FORT RUCKER, Ala. (June 13, 2013) -- Twenty-three children gathered June 10 at the post theater to audition for the musical "Rapunzel," hosted by Fort Rucker Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation and the Missoula Children's Theatre.

Rehearsals and workshops were held all week to help children prepare for the summer production and to help engage them during the summer, said Denise Honeycutt, Hired! and Edge! program manager.

"It is a wonderful experience for our youth. It provides an amazing summer experience for the entire Family and it is pure simple fun," she said. "The kids really give there all."

Children from ages 6 to 14 will fill the stage June 14-15 at the post theater, many making their acting debuts.

Participating has been a full experience for the children because it formed new friendships, helped bring out Fort Rucker's talent and taught commitment, said Honeycutt.

According to the company's website, the Missoula Children's Theatre has opened both hearts and minds of children to the possibility of achievement through creativity and teamwork that they learn during the theatrical process.

One mother, Krista Barrett, whose son plays Prince No. 1, said that her child has excelled because of his participation through the many times he has acted with MCT.

"He is homeschooled because he has some social anxieties, but he just loves to participate and this is an awesome thing for him because he lights up when he performs," she said. "Tristan is in speech therapy, so doing the plays really helps him with his speech because he has to really think about what he says so he does not stammer."

Tristan Barrett, who has participated in four MCT's across the U.S. in his travels as an Army Family member, battles with autism but still manages to tackle the task of memorizing lines and performing.

"I always have a good time. I like hanging out with the other kids and meeting new people. I get better and better every time," he said, adding that stage positions were among the hardest things to learn.

The production is not only about having fun and making friends, it also teaches children valuable lessons that they can take with them.

"One lesson they learn is that all of them are necessary for the show to go on," said Steven Thomas, touring actor and director. "We have the ability to do the show, but it concretes the lesson of being committed to the show for the children."

The children said rehearsals were everything from fun to challenging, but most agreed at they are all learning new things.

"I think it will help me in speaking in front of others and help me memorize things easier once school starts again," said Esperanza Mendoza, tower Rapunzel, whose hometown is Houston, Texas.

"We want to keep them engaged so they don't forget elements they learned in the school year. At the same time it is fun for them, they do not realize that they are learning," said Thomas.

Parents agreed that by participating their children are learning good life lessons.

"A new and exciting experience is how we look at the production," said Laura Reynolds from Birmingham. "It encourages all of the children to be expressive and to use their imaginations, and they are learning about following instructions and being committed to something."

All of the children said that the directors were very helpful, funny and nice.

"They explain all your questions before you even have to think about asking them," said Mendoza.

Andrew Reynolds, Corn No. 2, said that though he was very nervous about auditioning and the upcoming shows that his friends also performing in the play give him courage.

"I wanted to be in the play because I have never been in a play before and I think it will be really exciting when the show starts," he said, adding that the best thing about participating is being able to be in a play with some of his friends.

The performance of "Rapunzel" will be held June 14 at 4:30 p.m. and again June 15 at 2 p.m. at the Post Theater. The show is free and open to the public.