We’ll be off to see the Wizard!
Aspiring actors take note: Missoula Children’s Theatre (MCT) is coming back to Humboldt this fall.
MCT, the largest touring children’s theatre around, will be visiting nearly 1,200 communities this year, and Humboldt will be one of them.
They will be here September 10-15.
The MCT team arrives in town with a set, lights, costumes, props and makeup — everything it takes to put on a play — with the exception of the cast.
On their first day in town, usually a Monday, they hold auditions, cast between 50 and 60 local students to perform, and start rehearsals that night. Rehearsals continue throughout the week and culminate in two performances on Saturday.
All MCT shows are original adaptations of classic children’s stories and fairy tales, and this year, they are touring a production of “The Wizard of Oz.”
MCT is no stranger to Humboldt. They came here for years, thanks to the Quill Plains Regional Recreation Association (QPRRA), with productions like “Rumpelstiltskin”, “Pinnochio” and “ The Tales of Hans Christian Anderson.”
However, the QPRRA was dismantled a few years ago, leaving MCT without an umbrella organization to bring them here, and they stopped coming three to four years ago.
But the Humboldt area now has a new umbrella organization to bring things like MCT to town — Arts Humboldt.
Arts Humboldt (AH) is responsible for getting MCT to include this area in their tour once again in 2012.
“This was one of the reasons why we started Arts Humboldt,” said Glenda Lees of Arts Humboldt. “We felt there was a gap with things like this. It was sad that kids haven’t had (an) opportunity (like this one)... We felt like this was just something really crucial for kids in Humboldt and the outlying areas.”
Children get a lot out of their involvement with MCT, Lees feels.
“Just the experience of being able to do it, to work with experts... These are very, very experienced actors with educational experience in theatre and performing,” she said. “They are professionals who know how to get the best out of the kids.”
A lot of students involved in Lees’ drama program — she’s a teacher at Humboldt Collegiate Institute (HCI) — have been through MCT performances, and are the better for it.
“It’s been very, very good for my performing arts program, having experience with Missoula. It’s a very, very good opportunity for kids.”
And because of that, they want to make sure that as many students as possible, from Humboldt and the surrounding area, are included in this year’s production.
In addition to the 50 to 60 cast members required, students will be needed to help backstage with directing, lights and sound, Lees noted.
Though it is summer vacation at local schools, Lees has been sending out emails to all the schools in the outlying area, notifying them of MCT’s visit, which takes place early in the school year.
Auditions will be held September 10 at the Humboldt Public School gym, she said, but a time has yet to be determined, as she wants to ensure that students from out of town have time to get to Humboldt after classes let out for the day.
“Not everyone who auditions will get in,” said Lees. “But they will accept as many as they can... Just the audition process will be a really neat experience for (students),” she added.
Those included in the production should be prepared to start rehearsals that night, she said, but each student is given a schedule for the week, depending on their part.
Lees warns that total devotion to the production will be required of many that week.
“If a student wants to be in it, they have to be committed to doing nothing else that week,” she said. “After school and early evening... All you’re going to do Monday to Saturday is go to school and do Missoula.”
The public is invited to attend the performances, which will take place Saturday afternoon and evening, on the new HCI stage.
The area in front of the stage, which is just off the main gathering space in the school, will accommodate about 350 people, Lees said.
All the performances and the rehearsals will take place at HCI, on their new stage, said Lees.
“It’s an opportunity to try our new lights and sound system,” she said. “I think it will be really neat.”
The performances, she added, are of a very good quality.
“People who come will absolutely not believe the kids had a week to learn it,” she said.
They are looking for businesses to sponsor the MCT visit, Lees said, to help them cover some costs.
“We got a $1,500 community grant,” said Lees, “but there is still room for local businesses or patrons of the arts to contribute to definitely a worthy cause.”