Nikki Velarde, The Belton Journal
Saturday, nearly 50 actors made their way to the stage and performed the Missoula Children’s Theater’s (MCT) production of Rapunzel at the Cultural Activities Center. Auditions were held on Monday, roles were cast, and rehearsals began. Perhaps the most impressive thing was that the time between auditions and the final performance of the production was only five days.
“These kids put in so much hard work. If they can learn all this in five days, just think what they can do with the rest of their lives,” said Mary Kate McLaurine, production Director. “They are fantastic.”
The MCT story of Rapunzel was conceived and written by Michael McGill. The story takes the audience on a frivolous frolic through the French countryside. The story leads the audience through the Ogres’ garden in the Mushroom patch while the Corn and Potato spies report back to Madame Gothel, the story’s antagonist.
The audience is guided by Frenchy, played by Alex Jenkins from MCT, and his intense friends, the Wood Elves. They do their best to help Rapunzel escape the grasp of Madame Gothel. The lost Prince, Rapunzel’s parents, and her friends the Unicorns try to help as well.
We are also introduced to a Troll and Three Billy Goats Gruff when attempting to cross the bridge. Add that to the Gremlins trying to play tricks on everyone and you have chaos! It’s not all bad because the Pixies foil the Gremlin’s plan most of the time.
In short, Rapunzel and all the rest of the characters tell a silly tale of personal triumph and friendship. There was also an underlying message of how to handle a bully and that showing kindness can help make the world a better place.
Missoula Children’s Theater is based out of Missoula Montana, and is the nation’s largest touring theater. MCT goes to all 50 states and 17 other countries. Typically the theater comes into town on Sunday and holds auditions that Monday, cast their members and begin rehearsals that same day. “They learn an entire hour-long musical, with lines, songs, and dances, in five days,” said McLaurine. Once performances are done on Saturday, MCT packs up and moves onto the next town.
“Nearly 65,000 children perform for audiences of 750,000 people every single year,” said McLaurine. “We are so grateful to be in your community this week. These kids auditioned on Monday and in five days they have learned all their lines, songs, dances, and even learned each other’s lines, songs, and dances. There was a whole other show going on backstage that you guys couldn’t see. We always have a lot of fun.”
MCT tries to reach the smaller communities that have few creative outlets or resources for their children and provide access for places that have none. They envision helping our country’s children grow into confident, successful citizens using the positive results of their programs. It is their dream to share everything they have learned about developing life skills in children no matter where they grow up.
According to the MCT website, “within each MCT cast, girls and boys are equal; the disabled become able; the shy experiment with bravery; the slow are rehearsed to perfection; and the gifted become part of the whole. The lesson they learn is that all of them are necessary for the show to go on. Few arenas exist where responsibility is taught and learned so clearly. MCT provides a unique opportunity to learn the lessons of group dynamics while excelling as an individual, a lesson learned from art that carries into life.”