Missoula cast makes adjustments for play

Published 5:00 am Friday, April 11, 2008

Area children and students participating in the MissoulaChildren’s Theatre production of “The Amazing Adventures ofRobinson Crusoe” have had to adapt on the fly this week, as springsports programs have thinned the play’s cast.

“This is a bad time of year,” said Brookhaven Arts CouncilEducation Committee Chairwoman Lawana Latham. “A lot of kids areplaying baseball and tennis, and we’ve all had to be flexible.”

There were no such interruptions in January, when the play wasoriginally scheduled, as school semesters were just beginning andextracurricular activities were not yet in full swing.Unfortunately, a last-second storm spread snow across the countythe night before the performance, forcing the cancellation of theplay.

“January was a great time of the year, except for the snow,”Latham said. “We’ve had to work around things this week we wouldn’thave to in January.”

The performances of “The Amazing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe”will be Saturday, at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. in the Brookhaven HighSchool auditorium.

As cast members have been delayed or lost altogether due totennis and baseball at local schools, changes have had to bemade.

The Missoula tour actor/directors (TADs) have stepped in to actout several different roles to keep the practices going, and newcast members have been brought in to fill the gaps. Siblings ofcast members have been recruited into the play, and the originalassistant directors have all been promoted onto the stage.

“We’re very flexible,” said Missoula TAD Sharon Viola Patterson.”We work with what we have. We’ve been missing our leads most ofthe week, dropping in and out because of tennis, so we step intothe role to get all the lines prepared.”

Despite the changes and adaptations, Patterson said practice hasgone well this week. While missing cast members have caused a fewproblems for the TADs, the number of those lost is relativelyminor, and the new actors who have stepped in have been surroundedby a large cast that has now gone through twice the normal amountof practice.

“It’s amazing how the kids remember so much taught to them twomonths ago,” Patterson said. “They really have retainedeverything.”

Though sports conflicts have affected practice, the play hasbeen modified for creativity. The cast has now learned the originalplay, retained changed made by the original TADs in January andadopted further tweaks from the new TADs.

“We took some of the the things they had taught, meshed ittogether with what we’re used to doing to create a third version ofthe show,” Patterson said.

Even with the additions to the play, the practice schedule hasbeen sped up. The final dress rehearsal for the play has been movedup from Saturday morning to Friday night.

“It makes for an easier day on Saturday,” Patterson said. “Thekids virtually do the show three times on Saturday if you have thedress rehearsal that morning. It can get pretty tiresome for thecast. But we only move up the dress rehearsal if the kids are readyenough – which they are.”

The Brookhaven Arts Council is already working with the MissoulaChildren’s Theatre to schedule next year’s play. Missoula hasavailable the last week in January 2009, and the council is workingto finalize those dates for Brookhaven. The dates are tentativelyset for Jan. 26-31.