In 2015, the cast of the Kingsland Missoula Children’s Theatre production of “Robin Hood” rehearses in the gymnasium before the opening performance that evening.
In 2015, the cast of the Kingsland Missoula Children’s Theatre production of “Robin Hood” rehearses in the gymnasium before the opening performance that evening. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
“Rumpelstiltskin” will follow last year’s “Robin Hood” to the stage as the Missoula Children’s Theatre (MCT) returns to Kingsland in April.

Last year, Kingsland School Parents (KSP) brought in Missoula Children’s Theatre for the first time.  The residency week was a huge success, said Ann Priebe, a member of KSP, the district’s parent advocacy group that brought MCT’s “Robin Hood” to the Kingsland stage last spring through the talents of MCT staff and Kingsland students.    

“Kingsland School Parents surveyed the audience as well as teachers and staff at Kingsland, and the overwhelming response was to bring MCT back to Kingsland as an annual event,” said Priebe.

The play this year is MCT’s original adaptation of “Rumpelstiltskin.”  The synopsis is that “a strange little gnome appears from here, there and everywhere.”  He will spin your straw into gold for a price.  If his price is too steep, you must guess his name. Clara must guess the mischievous little gnome’s name, encountering a jester, villagers, wizards, a queen, king, knights and a band of busy little bees. 

“This heartwarming tale of mischief and friendship answers more questions than just ‘What is that little man’s name,’” summarized Priebe.

MCT residency weeks offer students the chance to audition for roles in the selected play that they will perform.  Priebe related that auditions for MCT roles are “super fun.”  The auditions will be held Monday, April 11, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the old gym at Kingsland Intermediate School (KIS) in Wykoff, and all local students in kindergarten, age 5 by Sept, 1, 2015, through sixth grade are welcome to audition.  This includes students who are homeschooled or attend St. Johns as well.  A school bus will transport students from Kingsland Elementary School to the school in Wykoff at 3:15 p.m. 

While not everyone is guaranteed a role, the tour directors-actors hope to cast between 50 and 60 students from the area.  The auditions are done as a whole group.  Students need to stay the entire time, but no preparation is needed as the tour directors keep the kids moving.  Everyone should come ready to listen and follow directions, noted Priebe. 

Priebe cited that while students who were cast in last year’s production were nervous and skeptical about mastering their roles in a week’s time, they were “truly amazed at their transformation” from auditions on Monday to the performances on Saturday.

“The students did their best, and because of their hard work, commitment and dedication during the week, the final product was amazing,” she elaborated. “The show is fun and entertaining, and the energy from the audience is certainly exciting, but the real satisfaction comes from the growth and transformation that happens through the process of the residency week.  That is what really sticks with the kids.”   

The best part about having MCT return to Kingsland is that students know what it is, she added.  Last year, KSP really had to work hard to inform families about what they would be signing up for. 

“Now, students remember last year’s show, how wonderful and entertaining the performance was, and they are super excited for ‘Rumpelstiltskin’ this year,” said Priebe.

MCT’s return to Kingsland is not a KSP fundraiser, but a “way for KSP to provide a unique opportunity” for kindergarten through sixth grade students, as the Spring Valley Area Community Foundation (SVACF) is paying for the base residency fee – for which Priebe issued her greatest gratitude – and KSP is paying for the remaining costs, such as the pianist, the concessions and advertising. 

Missoula Children’s Theatre takes care of the rest.  The group brings the script, set, costumes, makeup, lights and two tour director-actors.  The school supplies the students to star in the show. 

“It’s a great team effort…once the tour director-actors arrive, they take over and we get to enjoy the transformation from auditions to performances.  It is amazing,” said Priebe. “KSP would like to extend a huge ‘thank you’ to the SVACF board members for awarding the grant so our area children can partake in this fantastic experience…ticket prices will make up for what KSP has spent, and any extra proceeds will help bring MCT back again next year.” 

Throughout its 40-year existence, the Missoula Children’s Theatre International Tour has fostered developmental life skills in more than a million kids, according to MCT. Just this year, the tour will work with 65,000 children in more than 1,200 communities in all 50 states and 17 countries.  

“Rumpelstiltskin is a show that will entertain people of all ages.  The best part about coming to the show will be seeing the talents of so many children from our area, and to know that the performers put it all together in a week,” said Priebe. “It is a great family-friendly event, and we hope audience members of all ages, from grandparents to young children, feel welcome to attend, even if they do not know anyone in the show.”

The performances of Missoula Children’s Theatre’s “Rumpelstiltskin” are scheduled for Saturday, April 16, at 1 and 3:30 p.m. in the old gym at Kingsland Intermediate School in Wykoff, set to last approximately one hour without intermission.  Tickets at the door are $5 for adults, $3 for students, and children 5 and under are admitted free of charge.  One ticket per person gains admission to both shows.

“Come and see our talented students in action,” said Priebe.