Written by John Plestina
Missoula Children’s Theater brought a residency week to Bainville School last week, with 53 students performing in “The Secret Garden” Saturday, March 15.
The traveling theater group will provide a one-week residency at Froid School April 7 through 13.
Tanya Henderson, of Arizona, and Stephanie Walsh, of Pennsylvania, brought the production, direction and instruction to the school.
Henderson said between 65 and 70 elementary and high school students auditioned for the 53 parts in “The Secret Garden.”
Two performances were offered to give as many people as possible an opportunity to see it.
Henderson said the purpose of the Missoula Children’s Theater is not only to give a great performance, but also to teach life skills through theater.
Henderson has traveled throughout the United States for Missoula Children’s Theater, putting on one-week workshops in many small communities.
“For me, it’s been amazing to see all parts of the country,” she said.
“There are about 40 different teams on tour right now,” Henderson said.
The teams tour throughout the United States and on U.S. military installations worldwide.
In addition to the 53 students who were cast in “The Secret Garden,” Henderson and Walsh worked with all
Bainville elementary students. While workshops were not held at the high school level, several high school students were cast in the play.
“We pretty much worked with all of the kids here in Bainville,” Henderson said.
In existence 44 years, the Missoula Children’s Theater began casting children in its productions during the early 1970s. A dilemma of whether to travel from Missoula to Miles City with seven children led to a decision to cast children from Miles City. Four-hundred-fifty children auditioned, opening the door to the current worldwide program of offering one-week residencies at schools.
The Missoula Children’s Theater takes the approach that the performing arts are an extra-curricular activity that runs a distant second to sports. The Montana-based theater group remains dedicated to providing top-quality entertainment experiences for audience members while bringing financially accessible arts experiences to all communities of all sizes and economic statuses.