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Missoula Children's Theatre

Characters building character

Characters building character

July 25, 2002|by KEVIN CLAPP

kevinc@herald-mail.com

It's a theatrical version of beat the clock: Two actors with one week to cast, rehearse and stage a musical production made of up to 60 local children.

And next week it returns to Hagerstown.

Auditions for the Missoula Children's Theatre presentation of "Tales of Hans Christian Andersen" begin at 8:30 a.m. Monday, July 29, at The Maryland Theatre.

Later Monday, and continuing all week, youngsters will join actors/directors Amy Lariviere and Duane "Dewey" Kemp to assemble the show, which will bow Saturday, Aug. 3, with 3:30 and 7 p.m. curtain calls.

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"We're out there for the development of life skills in children through participation in the performance arts and all that entails: Self-esteem, working as a team, hard work has its payoff," says Don Fuhrmann, a tour personnel liaison with the Montana-based theater company.

"They work hard all week and get the applause on Saturday," Fuhrmann continues. "It tends to work because kids don't realize what they are doing, putting a musical together in five days."

Pat Wolford, director of The Maryland Theatre, says bringing in the children's theater is among the more popular programs they stage. All year, she sees kids wearing T-shirts touting their stage experience, or youngsters on school trips to the theater will tell her they were here to act in such-and-such play.

"It really is something else for the kids," Wolford says. "(It's) for kids to know what culture and arts are all about and to be able to enjoy them all their lives."

Lariviere came to Missoula Children's Theatre by way of Northern Michigan University and a year-long internship in the education department of Lexington Children's Theatre. Kemp is a veteran of Virginia City Players in Virginia City, Mont.

They will spend a year together, hopping from town to town producing "Tales of Hans Christian Andersen" with a new supporting cast each week. Starting August 5 in Mathews, Va.

Around the world, there are 28 Missoula Children's Theatre teams performing a variety of shows, from "Tales" to "Treasure Island" to "Alice in Wonderland."

With the encouragement of Lariviere and Kemp, Fuhrmann says some of next week's young performers will be bitten by the acting bug. Others may not, but can still look back on a valuable experience.

"It's not to build them all into actors or actresses. It does build self-esteem," Wolford says. "These kids do a lot of things on stage that your friends or my friends couldn't do. It's amazing."

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