Missoula Children’s Theater opens next week

Missoula Children’s Theater plans to fill Shelby County High School’s auditorium with colorful sets and costumes next week.

The theater group, hosted by the Shelby County Arts Council, travels to the area each summer to teach kids about the theater and put on short plays. This year’s performances include “The Pied Piper” and “Robinson Crusoe.”

“This is a fun way to either just dabble in theater or for a kid who has been in theater to cultivate their interest,” said Susan Dennis, director of arts and education. “Everybody has a part that allows them to express themselves in a very healthy way.”

Scarlet Lowe signed her 11-year-old daughter, Caroline, up for Missoula for the first time five years ago.

“The first year, we had to make her go, but after being there she fell in love with it,” Lowe said. “Caroline can be kind of shy, but at the same time she enjoys being in the center of everything.”

Lowe said her daughter enjoys being with kids she doesn’t always see.

The program can take 55 kids per session. Kids from each city participate, but often grandparents register visiting grandchildren.

“One year, this little girl from Kentucky came down to visit her grandmother and she and Caroline became good friends,” Lowe said. “They write each other and spend time together whenever she is here.”

Dennis stressed the camp is not just about acting. Workshops in the afternoon focus on elements of theater beyond memorizing lines. Kids can learn about make–up, lighting or set design.

She said the program also allows kids to discover their strengths.

Lowe’s son Caleb, 13, refused to participate until two years ago. He now works behind the scenes helping with lighting and props. Lowe said he, too, asks to participate each year.

“These kids really learn a lot about themselves,” Dennis said. “In this environment, when they are working with other kids it builds character and self-esteem.”

The workshops include the following:

June 8-13:

Columbiana: The Pied Piper

Shelby County High School auditorium

June 15-20:

Calera: Robinson Crusoe

Calera High School auditorium

June 22-27:

Chelsea: Robinson Crusoe

Chelsea High School auditorium

The rehearsal schedule will run Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. There will be an optional workshop: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 2 p.m. Registration for The Pied Piper will be held Monday, June 8 at 8:30 a.m. at Shelby County High School auditorium. Tuition for the week–long workshop is $75. Parents even have the option of early drop-off this year. For an additional $50, parents can drop their kids off at 8:30a.m. and pick them up at 3 p.m.