This week 20 area children in first through 11th grade are spending much of each day rehearsing the play “Johnny Appleseed” under the leadership of directors with Missoula Children’s Theatre. They will then present two showings of the play on Saturday, Aug. 13 at the Pipestone Performing Arts Center (PPAC).
Nick Winkler and Emmalina Horn with Missoula Children’s Theater conducted auditions for the play Monday morning and then cast the roles and began rehearsal that afternoon. Winkler said the show is adaptable and they can cast up to 64 kids. Here, with 20 kids, everyone who auditioned was cast. The children will rehearse all week from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Winkler is from Texas and Horn is from Kentucky. Both want to become professional actors and Winkler said working with Missoula Children’s Theater is a great way for aspiring actors to get their feet in the door and looks great on a resume.
Winkler and Horn have spent the last 10 weeks traveling the Midwest in a pickup full of costumes and set materials conducting week-long children’s theater sessions of “Johnny Appleseed.” Last week they were in Ada, Minn. and next week they’ll be in Bowman, N.D. Winkler said this is the first contract season with Missoula Children’s Theater for both of them.
“Next week is our final week of this tour and then Emma goes back to college and I start a little bit of a break before I start my next tour, and then I’ll be in the Pacific Northwest area,” he said.
Winkler said the goal of Missoula Children’s Theater is to bring theater and theater education to communities that might not have those opportunities otherwise. Many of the places they visit, he said, are smaller towns in rural areas.
“For some of the towns this is the only theater that they get for the entire year,” Winkler said. “As a company our goal is really just to inspire the next generation to be involved in theater and help them find that passion.”
At this time, Winkler said, there are 25 teams of two people conducting children’s theater sessions all over the U.S. and one or two teams that are in other countries.
Missoula Children’s Theater was last in Pipestone in 2013. Monica Sullivan, a board member with the Calumet Players Board of Directors, said the Calumet Players brought Missoula Children’s Theater in because they wanted to provide a good experience for local children. She said the program provides a theater experience without a big time commitment. She said Winkler and Horn had been great and brought high energy and patience to the week-long session.
Sullivan said Winkler and Horn would also be offering theater workshops Tuesday through Thursday after rehearsals that were open to children whether they were in the play or not. The workshops included acting, improv and behind the scenes work.
Community members have two chances to watch the children perform “Johnny Appleseed” on Saturday, Aug. 13. Show times are 2 p.m. and 7 pm. Tickets are general admission and cost $10 for adults and $5 for children.