Once again, Missoula Children’s Theatre is bringing its magic to Bridgeport. This year’s performance will be “The Frog Prince” and area kids are encouraged to audition.

Auditions will be held 4-6 p.m. Nov. 14 at the Bridgeport High School Auditorium. There are 50-60 roles available for students in kindergarten through 12th grades. Those auditioning must be available to attend rehearsals and both shows, scheduled for 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Nov. 19. No advanced preparation is required for auditions. There is no guarantee every student auditioning will be cast in the show.

The Missoula program began locally in 2006, brought to Bridgeport by a couple of local moms, Michele Skaggs and Lynn Davis.

“We had gone to Parkersburg to see a Missoula show that our nephew was in, and we were amazed that they had prepared the show in just one week,” Skaggs said. “We decided to bring the program to Bridgeport.”

Bridgeport High School and Mrs. Alice Rowe stepped up to support the show as did some local businesses, serving as financial sponsors.

“A lot of people took a chance on us, and it has really worked out,” Skaggs said.

What makes the Missoula show a unique opportunity is the fact that it is only a one-week time commitment for the young actors.

“A lot of times kids have to choose between basketball or theatre – or dance and theatre – they can’t do both, but with Missoula, it’s just a one-week commitment,” Skaggs said.

It’s an ideal introduction into the world of theatre, she said, adding that kids with varying interests show up annually to audition for the shows.

From its Montana home base, Missoula sends two individuals: A director and an actor. From the audition process to the performances, they work with kids on all aspects of the performing arts: Vocal, acting, choreography, and stage presence.

“The songs are always catchy tunes, so they learn them quickly,” Skaggs said.

Another unique thing about Missoula is its clever twist on classic fairy tales. There’s always a surprise or two, Skaggs said.

In the past, shows presented in Bridgeport have included Snow White, Robin Hood, Aladdin, Cinderella, The Secret Garden, Betty Lou and the Country Beast, and Rapunzel. The last show – Jack in the Beanstalk – was in 2019. The COVID pandemic prevented shows from taking place the past two years, but Skaggs is happy that it is back for 2022.

This will be the last year she and Davis will coordinate the show.

“When we started this in 2006, (my daughter) Izzy was in kindergarten and this year, she is a senior at BHS,” Skaggs said. “We’ve done this for a long time.”

Skaggs’ son and Davis’s kids have also aged out of the program. If someone is interested in taking over the coordination of the program, Skaggs will be happy to talk details.

“It isn’t hard; it’s just time-consuming,” she said, adding that the coordination includes securing housing for the Missoula representatives, raising money for the show deposit, securing a pianist and light technician, being on hand during all rehearsals, and making sure the show raises enough money to pay the theater company. In the past, funds raised above and beyond the cost of the production have been donated to BHS Theatre.

Again, this year, Judy Gerwig, music teacher at Heritage Christian School, will serve as pianist.

It has all been a lot of fun and has brought many great memories. Skaggs and Davis thank the community for supporting the program.

Rehearsals for “The Frog Prince” will be held

Rehearsals will be held 6:30-8:30 p.m. Nov. 14-18.

“Not everyone will have to attend all rehearsals,” Skaggs said. “Once cast, students will receive a schedule indicating what rehearsals they need to attend.”