Play Time: Missoula Children’s Theatre to perform Saturday

Children rehearse for the musical “The Tortoise and the Hare” before the premiere. (Photos by Michael D. Williams)

A group of eager children and teens stood together singing a song they had just learned minutes earlier, while another group practiced their lines.

Later they all stood together, blending their voices and individual parts as they rehearsed for the upcoming production of “The Tortoise and the Hare.”

Erica Diederich, tour actor director, teaches songs from the production to the young performers on Monday, their first day of rehearsal.

The musical, produced by Missoula Children’s Theatre, will be presented Saturday at 1 p.m. in the Meade Middle School cafeteria, 1103 26th St.

This free event is open to the community.

“The children are very excited to be a part of the show,” Tour Actor Director Erica Diederich said.

Diederich and Jade Coates started directing the show just hours after casting the production with students entering second through 12th grades.

To help prepare for the musical, SKIES Unlimited is hosting a camp for the performing arts residency this week for the young cast members.

About 30 to 40 children are participating in the production.

During the camp, the youths will learn their parts and lyrics while participating in a variety of theater games, art, music and many other activities.

“My favorite part of the play is the dancing and the singing because everyone is really good at it,” said 14-year-old actor Kaya Mielton. “I think the crowd will really enjoy it.”

The audience should expect a bit of a twist in this performance of “The Tortoise and the Hare.”

“The twist to this play is we added more character groups,” Diederich said. “This way, more children are involved in the play.”

Smiling from cheek to cheek, 8-year-old actor Gabriel Atz worked on memorizing his lines.

“I’m super excited to be a part of this play,” said Gabriel, who attends Pershing Hill Elementary School.

Based in Montana, Missoula Children’s Theatre tours the U.S. and 17 countries year-round. Past productions at Fort Meade have included “Peter Pan” and “Jack and the Beanstalk.”

“We expect a lot of laughs — from the audience,” Diederich said of this year’s show.

Jade Coates, tour actor director for Missoula Children’s Theatre, rehearses with cast members for a scene in “The Tortoise and the Hare” at Meade Middle School. The cast had just five days of rehearsal before Saturday’s performance.
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