Theater group prepares children for weekend performances
Mia Sage Lawry, left, and Ashley Boyd, tour actors and directors, talk to a group of children about performing "Jack and the Beanstalk."

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (June 28, 2012) -- Big voices, big motions and a big commitment to rehearsals are just three of many ingredients necessary to make this weekend's performances starring Fort Rucker youth a big success, the Missoula Children's Theatre directors said during auditions June 25.

The traveling theater group and the children of Fort Rucker will take the stage twice this weekend for a full-length production of "Jack and the Beanstalk." Children auditioned for parts June 25 morning, the show was cast and rehearsals will continue throughout the week until the first performance Friday afternoon.

"For many of these children, this is their first experience on stage," said Mia Sage Lawry, tour actor and director. "It's really giving them an opportunity to blossom and bloom and show off what they can do."

"We're excited to see what this show is going to be like," added Ashley Boyd, also a tour actor and director.

Auditions started June 25 with a dramatic explanation of the roles available and an emphasis on the importance of rehearsals. The children lined up in a circle around the stage then took turns saying their names and ages "loudly and clearly." The directors presented them with different situations then asked the children to say their names and ages again, but with the emotion and expressions they would use in that situation.

Next, they sang "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" as a group and then as smaller groups.

"I was awed by the creativity of the cast," Lowry said. "We had a small group, so we were able to give them more opportunities to be creative during our creative games. They were so open-minded about exploring their own creativity. They came up with some wonderful stuff.

"They were very well-behaved. They listen well and they pick up on things quickly," she added.

The initial rehearsals helped small groups of cast members learn individual parts, Boyd explained. On Wednesday, some of the small groups started working together to see how their individual parts fit into the whole play.

"They don't really know where they are in the play until we get them all together," she said. "Then, we slowly go through the show so they can see how it all goes together."

"Repetition is a key to all of the skills," Lawry added. "That's how we guide them and help them master so much in such a short amount of time."

Lawry first experienced Missoula Children's Theatre when she was in the fifth grade and continued participating in the organization through elementary school.

One year, she remembers her Family moved and she did not have much time to make new friends. But, during the week with Missoula, she knew she was "really special," she said.

"That week I made connections and from then on, I knew this was something I wanted to do because I knew how much it meant to me," she explained.

Now, she is a third-grade teacher and travels with Missoula for 10 weeks during the summer.

Boyd said the more she learns about the mission of Missoula, the more she likes what the group does.

"I like the idea of going to a different town and starting new every week," she said. "You always get something different. It's really exciting."

The constant change is one of the reasons Trevor Christensen, 14, auditioned for a role in this year's production even though he's been in three other Missoula plays.

"It's always new each year," he said. "There are new directors, new sets, new costumes and new people. Everything is new."

Last year, Christensen had a lead role in Missoula's "Wiz of the West." This year, he'll play the character Jack in "Jack and the Beanstalk."

"I'm definitely excited," he said.

Performances of "Jack and the Beanstalk" will be at the post theater Friday at 4 p.m. and Saturday at 12:30 p.m. Admission is free and the performances are open to the public.

Page last updated Thu June 28th, 2012 at 11:42