A little over a week ago, a little red truck rolled into Greenville, delivering everything — except the cast — needed for a fully-realized musical production to Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall.
During the ensuing week, auditions for Peter and Wendy were held, roles were cast, intense rehearsals occurred, and a delightful show was presented and enjoyed by appreciative audiences.
Missoula Children’s Theatre creates this magical outcome throughout the U.S. and across the world, this year working with 65,000 students in all 50 states and 17 countries. Darke County Center for the Arts has brought MCT to our community for the past 17 years, offering the opportunity to participate in the wonder of theatre at no charge to local youngsters since 2002.
Monday morning’s two-hour audition sped by, with well-trained, out-going, talented and caring MCT actor/directors Britini D’Angelo and Hannah Chism leading the fun-filled session while carefully selecting the best fit for each of the play’s available roles. After reminding the assembled aspiring actors that they were looking for “loud and clear voices,” “ big, expressive faces and body movements,” and most importantly, “the ability to listen and follow directions,” the energetic duo ran lines, listened to singing voices, taught dance moves, then announced the cast list along with first rehearsal times for each cast member. Thirty short minutes later, the first of those rehearsals began, and the magic of theatre began to come alive.
Britini and Hannah are believers in the power of theatre, which motivates their commitment to fulfilling MCT’s mission — the development of life skills in children through participation in the performing arts. Both earned theatre degrees, Britini at Niagara University near her home town of Niagara Falls, N.Y., and Hannah at the University of West Florida not far from her home in Pensacola. They each earned an invitation to the MCT headquarters in Missoula, Montana, where they endured two weeks of intensive 12-hour days being trained in “the Missoula method” as well as learning how to drive a little red truck and change its tires. The young women also worked with an MCT trainer for three strenuous days to learn all of the blocking and every one of the lines and songs for each of the roles in Peter and Wendy. Then, they were off to share their new-found knowledge with eager aspiring young actors.
MCT teams lead theatre workshops, enhance theatre skills, and introduce theatre terms; however, their ultimate goal is not to create great actors, but to teach lifes kills that will assist youngsters in meeting life’s opportunities and challenges. By working together to reach a common goal in a situation where there are truly no small parts and the success of the project is dependent upon each participant fulfilling his/her role, a true community emerges where youngsters gain a sense of responsibility and an understanding of the work ethic, learn self-discipline, and develop social and communications skills that will be of use throughout life, regardless of the career path eventually followed.
Peter and Wendy is filled with charming characters, clever lines, and tuneful melodies, and as in all MCT productions, each youngster is given the opportunity to shine. Almost all participants have a great time while they are gaining self-confidence and learning how to interact with others on stage and throughout life. The over-arching theme of Peter and Wendy, which concludes with everyone finding a place where they really belong, illuminates the ideal of working together in spite of differing perspectives to achieve a common goal, an almost perfect metaphor for the wonder of theatre and its impact on real life.
Britini and Hannah thoroughly enjoyed their time in our community, admiring magnificent Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall, exclaiming about diverse and friendly downtown Greenville, and commending the brave, talented, and well-behaved youngsters they spent the week shaping into confident performers. As they take their jam-packed little red truck to their next stop, the MCT team leaves a magical legacy of wondrous achievement that will continue to enhance lives in our community well into the future.
Marilyn Delk is a director of the Darke County Center for the Arts and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.