Jim Caron, unemployed and searching for the meaning of life, was heading from Chicago to a friend's wedding in Oregon when his Volkswagen van broke down on the outskirts of Missoula, Mont.
While waiting for the mechanic, Caron saw a flier for auditions to be in the play "Man of La Mancha." For fun, he auditioned and was cast in the role of Sancho. An instant and long-lasting friendship was formed with co-actor Don Collins, playing Don Quixote. The pair started a small theater company - and so the Missoula Children's Theatre was born.
The Missoula Children's Theatre is an international touring group that travels from state to state across the U.S. and to Canada, Europe and Asia casting local children in plays. Teams of two directors visit about 1,100 communities each year. The group has been visiting the North Olympic Peninsula for more than 20 years.
"We have parents calling us all year wanting to have their kids audition," said Elaine Caldwell, fundraising coordinator. "We get letters from parents all the time saying, 'Please let us know when they are coming.' What they can do in one week is amazing."
Each play is a modern version of a classic fairy tale. Previous Sequim productions include "The Frog Prince," "Little Red Riding Hood," "Alice in Wonderland," "The Little Mermaid" and "Jack and the Beanstalk," where audiences were pleasantly surprised when the story strayed from the classic tale. Jack was played by a girl.
This year, the Missoula Children's Theatre is casting 50-60 children and presenting two performances of "Robin Hood" at the Sequim High School Performing Arts Center on Saturday, Jan. 10.
"Robin Hood" takes place in the mythical Sherwood Forest. The main character, Robin Hood himself, is an archetypal figure in English folklore whose story originates from medieval times but who remains significant in popular culture where he is known for robbing the rich to give to the poor and fighting against injustice and tyranny. His "gang" includes three others called his "Merry Men."
Robin Hood has been the subject of numerous films, television series, books, comics and plays.
The Missoula Children's Theatre approaches children with full awareness of the pressures they face in society and strives to use participation in the performing arts as a vehicle to develop social skills, communication skills, self-discipline, a strong work ethic, an understanding of the team concept and self-esteem.
"We live in a highly competitive era," reads the Web site's 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."
Caldwell confirmed that the Missoula Children's Theatre is a vital asset to the Sequim community. "They teach children so many important things: teamwork, self-esteem, acting skills ...," she said, "It's no wonder parents and children look forward to their visit all year long."
Robin Hood and
the Merry Men
Who: Missoula Children's Theatre and Olympic Theatre Arts
What: "Robin Hood"
When: 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 10
Where: Sequim High School Performing Arts Center, 601 N. Sequim Ave.
Tickets: At the door
Contact: For more information, call the Olympic Theatre Arts box office at 683-7326.
The Sequim Gazette is located at 147 W. Washington Street in Sequim.
Business hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Phone 360-683-3311, or toll free at 800-829-5810. FAX 360-683-6670.
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