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Theatre group explores ‘Jungle Book’ in 14 hours
October 08, 2015 Lisa Betz   

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Photo by Tim Abshire/Special to the Citizen - Sherekhan the Tiger, played by Libieana Keller, scares the other jungle animals during a performance of ‘The Jungle Book’ at the Midwest Theater.

Area youth dipped their toes into the world of breakneck storytelling with the Missoula Children’s Theatre last week at the Historic Midwest Theater. On Monday, Sept. 28, the two-person Montana troupe arrived into Scottsbluff with script, set pieces and costumes to hold auditions for the week-long production of The Jungle Book. Ninety-five hopefuls were seen within an hour and a half audition process, with 55 cast members chosen. Rehearsals began immediately.

The performance was created within 14 hours of rehearsal. Three performances were launched, with two for area school children and one on Friday for the public.

Artisitc director Billy Estes was pleased with the result. “There were approximately 1,671 attendees for all three shows combined,” he said.

This is the fifth year that Missoula has come to the Midwest Theater. “Missoula is easy to work with,” said Estes. “To think that they can do this with the kids in 14 hours of rehearsal time is incredible to think about.”

Estes said that over the years of Missoula’s presence at the Midwest he has seen kids grow in self-esteem and develop life skills. “Any theatre piece will do this for children,” he said.

Missoula will return later this season for a production of Alice in Wonderland. Auditions will be held Monday, Jan. 25 at 4 p.m. The public performance will be Jan. 29 at 7: 30 p.m.

The Missoula Children’s Theatre residency was presented with support by the Nebraska Arts Council and Nebraska Cultural Endowment.
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