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Children to perform ‘Blackbeard’ Friday at Midwest Theater

November 28, 2018

SCOTTSBLUFF — The Missoula Children’s Theater has cast 68 kids for the performance of “Blackbeard the Pirate,” following Monday evening’s two-hour audition.

Midwest Theater Director Billy Estes said they had 37 kids pre-registered as of Monday morning. There were 68 kids who came out for the auditions.

The audition process is done in a group setting where all the kids will take the stage to answer a series of questions. Throughout the auditions, the two tour actors and directors looked for kids with loud and clear voices, big expressive bodies and faces, and kids who listen and follow directions.

“We have them make a big square on stage and it’s very focused on the group,” said Missoula Children’s Theater tour actor and director Hannah Silverman. “We give them lines to say and teach them a quick movement for choreography.”

The kids stand on stage from oldest to youngest and say lines based on their age. Even when they were not saying lines or learning choreography, Silverman said they were watching to see if they followed instructions.

“This audition is really more about can the kids follow instruction in a short amount of time,” Estes said.

He said MCT provides a unique opportunity for the youth to dip their toes into performing without the multiple week commitment of other plays.

Ahead of the auditions, Reenah Taffe said she tried out because “it just sounded fun and the last two years it’s been a really good show and I want to be in it.”

Silverman, of Nashville, Tennessee, and Kathleen Gabriel, of Denver, are the tour actors/directors (TAD) for the Missoula Children’s Theater, who watched the auditions and selected the cast. TADs are typically young adults who just graduated college and have a chance to direct multiple kids, tour and work with a new cast every week during their 20-week contracts.

“I had actually never heard of Missoula Children’s Theater until I went to an audition at the end of college last February,” Silverman said. “I got a call back from them and went to a meeting where everyone was as nice as can be.”

During the meeting, she learned that MCT’s vision is to foster creativity and enhance people’s capabilities by providing access to community-driven performing arts experiences that transcend barriers of language, culture, financial resources and unique needs.

“That was really cool to me because for me, personally, theater really changed my life and made me a better person,” Silverman said. “I think that is such a gift that I want to bring to people.”

When MCT arrives, they provide the costumes and set for the play production. The older cast members, with the most lines, will have rehearsals in two-hour blocks immediately following the auditions and every day this week ahead of the public performance. The younger kids will also practice in their own group to learn their group song before the two groups come together for a full-cast rehearsal later in the week.

“I just think Missoula offers a unique opportunity to families to let their kids try performing arts and theater,” Estes said. “I hope from the experience, they will go on to continue to be involved in school or church plays or other youth opportunities.”

The public performance of “Blackbeard the Pirate” will be on Friday, Nov. 30, at 7:30 p.m. The play takes place on a beach in present day as Jolly Roger — played by Gabriel — shares the story of “Blackbeard the Pirate” with beach bums. As the story unfolds, Roger has a series of flashbacks that reveals something about Blackbeard’s treasure. Characters include parrots, crocodiles, sailors, mermaids, seaweed creatures, crabs, beach bums and pirates.

“For me, if they have a fun time and they make friends, I think that’s great,” Silverman said. “Gaining that confidence and self-assurance to go on stage and be really awesome is a great feeling I hope they experience.”

Tickets cost $7 for adults and $5 for Midwest Theater members and students. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at the Midwest Theater (1707 Broadway), online at MidwestTheater.com or by phone at 308-632-4311. They will remain available until the show at 7:30 p.m.

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