July 30, 2008

Missoula Theatre Brings Talent to Area Youth

By Julie Blum, Columbus Telegram, Neb.

Jul. 30--COLUMBUS -- Young actors and actresses were learning their lines and positions on stage.

For some, this was their first taste of theater life, for others, it was a way to further their acting skills.

That is what the Missoula Children's Theatre brings each year when it stops in Columbus. The touring group based in Missoula, Mont., travels throughout the year, making week-long residency stops in communities across the country.

At each stop, children entering grades 1-12 come to auditions, are cast in a musical production and get to put on two musical performances.

Alicia Lees, of Norman, Okla., a touring staff member of Missoula, has been in Columbus this week helping the 60 children involved in the cast and production learn their parts for the presentation of Robin Hood.

"We cast the show on Monday and now we have 18 hours of rehearsal throughout the week," Lees said. The practice on Tuesday was held in the Fine Arts Theater at Central Community College-Columbus.

The Columbus Area Arts Council brings Missoula Theatre to Columbus each year through a grant by the Mid-America Arts Alliance, with underwriting by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Nebraska Arts Council and other foundations and individuals. Local sponsors include Eye Physicians P.C., Stadler Dental Care and Columbus Women's Club.

Lees said by participating in the production, the children learn about teamwork and are able to make new friends.

For Adam Vogel, 15, of Clarkson, his favorite part of being involved with Missoula is meeting all of those involved. This is his fifth year being part of a Missoula production.

"I just enjoy acting and there are always new people," said Vogel, who is playing the part of the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Unlike school plays and musicals, the Missoula production involves children of various ages, which is what Macey Gronenthal enjoys about it. This is the 16-year-old's sixth time she has been in a Missoula musical. She will be playing Prince John this year.

"I like the acting part, but seeing the little kids ... we are kind of like role models for them," Gronenthal said.

She said the youngest actors and actresses make practices fun and a bit unpredictable because they like to put their own spin on things.

One of those of the younger set is 11-year-old Brianna Prater. This is the first year Prater has taken the stage.

"It's fun. I always wanted to be in a play, and when I get older, I want to be an actor," she said.

Performances of Robin Hood will be 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday at the Fine Arts Theater at the college. Tickets are available at the door.


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