Missoula Children’s Theatre to give youth a taste of life on stage


A little red truck will show up in Morinville later this month, a vehicle filled with actors, costumes and props, items necessary for a major stage production where the community is the cast. The Missoula Children’s Theatre is bringing their knowledge and skill to town to put on a week of rehearsals and two performances of The Wizard of Oz. All they need are 60 young people to help them.

“This show is a wonderful opportunity for local youth ages Kindergarten to Grade 12,” said Morinville Cultural Services Manager Laurie Stalker. “The entire production will be performed by our own kids. [It’s] a chance to participate in a full scale performance and develop skills through participating in the performing arts.” Stalker said she has sent out an audition notice for Mar 17. From those responding to the call, up to 60 local youth will be chosen to perform. Those who are not chosen will be able to attend one of three workshops the Missoula Children’s Theatre will be offering during the week they are in Morinville.

Participants will audition Monday, Mar. 17, rehearse Tuesday through Friday, and perform two shows on Saturday, Mar. 22: one at 3:30 p.m. and another at 5 p.m.

Those interested in participating can call the Morinville Community Cultural Centre at 780-939-7888.

Missoula Children’s Theatre questions

WIZ - COLOR LOGOInterview with Matt Loehrke, Missoula Children’s Theatre Tour Marketing Associate.

Q: For six days in March local children will have the opportunity to rehearse and perform with professional actors. Why should local youth from Kindergarten to Grade 12 be excited about this opportunity?

A: Normally from auditions to final bow a commitment to a play can be anywhere from 6-12 weeks; our cast will accomplish this in 6 days. While our preparation may be shorter we still present a professional production. The little red truck that arrives in Morinville will have the set, costumes, lights, props, scripts – everything we need to put on a show except the cast and that’s where we need the youth of your community to come in and play.

Q: What can those interested in participating in the weeklong event expect to learn about the world of live theatre itself?

A: It takes hard work, commitment and many people working together to put on a play. While it is quite an undertaking, it is also an amazing and fun experience. Many people find that this exciting process becomes a hobby (or even career) to last a lifetime.

Q: Taking to the Morinville Community Cultural Centre stage will be an opportunity many youth will enjoy, but your theatre company’s broader mission has been said to be a desire to develop the life skills, including social skills, communication skills, self-discipline, a strong work ethic, team work and self-esteem through involvement in the performing arts. Do you find the experience and skills stay with students well beyond the week they work with MCT?

A: Absolutely. For many of our cast members this is the first experience performing in front of friends and families. On Monday they are cast as characters. By Saturday they have gained character. From learning to speak in front of an audience to working together as a cast the skills we introduce during our brief visit have lasting effects.

Q: On this trip to Morinville you are performing The Wizard of Oz. What is it about this particular production that makes it a good fit for your inclusive style of theatre?

A: All MCT shows are based on either fairy tales or children’s literature, stories young audiences are familiar [with]. All of our productions are original musical adaptations. The Wizard of Oz is one of our first plays we produced and is still exceedingly popular today. Audiences will recognize Dorothy and her friends but our original staging and songs will leave a lasting impression.

Q: Your organization’s founders met in 1970 when they performed Don Quixote and Sancho in a Missoula production of the play Man of La Mancha. By the end of the ‘90s the theatre company had evolved to the entity it is today. Almost two decades later, what is it about MCT that keeps Don Collins and Jim Caron’s original vision alive?

A: Opportunities to participate in the performing arts continue to decrease in our schools. We know many schools and community organizations are faced with the steep responsibility for educating and fostering young minds on limited resources. It can be difficult for these organizations to implement theatre, music and other arts classes. That’s where our vision comes in. We strive to provide not only the members of the cast but the entire community to experience and participate in a musical production in just one week’s time.

Q: We’ve talked a considerable bit about what would-be thespians and stage hands can expect, but what about the community as a whole. What can audiences expect in your two performances Mar. 22?

A: They will just have to come and see. I promise you though, what these kids will do in just five days of rehearsal is amazing and is not to be missed!

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