Sixty-four little stars, some shining brighter than others, auditioned on the stage of the Broadalbin-Perth High School auditorium Monday, hoping to land a part in a musical to be presented this weekend by the Missoula Children’s Theatre.
The budding actors and actresses ranged in age from 5 to 11, and all are students in the B-P school district. For 59 of them, there will be further work ahead as they rehearse in preparation of Friday’s and Saturday’s presentation of “Beauty Lou and the Country Beast.” The musical is a country-western adaptation of “Beauty and the Beast” with students playing roles of key characters as well as those of beasts, critters, daughters and country folk. Another student will serve as assistant director, working
with the two actress/directors of the Missoula touring company in producing the show.
The nationally acclaimed touring company is in town for the week, courtesy of the Broadalbin-Perth Parent Teacher Organization. The PTO is selling tickets to the weekend shows and plans to use the proceeds to sponsor further arts and education programming, said co-chairs Ellen Goebel and Nancy Carr.
“With so many budget cuts over the past few years, especially in music, the PTO believes we must find ways to continue enriching our children’s lives and education,” Carr said. “The opportunities Missoula Children’s Theatre will bring to Broadalbin-Perth will help fill this void and at the same time provide great entertainment for our families and community.”
‘Beauty Lou and the Country Beast’
Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday.
Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for students/children and may be purchased at the door.
Children under age 3 will be admitted for free.
Goebel said the cost to bring the touring group to the area is $3,700. The money covers the expenses of two people, including lodging. The theater group brings along the costumes, scenery and scripts.
This is the first time Missoula has come to Broadalbin-Perth, although the theater company has appeared in Fulton County schools and at Proctors in Schenectady. Goebel said when the group appears at Proctors, students have to pay $100 to participate. There is no charge for the Broadalbin-Perth students, she said. Missoula will also provide three workshops to students during the weeklong stay.
The PTO started its arts and education enrichment program two years ago. “Every year we do this, but we have found that we can do more by fitting into the school aid reimbursement guidelines,” Goebel said. She said the school should be reimbursed most of the $3,700 cost through matching aid from the state.
The Missoula Children’s Theatre tours constantly, said Kristal Burk, one of the company’s two actress/directors. She said she has personally worked with more than 2,000 children in her time with the group.
The actress/directors have a system that allows them to work efficiently and effectively with large groups of children. They divide them into age groups and have them audition by reciting lines.
“What we need are children with loud and clear voices, who can make big and expressive movements and who listen and follow directions,” she said.
Through this method, they quickly selected the players for the key parts, then moved directly to rehearsing for the show Monday evening. The rest of the week will include more than four hours per night of rehearsal time for the various roles.
Some students took to the stage as naturals. Rhys Floyd and Mallory Jennings, both 11, appeared to have been quickly selected for key roles following their auditions.
Rhys said he loves acting and hopes to act professionally as a side job when he is older. “It is so much fun on the stage,” he said.
He started when he was 9 and is currently playing a role in “Annie,” which is being performed at the Glove Theatre in Gloversville.
Mallory said she has been acting since first grade. “I enjoy acting,” she said. “It has taught me to be kind to other people and to better express myself.”