By Amber Brand [email protected]
Summer is filled with all sorts of fun things: swimming in the pool, summer sports camps, vacation Bible school, and vacations. But for the education department at Marshfield Community Theatre, this summer feels a lot like Africa. Well, sort of.
“Our Institute of Education productions are designed to be an educational experience for every child. Every child registers online and on the first day of camp we hold placement auditions,” explained Carolyn Billinglsey, Director of the education at the Marshfield Community Theater “Everyone who has signed up for camp has a part in the show.”
According to Billinglsey, the education institute is a place where theater education students can hone their skills in a positive and fun environment, “Our Education Institute productions are a crucial part of our (education) program as they give our children an outlet to demonstrate what they are learning in our classrooms throughout the year.
However, children who wish to attend the institute do not need to have previous theater or theater experience. “The institute is also the perfect opportunity for children to practice and discover theater for the very first time! As instructors, our main goal is to create a fun and positive environment for our children to learn new skills and techniques to perform for their families and friends,” explained Billinglsey, who started the program just two years ago. year.
“We chose The Lion King because it has been a family favorite for so many generations! It’s a show that boys and girls love, and it has big themes throughout the show,” explained Billinglsey who also says the show selection goes beyond popular. “It’s also a bit more challenging than a lot of the shows we had to choose from, as there are complex harmonies, foreign languages and more serious topics that are covered throughout. We felt like our kids were ready for a boost, and they rose to the challenge!
Aside from the fact that this year’s institute of education drew a cast of 65 kids between the ages of 4 and 16, the entire show is produced by students. “So we have three amazing instructors for the camp. We have Lyssa Willis who is our acting teacher, Michael Thurston is our music teacher and Megan Bone is our dance teacher,” Billingsley explained enthusiastically. Even the show’s poster cover was designed by a student, Billingsley explained: “We opened the door for kids everywhere, all over the world in fact, to submit artwork for featured on the cover of our program. We’ve had kids on our show submit artwork, kids from Webster County, we even had a student from Bangladesh submit artwork.
With Lion King Jr. The Experience, Lyssa Willis makes her acting director debut and she couldn’t be more excited. “I’ve been involved with MCT for many years,” laughed Willis. “I think my first show was Alice in Wonderland when I was young and I absolutely fell in love with MCT.” With a love of acting and a love of children, Willis is the perfect person for the job. “I always wanted to be a teacher,” Willis said with a big smile. “I (have) always loved children, always thought they were so fun to be around.”
“What’s really cool about the institute is that our first casting is made up of auditions. So that’s really great for us because we can really see exactly who we have, exactly who’s going to be on our show. Willis smiled. “That’s really cool…so we come in with the sixty-five crazy kids that we all know immediately and we think it’s going to be so much fun.”
Children who enroll in the summer institute spend six weeks preparing for opening night. “We spend a lot of time playing theater games, learning acting terminology and dance terminology and getting a little deeper into technique than we can with stage shows… “, explained Billinglsey. “It was really great, with these rehearsals over the last six weeks, we really got to go deeper and meet the kids and build relationships and connections,” Willis added. “I can honestly say that I love all of these kids with all my heart. They are all absolutely amazing. So talented. I couldn’t have asked for a better cast with this show.
With Lion King Jr. The Experience, audiences can expect his childhood story, just cut short. “THIS IS THE EXPERIENCE,” laughed Willis. “It’s not stupid at all, but it’s shortened. There are a few bars off the songs, some of the lines are shortened to really make it more manageable for a cast trying to do something educational. The show lasts one hour with an intermission allowing the public to have a snack on the theme of the Lion King. The show takes place at the Four Rivers Church in Marshfield on July 28, 29 and 30. Show times are at 7:00 p.m. each evening with a matinee at 3:00 p.m. on the 30th. Tickets can be purchased in advance through the MCT website or at the door for an additional cost. “We’re already sold out for opening night,” Billingsley shared.
“Most of the money (from the show) goes to our scholarships: both for our senior scholarship that we award each year and for our charitable fund, which allows children to attend classes, or will help them. pay for tap dancing or a workbook or whatever. might need to come and study with us and further their education in acting,” Billingsley explained.
While the future show schedule is still tightly sealed and not ready to be announced, Billingsely shared that the education department offers year-round education classes. “If you want to get involved, we are organizing other camps this summer. The information is on our website. And then our weekly fall classes start in September.
As the remaining rehearsal days wind down and the cast prepares for opening night, there’s a lot of emotion and thought. “These kids are just phenomenal,” Willis said. “This process has been incredible. I am so grateful to Carolyn and MCT for allowing me to come in and learn and hone the skills I wanted to use for the rest of my life. It really cemented that for me, that this is what I want to do forever.