HOLTVILLE — In only five days, tour actor and director Christina Ferrari, of Missoula Children’s Theatre, coached children ages 5-13 to perform a one-hour play of the adventure novel Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.
Four hours prior to their first public performance at Finley Elementary School auditorium in Holtville, 60 cast performers plus three assistant directors had a dress rehearsal Friday afternoon, March 24.
Ferrari said, “It is so wonderful. The kids did such an amazing job. They gave it their all. They worked really well together. They were so silent backstage which is hard for five-year-olds.”
In addition to acting and memorizing their lines, performers participated in a variety of responsibilities such as helping with sound design, lighting, changing the scenery and the sets.
According to Shannon Lehman, Gifted And Talented Education coordinator, the dress rehearsal went well. “I am just so impressed by all of these students who learned so much within the five days of practice this week. I am impressed with the MCT acting coaches. They taught the kids many skills which included dance movements, singing, rhyme and rhythm. And these kids learned extensive lines. So, a lot of memorization. It is very good for them, not only for visual and performing arts purposes but also for academic purposes.”
LaDareon Copeland, also with MCT, acted dual roles. First, as the main villain Long John Silver and second, as narrator of the show. Copeland made sure every cast member and assistant understood what was happening on-stage.
Copeland said one of the assistant directors had to go in as one of the main leads as Jim Hawkins because the other girl, who initially had the role, wasn’t feeling well.
That is how seventh grade Kayla Morgan, 12, took the lead role of Jim Hawkins. With the help of her parents, and setting aside her ballet and tap dance schedules and studying late into the night, she was able to learn her speaking lines.
“It was exciting and kind of hard. I was nervous and scared because it was hard to memorize all those lines. I had help from my parents and I made my mom read the lines for me. It took me three days to memorize the lines,” said Morgan.
Lehman said the students continued their regular academic schedules from Monday through Friday. Then, after school hours from 2:30-7:15 p.m., they practiced for the play. The students performed Friday, March 24 at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday, March 25 at 11:00 a.m.
“I’m a true believer in the arts and I think all students deserve to have an outlet in school because school is very stressful for them; having subjects to study, homework, many tests to take. I think the arts are very important for them: visual arts programs, performing arts, poetry, and dance. Because if they have that creative outlet, I think they perform better in school academically,” Lehman said.