Young thespians vie for spots in 'Little Red Riding Hood'
May 7, 2012
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- On April 30, 47 children boldly proclaimed "I am a pickle and I like it" and mischievously insisted "There aren't any worms in your soup," to an audience in Grafenwoehr Field House.
These silly statements served as part of the two-hour audition process for Missoula Children's Theater's rendition of "Little Red Riding Hood," which staged on the morning of May 5. All 47 hopefuls made the cut to fill out a character-heavy play.
Calida Davis and Katie Murk, MCT's Europe representatives and the play's directors, led an audition lively enough to put nervous children at ease while still maintaining a diligent order.
Murk chalked up their success with the children to "the big energy we have. We are so big and ridiculous and they like to watch what's going on."
With exaggerated gestures and dramatic voices, Davis and Murk captivated their young audience even when discussing their expectations of commitment and what they were looking for in actors.
The directors had three criteria for casting: kids with "loud, clear voices"; big, expressive bodies and faces, because "small faces are boring"; and, most importantly, kids who listen and follow directions.
Lined up from shortest to tallest in a horseshoe shape, the theater hopefuls showed off their acting chops through the simple task of stating their first name, last name and age. Some sobbed out their credentials, others acted meek, while others boldly declared their information with splayed arms and beauty pageant smiles.
The young thespians then spent the next hour and a half delivering quirky phrases in various manners.
One at a time, the younger kids demanded in their brattiest tones, "I want a popsicle now!" Then, sweet as possible, hands clasped under their chins, they chirped, "May I please have a popsicle?"
Later, the teens and tweens acted ancient, wincing with back pain and hobbling on phantom canes as they each declared, "I think I'm the oldest person here."
After much-whispered discussion behind clipboards and rearranging of the performers' positions in the horseshoe, Davis and Murk announced they had determined the roles.
MCT's version of "Little Red Riding Hood" has more pop than the staid story told to youngsters. The tale's foe is not the Big Bad Wolf, but Little Lovable Wolf who hides his evil behind a sweet veneer and is followed by his posse, the Wolf Gang. Four prissy girlfriends accompany Red Riding Hood and her family, the Hoods, is visited by their cousin from England, Robin Hood.
There is also the Woodsman, a suave fellow who loves working on his tan and Ranger Rooney, who, according to Murk, is "very brave, very wise and also very corny."
Taylor Cox, 12, earned the role of Red Riding Hood. Though surprised she got the lead, she felt "actually really excited" for the opportunity. The animated Jessie Juan, 11, was chosen for the Woodsman and Avery Joy, 13, snagged the role of Ranger Rooney.
Joy was also slated to help direct. Though a standout at auditions, this extra duty suited Joy who would rather be behind the stage than on it.
"I think I like directing more," he said. "It's kind of fun to boss people around."
Murk and Davis, who visit military communities and international schools across Europe, were impressed by the turnout and attitudes of the children in Grafenwoehr.
"They had a lot of energy, but they could funnel it," said Davis.
"This was focused energy in the best way," Murk added. "And they weren't afraid to try anything."