes away to college."
Thunder Bay Theatre
7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday
2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday
2 p.m. Sunday
Box office: 354-2267
Stricker was stunned when she received the initial notification from Rodriguez asking her to direct "101 Dalmations," but she has since embraced the challenge.
"The kids have been amazing to work with," said Stricker, who plans to pursue theatre in college. "They have listened well to directions."
As director, she was responsible for casting the show, choreographing dance numbers and designing the set. When she first received a copy of the script, she was extremely busy and unable to read through and absorb it right away.
"But when I was able finally to focus and read the script, I knew pretty much what I wanted to do with the whole show," Stricker said.
She's always been a fan of Disney classics, including "101 Dalmations." She said TBT's production will feature lots of fun dance numbers and 14 snippets of songs.
Just like the classic Disney movie, the show features the fiesty Dalmation dad, Pongo, and his protective wife, Perdita. Mitchell Mead, who starred as Charlie in TBT's fall production of "Willy Wonka," and Riley McGuire, who starred in the lead role of "Annie" at Christmas time, fill these two main roles.
As expected, the two canine parents have recently welcomed a new litter of puppies, and all is harmony on the homefront until the quintessential villainess, Cruella DeVille, decides she wants a Dalmation coat and sets out to steal the pups to get it. Melissa Timmreck, who shares the stage with four of her immediate family members, gets to play the plum part of Cruella. Serving as her nasty henchmen are Nick Timmreck and Eli Irving.
Other main roles include the human parents, Anita and Roger, played by Ashley Timmreck and Travis Atkinson, as well as the Nanny, played by Jolee Greer. Appearing as the dog catcher/police officer is Olivia Martin and as Sgt. Tibbs is Madison Timmreck.
The chihuahuas are Paige Timmreck, Lauren Mikesch and Malley McGuire. The poodles are Swasti Shree, Elizabeth Sayre and Delaney McGuire. The boxers are Jade Minton and Hope Heise.
Rounding out the cast are Alex Langerfeld as Lucky, Chloe Brothers as Patch, Megan McGuire as Penny, Courtney Burns as Pepper, Annelise Mathia as Spot and Maddie Stewart as Scottie. TBT's core company members will be serving as the narrators during the run of the show.
To make reservations for "101 Dalmations," call the box office at 354-2267.