Marshalltown Community Theatre

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TR Article:  July 2015

72 aspiring young actors and stage setters are participating in "Kids Acting Academy" at the Marshalltown Community Theatre this week.

The program is focused on teaching children about performing arts, and the hard work and practice of the kids will ultimately amount to a showing of "Peter Pan" on Friday afternoon.

"These kids all have a true love for theater," said Shannon Mitchell, director. She said this event is the first of it's kind in Marshalltown."We plan to make it an annual event," Mitchell said. Originally, the Acting Academy was expected to attract fewer than a dozen kids. The response was quite different, however.

"We had lots of parents calling, wanting their kids to be able to participate," Mitchell said. "We had so many requests that we had to cut off applications, unfortunately."

There is no shortage of acting or staging skill among the children, and the instructors were pleased to see the children genuinely interested.

"These kids are such naturals," said Vanessa Engel, extended learning teacher at Lenihan Intermediate School. She is helping with the production, and instructs many of the kids involved.

The children are between the ages of 6 and 14 years old.

"I'm going to play Chief Tiger Bamboo," said 8-year-old actor Landon Staney. He added that making new friends was the most fun part of the production, in his opinion.

Other kids were also exited for their roles. Tuesday was the first official stage rehearsal, where dancing and choreography could be practiced full-scale.

"I think the singing and dancing are my favorite," said 10-year-old Jenna Humphrey, who was intensely studying her lines as the character Murphy during a snack break. "Once you do [dance] a couple of times, it's pretty easy."

Not everyone's job was on-stage. Some participants, like 12-year-old Mary Kate Gruening, had equally important back-stage duties.

"Pretty soon I'm going to be looking for costumes," she said. Gruening has an interest in design in the performing arts, and is trying her hand at costume design, among other production jobs.

Mitchell said the kids are learning and having fun at the same time.

"It's so neat to see the light-bulbs go on during practice," she said.

"Kids Acting Academy will run until Friday, when the show is set to start at 3 p.m. at the Marshalltown Community Theatre.

"This is what our goal for Marshalltown was," Mitchell said as she watched the kids practice on stage for the first time. "I'm very proud of them."

© Copyright 2015 Times-Republican. All rights reserved.  

Press Release: February 2015

he Marshalltown Community Theatre group is proud to announce it has received a grant from the Martha-Ellen Tye Foundation in the amount of $20,165 to produce the hit Broadway musical Peter Pan. The production of this timeless classic will enable our community to “fly away” to Neverland and will also be the basis of a week-long summer youth theater performance camp.  

The Marshalltown Community Theatre group (MCT) stages four major productions and a summer musical each season on the stage of the Martha-Ellen Tye Playhouse in Marshalltown, Iowa. It is the only all-volunteer, non-profit live theater company in the area. In addition, the organization provides educational outreach through readers’ theaters, one act shows and special events. With the awarded grant, the group plans to provide five public performances of the musical Peter Pan on July 24th, 25th, 26th, 31st and August 1st and plans to provide a special free performance for youth on Sunday, August 2nd. In addition, the group will provide a week-long summer youth performance camp for kids ages seven through fourteen on July 27th through 31st utilizing a Peter Pan theme. 

“Peter Pan is a huge undertaking”, states Shannon Mitchell, marketing liaison for MCT, “because not only does the musical’s royalties supersede our entire regular summer musical budget, but it warrants our need to hire a rigging company to ‘fly’ the actors on stage. With a larger than average set construction budget, large cast costuming requirements (the crocodile costume and light up sword are $700 alone), and expansive lighting and visual effect needs, the production will come at a cost of more than what we normally spend all season. It’s a story so magical…it actually takes flight! “ 

The musical will require a cast of more than 35 actors, singers, and dancers of all ages, and will require dozens of back stage crew members for sound, lighting, set construction, and fly crew. In addition, the musical calls for a live orchestra. The group plans to call upon interested members of the community to volunteer their skills and expertise throughout the entire production process. Auditions are scheduled for Monday, May 11th and Tuesday, May 12th. Community-minded adult back stage volunteers are invited to attend an informational meeting on Thursday, May 14th. Rehearsals will begin June 1st. 

Mitchell states “with the approval of this grant, MCT will now be able to engage, educate, and entertain a whole new generation of theater lovers and provide services to our community that it has not normally been able to provide. To say we are honored and excited about this endeavor is really just an understatement… because we are truly THRILLED to be given this opportunity and cannot wait to see it all unfold.” 

The production will be directed by Rick Gooding and Shannon Mitchell. Kimberlee Kups-Benson will serve as choreographer, Andrew Geyssens as music director, sound and lighting design by Grant Gale and set design by Kevin Lageschulte. Shannon Mitchell and Laura Stansberry will direct the youth camp. 

For more information or to volunteer, call Rick or Shannon at (641) 752-4601, visit MCT’s website at www.marshalltowncommunitytheatre.org or visit the group via Facebook at Marshalltown Community Theatre.