SIKESTON - Girls and boys are equal, the disabled become able, the shy experiment with bravery, the slow are rehearsed to perfection and the gifted become part of the whole.
The mission of the Missoula Children's Theatre is to help develop life skills in all children through participation in the performing arts and to show them everyone is necessary for the show to go on.
Local and area youths from grades 1-12 will have an opportunity to have that experience in a couple of weeks.
When the MCT staff rolls into town next month they'll be looking for 50-60 young people to perform in the upcoming production of "Treasure Island." Auditions are scheduled for 4 p.m. March 11 at Middle School with the actual production set for 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. March 16 at the Sikeston High School Field House.
The upcoming play is an original adaption of Robert Louis Stevenson's novel based around Jim Hawkins, a mischievous boy who lives with his mother and six sisters in a village on the coast of Maine.
Longing for adventure, Jim comes under the hypnotic spell of the legendary pirate, Long John Silver. While waiting on tables at the family inn, he finds a treasure map and with the help of villainous Silver, sails uncharted seas with only the ragged map and a flock of seagulls as guides.
Always up for adventure, Jim's friends say farewell to their parents and serve as cabin boys for Silver and his band of pirates. Once on the island, nights are sleepless as true colors are revealed in the hero's quest for a happy ending.
Then at last, the treasure is found and hand in hand they're homeward bound.
For almost 30 years MCT has provided education, entertainment and enrichment for all ages through the performing arts. The Missoula Children's Theatre International Tour Project, the largest touring children's theater program in the United States, puts on productions that are original adaptions of classic children's stories or fairy tales.
"They take a story everyone knows and really embellish it," explained Mary Ellen Story, project chairperson. "Since they have 50 to 60 kids in the play they have to make it longer so they take a lot of artistic liberties."
While the youths are participating in the project, they are also learning creativity, social skills, goal achievement, communication skills and self-esteem. This season over 45,000 young performers will be cast in all 50 states, Canada, Europe, South American and Japan.
But as Story stressed, those interested in auditioning need to be aware there is a lot of hard work and commitment required for those selected.
During the week-long residency, a team of two staff tour actor/directors will develop and produce the full-scale musical. Auditions, intensive rehearsals, workshops and finished performances for the public are all accomplished in a short amount of time.
"Kids who want to be in this production have to be able to commit a whole week to it which means rescheduling piano lessons and other activities they are involved in," Story said. "They only go through the play with all the cast members once before the live performance. So, If you're considering doing this you really need to take it seriously and decide whether or not you can make that entire week's commitment."