• 75°
franklin county times

We are going to shine today'

By Staff
STAGE DEBUT – Cate Gilhooly of the Missoula Children's Theatre, as Hans' mother, beams with pride as she hands a magic red velvet hat to fifth-grader Lacoltan Jackson, playing young Hans. The scene is from a play presented Friday by East Kemper Elementary School students after several days of workshops with Missoula actors. Photo by Carisa McCain / The Meridian Star
By Lynette Wilson / staff writer
Nov. 23, 2002
The children chanted "Hans Christian Andersen … Hans Christian Andersen" in what started as a murmur and ended in a shout.
And then, in full costume, they headed backstage for their first performance in front of a live audience.
Sixty-one kindergarten through sixth-grade students performed "Tales of Hans Christian Andersen" Friday at the East Kemper Elementary School's gymnasium in Scooba.
Theatre on the road
The performance was part of the Missoula Children's Theatre International Tour Project teams of two actor/directors who spend week-long, in-school residencies casting, rehearsing and producing one of six original, full-length musicals developed by the theatre.
The Montana-based tour project's 27 teams travel the 50 states, four Canadian provinces and 15 foreign countries performing updated versions of classic fairy tales and children's stories.
More than 200 children, kindergarten through sixth-grade, auditioned Monday for Friday's three performances a dress-rehearsal, a matinee and an evening show.
Gillhooly and her tour partner, Stephen McFarland, have been to schools from the Northwest to the Mississippi Delta. Gillhooly said it's interesting to see the contrast in communities.
First-time actors
For some East Kemper students, this week's program was their first-ever experience with theatre and acting.
In cases where students have never acted before, McFarland said, the team really has to do its job.
Nancy Cotton, East Kemper accelerated reading coordinator, played accompaniment and said the children spent two hours rehearsing after Monday's audition and four hours a day for the next three days getting ready for the show.
Gillhooly said you just have to tell the children they can do it.
Believing in yourself
Principal Mary Smart said she used Title I funds to pay the $3,000 cost of the program.
Smart said the sad thing is that some of these kids will never have another experience like this.
Sixth-grader Tanyell Clayton was one of the players. She said she's never experienced anything like this before and that working with Gillhooly and McFarland was "wonderful."
Craig Nave starred as Little Klaus, a character from Hans Christian Anderson's "Big Klaus, Little Klaus." He said he worked hard this week both in school and out and that his sister helped him learn his lines at home.