When a theater has auditions, selects 65 children ages 5 to 15 on a Monday, then stages a full-fledged musical play with them five days later, what’s the most important factor?
“Teamwork,” said Lindsey Cline, 23, at Killeen’s Vive Les Arts Theatre on Tuesday. “It’s just like sports, we work together and learn to trust each other.” The perky Cline, a Brooklyn, N.Y., transplant from Jacksonville, N.C., is a co-director of this week’s Missoula Children’s International Theatre production, “Alice In Wonderland.”
Together with Michael Persson, 20, Cline was energetically leading a stage full of youthful thespians through their paces on the second day of rehearsals in Killeen. “They’re doing really well,” she said. “Lots (of
the actors) are off-book already, and we haven’t even blocked scenes yet.”
The morning’s run-through saw Persson working with a dozen kids in the VLA lobby, while Cline had her actors learning dances and speaking lines under the work lights on the proscenium stage. Among the half-dozen parents seated in the auditorium was Gina Rios, whose daughter Sophia, 9, a fourth-grader at Saegert Elementary, was diligently practicing an ensemble dance number.
“Sophia did ‘Secret Garden’ here, and she loves to sing, dance and act,” Rios said. “She makes her own original videos and wants to direct someday.” Rios considers the traveling Missoula program a don’t-miss event. “They’re just great with the children.”
Headquartered in Missoula, Mont., MCT has operated the traveling show for 40 years, and said more than 65,000 children will be cast in shows this year.
As a “presenter,” VLA will host another pair of tour actor/directors for the Aug. 11-15 production of “Rapunzel.” There is no charge to audition, and those cast in a show pay $50 to participate.
Not all of the children have starring roles, said Asia Dennis, 15, a Copperas Cove High School student. “I’m assistant director,” she said. “I’ve wanted to be an actress since I’ve been very young, but it’s cool to see behind the scenes.” Dennis was tapped by Cline to prompt actors during the dialogue sessions, and the possibility of absent actors may mandate a last-minute stand-in role, too.
About noon, the group opened sack lunches in the foyer. Between bites, Deanna Contreras, 15, a Shoemaker High School student, talked about the program. “I auditioned for ‘Annie,’ and didn’t get chosen. I had done a Missoula show when I was 11 and enjoyed myself thoroughly.” The pair of directors’ speed and professionalism left an impression, she said. “Their patience and ability to put this show together, with first- through 12th-graders — it’s really fast-paced.”
Finishing her sandwich, Contreras, who plays dual roles as the Red Queen and Margaret, headed for the stage. “This is just a great experience overall.”