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Peterson kids perform ‘The Jungle Book’

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. –Peterson children audition for the Missoula Children’s Theatre rendition of “The Jungle Book” at the R.P. Lee Youth Center, July 27, 2015. MCT travels around the country putting on performance with a new cast and crew each week, with twenty hours of rehearsal before the performance just five days after auditions. The performance was Saturday, Aug. 1. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. –Peterson children audition for the Missoula Children’s Theatre rendition of “The Jungle Book” at the R.P. Lee Youth Center, July 27, 2015. MCT travels around the country putting on performance with a new cast and crew each week, with twenty hours of rehearsal before the performance just five days after auditions. The performance was Saturday, Aug. 1. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Kids stood in a line and came forward in small groups to repeat lines after the actors in an attempt to be cast in their production of "The Jungle Book," which took place Aug. 1, just six days after auditions at the Base Auditorium.

The Missoula Children's Theatre is a program that moves from town to town, performing a play with a new group of children each week. Since beginning in 1988, MCT now brings the arts to all 50 states, five Canadian provinces and 16 countries.

Jas Spencer, MCT tour, actor and director, said that in the military community these types of performances are wildly popular. He said it gives kids a chance to help make friends and be part of a group as they all learn the new play together.

MCT gives children a good crash course in drama, stage presence and most importantly, confidence, said Katrina Sebastian, also a MCT TAD.

She said MCT rolls into town on a Monday to host auditions and puts on the performance for the community after only 20 hours of rehearsal. The children hit the ground running with auditions and casting the first day. A big part of the success is giving kids the homework of studying and learning all their lines.

"We like to use positive reinforcement," Sebastian said. "If the next guy knows their lines, it encourages everyone else to know their lines too."

MCT can have a cast of up to about 60 children, not all of which are stage roles. The positions are filled Monday at the end of auditions, including leading roles and backstage roles. If children aren't sure about being on stage, there is always something they can do to be part of the team.

"My favorite part of putting on these plays is announcing the cast," Spencer said. "(The kids) are visually jumping up and down with anticipation, waiting to see what roles they got."

For him, it's amazing to see the process of the show coming together right before their eyes. The anticipation of waiting to see how the show will come together is a bit daunting, while Sebastian said that's her favorite part. She said the kids always come through.

"Going to bed the night before and not being sure how it's going to go is sometimes nerve-wracking," she said. "But the day of, the kids are always on point and they blow me away."

Whether it was behind the scenes or center stage, each child was able to be part of the team and help bring the production to the audience. Programs like this and others offered at the Youth Center can offer children a chance to grow immensely and build lasting relationships.

For information about other Youth Center programs and activities, call 556-7220.

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