Travelling theatre production brings opportunities to children
What: Missoula Childrens Theatre auditions
Where : Myrtle Philip Community School
When: Monday, Oct. 13, 4 p.m.
A couple of modern minstrels are set to arrive in Whistler this Monday, intending to captivate the local children. But instead of leading them out of town Pied Piper style, their plan is to keep them right here, embark on an ambitious rehearsal schedule and perform a full-length musical, all within the course of a week.
The Missoula Childrens Theatre team of Bill Murray and Kylie Orr have in their little red truck, all the costumes, makeup, props, and sets for a production of the Frog Prince, a modern adaptation of the classic fairy tale.
Fresh off a performance last week in Beaverlodge, Alta., theyre ready to do it all again in Whistler. They just need a cast of between 50 and 60 kids, aged kindergarten to Grade 6. Auditions are scheduled to start at 4 p.m. on Monday in the Millar room at Myrtle Philip Community School, with the first rehearsal for select cast members beginning immediately afterwards. Murray stresses that no preparation is necessary.
"Just come with a smile and a nice loud voice," is all he asks.
He definitely knows what hes talking about. With a production every week for months at a time, hes directed more musicals in a year than the most seasoned Tony award winner will in an entire lifetime. When the last frog costume is packed up after the big performance on Saturday, hell be off to somewhere else another community, village, town, city, another public school, private school or camp. Its a rigorous schedule, made up for by what he considers the rewarding nature of the job: working with kids, working in theatre and working for a company he admires.
"Its just a blast," he enthuses. "Every week is such a totally unique experience."
He himself had to audition for a position on the Missoula team and says he was offered the job with four days to decide whether he wanted to give everything up to go on the road.
"I couldnt turn it down," says Murray. "Its such a fantastic opportunity. You get to see the world, meet kids from everywhere. And the company, their goals are something you can get on board with."
Those goals include an open armed policy for kids of all abilities and backgrounds, bringing their talents together to perform something creative and exciting. Murray says one of the most rewarding aspects of the job is bringing the production to communities that have no alternatives and watching the kids and parents rally behind the production.
"You go to a lot of communities where their arts budget has been cut or they never had one in the first place, and this is it," says Murray. "And the kids all come, and theyre all ready and it makes me sad on the one hand to know that they dont have a regular arts program. But on the other hand its great to see that the enthusiasm exists, that its there."
The kids in every locale, he adds, characteristically possess the innocent can-do attitude necessary for an undertaking on the scale of a full-length musical with only a few days of rehearsal.
"No one tells these kids its impossible," he chuckles. "You get a bunch of adults together and you tell them, okay, were going to do this hour and 15 minute long musical and were going to put it together in five days. Everyone goes No! Thats impossible! But the kids dont know that. They just go along for the ride. Theyre like, okay, if you say its possible, well do it."
While Murray admits its in kids nature to get out of hand sometimes, he and Orr have an ace up their sleeves when it comes to getting everyone organized and listening.
"Theyre relying on us to look good at the end of the week," says Murray. "Theyre going to have to get up in front of their peers and their parents and everyone and theyre going to have to perform and were the ones teaching them how to do that. I think in the end they realize that."
Missoulas appearance in Whistler is an initiative of the Whistler Arts Council in conjunction with Rainbow Retreats, the Resort Municipality of Whistler, the Province of B.C.s Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, and the B.C. Arts Council.
The company toured the area last year with a performance of Jack and the Beanstalk. Call 604-935-8419 for more information on this years production of the Frog Prince. Check out www.mctinc.org for more information on Missoula Childrens Theatre.