By Janell Marmon •
Missoula Children’s Theatre will be in Traill County this summer for two shows, “The Little Mermaid” with June 17 performances in Mayville, and “King Arthur’s Quest” on Aug. 12 in Hatton. Two great shows mean two great opportunities for area children to scratch their creative itch this summer on stage.
“Children ages seven to 17 participate in our productions,” Mayville State University’s Teresa Agnes said of the Mayville production. “Participants come from Mayville, Portland, Cummings, Hillsboro, Hatton, Finley, and sometimes from Fargo or Bismarck when kids are visiting grandparents for the summer.”
For several years, Mayville has done shows with Prairie Fire Theatre Company out of Minnesota, but this summer with a lighter schedule for that theatre company, opted to also hire Missoula Children’s Theatre for summer 2023. MSU has been bringing children’s theatre to the Mayville area for several decades.
Hatton’s children’s theatre program is an off-shoot of a long running tradition of theater that began in the 1970s with comedies, dramas, and musicals held at the Hatton Eielson School and at The Act One Cafe. Missoula Children’s Theatre began doing their summer program for area children in 2018.
“‘South Pacific’ and ‘Oklahoma,’” Donalee Stand, Hatton, said, were her first experiences with Hatton theater. “Fred (Strand) and I were both in ‘South Pacific.’” In the 1980s, she and Karen Howson co-directed “The Ark.” “It was a great play; Teresa Agnes and her daughter were both in it.” Today, Strand and Howson are in their fourth year with the children’s theater program.
Auditions for shows with Missoula Children’s Theatre run the first day of their programs for two to three hours.
“It is a super fun process where the directors get to know the children and their strengths on stage,” Agnes said. Mayville’s rehearsals run June 11 – 16, with two performances on June 17 at 10 a.m. and one p.m. Performances are on the MSU campus.
MCT brings live theatre with local performers to all 50 states, five Canadian provinces, and 16 countries.
Hatton begins its preparation for “King Arthur’s Quest” on Aug. 7, with 10 a.m. auditions, wrapping things up on Aug. 11, with a 6 p.m. performance, and closing on Aug. 12, with their 10 a.m. show.
“Thirty-one kids have signed up so far,” Strand said. Hatton attracts 35-40 kids each year for their auditions. “The majority are from Hatton, but this year we have one child from Buxton, and others visiting the area during our show week.”
Those interested need not have previous theatre experience.
“I’ve been so impressed with their directors,” Strand said of the Missoula company. Touring staff are graduates of theater degreed programs across the country.
For more information on the MSU program, contact Jodi Stevens at 701-430-3727, Teresa Agnes at 701-436-6404, or Samantha DeLong at 701-436-6143. For more information on the Hatton program, contact Donalee Strand at 701-371-1036
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