A really good time for everyone


By Marilyn Delk


Missoula Children’s Theatre’s stated mission is to develop lifeskills in children through participation in the performing arts; the achievement of this lofty, worthwhile goal can be observed happening in our community next week when members of the MCT team once again bring to Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall everything needed to present a full-scale musical play—except for the cast. That essential component of the production will be provided by local first- through twelfth-grade students who will audition and be cast on Monday, rehearse throughout a busy week, and on Saturday perform in a delightfully unique version of a familiar fairy tale to the delight of an audience of their friends, neighbors, and proud relatives. Like all MCT plays, this year’s show The Princess and the Pea will provide acting roles for up to 60 youngsters, plus offer the opportunity to become a stage manager for those who prefer to remain behind the scenes.

The myriad benefits of participation in theatre blossom throughout the week, as cast members listen to instruction, learn lines, and do their part to assume responsibility while at the same time looking out for one another. Studies have shown that theatre is a powerful teaching tool, improving communication skills, developing critical thinking ability, and developing values, while encouraging cooperation with others and fostering feelings of self-worth and achievement; and all that is accomplished while everyone is having a lot of fun!

Missoula Children’s Theatre came into being in 1972, when the theatre company’s founders took a show to a small community 500 icy miles away from their home base in Missoula, Montana; rather than travel that distance with the seven youngsters needed for their production, they held auditions to fill those roles when they arrived at their destination. Their doubts about finding enough actors to fill the available roles were blown away when 450 children arrived to vie for a part; those MCT founders, Jim Caron and Don Collins, knew they were on to something. The company has grown and thrived ever since—now reaching all 50 states, five Canadian provinces, and sixteen countries!

Theatre is a collaboration, demanding contributions from all participants. The old saw that in theatre there are no small parts is proved in each and every MCT production; every participant is given an opportunity to shine. Many youngsters are thrilled to discover that in theatre, they “find their happy place,” a place where they successfully achieve goals and are valued for their achievements.

Although St. Clair Memorial Hall will be filled with joy and enthusiasm throughout the week, the possibility exists for disappointment as well. Depending upon the number of students auditioning, some youngsters may not be chosen for a part in The Princess and the Pea. The positive spin on this sad outcome is that coping with setbacks can also lead to growth; learning to absorb and accept such experiences is another life skill to be gained.

Participation in the arts has been proven to aid academic performance, significantly improving scores on standard tests; students who make time for the arts are also less likely to drop out of school, regardless of socio-economic background. Imaginations are stretched, attention spans are lengthened by involvement in theatre. Kids today are used to seeing new images every 3 to 4 seconds; participation in theatre beneficially requires them to focus for a much longer period.

So, if you are a kid, plan on auditioning at 10 a.m. next Monday morning. If you have a kid, make sure that kid can participate in auditions and rehearsals from 10 a.m. till 2:30 p.m. throughout the week. If you know a kid, tell him or her about this unique opportunity for fun and achievement; do not miss this wonderful opportunity to experience the benefits of theatre in our community. All those who are not participating in Darke County Center for the Arts’ production of MCT’s The Princess and the Pea should buy a ticket to one of the delightful performances next Saturday, July 22, at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.; tickets are just $5. A good time will be had by all!

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