Missoula teaches acting to area students

Published 11:17 pm Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Missoula Children’s Theater has returned to Demopolis, and this year’s production of “Pinocchio” promises to be as much fun and entertaining as the performances in previous years.

Joe Godburn of Richmond, Va., and Laura Cole of Salem, N.H., are the two college students working with the students for this year’s production.

Godburn graduated from Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, N.C., in 2007, while Cole graduated from Plymouth (N.H.) State University in 2008.

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“A couple of friends of mine from college worked with Missoula one year, and they talked it up,” Godburn said. “It sounded like a good job, and I did a five-month-long tour with them two years ago. After that was over, I said, ‘Give me another!’ I just love doing this.”

Cole had a similar story as to how she became involved with Missoula.

“I had some friends who had been in it, and I heard about it from word of mouth from another company in New Hampshire,” she said. “I sent in application materials and got a phone call seven months later!”

The two worked with students in Statesboro, Ga., and will go to Douglas, Ga., next week before moving on to Florida.

Some 54 students are taking part in this year’s production, which will be performed at Westside Elementary School this Friday, June 18, at 3 p.m. and at 6 p.m.

The Missoula Children’s Theater provides an acting workshop for area students in grades kindergarten through 12th grade. Everyone who participates in the workshop has a part in the production, and some also assist with backstage needs.

“By Wednesday at 10:00, we’ll have the entire show taught,” Godburn said. “The second half of Wednesday and all day Thursday, we’ll be rehearsing the show, and then, on Friday, we’re going to give them one dress rehearsal, and then put on two productions of ‘Pinocchio.’”

Missoula is funded through a grant provided by the Alabama State Council for the Arts.

“This is the third year for all of my children to do this,” said Jennifer Robertson, the mother of three of the participants, Tanisha Robertson, Vachelle Robertson and Caitlin Robertson. “They enjoy working with other children and being able to memorize the whole play within one week. My daughter was pretty amazed about that!

“I enjoy coming out and watching them and bringing out the grandparents and everybody else in the family to watch them perform in front of everybody. It’s amazing how the people from this program get the kids to remember a whole play within a week’s time.”

Godburn and Cole were both excited about the students’ abilities to learn their lines and motions in less than a week.

“We have parents come up to us and say, ‘It’s amazing that you can teach them a play in a week,’ and we say, ‘Well, we taught the show, but the kids really do it all!’” Godburn said.

“That’s the best thing,” Cole said. “Another thing is the different kids you see each weekend. It’s almost like a bond every single week!

“I’m interested in teaching at some point in my life, and working with different kids in different areas, you see the differences between a 6-year-old in one town and a 6-year-old in another town. It’s all very rewarding.”

It’s all great fun and part of the enrichment programs organized by the Demopolis City Schools system. If you have some time, come on by Westside Elementary on Friday at 3 or 6 p.m. and catch a fun, entertaining performance put on by area students, all learned, developed and performed within a week.