It’s no ‘secret’ the Missoula Children’s Theatre was in town

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Children anxiously got dressed up, put makeup on their faces and, for once, they could be somebody they were not.

On Saturday, 56 children gathered in Finley gym for Missoula Children’s Theatre’s “The Secret Garden.” For 40 years, the theatre has continued to perform all over the world with plays for children and adults to enjoy.

The theatre keeps children engaged in learning more about acting and to have fun with it. Titia Barham, local coordinator of the Performing Art Series for New Mexico Tech, said the number of children who auditioned for the Missoula Children’s Theatre during the first two years she was coordinator was very low.

Barham has been coordinator for six years, and since there weren’t many children who auditioned, the theatre didn’t come for the third year. From 2010 to 2012, the number of children who were interested in auditioning went from 80 to 100. Barham said it’s hard to turn children away, but there are only so many roles in each play, so not every kid can get a part.

“We leave it up to Missoula to work with the kids, and what they do requires dedication and team work,” Barham said.

Rehearsals began last week, and children dressed up as woodland critters, and talking animals didn’t stop there. Autumn Bjorklund, 10, from Zimmerly Elementary School, played a robin. She said she liked being in the play because she could be on center stage.

“I always wanted to act, and I’ve put on plays with my sister,” said 9-year-old Abbey Eveleth.

Children from all areas came to Socorro to have a chance to audition and be in the play. Eveleth, who attends Midway Elementary School in Lemitar, played a firefly. She said her favorite part was getting on stage with everyone and putting it all together.

From Katy, Texas, 11-year-old Katie Adams played Ggoose No. 9, and said her least favorite part about being in the play was memorizing lines.

“I like New Mexico because it snows, it never snows in Texas,” Adams said.

Socorro High School senior Diana Sauls played Mrs. Medlock, the housekeeper. She said being in the play would be good experience to develop patience through working with children. After high school, she hopes to go to a college that offers theatrical arts.

Tour actor/director Sean Flattery, from The Missoula Children’s Theatre, said the program started in 1970 in Missoula, Mont. In 1972, the first traveling play, “Snow White,” went to Miles City, Mont. According to the Missoula Children Theatre’s website, founders Jim Caron and Don Collins weren’t eager to travel with seven children from Missoula to Miles City, so they decided to cast their members in whichever city they went to.

Missoula performs plays all-year-round, except for holidays, and they perform in 10 countries. This summer, they have 47 teams traveling all around the world. Grace McGeoch, tour actor director, says as of now there are 31 plays traveling in New Mexico this year.

“We want the kids to have fun; we bring it to town to bring the arts to Socorro,” Barham said.