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There's no place like home ... except Morinville

Wizard of Oz coming to town March 22

By: Anna Borowiecki

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Mar 19, 2014 06:00 am

WICKED WITCH – The Yellow Brick Road will wind its way to the Morinville Community Cultural Centre for two afternoon performances of The Wizard of Oz this coming Saturday.
WICKED WITCH – The Yellow Brick Road will wind its way to the Morinville Community Cultural Centre for two afternoon performances of The Wizard of Oz this coming Saturday.
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Preview

The Wizard of Oz
Missoula Children’s Theatre
Saturday, March 22 at 3:30 p.m. and 5 p.m.
Morinville Community Cultural Centre
9502 – 100 Ave.
Tickets: $10. Call 780-939-7888 or purchase online at tixonthesquare.ca

Missoula Children’s Theatre rolled into Morinville last Sunday night driving a red Ford F-150, a slightly bigger vehicle than a small pickup.

It was carrying two actor/directors, portable sets, props, lights and costumes for 60 local children performing in The Wizard of Oz.

Yes, the Yellow Brick Road will wind its way to the Morinville Community Cultural Centre for two afternoon performances this coming Saturday.

“It’s a very faithful telling of the original story where Dorothy sets out to find the Wicked Witch, and the Lion, Scarecrow and Tin Man go with her. All the parts are played by the children except Aunt Em and Scarecrow,” said Matthew Loehrke, Missoula tour marketing associate.

This 30-year-old company focuses on promoting children’s theatre through active participation. After unloading their gear, two directors set up auditions casting nearly 60 children of varying ages.

“The only thing we require is that they have loud and clear voices, have expressive face and body movements and follow directions,” Loehrke added.

In what some would consider an impossible feat, Missoula rehearses one week with a children’s cast and then mounts two performances of the one-hour fantasy musical.

“Everyone is amazed by what kids can do. And both parents and kids come to realize that if they can do that, they can do anything.”

The Oregon-based company grew out of a grassroots idea when actors Jim Caron and Don Collins organized a company of adults who performed plays for children on makeshift stages at a local movie theatre.

The plays were well received in Missoula and soon nearby Montana and Idaho communities invited the troupe to perform in their towns.

During the ’70s, the company began to cast children in shows such as Hansel and Gretel or Snow White.

In February of 1972, the troupe was slated for a Snow White booking at Miles City, a small Montana community about 500 miles from Missoula. The directors were hesitant about travelling great distances with seven small children across icy, wind-swept roads.

In an inspired moment, the directors took a radical step and travelled to Miles City a week before the event to audition local children. Unsure of finding enough children, they discovered 450 young actors arrived to audition.

The play’s success attributed through interest gleaned from the children, parents, teachers, the press and the sold out shows became the company nucleus.

Today, 35 teams travel across North America with two actor-directors per team touring for five months at a time. Directors Anna Lewing and Stephanie Brown are leading the Morinville brigade.

“It’s a big commitment for tour actors. We ask them to put their lives on hold. It’s not for everyone, but the teams we have are wonderful and they enjoy what they do.”

For more information visit www.mctinc.org.


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