HARTINGTON — Hartington citizens shouldn’t be surprised if they see local children running around speaking like pirates or dressing up in old sailors garb, they’re just practicing for their upcoming “Treasure Island” play performance this weekend.
The production is being put on by the Missoula Children’s Theatre, which is currently touring around the United States, Canada and several other countries. Auditions were held Monday, and the three theatre coaches are spending the week working with Hartington kids to put together a complete musical performance.
The ages ranged from 5-14, according to Skye Coyne, one of the three directors.
Coyne said the day camps allow kids to be exposed to theatre and grow closer to the other kids in their community.
Rehearsals are judge-free zones where the directors are able to encourage kids to step outside their comfort zone and put on a show.
“We always want to give kids a chance,” Coyne said. “We come in with no preconceived notions.”
The cast auditioned Monday and each day consists of two two-hour rehearsal sessions from 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Jackie Grierson, another director, said the time constraints are challenging for everyone. Most theatre productions can take months for the cast to assemble a set, select costumes and get the actors ready for opening night. Grierson said Hartington’s small community makes it easier for them, since the kids mostly all know each other and get along.
“Everyone knows everyone and that’s really nice,” Grierson said. “Seeing how they react when they get the cast [list] is awesome.”
Jane Sayler, the Cedar County Theatre treasurer, said the Missoula Children’s Theatre has been coming to Hartington for at least 10 years and has always had a positive impact on everyone who participates.
She said the day camp gives kids something different to do in the summer instead of regular summer sports, and it gives younger kids their first taste of on-stage performance.
“I think they come out because it’s something different,” Sayler said. “It’s really the only local theatre stuff in town they can go to.”
Sayler said exposing kids to theatre when they’re young allows them to become more confident. It also lets them grow in a number of different ways, including public speaking, working as a team and listening to directions. She said theatre allows kids to pretend to be someone different and express their creative side in a public setting.
“It brings some people out of their shell a little bit,” Sayler said.
Coyne said she loves seeing the impact theatre has on the community as a whole.
“It’s really cool to see the community come together and see something new,” Coyne said.
The Missoula Children’s Theatre production of “Treasure Island” was performed last Friday and Saturday, at Hartington-Newcastle School.