A girl dressed as a snowman strikes sticks and rings bells in sync with her preschool classmates at the opening of Building Kidz’ “Frozen” performance on Dec. 20. (Drew Penner/Press Banner)

A couple days after Caden “Worm” Paul took in a performance of the “Nutcracker” at the Scotts Valley Cultural and Performing Arts Center, the boy was up on the same stage himself with his preschool classmates.

Winter Zalona was one of them; just two days shy of her fifth birthday, she was costumed as an iconic snowman for their version of “Frozen.”

“I got to choose Olaf,” she said, following the show last week, confirming her satisfaction with how things went with one word: “Good.”

While Building Kidz of Scotts Valley tackles a Broadway-style show in the spring, the winter tends to be focused on the reimagining of a well-loved Disney movie for the youngest-possible performers.

Building Kidz presents two big performances every year designed to boost the confidence of toddlers, including Winter Zalona (at right). (Drew Penner/Press Banner)

Winter’s mom Lauren said her daughter kept her in the loop about how they’d had a dress rehearsal recently.

“She woke up this morning and said, ‘It’s show day,’” she said. “She got a little nervous.”

But by the time they’d arrived, any pre-show jitters had been replaced with sheer excitement.

Winter’s younger sister loved the puddles outside, but also enjoyed her sister’s performance.

“She just kept clapping,” said Lauren.

Two young princesses ring bells along to the music. (Drew Penner/Press Banner)

Akirah Bradley-Armstrong, a Scotts Valley resident, said her 2-year-old daughter Honor did an amazing job.

“It was fantastic,” she said. “I’m so proud of the littles.”

She was impressed with the impression the real stage had left on the kids.

“It was wonderful,” she said. “I love this new venue. It’s very professional for a toddler class.”

Michael Murray, who was there to see his 3-year-old son William, also agreed the stage was a little daunting.

“The teachers and the art directors really did a good job preparing them,” he said. “I felt they did really well.”

Students sing along to “For the First Time in Forever.” (Drew Penner/Press Banner)

Felton resident Heidi Paul—Caden “Worm” Paul’s mom—agreed.

“The staff is really encouraging,” she said. “They meet them where they are.”

Dad Eric said selecting “Frozen” was a good decision, because it’s something their son already enjoys.

Nakul Mistry, who owns the business with his wife Anisha, said it took about three months to prepare for the big show. 

Anisha said performances like this are an incredibly positive force in kids’ lives. Even if they end up crying or just manage to get into a costume but don’t make it on-stage, it represents helpful steps in early-childhood development.

“You can really be on the stage, to start, at any age,” she said. “It builds confidence.”

Building Kidz of Scotts Valley owner Anisha Mistry speaks at the opening of the “Frozen” performance on Dec. 20. (Drew Penner/Press Banner)
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Drew Penner is an award-winning Canadian journalist whose reporting has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Good Times Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times, Scotts Valley Press Banner, San Diego Union-Tribune, KCRW and the Vancouver Sun. Please send your Los Gatos and Santa Cruz County news tips to [email protected].


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