Every summer, students in kindergarten through eighth grade can expect a red truck that reads “Missoula Children’s Theatre” to roll up to Colonel Johnston Elementary School.
While the truck is average in size, it packs enough costumes, scenery and stage equipment to transform the school’s stage into a playhouse. This year, Missoula Children’s Theatre, or MCT, brought the beach with the production, “Blackbeard the Pirate,” in which 40 students were cast in various roles. Auditions took place June 24, while rehearsals happened throughout the week. The performance, open to the public, took place on Saturday inside the Colonel Johnston Elementary School cafeteria.
Children in each age group played a different set of characters. These groups included pirates, beach bums, sailors, crabs, crocodiles, mermaids, seaweed and parrots. The pirate and beach bum parts were given to the older students while the youngest ones played parrots. Suzanne Crawford, SKIESUnlimited instructional program specialist, works with MCT each year to make these productions happen on Fort Huachuca. Crawford tries to choose a play that is new and different.
“Any play that we do with [MCT] is very interesting,” she said. “They do ‘Blackbeard the Pirate’ with a twist — that [the characters] learn some type of moral out of it. In this particular [production] they learn that they’re doing all this hunting for the treasure and that’s not actually the moral of being happy.”
Other morals in the story were that people should be productive, wear sunscreen and eat fruits and vegetables to promote a long and healthy life. Another reason to elect a new show each year is due to regular participation by the same boys and girls. Many students return year after year to audition. MCT also travels to other military bases including ones overseas.
Some students in the cast this year were in previous MCT plays on other installations before their Families moved here. The MCT production was spearheaded by two touring actors who also directed the play. For this performance, Adam Ward directed while partner Joe Godburn played the role of narrator. Godburn assumed the role of Jolly Rodgers, a key character to the storyline.
MCT was established 40 years ago, out of Missoula, Mont. Each year, the adult staff work with 65,000 children in more than 1,200 communities. MCT travels to all 50 states and abroad to 17 different countries. MCT has hosted their program on Fort Huachuca for five years.