Moms unite for thespian children

When the Missoula Children’s Theater suddenly cancelled their stop in Broken Bow last spring, some of the parents and their child actors became concerned. When word got out that the local community playhouse would no longer be sponsoring the children’s theater, the parents decided to take action. Sheree Slagle was the first to respond to the news, and telephoned a few of her friends who also have children who participate in the theater each year. The moms got together, formed a board and applied for a grant through the Custer County Foundation to keep the theater going - all within a matter of days. The Custer County Children’s Theater Association is a non-profit association, formed to facilitate the planning, scheduling and fundraising necessary to make a week-long theater experience available to local children. The group hopes to be able to offer the theater each year. “We feel that it is hard to measure the long-term benefits that each child can receive from this experience,” says Slagle. “Confidence in front of a group, working together with others, learning to use the imagination to ‘become’ the part they are playing, seeing the results of a hard week of practice become reality - these are just some of the intangible benefits a theater program can provide. We feel participation in theater brings a bit of the ‘big city’ flavor to our rural setting and expand the possibilities that a child can see before him/her.” The association applied for and received a grant through the Custer County Foundation; however, those funds are contingent upon the association raising the additional $2,000 needed to bring the Missoula Children’s Theater to Broken Bow. The group was so sure they would be able to raise the necessary funds that they reserved Missoula for the week of Oct. 1-6. They have already raised half of the funds they need, and are currently seeking sponsors for the other half. Sponsors will be acknowledged and listed on the publicity for the event and the performance programs. Anyone interested in contributing a tax deductible donation can do so to the Custer County Foundation, noting CCCTA on the memo line. Checks need to be made out to the CC Foundation and can be mailed to CCCTA, 1505 Kent St., Berwyn, 68814. Members of the board of the Custer County Children’s Theater Association are Julie Willett, Carrie Homan, Shelly Hokanson, Kim Jonas, Cindy Ogle and Kyla Olson. The association is also planning a fundraising event Thursday, Aug. 16, with a barbecue cook-out in the Grocery Kart parking lot from 4-8 p.m. Hamburgers, hot dogs, chips and drinks will be served, with all proceeds going to the theater group. The theater association will also continue to collect cans for the children’s theater as has been done in the past. The bin for the cans remains in the alley behind Judy’s Styling Salon, through the green gate. The play chosen for this year’s October production is “Blackbeard the Pirate.” Try outs for the play will be Oct. 1 at Huckleberry’s Hideout. The cast and crew will have practice every evening the week of Oct. 1-6, and will host their performance Saturday, Oct. 6, in the Middle School Auditorium. The Missoula Children’s Theater group comes from Missoula, Mont., and besides the play production also host workshops in the schools during the week they are here. “These workshops allow all of the children in the area to benefit from Missoula, not just the ones selected for the play,” explains Slagle. Both public school and home school students participate in the workshops. For more information on the Custer County Children's Theater Association, or how you can get involved, contact association president Sheree Slagle at 308-935-1757.