From the Three Cat Education Desk (Meet the Staff)

So I was going through my things this week – found some interesting photos – and I realized, we have not yet introduced ourselves to the Internet World!

Things are pretty crazy around here with Frog Princess in rehearsal, but a moment can always be spared to get to know one another!

Let’s start with our intrepid Three Cat Education, Executive Director – and current Director of Frog Princess – Ms. Jacque Lueken.

I attended my first audition for a summer camp production at age 5. Our director explained to us that our show was a fairytale and that the girls would audition for the princess and the boys would audition for the dragon. I thought a dragon would be way cooler. I mean, dragons had spikes and breathed fire and flew around castles; while princesses were…well, princesses.

The girls were the first to audition. Our director lined us up at the edge of the stage and one by one each girl said the princess line. When it was my turn, I took a breath, gave a roar and used my best dragon voice to deliver the dragon line loud enough for the whole audience to hear! My director insisted that I audition for the princess like all of the other girls. I did so and when all of the girls had auditioned, we sat down. Then it was the boys turn to audition for the dragon. They lined up to go on stage…and I joined them. When my director said it was not my turn, my reply was simply that I had to because I was going to be the dragon. She allowed me to audition with the boys, and when parts were announced the next day…I GOT THE DRAGON!!!

Also, being a dragon was totally as cool as I imagined. I mean, my dragon didn’t fly, but he did have a paper bag dragon head with construction paper spikes and confetti fire that he breathed when he saved the princess from the evil wizard. That’s right – I didn’t play the princess, I saved the princess!

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Then there is myself – Annalee Johnson! The current author of this blog post,

 as well as Scenic Designer/Stage Manager for “The Frog Princess” and Production Associate with Three Cat Productions.

Once upon a time there was a young girl who got bored at lunch time. Her friend suggested they see if the Art Teacher needed any help during their downtime. Shortly thereafter, the two girls would quickly eat their food and then take charge of whatever extra projects their Art Teacher might need them for. Often they would find themselves rolling out LARGE sheets of paper and painting forests and buildings and dozens of other things. Little did they know they were creating the backdrops for other students’ plays! It didn’t matter the reason, though, they were given free reign to be creative and help out a favorite teacher. Was there anything that could compare?

A few years later, this same young girl found herself involved in the Acting Class. While she very much enjoyed performing in front of people and being the center of attention, she LOVED when her director put her on the headset backstage. Once she had the headset, she was allowed to tell people what to do AND be in charge of opening and closing the curtain. One should be careful how much power you give a 10 year-old… They might like it.

Such was how I found myself thoroughly engrossed in Theatre Arts and Management – because though the stage was fun, the backstage was THRILLING.

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And last, but certainly not least – the man who started it all – Mr. Jason Paul Smith, Artistic Director – Three Cat Productions, and presently the Costume Designer/Lyricist for “The Frog Princess”.

Jason Paul Smith started his career as actor, director, producer in 1980 having created the stage version of The Muppet Movie. Running 37 performances, it was witness by 39 stuffed animals, two adults, and one angry pre-teen.

This memorable performance spawned an early career in the theater that included performances in every local theater, that means one, in Valley City, North Dakota. This eventually led him to earn a degree in Theater from the University of Minnesota.

His theater career has included a wide array of opportunities including, Barnaby Tucker in The Matchmaker, Frank ‘n Furter in The Rocky Horror Show, and Flan Kitridge in Six Degrees of Separation. He also wrote, directed and starred in Consulting Mavis or How I Got My Ass Out of North Dakota and Remained Sane. Directing credits include Hello Dolly for the Lakeshore Players and Sunday in the Park with George for Crisis Point Theater.

Trivial facts:

Jason played Abe Lincoln in the third grade play.
He starred in his first film at the age ten, playing Captain Jason in Bill Hunt’s infamous production of the Attack of the Zevons.
He was discovered by KOVC Radio – the same station that discovered Shadow Stevens and Peggy Lee.
His brother is the editor of The Digital Bits.
His favorite food is peanut butter.

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So there you have it! The ever wonderful faces of Three Cat Education, keep checkin’ in with us to see what we’re up to – who knows what we’ll think of next!

-Annalee