A taste of the theater

MANCHESTER -- The Maple Street School of Manchester recently received a visit from a touring theater company, and a few lucky students got to perform in a show of their own.

The Missoula Children's Theatre recently met with students in kindergarten through fourth grade, teaching them some of the dance moves they might someday need on stage. Blaire Smith and Rachel Bailey, actors from the group, taught the students such theater necessities as how to move in tempo, how to lead with different parts of your body, and how to perform some simple dance moves.

The Dorset Players, a theater group from Dorset, brought the Missoula Children's Theatre to the area for a week in residency, which culminated in a performance of a musical adaptation of "Pinocchio," starring 60 local students, six of which auditioned and were chosen from the Maple Street School. MCT held workshops at five local schools during their time in Vermont, during which students could elect to try out for "Pinocchio."

Two rehearsals were held for the chosen students, including Maple Street students Nora Heffernan-Smith, Audrey Anglum, Carrigan Boynton, Katie Kelly, Emily Samuelson, and Elisabeth Tarazi. 74 students auditioned for the 60 parts. The show took place on Saturday at the Dorset Theatre, with showings at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

According to their website, MCT's mission is to promote "the development of life skills in children through participation in the performing arts."

"We live in a highly competitive era," reads their mission statement, "Youngsters are introduced at an early age to the critical realities of our achievement- and success-oriented society. From academics to athletics to social interaction, children are pressured to get the best grades, to score the most points, to have the most friends Within each MCT cast, girls and boys are equal: the disabled become able; the shy experiment with bravery; the slow are rehearsed to perfection; and the gifted become part of the whole. The lesson they learn is that all of them are necessary for the show to go on."

Maple Street School, currently in its 16th school year, is a independent school that describes itself as "a beacon of excellence in elementary education, and our mission in action allows children to be joyful learners who develop the skills they need to become thoughtful, motivated citizens in the 21st century." The school has about 100 students between grades K-8, and has produced students whose attended institutes of higher learning include Yale, Northeastern, Worcester Polytechnic, and Rochester Institute of Technology.

The Dorset Players are currently in their 86th season of providing community theater to Vermont. Their 2013-2014 season will continue on Feb. 1 with a condensed piano production of "Carmen," put on by the Hubbard Hall Opera Theater. On Feb. 7, Long Trail School Actors Anonymous will perform A.R. Gurney's "Love Letters," and on several dates in March, the Players will put on their performance of "I Am My Own Wife," which won a Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award in 2004.

Derek Carson can be reached for comment at dcarson@benningtonbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DerekCarsonBB


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