Jackson Wells, 16, prepares for performance in feline, feel-good play on Jan. 20

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: OWEN CAREY - Young Sandy actor Jackson Wells, 16, co-stars in 'Pete the Cat: The Musical' premiering at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 20 at the Newmark Theatre in Portland.Picking an occupation is an important part of a teenager's life. Some don't have a clue what their calling is until a couple of years in college or working after high school.

Jackson Wells, 16, has his eyes set on a career in theater.

As a youngster, Wells wondered at Donny Osmond's technicolor dream coat and notorious Broadway ballads. Now he dreams of one day playing Alexander Hamilton in the popular musical "Hamilton." Fun fact: Wells shares a birthday with the actual founding father.

Over the past year, Wells has pursued an education by experience in theater by starring and acting in everything from "Oliver" to "Elf."

He now awaits his professional debut in Oregon Children Theater's "Pete the Cat: The Musical."

"So far it's been a blast," Wells explained. "The cast and artistic team are awesome to work with."

"Pete the Cat" is based on a children's book series. Wells plays the straight-laced co-star, Jimmy, "frenemy" of Pete. Wells said he does somewhat relate to his character.

"My character's kind of anxious and neurotic," he noted. "Ironically, I am allergic to cats and I'm not (as tidy as him), but I do feel for Jimmy."

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: OWEN CAREY - Pete the Cat, played by Dave Cole, is the exact opposite of Wells' character, Jimmy. For Wells, musicals require the perfect culmination of his skills: acting, singing and dancing. And "Pete the Cat" has been a "good learning experience."

"I've learned it's OK to be kind of goofy, but be focused at the same time," Wells explained.

Wells has gained a wealth of knowledge from his fellow actors, but also thanks his mother for helping him balance his passion for the stage and his homework.

"She helps me do all of this," he noted. "She's kind of my inspiration."

Besides teaching Wells self-discipline and time management skills, Wells' mother has also taught him a trick or two in the art of dance. His mother is a ballet dancer and his father a computer scientist, hence why Wells' back up plan is to pursue a career in technology.

But for now, Wells is focusing on honing his theatrical skills as Jimmy Biddle.

"This one I think takes the cake (as my favorite)," Wells noted. "I'm excited for all the kids to see it because they're going to love it."

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