The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Forrest Hershberger
Sidney Sun-Telegraph 

Missoula Children's Theatre On Stage Saturday


February 1, 2019

Forrest Hershberger

Sidney students rehearse their lines with MCT Director Clarice Bruch, right in green shirt, Tuesday. The performance of The Frog Prince is scheduled for Saturday evening in the Performing Arts Center at Sidney High School.

One of the many fairy tales by Brothers Grimm is "The Frog Prince." It is a story of a young girl who wandered away from what is familiar and lost something she valued.

She had an unexpected conversation with a ... frog. The meeting of the frog and the princess results in an unexpected adventure in what is important in life.

The Missoula Children's Theatre (MCT) will be performing an updated rendition of the story Saturday, Feb. 2, at Sidney High School.

"It is livened up with music and characters," said Clarice Bruch, one of the show's directors.

She describes the story as a tale of forgiveness and what is important in life.

The show starts at 7 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center with tickets $12 for adults, $6 for seniors, students and Western Nebraska Community College students, and children under the age of five free. The cast is composed of Sidney School District students.

Bruch said about 110 students auditioned for a role in the 64-member cast.

"There was a lot of talent at the auditions," she said.

Her MCT partner on the tour, Connor Murphy-White, said the production includes four student directors who assist with students learning lines, cuing entrance onto the stage and many other behind-the-scene duties needed to make the production a success.

"The AD's (assistant directors) are super important to the program," Murphy-White said.

Bruch and Murphy-White auditioned for their roles as directors just as the students do. Both entered the program with teaching and theatre background. Murphy-White entered the program with experience as a graduate teaching assistant and with long-term substitute teaching experience. She auditioned for 60 different companies before being called back by MCT. Bruch auditioned specifically for MCT.

Missoula Children's Theatre and Missoula Community Theatre traces their roots to Jim Caron in the summer of 1970. On his way from Chicago to Oregon, he stopped in Missoula, Mont., when his Volkswagen van broke down. He sees an audition poster for "Man of La Mancha" while waiting for his van to be fixed. He was cast for the role of "Sancho" and a relationship developed with Don Collins who played "Don Quixote."

They pooled their resources and formed a company of adults to perform plays for children in a local movie theatre. The company's popularity grew in popularity in nearby Montana and Idaho communities. In 1972, facing the prospect of traveling hundreds of miles with seven children, the company's directors decided to audition for children's roles in the hosting cities. In their first attempt, 450 children auditioned for seven roles.

Bruch and Murphy-White said they travel in nine states during their five-month assignment with one week off. Usually they stay in host homes during the tour.

MCT has been touring for more than 40 years, visiting all 50 states and 17 countries.


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