King Arthur’s Quest

4cc0fb97 2029 43eb 8258 fae21f725777The quest for theatre groups in the summer is typically about how to get children involved. Whether it’s a big summer musical or some type of theatre instruction, it’s all about the youth. This year, Carousel Theatre in Indianola is partnering with Missoula Children’s Theatre to create King Arthur’s Quest, with two performances on August 11th. And like all good quests, it has been a satisfying adventure so far….

David Craig Felton is one of Carousel’s constants, involved in some capacity in pretty much every presentation they create. After last summer’s musical production of Beauty and the Beast was a big success for Carousel, he knew he wanted to keep the momentum going. That show had made a significant impact on both audiences and new performers.

1c26634a 366b 4fff a669 cca0ab95d417Beginning the Quest

“The process started in October,” says Felton. “Our season was starting to come together and I noticed there wasn’t a good option that kids could be involved in. This was an issue, because we had just done a successful production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and had kids involved that were wanting to continue being involved in shows.”

“As we started discussing what options we might have, one of our cast members in our fall show To Wake the Dead brought up that they had worked and toured with Missoula Children’s Theatre in the past, and it may be an option to look into. We reached out to Missoula and started the planning process at that time. The Indianola High School Drama Club also does a kids theatre camp during the fall semester and we saw this as a great way to partner with them, so both organizations are producing this. We have 60 students that will be auditioning and will all have acting roles during the show. We will also have 4 high school students serving in Assistant Director positions.”

At this point, King Arthur’s Quest has proven to be the right answer for keeping the momentum and interests going for youth in the area. “The response to Carousel having this option this summer has been overwhelmingly positive. Missoula has been in other cities around the Indianola area, but to my knowledge they have never been brought to Indianola. One of my favorite things has been hearing from people who, growing up, participated in one of Missoula’s touring productions and the great experience they had.”

7398c008 1fb2 47dc b348 ebd0cbccbfc3Coordinating the Journey

Creating something like King Arthur’s Quest as a co-production between Carousel, Missoula, and with the local school group means there are a lot of extra tasks that have to be taken care of to make it all dovetail smoothly. Dividing up the work and planning the logistics means getting a head start on the flurry of activity that will culminate with the week of the show.

“We have learned so much as an organization already just with the registration process,” observes Felton. “Since we decided to pre-register the students instead of holding auditions, there has been more upfront work than there would have been with having open auditions. This meant that it now become our responsibility to make sure that the appropriate amount of kids were in each age group.”

Ecd7fe58 4c73 4916 a07e e332de031e9aStudents eligible for King Arthur’s Quest range in age from students just out of kindergarten all the way up to ready to enter high school, plus the Assistant Director students mentioned earlier. Felton describes what they all will get to experience. “There are four workshops students will get to participate in. One on stage makeup, which will be geared for all ages. Our youngest age group will participate in an exploratory workshop about theatre. The middle participants will take an improvisation workshop, and our oldest students will take an acting workshop. They are also split into age groups as some roles will be more appropriate for older kids than younger kids.”

As partner in this production, Carousel’s role in King Arthur’s Quest is really to make sure everything is ready for when it’s time for Missoula to come in with the touring elements. Every duty has been parceled out so that it will all come together at the right time. “Carousel has to provide housing for our two guests coming from Missoula, and reserve rehearsal and performance spaces up front. Missoula provides the set, costumes, props, and anything you can think of that the show might need. Carousel is also providing an accompanist for rehearsals and performances.”

Finding the Grail

At least for this year, the goal is just to create a unique show, and to ignite the love and development of theatre appreciation in the young people of Indianola. Depending upon how it all goes, and the feedback received by attendees, parents, and the community, there is always the possibility of more projects of this kind, whether with Missoula or whatever other form they might take.

E1c4a86d a9c7 49ce 8b76 27e72d621d16“With this being our first time doing something like this,” notes Felton, “there will be a large amount of information that we will need to take in and evaluate before we can decide if it is something we could continue doing in the future. In my opinion, opportunities like this are important to the continuance of theatre. For theatres to continue to survive, we need to get kids excited about it from a young age. This program is doing just that.”

“I think that bringing Missoula has the potential to help Carousel grow our audience. Most of the kids that have signed up have not been onstage in a Carousel show before. To me, that says that this is already showing that it will be successful. Now the hardest part will come after the camp. How do we keep the excitement going and keep these kids interested in theatre. It may be to bring Missoula back. It may be to do shows that have more kids in them.”

One quest at a time, one child at a time, Carousel is lighting the theatre flame in Indianola. You can enjoy King Arthur’s Quest, presented by Carousel Theatre of Indianola and Missoula Children’s Theatre on August 11, with performances at 2pm and 4pm. The show will be at the Indianola High School Auditorium, with tickets available at the door.