Traveling theater company brings 'Sleeping Beauty' to military communities in Europe
BAMBERG, Germany — The Missoula Children’s Theater is giving young thespians their moment in the spotlight.
Two teams of touring actor/director duos from the Montana-based theater program are making their annual visit to military communities in Europe. This year they are overseeing productions of “Sleeping Beauty” with casts made up entirely of local children.
The weekly productions begin with auditions on Monday, and end with a public performance on Saturday.
“We’re not promoting great acting, because there is only so much you can accomplish in a week,” said Jennifer Rae, Missoula Children’s Theater actor/director.
“This is more to let the kids know that they can do this, and that they have the courage to try something new.
“It also instills teamwork, since each member of the cast has to rely on fellow cast members.”
The Missoula teams are visiting different military communities in Europe throughout May to conduct the performance workshops. Other teams conduct similar workshops for children in the States.
“In the States, each team has a little red truck that carries everything we need for the production. It’s a lot of driving,” Rae said.
“Here it’s nice, because we have a driver and get a day off each week to do [sightseeing].”
That doesn’t mean the Missoula team isn’t keeping busy. On a given week, the teams hold auditions, conduct 20 hours of rehearsals over five days and then present the production to the community. The routine could become monotonous, but the children provide variety.
“It really varies week to week,” Rae said. “The kids make it a different show every time.”
“Going from a smaller [community] to a larger one also makes it a 180-degree turn on the number of kids who audition and even the level of talent,” said Jonathan Townsager, Rae’s actor/director partner in Germany.
For the young cast members, the experience is quite new and requires some quick learning.
“It’s so fast-paced that it is sometimes difficult to keep up,” said Natalie Padayachee, an eighth-grader at Bamberg Middle School who played the queen in the Bamberg community’s performance Saturday.
“It’s especially difficult since rehearsals start right after school.”
However, Rae and Townsager encourage the kids to take their homework to rehearsals so they can complete it during down time. That way they can keep ahead of their studies while learning their lines.
Remaining workshops are scheduled for Vilseck and Schweinfurt this week, and Hohenfels for May 19-24.