Whistle while you watch 'Snow White' at The PAC

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Local children perform Friday and Saturday

By Becca Owsley

It’s the story of a young princess, a septet of dwarfs, an apple, a nap and a handsome prince, or so the story goes.


Tonight and Saturday, Missoula Children’s Theatre and local children present “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” at the Hardin County Schools Performing Arts Center at John Hardin High School.

This is the troupe’s 10th event at the PAC in nine years.

“They are so popular and the need is so great that we’ve begun offering them twice a season, every August and January,” PAC director Bart Lovins said.

Missoula Children’s Theatre, based in Missoula, Mont., began in 1970. It has grown to include 47 teams that perform in communities across the United States and internationally. Over a year they can perform to nearly 750,000 people and in 1,200 locations, cast member Melody Waters said.

The MCT sends two actor/directors, in this case Waters and fellow actor Ashlan Stephenson, to a community for a week. Children from that community audition at the beginning of that week and those cast rehearse for four days leading up to performances.

In a week, the two professionals train and work with 50 to 60 local children who may have had no previous theater experience to build a show from scratch. They complete an entire show in a week.

Often, Waters said, they “build something very beautiful.”

Lovins said MCT does successfully what is difficult for others to do.

“As a presenter with a limited budget, there’s no way we could do what MCT does on our own for the same cost and with the same quality,” he said.

Waters said it’s rewarding to go to new places and feel like part of the community. With other touring shows, the troupe comes in, performs and moves on. With this production, Waters said, she can interact with residents of the community, building relationships and seeing the children grow in their abilities while they are there.

There always are a few students who surprise them, she said. Many times, she sees children exceed what they thought they could do.

But what the MCT does for the community goes beyond theater basics, Lovins said.

“Of course they learn that, in addition to all the fun and games, being in a play requires a lot of focus and commitment, but what we’re really talking about is laying the foundation for life skills they will need to succeed in the real world,” he said.

The audition process teaches the importance of following directions, how to deal gracefully with success and how to bounce back from failure, he said, adding all are skills needed when seeking employment.

“Those that are cast in the show will learn through the rehearsal process how to cooperate and collaborate with others – skills needed to be part of the future workforce,” he said.

Missoula Children’s Theatre and local children can be seen in “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” at 6 p.m. tonight and 1 p.m. Saturday at the PAC.

Tickets are $10-$25. For more information or for tickets, go to www.thepac.net or call (270) 769-8837.

Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741 or bowsley@thenewsenterprise.com.