Children Shine On Stage With the Missoula Children’s Theater

4 Feb

One year ago, my daughter did something which she had never been able to do before. We’d wanted to do it before…but something always got in the way – like vacation, or busyness…or my memory.

But then, last January, she finally was able to try out and was in the Missoula Children’s Theater’s production of Hansel and Gretel.

This year, she did it again, playing the role of Martha in MCT’s The Secret Garden here in Worthington at the Memorial Auditorium.

I cannot adequately explain how great this experience is for the kids!
Here’s how it works, for those unfamiliar. Two staff members with MCT lead the production. They travel to different towns – both small and large – to put on these “residency weeks”. The interested kids show up on Monday after school. (Or, as in the case this year in Worthington, on Tuesday because on that Monday all schools across Minnesota were closed due to the extreme cold.) The kids audition and after a short dinner break, they begin rehearsals.

They continue to rehearse every day after school until 8:15 each night.

Then, on Friday and Saturday, they perform. (This year locally they only had one performance, on Saturday, again due to the lack of that Monday’s rehearsal time.)

Canadian Geese...complete with a Canadian vocabulary, eh?

Canadian Geese…complete with a Canadian vocabulary, eh?

The team comes complete with costumes, easy to manipulate and attractive sets, and all the scripts and teaching necessary for the kids to be successful. What emerges is a wonderful performance – funny, age-appropriate, cute-as-all-get-out. Kids from kindergarten through 12th grade are eligible.

It is a fabulous opportunity for kids to gain confidence through inter-personal skills, public speaking skills, and yes, even acting skills! It also gives them experience in theater and even in independence, giving each child a little shove towards self-discipline and self-awareness. They are encouraged through their team work and their personal achievements.

What garden is complete without flowers?

What garden is complete without flowers?

In a town our size, I think that pretty much everyone who auditions gets a part (in fact, they had to cut a few roles this year because there weren’t enough children), but that’s not always the case. However, auditions in and of themselves – even without success at the end – are learning experiences and can be good opportunities in learning how to handle disappointment. Kids need to learn that life doesn’t always give them what they want. The MCT website offers a little wisdom on how to handle the disappointment of a failed audition.

Sheep, foxes, squirrels, and, of course, a robin.

Sheep, foxes, squirrels, and, of course, a robin.

The Missoula Children’s Theater began the early 70’s. It is an international organization. They have around 75 people listed as Tour Staff, meaning that there are approximately 40 teams that travel around, winter and summer.

The Missoula Children’s Theater’s mission statement is,”The development of life skills in children through participation in the performing arts.”

They go on to say this: “MCT…strives to use participation in the performing arts as a vehicle to develop the life skills (social skills, communication skills, self-discipline, a strong work ethic, an understanding of the team concept and self-esteem) necessary to answer the challenges of our time.”

In other words, whatever the skill-level of your child – whether used to performing or compete novices – they can and will grow through the MTC experience.

The humans in The Secret Garden.

The humans in The Secret Garden.

As a parent, it is a thrill to see five intense days culminate in a splendid performance. I encourage everyone, with or without kids in the cast, to attend the show at the end of the week – it’s a great way to encourage the young children of your acquaintance and to spend 60 or so minutes enjoying the fun of a live performance – complete with the happy unexpected joys of children on stage!

Many thanks to Missoula Children’s Theater for their recent visit to Worthington!

Born for the stage!

Born for the stage!


13 Responses to “Children Shine On Stage With the Missoula Children’s Theater”

  1. Doreen February 4, 2014 at 7:09 am #

    That’s awesome!!!! I know of adult productions that result from visiting professionals but not a children’s version. Great discipline learned in a wonderfully supportive setting. Nothing like that over on this side of the state. Thanks for sharing!!!!!!!!

    • Gretchen O'Donnell February 5, 2014 at 7:06 pm #

      Yes, it is great for so many reasons. It’s possible that communities where you are offer things that our community does not – which is why it’s ideal for MCT…

  2. Minnesota Prairie Roots February 4, 2014 at 7:43 am #

    What a wonderful opportunity for kids to test their theatrical wings. What discipline and dedication it takes to pull a show like this together in such a short time frame. Kudos to your sweet daughter for being a part of this.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell February 5, 2014 at 7:07 pm #

      Yes, it makes for a busy week – but it’s worth it! And it’s just one week – even I can handle that schedule!

  3. Jackie February 4, 2014 at 8:44 am #

    This is great, how fun for those kids that want to perform and especially that they all get a part in the show. This just might be the start of something bigger 🙂

    • Gretchen O'Donnell February 5, 2014 at 7:07 pm #

      Who knows? I know for sure that she can’t wait to get to high school where they have a musical and a play each year!

  4. Top Of The Slush Pile February 4, 2014 at 1:58 pm #

    I agree with you Gretchen – I think the theatre is an amazing place for children, harnessing so many skills. My children are a little sport obsessed but have been involved with school productions and have loved them.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell February 5, 2014 at 7:08 pm #

      It can be difficult to handle the schedule of sports and plays and jobs, etc….but it’s such a fun time of life when they can handle it all!

  5. Gwen Stephens February 4, 2014 at 4:24 pm #

    Sounds like a wonderful program!

  6. Hotly Spiced February 4, 2014 at 6:17 pm #

    What a great experience. I know my little guy would love this kind of an opportunity. What a shame there was only one performance. The costumes are very cute xx

  7. My Odd Family February 5, 2014 at 9:20 am #

    What a great experience for your daughter. My son has never liked acting, however school plays and drama are a requirement at his school (Waldorf school) and I am convinced it has made him more confident and a better speaker than he would be if he not participated in a drama program. Most of these kids won’t leave home for Hollywood but giving them the skills a good drama program can generate is a gift no matter what they do in life. And besides, it is fun to sit in the audience. I use to say “our kids” (the whole class), could go on stage and sing the ABC and my eyes would tear up. My son remind me the other day, I still tear up at the wonderfulness—he’s right.
    Congratulation to your star!

    • Gretchen O'Donnell February 5, 2014 at 7:05 pm #

      Yes, you’re right that it’s not necessarily gearing them up for an acting career – but it’s giving them life skills of speaking in front of people, etc. Any help in that area is good as it’s the #1 fear so many people face!

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