Serious business, joyful experience


By Marilyn Delk


Participation in theatre enriches the lives of participants in ways not immediately apparent to those involved, who may simply know that they are having a lot of fun. Enrichment is part of the motivation for Darke County Center for the Arts bringing Missoula Children’s Theatre actors/directors Skyla Conger and Eric Schutt and MCT’s little red truck packed with everything needed to produce a play except the cast to Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall from July 15 through 20, when up to 60 local first- through twelfth-grade youngsters will be given the opportunity to learn and grow while rehearsing songs, dances, and lines, and then performing in a fully realized musical production of The Pied Piper that will charm and entertain audiences at two performances on Saturday, July 20 at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

The stated mission of Missoula Children’s Theatre is “the development of lifeskills in children through participation in the performing arts.” MCT is dedicated to providing accessible arts experience throughout the world to all communities, regardless of size or economic status, providing “the kindling to ignite a flame of interest in youngsters who might otherwise experience no such opportunity.”

Within each MCT cast, girls and boys are equal, the disabled become able, the shy experiment with bravery, and the gifted become part of the whole. Each and every youngster is vitally necessary for the show to go on; few arenas exist where responsibility is taught and learned so clearly. Rather than competing with peers, the young actors learn not only that cooperation is necessary to achieve the desired goal, but also that excelling as an individual benefits the whole.

This year’s show The Pied Piper is, like all MCT productions, an original adaptation of a classic children’s tale. Although I have not yet seen the show, I know that the original music will be tuneful, the clever lyrics will propel the story, the script will be funny, and insightful, and the characters will be played with aplomb by our local kids who will be having the time of their lives. They will work hard memorizing lines, developing relationships with others, gaining a sense of community, and having a whole lot of fun while creating an entertaining show that they will perform before an appreciative audience, creating an event (well, actually two events—one at 3 p.m., another at 7 p.m.) that will never again be seen on this earth, becoming a beloved memory to cherish forever.

Missoula Children’s Theatre regularly receives unsolicited testimonials lauding the benefits of participation in their programs; stronger academic performance, healthier rapport with others, increased self-control, development of tolerance and respect for others, a blossoming imagination, and a happier child are just a few of the improvements noted. And those advantages do not include the most memorable benefit—participants have a whole lot of fun while subtly learning lessons that will last a lifetime.

Those wishing to audition should arrive at St. Clair Memorial Hall on Monday, July 15 by 10 a.m. when all those auditioning will be called to the stage for a fun-filled group audition, culminating in the exciting casting announcement at12 noon. Following a short lunch break, rehearsals for some cast members will begin immediately following auditions and will continue daily from 10 a.m. until 2:30 throughout the week. Those intense rehearsals provide an amazing example of dedication, cooperation, learning, fun, and delight. Additionally, theatre workshops which are open to all without regard to whether the participant is a member of the Pied Piper cast will be held following rehearsals throughout the week.

As noted earlier, The Pied Piper will be performed twice on Saturday, July 20. Tickets for the show cost just $5, and can be obtained by contacting DCCA at 937-547-0908 or and will be sold at the box office beginning one hour prior to show times.

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