Kids prepare for weekend performance

PARKERSBURG – While many local children are enjoying their spring break from school this week, about 50 local boys and girls are learning about acting, singing and dancing at the Smoot Theatre in downtown Parkersburg.

The Missoula Children’s Theatre, which has been coming to the Smoot every spring for 16 years, is putting on the show “Blackbeard the Pirate,” with local children playing all of the parts. The show will be presented to the public at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Smoot, 213 Fifth St.

Tickets are $9 for adults and $5 for children. For more information, contact the Smoot at 304-422-PLAY (7529) or online at

Following auditions on Monday evening, the students are working every evening this week to prepare to put on the musical production Saturday through the Missoula Children’s Theatre program at the Smoot.

There was no cost to audition and students from kindergarten through 12th grade could try out for this week’s program, Smoot director Felice Jorgeson said.

The MCT is the largest touring children’s theater program in the U.S. It is based on a week-long residency during which a team of two staff directors from MCT develop and produce a full-scale musical with 50 local students as cast members. Audition, rehearsals, workshops and finished performances for the public are all part of the residency.

While there are new children each year, many of the participants like to come back year after year.

Edie Tidd, 11, of Parkersburg has been coming to the Missoula program at the Smoot for three years. She also participates in other youth theater programs in the area, including the Smoot’s Camp Vaudeville summer program and Guild Builders at the Parkersburg Actors Guild.

“I think it’s great to have all of these opportunities” to be on stage, Tidd said. “They’re really fun.”

For this week’s production at the Smoot she will be a “beach bum” in “Blackbeard the Pirate.” She enjoys everything about the programs, with no favorites when it comes to singing or dancing or acting.

From the auditions at the start to the final show, Tidd said the Missoula directors work to make the whole thing fun for everyone, while also teaching them dances, songs and lines.

“Whenever you do the auditions, they make them really friendly and easy-going. You start forgetting you’re auditioning and it feels a lot like a game,” she said.

The students work hard each evening to learn their parts and rehearse them, but the fun attitude remains all week.

“They make it fun, so it doesn’t feel like that much strenuous work,” Tidd said.

Nine-year-old Simon Strobl of Vienna also is in his third year participating in the Missoula program at the Smoot. His first show was “Snow White,” when he played a bat, and he has enjoyed coming back every year since.

“It was really exciting because I want to be an actor when I grow up and it’s a little first step,” Strobl said.

“I really like being on stage,” he said.