Recently Big and her three besties participated in a production of Sleeping Beauty put together by the Missoula Children’s Theater. I’ve seen the MCT put on productions on the Air Force Base where DH frequents every summer, but we’ve never actually attended. This year Little was at Boy Scout camp the week of the MCT camp, so I thought it might be fun for Big to invite her friends and for the four girls to spend a week acting, swimming, and generally being tired. [And honesty, sometimes I don’t get enough “arts” done in the school year, so I love a good “intensive” experience!]
I looked a lot on the internet for reviews, and didn’t find a ton, so I figured I’d provide one “mom’s review” of our experience.
Monday at 10 am the kids “audition”. The staff (we had 3 AMAZING MCT staff) have the kids sing, speak loudly, express, and generally have fun. By noon they have their line up and they announce to the kids. Our group was putting on Sleeping Beauty, and we ended up with Scarella, the Lady in Waiting/Madame Butterfly, and two trolls. We didn’t have a load of kids so everyone got a part, but that’s not always the case.
Once the rolls are announced the rehearsal schedule is shared. Some kids have to be there for every rehearsal, some for a few. Rehearsals through the week run from 10-12, and 12:30-2:30. If the kids have to be at both rehearsals they need to bring a sack lunch. My group had a varied schedule, with Tuesday being a light day and full days from Thursday through Saturday.
Rehearsal. Lots of singing, learning locations, and general fun. One thing I didn’t realize that MCT does (which is GENIUS!!) is they have an on stage narrator played by one of the MCT staff. BRILLIANT! This enables the kids, even the little ones, to have a familiar, capable on-stage presence. Should anyone worry or freak out – no problem, there’s someone there to help. Another thing they EXCEL at is crowd control. I saw some great techniques (clapping, time counts, etc.) that the staff uses to encourage the kids to listen, get in line, etc. It was great. The atmosphere was so positive and encouraging for every age level!
WEDNESDAY – FRIDAY –
More rehearsal. Kids are expected to learn their lines by Thursday, but with all the coaching and help mine were all ready. Songs were sung (FREQUENTLY!) in the car, around the house, etc. Each day my group came from rehearsal smiling, having fun, and relaxed. It was great!! For putting on a full musical in a week, there was really no pressure.
Saturday is PLAY DAY and is a pretty long day. The kids arrive at 11, and get all costumed up (MCT provides all costumes and make up), and have a dress rehearsal. They need a sack lunch this day, as they run from 11-3, when the play starts. Some locations charge for tickets, others don’t. Programs are provided. It’s just awesome!! At 3 our play started – and it was FABULOUS!! Costumes, singing, live piano, happy kids. It was great. We stayed and helped put up the set – and we were all wrapped up and leaving by 5:30.
I cannot recommend the Missoula Children’s Theater highly enough. The staff was amazing. I won’t go into a lot of detail, but one of my troop has some significant social anxiety (diagnosed and medicated) as well as other levels of challenges – and the MCT staff was AMAZING with her. By the end of the week that kid was singing a solo, acting, and ENJOYING IT. I get misty eyed even thinking about the progress she made that week and the wonderful mentorship of the MCT staff. It was awesome.
If the MCT red truck pulls into your town – go – you won’t regret it!!