The Montana-based Missoula Children’s Theatre is making its annual return to West Chester University with an adaptation of the Robert Louis Stevenson classic Treasure Island.
For more than 40 years, MCT has sent teams of professionals on tour to locations across the globe. This year alone, 44 teams of skilled actors/directors will visit nearly 1,200 communities for weeklong residencies.
MCT teams arrive with everything needed to put on a production – sets, makeup, costumes, lights, and props – except for actors. The week begins with Monday afternoon auditions for local, school-aged children (Kindergarten through 12th grade). Children of all levels of experience and ability are invited to audition.
After casting 50-60 roles, the company gets to work. The participants rehearse around four hours each day, Monday through Friday, and have a dress rehearsal on Saturday morning before performing twice on Saturday afternoon.
Local mother Karen Woodeshick Orkin has been very impressed by MCT’s past productions.
“My children have had a wonderful experience with the Missoula Children’s Theatre,” she said. “It has become an annual family tradition. Our kids look forward to it every year, and want to attend the performances even if they aren’t able to participate.”
As part of its weeklong residency, the MCT staff also present three enrichment workshops designed to foster the children’s creativity, social skills, communication skills, and self-esteem. The children learn that each part is necessary for the production to go forward. Each child contributes in his or her own way to the show.
“You can see how much fun the children are having and how, from the audition through the performance, they come to own their role,” said Orkin.
MCT’s program is particularly important as many schools no longer offer theater programs.
“It is wonderful that the university is making this quality of an opportunity available for kids,” said Orkin. “MCT has started my children’s interest in the theater, and they have gone on to perform in other local plays and shows.”
WCU Live! is hosting the Missoula Children’s Theatre the week of Monday, March 13 through Saturday, March 18. Auditions begin Monday at 4:30 PM in the Emilie K. Asplundh Concert Hall in the Philips Memorial Building.
No advanced preparation or experience is necessary. Performances are on Saturday at 3 PM and 5:30 PM.