One week equals one play |

One week equals one play

Emily Kelley
Vail, CO, Colorado
AE Missoula2 SM 7-31-07

With songs like “Westward Ho,” the Missoula Children’s Theatre production, “Wiz of the West,” should be a hootin’-‘n’-hollerin’ good time ” even though they’ve only had five days of practice.

“I think it’s incredible how they put this on in five days,” said Ashley King, economic development director for the town of Minturn. “The littlest kids learn everyone’s lines the fastest. The kids just absorb everything.”

The kids, ages 5 to 13, will put on the hour-long production this Saturday at Little Beach Amphitheater in Minturn. They’ve been practicing as many as fours hours a day since Monday. Some kids are local residents, some are tourists.

“It’s really hard because I have a lot of lines. Eighty-six lines, exactly ” I counted,” said 13-year-old Shelby Farrell, of Connecticut.

Farrell’s cousin, 8-year-old Sara Sullivan, of Minturn, agreed that learning a script in five days is pretty rough.

“Remembering my lines is the hardest part,” she said. “But the acting is really fun, and I get to hang out with my friends and meet new ones.”

Staging, props and costumes will be revealed to all 26 kids today.

“They almost pee their pants waiting for their costumes,” directors Liz Michael Hartford and Autumn Joan Tilson joked.

Hartford and Tilson roam the country taking their week-long theater production from city to city. They arrive equipped with costumes, sets, props and everything else a young actor might need in order to put on a show. The two young women are accustomed to the fast-paced show but aren’t bashful about its difficulties.

“Last week we were in Texas. Next week we’ll be just outside Albuquerque,” Tilson said. The Missoula Children’s Theatre, the largest children’s theater in the United States, has 43 teams of actors doing 12 different shows this summer.

“The hardest part is keeping my voice,” Hartford said. “It gets tough disciplining all these kids at once. You need stamina to do this job. But overall, we’re really proud of the kids this week. We’re short on kids so many are doing double duty as munches (the chorus) and coyotes. They’re doing really well.”

Tilson agrees.

“They all have great attitudes and are really well behaved,” she said. “The younger kids are really sharp. They learned everything they needed to know in an hour.”

Sullivan’s sister Jessica, 9, has met many new pals.

“I like making new friends and doing the cyclone,” she said.

The cyclone is a scene where the actors run around in a figure-eight shape around various objects.

Noel Smith, a 13-year-old from Eagle-Vail, is a practiced thespian and is not concerned, either. “I’ve been in a bunch of other plays and dance recitals, so I’m not nervous,” she said.

Eagle resident, Hunter Honnessy, 13, is concentrating on learning his lines. “It’s relatively difficult, but if you study your lines, it’s easy,” he said. “I’m excited to see the costumes and sets.”

Despite the tight schedule, Natalie Vance, 8, is not worried about the big production.

“It’s not very hard because we all work together as a team,” she said.

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