Learning their lines | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Learning their lines

Jeff Munson
Missoula Children's Theater director Leslie McElroy, right, has some fun with her assistant directors, from left, Kimberlie Hansen, 11, Cassidy Martin, 13, Ellen Martin, 11, and, in front, WillCaglia, 12, before rehearsals with cast members of "The Jungle Book."
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What happens when 56 elementary, middle and high school students come together under the tightest deadline to produce one of theater’s most acclaimed children’s stories?

You’d think it would be mass chaos, but that is not the case for the dozens of Lake Tahoe youths handpicked to perform in the Missoula Children’s Theater version off “The Jungle Book.”

During two performances on Saturday, the children will put their line memorization and method acting skills to work after one week of intense cramming for the play.

In fact, auditions were held on Monday, with 110 children auditioning for parts. Out of those who auditioned, 56 were selected, said Peggy Thompson, executive director of Tahoe Arts Project, which has brought the Missoula Children’s Theater outfit to Lake Tahoe since 1996.

The program offers children the opportunity to take part in live theater, produced and directed by Missoula Children’s Theater actors Leslie and Jonathan McElroy.

Following the auditions, the child actors spent four intense days after school memorizing lines and applying acting skills to those lines. It is vigorous but rewarding for the children.

“It is absolutely amazing what the kids learn in such a short time,” Thompson said.

One veteran Missoula Children’s Theater actress Mallory Rivadeneira, a South Tahoe High School senior who plays Mother Wolf in the play, says she now plans to pursue acting in Hollywood after graduation.

And the Missoula Children’s Theater may have helped South Shore teenager Rebecca Gardner launch her foray into Hollywood television and films. The actress will appear in a film staring Robert Redford and Jennifer Lopez due out sometime this year. Gardner began acting through the Missoula Children’s Theater about eight years ago, Thompson said.

Veteran actors for this year’s play include Alexis Arens, who plays the character Buck, and Jorey Scott, who plays the role of Akela. Both are South Tahoe Middle School students. Watch the Tahoe Daily Tribune for a complete list of all “Jungle Book” performers and stage crew.


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