10 a.m., March 28)
Missoula Children's 'Jungle Book' is simply adorable
By Fred Sherwin
Missoula Children's Theatre Company has been traveling the
world for the past 40 years, instilling the joy of theatre
in young hearts along with an important life lesson.
Khan, played by Charlotte Rodgers, stalks
Mowgli, who is played by Lauryn Maitz, during
the Missoula Children's Theatre production
of 'The Jungle Book'. Fred Sherwin/Photo
at least 15 of those years, the MCT has stopped in Orléans
where each year as many as 50 kids between the ages of
five and 17 take part in the week-long production.
Missoula's instructors fan out across North America in
pairs and they only go where they are invited. They travel
in their own vehicles packed full with costumes and a
backdrop for the stage. To keep costs down, the instructors
are billetted with host families who help publicize and
promote the local productions.
for this year's traveling production of "The Jungle
Book" were held on Monday during which each budding
actor is cast as a member of the ensemble. The younger
kids usually form the chorus while the teenagers are cast
in the lead roles.
days of after school rehearsals followed leading up to
two performances. The first was held last night at the
Shenkman Arts Centre. The second performance will take
place this morning at 11 a.m.
night's opening was filled with what audiences have come
to expect from the whirlwind production. Lots of enthusiasm.
Plenty of music. A few laughs and a cuteness quotient
that was off the charts.
something about five and six-year-old kids dressed up
as monkeys that can't help, but put a smile on your face.
play itself followed the story of the popular children's
book with all the main characters, including Mowgli, Baloo,
Bagheera, Akela and Shere Khan, told with the underlying
message that no matter how challenging life can get, you
are never alone when you have friends and family.
Maitz was cast in the lead role of Mowgli. Although she
did a great job throughout the play, her star shone brightest
when she was able to show off her amazing singing voice.
enjoyed Christina Dale's performance, as well, as Mowgli's
childhood friend Bagheera. But I was especialy thrilled
to see Charlotte Rodgers cast as Shere Khan, the determined
tiger who wants to harm Mowgli.
was brilliant as the lead actor in last year's production
of "Pinochio", and she delivers another strong
performance as Shere Khan, a role that demands a larger
than life stage presence.
my surpise performance of the night was delivered by Sydney
Maloney who had me in stitches as Shere Khan's sidekick
In terms of shere cuteness, Shannon Jaspers-Fayer and
Skyler Begin were off the charts as Wolfy and Hathi the
elephant. And then there's Lucas Guertin who drew laughs
everytime he came on the stage as Buck.
The rest of the lead cast includes Kaitlyn Scheiman as
Akela; Trista Willbond as Mother Wolf; Jasper Hupe as
Father Wolf; Grace Pearce as the young Mowgli; Alexandra
Molino as Rikki-Tikki-Tavi; Cora Willbond as Darzee; Maya
Partrick as Nagaina; and Samuel Pearce as Nag.
rest of the cast were placed in the chorus which included
the Wolf Pack, the Monkey People, the Wolf Pups. and Kaa
the snake which was cleverly made up of seven of the youngsters.
always amazed at what a terrific job the young cast does
given the condensed production schedule. To go from auditions
to a live performance in just four days is a challenge
even for the most seasoned of actors, but to do so with
a cast of 47, half of whom are under the age of eight,
is nothing short of extraordinary which speaks volumes
of the abilities of Missoula instructors Kevin Moxley
and Olivia Wardwell.
can watch the second peformance of "The Jungle Book"
this morning at 11 a.m. in the Richcraft Theatre at the
Shenkman Arts Centre. Tickets are $10 each at the door.
story was made possible thanks to the generous support of
our local business partners.)