Deep in the royal swamp, a lonely frog retrieves a golden ball for Princess Prim in exchange for friendship and comfort. But the spoiled princess doesn’t want to live up to her part of the bargain.
So began “The Frog Prince” as 60 Payson students performed in the Payson High School Auditorium for performances on Aug. 26 and 27.
Frog gets advice from Ollie, the wise old Aspen tree, the well-read Alligator, and the kindly Swamp Things, the Ducks, a busy Fly, and dancing Flamingos also come to Frog’s assistance as Frog’s kindly servant tries to set things right. Even the Queen, kindly Princess Proper, and spunky Princess Peppy get involved and, despite the trouble caused by the nasty Venus Fly Traps, all ends happily. Frog becomes a Prince and realizes that friendships are made, not bought, and he discovers it is not what you are but who you are that counts.
Missoula Children’s Theatre travels the country offering scripts, direction, costuming and sets, with local students performing. It was the 10th time in 11 years PHS has hosted an MCT production. There was no performance in 2020 because of COVID-19.
Payson High School Theatre Director Kathy Siler is thrilled students are experiencing these productions.
“The Missoula Children’s Theatre creative team writes original scripts and scores for their tour shows,” Siler explained. “They are simple, but beautiful, and lots of fun, all based on well-known fairy tales or folktales.
“MCT provides two directors, who have the show memorized, a beautifully sewn professional pipe and drape set, 70 professionally designed and sewn costumes, a makeup box with copyrighted designs in a notebook, and scripts ready to go.
“They also provide three in-classroom workshops during the week: everything from Acting 101 for little ones to Improvisation, Behind The Scenes, Stage Makeup, and more. The Longhorn Theatre Company has always added three additional workshops so that they can offer six classroom workshops to our elementary schools and middle school.”
The directors start out on Monday with a giant circle of students who follow the directors’ instructions of saying lines, using certain emotions or tones of voice, doing a particular piece of movement. After 90 minutes of fun, the directors confer and cast the students in various parts.
The youngest students, usually grades one and two, are cast in a bunch such as “the dancing mushrooms” or, as this year, a bunch of Venus flytraps.
Rehearsals continue that evening and for the next three days. Students learn their parts, both spoken and singing, by chant and repeat. The older students who have larger parts get pages for their spoken parts.
The show is ready by Friday afternoon after a dress rehearsal, with performances that night and the next.
Siler said watching a theatre project come together in four days, one that includes 12 different grade levels, is “truly magical.”
PHS students in the cast included: Tara Ormand as Swamp Frog, Cody Hawley as Castle Frog/Prince, Cameron Mathews as Ollie Aspen Tree, Sara Odegaard as Princess Prim, Lily Gross as Princess Proper, Emma Feliz as Princess Peppy, Seth Weigand as Bert the Alligator, Addyson Ball as a Flamingo, and Marcus Leonard, Dustin Brown, Littzy Millan-Chavez and Ashur Broberg as Knights.
Rim Country Middle School students in the cast included: Miraya Platt, Ezequiel Hurtado and Wyatt Crossman as Knights; Hayden Taylor, Lana Lytle, Trinity Alexander, Zoe Weigand and Addison Lloyd as Flamingos.
Julia Randall Elementary students in the cast included: Cali Lewis, Kaylee Rejsa, Ruby Simpson, Gabriella Mongalo, Kaylin Trillo, Riley Whealdon, Khristina Menvielle, Zevoline Rensch, Hunter Kast, Daphne Hanaki, Colter Burke, Gracie Burback, Ezra Ridriguez and Jesus Castillo as Swamp Things; Skye Brice and Sara Kast as Flamingos; Norah Oberg, Lennon Hageman, Caidence Libby, Jacelynn Ellinger and Robert Phillips as Ducks; Marlii Frausto as The Fly; and Anna Burback, Carter Goss, Eisley Breeze, Abby Klemstine, Julianna Smith and Ana Burback as Venus Flytraps.
Also playing Venus Flytraps were Payson Elementary School students Ryker Ball, Destinee Phillips, Lilli Boldt, Abby Breeze, Jovii Frausto, Jett Taylor, Iris Chambers, Lilly Klemstine and Cammi Owens.
MCT’s Sarah Schrader played Jones/Queen and Maria Von FlyTrap.
PHS students in the crew included: house manager Ayden Meyn and box office manager Winifred Paine. RCMS students in the crew included: assistant directors Connor Trillo, Shanna Porter and Calista Smith, Jake Skehan (lights) and Tyler Skehan (sound).
JRE students in the crew included: assistant director Austin King.
JRE music teacher Beth Christensen was the accompanist.
Former Payson resident Lynette Brouwer and her two daughters brought MCT to Payson. They were involved in MCT shows in Wisconsin. When her daughter, Zoia, got involved in theatre at Payson High School, Lynette asked Siler to bring MCT to Payson.
The Longhorn Theatre Company has worked with The Shelby School for seven years, then with ArtBeat: Rhythm of the Rim and now with Rim Country Artists, and local businesses to bring MCT to Payson each year. They invited former Shelby School teacher Elizabeth Fowler to join their team.
The cost was approximately $3,500 for MCT to bring this production to Rim Country. Siler and Fowler need your help. They need additional business and individual donations to bring MCT here next year. They also encourage you to donate your Credit For Kids money to “PHS Drama/MCT Project.”