Mulan Jr. opens at the Dixie

Monday, October 1, 2018

No one in the cast of “Mulan Jr.” was born when the animated version of the tale was released.

That doesn’t keep the young actors from bringing the story to the stage of the Dixie Theatre, opening tomorrow night.

The production is staged by the MCCT’s Children’s Division, meaning the bulk of the cast, barring a handful of roles, are 3rd though 8th graders.

The musical is based on the 1998 Disney movie “Mulan”, which was itself based on a classic Chinese folktale of Fa Mulan.

The junior version of the story shortens the original movie version somewhat for a younger cast, although some of the best songs in the show were themselves cut from the movie version.

Mulan, played by Brady Phillips, is introduced when her father Fa Zhou (Justice Bogle), mother Fa Li (Leavie Soloman), and grandmother (Hannah Grant) meet with a matchmaker, played by Anna Kate Bass, in order to find a husband for Mulan.

Mulan, however, makes a mess of the betrothal, bring shame to her family in a very traditional culture.

Mulan questions her own role, and, when Chi Fu (Brax Hunter) comes to her village to conscript soldiers to defend China against an invasion by Huns, she takes her father’s armor and sneaks away to take his place in the army, a taboo for a woman.

Her ancestors, played by Caroline Bailey, Courtlynn Cathey, Kailynn Cathey, Annabelle Mulliniks, and Isabela Robinson, watch over the action and try to protect the family from shame.

They send Mushu, a dragon who had been demoted from his role as a family guardian, played by Seth Grant, to help Mulan regain her own, and the family’s, honor.

Mulan marches off to war under the command of Captain Shang (Bryson Whaley) with her fellow soldiers, played by Seth Vines, Reid Mitchell, Sam Johnson, Jacob Bonner, and Nathaniel Carter.

Hiding her true identity, she becomes a clever and brave soldier, fighting the Huns led by the fearsome Shan Yu (Walker Whaley) until her secret is discovered.

Shamed again by the traditional roles for women expected by her society, she persists, going on to save the Emperor (Kade Adcox) and all of China from the Huns.

Director Allison Mulliniks shepherds 47 young Marshall County actors through the production, bringing them, and their energy, into a confident troupe.

The cast is larger than planned after a much larger than usual number of youngsters auditioning to perform at the Dixie.

Music for the show is directed by Elise Dumser, with choreography by Bella Tepedino.

Nick Phillips serves as producer of the show.

The curtain raises on the show tomorrow evening, Saturday, Sept. 29, at 7 p.m., followed on Sunday with a matinee at 2 p.m.

The run continues next week with 7 p.m. shows on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and a closing matinee on Sunday at 2 p.m.

Tickets for the show are $15, with the exception of $10 seats on Thursday.

Tickets are available at dixietheatre.org or from the theatre box office one hour prior to showtime.