Missoula Children’s Theatre makes it up the beanstalk in spite of winter weather challenges


The cast of "Jack and the Beanstalk" awaits the rise of the curtain on Saturday, Jan. 20 at the Cullman Civic Center. / W.C. Mann

CULLMAN – On Saturday evening, the Missoula Children’s Theatre (MCT), Cullman Parks and Recreation (CP&R), and a cast of 60 Cullman area children and teens put on “Jack and the Beanstalk” at the Cullman Civic Center.  The two organizations have partnered in Cullman for more than 20 years.

MCT’s productions usually include rehearsals from a Monday through Saturday morning with two performances Saturday afternoon and evening.  Due to closings forced by recent winter weather, this cast and crew had less time to rehearse and limited themselves to a single performance Saturday evening, but did so to a nearly packed house.

MCT’s director for this event, Morgan Summers, talked to The Tribune about the production and the past week’s challenges.

“We came to Cullman to put on ‘Jack and the Beanstalk,’ and we were working with kids from ages kindergarten through senior in high school, and we cast up to about 60 kids per show,” she said. 

“This show in particular, we actually had two snow days.  So normally, we would work from Monday until Saturday, which is our show now.  We only had three days to actually rehearse, and our show is today.

“We were hit by it, but you know what, the kids weren’t affected by it at all.  They were incredible.  We had already given them their scripts, so luckily they were able to go over their lines.  We have auditions on the same day we start rehearsals, so we got to have a couple of hours of rehearsal.  

“So we gave them their scripts, and then Tuesday and Wednesday we were out.  There’s no rehearsal at all.  And then on Thursday and Friday we were able to add an extra hour, so they worked hard into the night to work on their parts.  It’s been a pretty spectacular process.”

Summers had high praise for this year’s group of kids.

“I’m going to brag about these kids in particular, because it doesn’t always go this way.  But these kids were able to wrap up all of their blocking (figuring out where to stand, and where and when to move on the stage) so fast.  And what’s really great about this experience for them is that some of them are homeschooled, so this is their chance to kind of interact with kids, do something out of the house.

“And it’s also maybe their only time to be on an actual stage; not everyone gets that, either.  Sometimes it’s in a gym, or even it’s been in a classroom before, depending.  So that’s kind of what’s special about this situation in particular.  

“And I think the civic center is just loving having more and more kids.  We had over 107 kids audition for this show, and we had to turn away a pretty large number.  We have 60 (cast members) for this show.  They vary, depending on each show. So we had 60 for this one, but we always talk about how each show–there’s only a specific role meant for each kid.  And so, we always want them to come back, because it will never be the same cast.  Even though it will be the same company, same experience, a completely different show and family.  Basically, they form a family at the end of each week, which is really awesome!  I like that part!”

MCT described its production of “Jack and the Beanstalk” as “an original adaptation of the classic children’s story.  What happens when a young boy plants Wonder Beans in his own backyard?  For Jack, it is the beginning of a great adventure.  With a little help from P.T. Wonder and a Giant, Jack learns a valuable lesson about true happiness.”


Principal cast

Jack . . .   Wilkes Pagan

P.T. Wonder . . . Tierra Porter (MCT staff)

Jill . . .  Talia Ponas

Giant . . .  Gavin Mattison

Mother . . .  Taylor Simmons

Milky White the Cow . . . Ava Ponas



Ringmaster . . .  Scarlet Smith

Austin Bullard, Hayden Bullard, Tyler Campbell, Ashley Cornelius, Amelia Edens, Hayden Grier Evans, Aiden Hays, Elayna Mattison, Georgia Metrock, Madison Moody, Jon Robert Norris, Parker Powell, Zoe Powell, Halle Robertson, Shelby Stringer, Loralie Thomas


The Wonder Beans

Rhett Brinson, Lily Copeland, Katie Gann, Clara Hankey, Abby Norris, Lily Grace Pagan, Laina Quick, Lilly Kate Powell, Fiona Smith, Olivia Yeager



Peter Bates, Bailee Bradford, Chandler Greer, Campbell Koch, Andrew Smith, Lauren Smith, Macy Smith, Madison Smith, Thomas Stricklin



Ashley Adkins, Jessica Ballenger, Carrie Betts, Katie Landreth, Ethan Pagan, Caleb Quick, Arianna Randall, Mary Grace Smith, Levi Stricklin



MCT Production Director . . . Morgan Summers

Assistant Directors . . .  Mac Bates, Elizabeth Biscatto, Domenico Brunetti, Abbye Thomas

Accompanist . . .  Emily Smith


The production was sponsored by CP&R and State Farm Insurance agent Shirley Quattlebaum.

MCT employs 120 staffers, most of whom travel outside their headquarters in Montana, according to the company website, to “bring the arts to all 50 states, 5 Canadian Provinces and 16 countries.  What more could you want, you ask?  We have big dreams.  We want to reach the small communities that have few creative outlets or resources for their children.  We want to provide access for places that have none.  We envision helping our country’s children grow into confident, successful citizens using the positive results of our programs.  It is our dream to share everything we have learned about developing life skills in children with the world—in Japan, Australia, Africa, Ireland, and other countries.  Kids are kids, no matter where they grow up.  Children in China, children in small towns, and children with special needs all have something in common: a desire for opportunities to express themselves, learn and have fun doing it.  That’s where MCT comes in.”

See more at www.cullmantribune.com/articles/2018/01/15/ready-set-action-missoula-children-s-theatre-kicks-production-week.

See a full photo gallery from Saturday night's performance here.

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