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These young players are old hands

March 17, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - It is the oft-told tale of a boy, some magic beans and a giant, though Saturday night's production of "Jack and the Beanstalk" was set to music with and cast with budding thespians from the area.

Many of the 53 members of the Missoula Children's Theatre cast are veteran troupers, such as 11-year-old Skyler Allen of Greencastle, Pa., who played one of the merchants. Her mother, Patti, said Skyler has been a performer in amateur theater groups in Hagerstown, Greencastle and Chambersburg since she was 5.

"I have one more year. You can do it through 12th grade," said 17-year-old Aubrey Short, who played Jill, the girl Jack meets atop the beanstalk. This was her sixth year with the children's theater.

Auditions were held at the beginning of the week, with 4 1/2 hours of rehearsal over four days followed by Saturday's two performances at Wilson College's Laird Hall. During that brief time the cast learned its lines, lyrics and choreography for the show, presented by the Council for the Arts.

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"I think it was wonderful that they could accomplish what they did in a week" was the totally unbiased opinion of Teresa Anthony, mother of 15-year-old Autumn Anthony, who played a merchant.

Autumn said it was a lot of work, more so for leads Michael Gyurisin, 13, who played Jack, and his 17-year-old sister, Lauren, cast as his mother.

"She's been doing this since she was 8 years old and she talked her little brother into doing it a few years ago," said their father, Michael Gyurisin. "There was a lot of sibling rivalry that came out in the play ... They practice that at home."

Abigail Peterson of New Orleans and Brittany Bara of Dallas joined the theater as actors and directors last year.

The Missoula Children's Theatre was formed more than 30 years ago in Montana and has expanded to 33 touring groups that perform all over the United States, Canada, Mexico and Europe, Bara told the audience.

About 65,000 children per year get the opportunity to act with the touring groups, Bara said.

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