Local children perform at Smoot

PARKERSBURG – A busy week of auditions and rehearsals came together Saturday evening for the Missoula Children’s Theatre program at the Smooth Theatre in downtown Parkersburg.

The children’s program has been coming to the Smoot, at 213 Fifth St., every spring for 16 years.

This year’s program featured the original musical “Blackbeard the Pirate,” with about 50 local children playing all of the parts and roles.

Saturday’s performance on the Smoot stage – before a live audience – was the culmination of a full week of work that began with auditions the previous Monday and rehearsals for the production every evening throughout the week.

“I hope for the little ones, who are brand new at this, that they develop a love for theater arts that carries them throughout their lives,” said Smoot director Felice Jorgeson. “For the older kids, many who have done this several times before, they can now appreciate the audition process and hard work a show takes.”

Students from kindergarten through 12th grade worked together on the show. 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.

“Doing MCT, I get better at acting and will have more opportunities at school,” said Gabriella Lebo, 14, of Parkersburg. “I also love to work with the little ones because they are so cute!”

Lebo’s first scene was with Chelsea Wilson, 15, of Parkersburg, as the two had a mock sword fight down the aisles of the theater.

“I always get a little nervous,” Wilson said. “This is my third year and I love it; it’s so much fun.”

Wilson and Lebo, who just finished her second year in the program, said they both enjoy every aspect of the MCT.

“There’s a lot to this that a lot of people don’t know about,” Lebo said. “We get to learn how a play is done from start to finish.”