Darke County Center for the Arts is once again bringing a Misssoula Children’s Theatre residency to our community! Tell everybody you know, especially those school-aged youngsters who would enjoy being a part of a life-enriching experience with like-minded kids who work together to create an exciting theatrical gift they generously share with others. All of the wonderfulness experienced during years past will undoubtedly once again materialize to create an impressive piece of theatre — in this case, MCT’s Sleeping Beauty — in one short week. However, the pandemic has mandated a few changes to usual procedures.
As usual, on Monday, July 26 MCT’s little red truck carrying everything needed to produce a fully-staged musical—scripts, score, scenery, costumes —will pull into Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall; the only thing necessary to the production that is not contained within the crammed vehicle is a cast. As usual, auditions to fill the 60 available roles with local students entering first through 12th grade will take place at 10 a.m., immediately followed by the first rehearsal at 12:30 p.m. As in the past, rehearsals will continue daily through Saturday, July 31, when two performances will be given at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. However, unlike in past years, pre-registration is required to try out for for a part in Sleeping Beauty.
For children who have completed kindergarten and are 6 or 7 years old, 16 roles will be available to be cast at the audition; 44 parts are designated for youngsters aged 8 through 18. Additionally, 4 older applicants will be chosen as Assistant Directors. This means that rather than having over 100 anxious youngsters crowded together on the Memorial Hall stage vying against each other to become a part of the show, everyone auditioning is guaranteed a role in Sleeping Beauty. But it also means that all those hoping to participate should contact Darke County Center of the Arts to pre-register now!
Missoula Children’s Theatre can trace its beginnings back to 1970 when Jim Caron’s aging Volkswagon van broke down as the unemployed actor was traveling from Chicago to Oregon; the nearest service station was, fatefully, in Missoula, Mt., where Jim noticed an audition poster for Man of LaMancha. He auditioned, won the role of Sancho Panza, and developed an instant and lasting friendship with Don Collins, the actor who played Don Quixote. Together the friends organized a theatre company performing plays for children which earned acclaim throughout the state and beyond.
After booking a February performance of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in a small Montana community located an icy 500 miles from Missoula, the team decided against traveling across the state with seven children who would play dwarfs; instead, they held auditions within that small community, hoping that at least 7 children would show up. Well, 450 children arrived to try out, and the amazed duo realized they might be on to something. The rest is, of course, history, a history that is an ongoing success story which continues to bring the arts to families throughout the United States, Canada and beyond.
DCCA has been bringing MCT’s little red truck to St. Clair Memorial Hall for almost two decades, creating a history of its own, along with proud memories and fond remembrances among past participants. Available roles for this year’s production include two Sleeping Beauties, royal parents The King and Queen, Ladies in Waiting, and a Town Crier, plus the vicious spell-caster Scarella. Other characters include Fairies, Trolls, Musicians, Cooks, Housekeeping Crew, Guards, and Caterpillars.
The benefits of participation in theatre are many; MCT emphasizes that its mission is to develop lifeskills in children through the performing arts. Within each cast, all are equal; each individual is necessary for the show to go on. Few arenas exist where responsibility is taught and learned so clearly while the participants are having so much fun. To pre-register for auditions or to order tickets, call DCCA at 937-547-0908 or email info@DarkeCountyArts.org. Tickets to the performances are $5, and will be available at the door.
Marilyn Delk is the former executive director of the Darke County Center for the Arts and can be reached at email@example.com. 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.