By Marilyn Delk
Darke County Center for the Arts is once again bringing back to our community the always wonderful Missoula Children’s Theatre residency, offering local youngsters the opportunity to participate in the magic of theatre. The fun begins with open auditions from 10 a.m. until 12 noon on Monday, Aug. 1, where 50 to 60 students will be cast in a skillfully written illuminating version of The Emperor’s New Clothes. Rehearsals will continue throughout the week, culminating in two amazing performances on Saturday, Aug. 6 starring our young friends and neighbors who will be entering first through 12th grade in the fall, and who will have not only learned lines and songs, but also gained vital skills that will last throughout their lives.
DCCA initially partnered with MCT over 20 years ago, knowing that MCT is an organization committed not only to quality theatre but also to building lifeskills in children by providing a space where all are equal and each individual has an opportunity to shine. In addition to DCCA officials, past participants and their parents recognize the benefits derived from the magical week-long experience, where shy youngsters blossom, outspoken kids learn to lead, and children previously experiencing loneliness can proudly exclaim, “I’ve found my people!” The many benefits of students’ participation in the arts are well-known, as those youngsters, regardless of socio-economic background, typically exhibit enhanced academic performance demonstrated by rising standardized test scores and falling school drop-out numbers.
In addition to bringing Missoula Children’s Theatre back to Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall, DCCA’s 2022-2023 season includes the return of its Family Theatre Series to the glorious venue, beginning on Sunday, Dec. 11 when Virginia Repertory Theatre’s musical version of Clement Moore’s timeless poem ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas brightens the holiday season for children, their parents, grandparents, and friends and neighbors. This hilarious musical, based on the real life of its author, is less than an hour in length and suitable for very young children .
On Sunday, Feb. 19, tutti frutti theatre company of Leeds, England will bring Hans Christian Andersen’s well known tale The Ugly Duckling to life on the Memorial Hall stage. The most unusual duckling on the pond who doesn’t even quack like a proper duckling goes searching for a place where he fits in, meeting a menagerie of mischievous animals on the way to discovering the inner beauty to be found in himself as well as others. A charming musical that quacks and trills, this show will delight audiences of all ages, but is especially suitable for ages five to ten.
Bay Area Children’s Theatre’s Llama Llama Live! closes the FTS season at St. Clair Memorial Hall on Sunday, March 20 with a colorful production based on the popular books by Anna Dewdney. All sorts of lovable characters inhabit this fun-filled all-out llama drama which creatively addresses the everyday issues of young children. Clever tunes in a variety of styles create a fun-filled musical that can help families grow together while sharing a positive experience.
By attending theatre productions, today’s children not only lengthen their attention spans but also jumpstart their imaginations. Exposure to theatre helps children cultivate curiosity, to imagine unimaginably great things. Research shows that theatre helps children dream and thus grow in a variety of ways; a child’s dreams are often the foundation of his or her future life. Inspiring a love of theatre early in a child’s life offers a better chance that neural pathways of creativity will be sparked, and the child will not only develop creative gifts but also maintain a lifelong appreciation for the arts. DCCA is thrilled to offer these possibilities to local youth.
Participation in DCCA’s Missoula Children’s Theatre residency is free, admission to the show is $5, the same ticket price as each of DCCA’s Family Theatre shows. Or tickets for the entire FTS season can be had for just $12, an amazing bargain considering the wealth of magic and wonder the presentations will deliver. For more information, contact DCCA at 937-547-0908 or www.DarkeCountyArts.org.
Marilyn Delk is the former executive 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.