Being in a play can offer children more dividends than applause.
“Performing on stage at any age offers a lot of benefits,” said Steve Walpert, Fort Gordon’s entertainment director. “It gives young performers a chance to develop self-confidence, learn to work as a team and have a lot of fun putting it altogether.”
On April 23, area children once again will have of the opportunity to work with the Missoula Children’s Theatre program as it produces the show The Tortoise Versus the Hare.
The theater company takes a unique approach to its performances, Walpert said. Most theater groups audition and spend several weeks in rehearsal before the show makes it to the stage. With the Missoula Children’s Theatre, the whole process – from audition to performance – is less than a week.
“I first saw Missoula several years ago when I went to Germany on Army business,” he said. “Someone took me to see a performance. It was such a great way to engage children and helped with parents whose schedule did not allow them to take their children to rehearsals for an extended period of time.”
The company has been to the area annually for about a decade. Each year, it brings a different show. About 50 children from kindergarten through 12th grade will be cast in the production, Walpert said.
The audition begins at 4:30 p.m. April 23 at the Fort Gordon Youth Services Gym and is open to the public.
Walpert said it is a group audition, and latecomers will be turned away.
“It’s an extremely well-organized process. There’s no wasting time,” he said.
How well children pay attention and follow directions are keys for them to be cast in the production. Because there is limited time, they must be focused on the production and what the directors instruct, he said.
Once the audition process is complete, rehearsals follow immediately. Rehearsals will be daily through April 27 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m.
Not all performers will be needed the entire time; specific rehearsal times will depend on the roles the children are assigned.
The performance will be at 1 p.m. April 28, at Fort Gordon’s Alexander Hall on Chamberlain Avenue.
Participation in the program is free, and so is the performance. Walpert said the program is sponsored through Fort Gordon’s Child, Youth and School Services.
Walpert said there will be signs posted on Fort Gordon to direct people to the audition. Access to Fort Gordon is available for those without a military ID through Gate 1 on Gordon Highway only. Anyone 16 or older visiting Fort Gordon must have a valid photo ID, and drivers must present valid registration and vehicle insurance.