For the first time, “An American Tail” is being brought to stage, and the world premier is in southwest Minneapolis at the Children’s Theatre Company.
The 1986 animated musical adventure film by Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment was a box office hit, making it the highest-grossing non-Disney animated film at the time. It was followed by a sequel, a CBS television series based on the movie, and two additional direct-to-video sequels set between the first two films.
The theatrical version is packed with familiar songs and characters from the film, plus some new characters, expanded story, and new songs from Tony-award winner Itamar Moses and the songwriting team that created “Diary of a Wimpy Kid the Musical.”
“It is a tremendous honor to be directing this piece,” said director Taibi Magar. “As a daughter of a political refugee, the story resonates with me just as much today as it did 30 years ago. The writers have done an exceptional job adapting it for the stage, a feast of theatricality and a gorgeous score.”
“It’s a delight and very inspiring to revisit this classic film from our childhood and discover its themes of hope, perseverance and community are still so relevant today; and an honor to build on the work of the great James Horner, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, to bring Fievel’s incredible journey to a whole new generation,” said composers and lyricists Michael Mahler and Alan Schmuckler.
Bryant resident Max Kile, age 26, is filling multiple roles in “An American Tail the Musical,” including Tony, German Landlord, Official, Police, Moe, and Ensemble Understudy. The Edina High School graduate has lived in the Bryant neighborhood since September 2022. They earned a degree from The Hartt School in Hartford, Conn.
“I’ve been absolutely loving it,” they stated. “I’m a frequent visitor of the Seward Co-op on E. 38th Street, and I take a walk to grab a coffee at the Kingfield Five Watt Coffee at least once a week.”
What drew you to acting?
Kile: I’ve loved acting ever since I could remember. I remember putting on a production of “The Rainbow Fish” when I was in first grade and living in Burnsville. I’ve been obsessed ever since. I auditioned for every single play or musical that my school was putting on since then, as well as insisting that my parents put me in summer acting classes at our community center. When I was a kid I just loved to play pretend and acting was a natural extension of that, but as I grew older, I started reading and watching more plays and musicals, and I fell in love with the storytelling of theatre.
There’s something so magical to me about stepping into a theatre and watching a group of people, both onstage and offstage, coming together to tell a story that can make you laugh or cry; and the fact that it’s all live and happening in front of you in real time is what really sold me.
A show is never exactly the same twice (although we aim to make it as similar as possible), and to me that’s really beautiful. It’s personal, unique, and fleeting.
What is exciting about this production?
Kile: I think what’s most important about telling this story now, is that it’s a story that people have experienced today except with different details. It’s about a family, the Mousekewitzs’, moving to America in hopes of a better life. We get to see why they left their home country of Russia in hopes of a better life, and we get to see the struggles that they experience moving to a new country. Ultimately we get to see how they start to make a home for themselves and other immigrants just like them.
It’s a story of hope in the face of adversity and oppression, and it’s about banding together with others to make a better community for everyone in it.
What stands out to you about this role so far?
Kile: I’m covering multiple roles for this production, but Tony is by far my favorite character that I’m covering. He’s a street-wise mouse who has much more drive and agency than I think he knows. It’s not until he meets the optimistic Jewish immigrant, Fievel, that he starts to see a better life for himself and the other orphans he knows. He didn’t know that it was possible to fight against the adults in power, but once he does he works hard with his other mice to organize and band together to make a better life for themselves.
He grows a lot over the course of the show, and I absolutely adore playing characters that grow and change a lot over the course of the show.
How are you growing as an actor through this role?
Kile: It’s a lot of work to understudy, more than I think people would guess. You have to know all of the lines of the characters you’re covering, all of the entrances and exits of every separate person, all of the choreography as well as what specific spot of the stage you’re supposed to be in at any given moment, all of the props you need and in what scenes, when costume changes happen and what costumes you need for which scenes, different accents, and all of the music, too. And if that’s not enough, you have to be ready to go on an hour before the show starts!
It’s not my first time understudying so I knew what I was getting into, but this is the most information I’ve ever had to memorize for a show!
It’s simultaneously as intimidating and difficult as it is exciting and rewarding.
Something that’s so fun about this show, too, is that every single character I’m covering in this show is so different. When there’s so many different characters you have to play, you get a lot of room to try things that may be crazy and may not work, but occasionally the crazy choices do work and the director really ends up liking it.
Kile: Who knows! It’s that time of the year where a lot of theaters are holding auditions for shows that will go up in the fall; some theaters are having auditions for their year-long season, as well! I currently have five auditions lined up for the next month, and I’m sure I’ll have even more planned by this time next week! Regardless of what theatre it is at, any time that I get to be onstage and telling stories is when I’m the most me.
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here