Baraboo—Audiences of all ages will get a fresh look at an old favorite on Feb. 23 when the Missoula Children’s Theatre residency brings 50 local children of all ages together with two trained tour directors to produce a full stage production of “The Tortoise Versus the Hare” at the Al. Ringling Theatre, 136 4th Ave., Baraboo.
In “The Tortoise Versus the Hare,” somewhere in desert country, the inhabitants of West Sandy Bottoms are preparing for the highlight of their year: the annual race between the Reptiles and the Mammals. A company of strolling actors attempts to tell the tale in classical fashion. The Hare’s weasely managers brag about their racing star as the various reptiles assemble to choose their candidate. Fan clubs are preparing their cheers as the big day draws near. Philoh Ferret reminds the racing fans that his service station is for “mammals only.” As we see the race through the eyes of a TV news team covering the event, we soon discover that there is more than a sporting rivalry between the brown animals and the green animals. Loyalties to their specific colors create a real animosity among these creatures. As the race proceeds, a tiny bunny is lost in the wilds of Tornado Gulch and, almost miraculously, color is forgotten as the mammals and reptiles join in the search. The wisdom of the old tortoise and the lesson learned by the cocky hare remind us all that “color is just a color—it’s just decorated skin.” In the end, the animals realize the folly of their ways and live happily together in their sandy home.
All area youth ages 5 to 18, kindergarten through high school, are invited to audition Feb. 18 from 4 to 8 p.m. Those auditioning should plan to stay a full two hours. Children who are selected will work with acclaimed MCT instructors every day after school during the week in preparation for performances at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Feb. 23. Most of the cast members will be asked to stay for a rehearsal immediately following the audition.
Among the roles to be cast are the wise Tortoise (Coach Shelley Bowlback), the conceited Curly Hare, Esther and her daughter Little Bonnie Bunny, the rascally Weasels, the singing service station Ferrets and the scaly Reptiles. Other roles include the Thespian Troupe, Curly’s Posse, the TV Crew and the rowdy Curly Hare Fan Club.
No advance preparation is necessary. Assistant directors will also be cast to aid in rehearsals throughout the week and to take on essential backstage responsibilities. The Missoula Children’s Theatre touring productions are complete with costumes, scenery, props and makeup. There are also opportunities for workshops in area schools during the week.
Tickets to the Feb. 23 performances are $7 for adults and $5 for seniors/students. The Missoula Children’s Theatre residency is sponsored by Moy, Borchert, Erbs & Assoc.
For more information about upcoming films and shows, check the theater’s website at www.alringling.com or call (608) 356-8080.