By Stan Ashbee
Alberta Newspaper Group
A beloved children’s classic is being presented in a unique way by a U.S.-based touring company – through the involvement of Bow Island students. “Jack and the Beanstalk” will be a live production thanks to the Missoula Children’s Theatre (MCT) Mar. 6 at 4 and 7 p.m. in the St. Michael’s School Gym. Admission is a donation to the local food bank.
MCT, Joe Drummond explained, is one of the United States’ largest children’s theatres. “We tour around to all 50 states, 17 different countries and five Canadian provinces. MCT has been touring since 1978. Our process involves creating a play with local children in a week.” Drummond is one of the directors of the play.
“We work really fast. We come in on Sunday, we audition on Monday and we have a show by Friday or Saturday,” Drummond added.
Back in 1978, Drummond noted, the tour theatre company was going to do a production, but couldn’t get all of the parents to agree for child actors to go out on the road. “They said, ‘why not audition in every town we go to.’ That’s how we started the tradition of auditioning in every town we go to.”
In this team, there’s only two people that head out on the road together. “However, we have multiple teams on the road at the same time,” added Daniela Santiago, one of the other directors of the show.
There are a few teams out on the road performing the same show, Santiago said. “I believe there are three teams right now doing ‘Jack and the Beanstalk.’ However, there are multiple shows touring at the same time.”
Depending on the community booking the tour, shows typically have about 64 kids on stage.
“It can be a town that has a lack of arts in their town, so this is their only opportunity for kids in their community to receive that. It could be a school that really wants to teach some of the life values MCT teaches,” said Santiago.
Every community that brings in the production, Drummond added, has a specific payment they have to adhere to for the use of the show, for the production itself and for the two hourly wages of the show’s directors.
“It’s always based on community need. Sometimes the price varies from town to town. MCT is very flexible when it comes to that. But, there is a set standard typically of how much it is,” Drummond noted.
Santiago said sometimes a town will fundraise during a year for the next year or will charge a ticket price. “Some towns have received grants to bring us in. It’s just dependent on how the town wants to pay for it.”
Audiences can expect the same fairly tale known and loved the world over with Jack and his mother., according to Santiago. “We have, of course, the giant. We also have a few characters like Jill, from the nursery rhyme ‘Jack and Jill went up the hill.’”
Santiago pointed out the main core value of the show is family is more important than money – as Jack finds out his mother’s love is more valuable than gold.
“And don’t judge other’s for the way they look, is another,” Drummond added.
Kids involved in the show like it a lot, said Drummond. “There are two rather large ensembles.” The age of the students depend on each town. “They always have a lot of fun with it. The ensembles have about three songs each. A lot of dancing and the leads have a lot of lines. It’s just a whole lot of fun. A lot of kids that have done several MCT shows have said this is one of their favourites. It has been a success, thus far.”Jack and the Beanstalk’ fun for all ages.