Learning the art of acting

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By Kirsten Laskey

Pinocchio,” is a familiar story. An animated puppet endures several trials to become a real boy.  Missoula Children’s Theater, however, inserted an educational twist to this classic tale. In order to become a real boy, Pinocchio needs to learn how to behave.

The fictional character isn’t the only one learning a thing or two during the course of the play. The real-life actors are also gaining some knowledge by participating in this production.

“We like to bring the spirit of teamwork … organize and plan everything out,” Joe Godburn, who is directing the show along with Steven Thomas, said. “It’s all about building that teamwork and putting something together as a group.”

It is a lesson the students are excelling at. “They’re great,” Godburn said. “They learn really quick.”

Wesley Cornwell, who plays Pinocchio, said, “It’s really fun. They’re a great group to work with.”

Although this is Cornwell’s first time in a lead role, he has performed in Missoula productions for six years.

“It always teaches you how to act,” he said. “(And) you always get to sing.”

Cornwell added, “I’m enjoying having the lead role. It’s great to work with all the cast members.”

“Missoula’s primary purpose is to provide young people in Los Alamos and surrounding areas with training which increases their self-esteem and teaches team building through the excitement of drama,” said Los Alamos Arts Council Executive Marlane Hamilton. The arts council has sponsored the children’s theater program in Los Alamos for more than 30 years.

She added, “Under this program, two professional actors spend one week at Los Alamos High School to audition and rehearse with school students of all ages who then give a performance that is open to the public on Saturday night.

“I have seen very shy children on audition day receive a part and thoroughly enjoy performing on Saturday. That is an obvious example of improvement in self-esteem.”

The proof is in the numbers. Hamilton said 111 children auditioned Monday for the play.

It’s a whirl wind schedule until opening night. Rehearsals started immediately after auditions and will continue throughout the week.

 The community will have the opportunity to see what these young actors have learned at 7 p.m. Saturday at Duane Smith Auditorium. Tickets cost $3 for children age 12 and younger and $5 for general admission.