The Missoula Children’s Theatre blew into town last weekend to cast, rehearse, build and produce a play in one week.
Eighty-three Rim Country children tried out for the play, “Betty Lou and the Country Beast.” The two directors, Arianne Decerb and Gregory Kanter from the Missoula Children’s Theatre, cast 63 students.
Usually they only cast between 56 to 59 students, but cast more this time “because there was a lot of excellent talent,” said Payson High School drama chair Kathy Siler. “They wished they could have cast all 83.”
Students who tried out came from the first grade through seniors in high school.
On Monday night, the two directors hosted a group tryout in the high school auditorium. Siler said the group format went over well with Rim Country students.
“(Rim Country Middle School) sixth-grader Olivia Foster came because her mom asked her to, loved the group audition process, (much better than going in front of the group one-by-one) and was surprised at being cast as an older daughter,” said Siler.
Other students who were pleasantly surprised included Payson Center for Success junior Andrya Smith, who will be an assistant director, Julia Randall fourth-grader Liberty Fain, who plays a younger daughter, and PHS sophomore Jason Lemon, who will play Clyde, the family dog.
“He plans to practice his barking and howling in the next few days,” said Siler.
Performances are at 6:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Aug. 17 and 18, in the Longhorn Theatre. Tickets may be
purchased at the door: $6 for adults, $5 for students and $4 for senior citizens.
Pre-sale tickets may be purchased for $1 less than at the door at MissFitz 260 Café, Payson Public Library and Oasis Christian Bookstore.
Since the Missoula group spends only a week doing any one project, rehearsals started immediately after tryouts.
Siler stayed to watch on Monday night and reported exciting results. “What I saw during the first rehearsal was 30 pairs of eyes and ears intently watching and listening to Greg as they learned lines, lyrics, movement and choreography — lots of laughter — easy to see the joy coming from the cast members as they quickly adapted to the group dynamic.”
Siler worked with parent Lynette Brouwer to bring the famed theatre group to Payson, which would not have happened without the support of the community.
Brouwer first heard of the group when she and her family lived in the Midwest. She supported her oldest daughter participating with the group at age 5. The experience gave her daughter a love of the theatre.
“Once you’ve encountered Missoula Children’s Theatre, you don’t forget — whether you are directly involved or just buy a ticket to a performance,” wrote Brouwer in a letter.
“My 15-year-old was in her first Missoula play at the age of 5 and it’s what triggered the interest in drama she has to this day,” Brouwer added.
Not only students in the Payson Unified School District auditioned, but students from Payson Community Christian School, Pine-Strawberry and The Shelby School came to tryout and now are working side-by-side to produce the play from directing, to set design, music and costumes.
The kids have made a significant commitment to rehearse. Each night they spend four hours after school practicing for the performances tonight (Friday) and Saturday night.
Members and businesses of the community that have generously donated to bring the Missoula Children’s Theatre to Payson include: Crabdree Insurance, Jot Mini-Storage, Payson Methodist Church, Pizza Factory, Rizzo Financial Group, Chili’s, Kyle’s Tire and Auto, Rim Country Upholstery, Star Valley Veterinary Clinic, The Shelby School, John Wakelin, John and Lorian Roethlein, Judge Peter Cahill, the Brouwer family, Sylvia Hess, Edward and Karyl Blair, Ron Hitchcock, Valeri Goyne and Shiranda Deerwoman.