Darke County Center for the Arts has been bringing a Missoula Children’s Theatre residency to our community for well over a decade, providing the opportunity for local students to enjoy a hands-on theatre experience led by well-trained, remarkably talented actor/directors. This year, Hannah Hays and Peter Gibbons are the MCT Tour Actor/Directors presiding over King Arthur’s Quest, a delightful musical production offering local kids the chance to shine and sparkle. A conversation with Hannah and Peter not only reveals much about their lives, hopes, and dreams, but also illuminates the admirable mission of MCT—to develop life skills through the performing arts.

MCT’s acting/directing teams travel from town to town in all 50 states, five Canadian provinces and 16 countries. While they coach, teach, discipline, and mentor the youngsters who provide the casts for a full-scale theatrical production that travels in a jam-packed little red truck, Peter and Hannah are also learning many things themselves. Although they meet many challenges and deal with diverse individuals with unique strengths and weaknesses, the team must strive to always act wisely and responsibly when responding to problems large or small.

These representatives from the Montana-based organization bring with them MCT’s expertise and track record, and will undoubtedly once again prove that, when it comes to fulfilling DCCA’s purposes for the week-long residency as well as their own mission, MCT’s program works. The well-thought-out system understands that kids are kids, desiring an opportunity to express themselves, to learn, and to have fun doing all that. A collection of remarkable people with amazing vision, passion, and energy—and the dream to continue to reach for the stars—MCT has helped thousands of children grow into confident successful citizens since its founding in 1972.

Both Hannah and Peter foresee a future for themselves in the performing arts, reaching out to others by sharing their talents. Hannah’s first theatre experience occurred when her church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, produced a junior version of Les Miserables; the sprightly blonde was so moved by the ability of actors to communicate profound messages in song that she wanted her life’s work to touch others in a similar manner.

After winning a number of high school voice competitions, Peter entered the University of Kentucky as a music education major, but involvement in a college theatre production moved the Lexington native to change his major to voice performance. He says that he feels a responsibility to share his artistic talents with others, and wants to make his living doing this work that he finds so meaningful and fulfilling. Both Peter and Hannah realize that the majority of students who participate in the MCT residency will not seek a career in the arts, but know that the experience will enhance lives in many ways and help the youngsters achieve their goals wherever the future may lead.

Susan and Peter believe that their time with MCT is life-changing for them, as well as for the youngsters who participate in the production. One of the life lessons reinforced again and again in theatre is that “we are all in this together;” on stage, as in life, there are no small parts and everyone is on the same team, each an essential component of the whole. This theme also resonates in the plot of King Arthur’s Quest, which ultimately shows that working together provides the best method for facing difficult issues. Granted, the issues dealt with in the show include ghosts, giants, and dragons who boogie, but universal real-life challenges underly the fantastic story of life in Camelot.

King Arthur’s Quest remains true to the evolving but everlasting legend of King Arthur, with cultural nods to the classic ancient tale of chivalry as well as references to the antics seen in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. DCCA invites you to become a part of this exciting adventure; the show will be performed at Versailles Performing Arts Center this Saturday at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets costing only $5 will be available at the door.

The adventure continues

By Marilyn Delk

Marilyn Delk is a director of the Darke County Center for the Arts and can be reached at [email protected]. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.Reach

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