TWIN FALLS — Professional actors Bex Schmelzel and Kelsey Seals carry each show with them.
They travel from town to town putting on the Missoula Children’s Theatre show with a new group. Even though the play stays the same, everything about the show changes. The play becomes a living, breathing thing, with the cast transforming it into something new every time.
This week MCT is in Twin Falls getting ready to perform “King Arthur’s Quest.” Mix the charm of “Sword of the Stone” with the levity of “Monty Python and the Holy Grail, “then you get this original family-friendly retelling of Arthur’s grand adventures.
Schmelzel and Seals are first-time Missoula Children’s Theatre tour directors/actors. Schmeizel’s first experience with the Missoula Children’s Theatre at the age of ten performing in “The Little Mermaid,” it became a childhood dream to grow up and put together these productions. Seals said MCT had been on her radar for a while, and she was surprised to get a year-long contract with the organization. The two have been traveling for the past five months, with their tour venturing from the South to the Pacific Northwest.
Auditions are Monday, and miraculously, the show comes together, ready to be performed to an audience by Saturday. Sunday is a travel day, as the pair heads to their next destination, where they go through the process all over again.
The cast ranges from 5-18 years old. No acting experience is required, all that’s needed is enthusiasm and the ability to dedicate one full week to the production.
“This is one of the goofiest shows that we put on,” Schmelzel said. “Missoula never goes for the expected. There’s always a twist with their shows.”
The show certainly isn’t the classic tale of King Arthur, now it includes a dragon, a giant and other fun magical twists. A highlight is the “minis,” a group of the youngest performers dresses exactly like the main cast to make the giant character seem even that much bigger.
“The audience always gets a kick out of the minis,” Seals said.
While the younger actors just have fun with the new experiment, the older thespians try to find the motivation of their characters.
“They are total method actors,” Schmelzel said.
Training for the tour directors consisted of learning how to prepare paperwork for the show, maintenance for their truck, managing all the costumes and props and of course, how to direct the show. They were taught how to structure the show and how to teach the kids how to perform. With specific blocking and a script that they can’t change, it seems like the show would stay the same from town to town. But the actors always add new “freckles” to the show, whether it’s a character choice or a movement, the directors always take note of something new.
The directors put their hands together in unison and mirror a swimming fish, just one of the freckles thought of by an actor on how to introduce a character.
The two trade stories about the experiences they’ve had with kids on their trip. They remembered a group of young actors who couldn’t remember their lines the entire week of rehearsal, but the day they performed some of that “Missoula magic” kicked in and they had some of the best performances during this entire tour.“You can’t put a price tag on fun,” Seals said.