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Murray Journal

“Gulliver’s Travels” To Be Presented At Hillcrest Junior High

Oct 01, 2016 10:00AM ● By Julie Slama

Gulliver’s Travels, featuring local school children, will be performed at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 8 at Hillcrest Junior High School auditorium. (Missoula Children’s Theater)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Local kindergartners through seniors in high school are invited to try out for Missoula Children’s Theater’s “Gulliver’s Travels,” which will be presented within the week of auditions.

In this original science-fiction musical adaptation of “Gulliver’s Travels,” Gulliver finds himself lost in space after his spaceship wrecked and his trusty computer goes on the fritz.  While transporting from world to world, Gulliver discovers fighting aliens, foolish Yahoos, robots and others who all need just as much help from Gulliver as he needs from them.

The two-hour audition will be held at 4 p.m., Monday, Oct. 3 at Hillcrest Junior High’s little theatre, 178 East 5300 South, in Murray.  No advanced preparation is necessary although students auditioning must stay for the entire two hours.  The cast will be determined at the end of the audition with major parts in the production beginning rehearsal 30 minutes after the cast is announced.  All cast members must be available between 4 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. daily the week of Oct. 3.

“Believe it or not, this production will be learned and produced in just one week of rehearsals,” said Murray City Cultural Arts director Mary Ann Kirk.  “We host this program because it gives lots of kids (about 60) an opportunity to participate with a professional team.”

Performances will be at 1 p.m. and again at 4 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 8 at the Little Theater at 53rd in Hillcrest Junior High School. Tickets cost $5 for general admission, for a family up to six people, $25 and may be purchased at the door or at the Murray Parks and Recreation Office, 296 E. Murray Park Ave., Murray.

“Murray has hosted the Missoula Children’s Theater since the early 1990s and have hosted them every year since – so more than 25 years.   They were listed on a touring programing by Utah Arts Council which I tapped into for the first time.  Their original shows are taken from other popular titles with an added twist for some kind of simple message for kids,” she said.

Most of the shows are 60 minutes to 75 minutes long.  The Missoula, Mont. theatre organization sends more than 40 two-actor teams throughout the United States as well as abroad each year to teach local students one show and then, they repeat the process weekly, arriving in a new location Sunday evening and leaving for their next location the following Sunday morning, Kirk said.  The team travels in a small truck filled with the set, props and costumes. 

Each actor, or director, then will work with a group of students for two hours to teach lyrics, music, dance and lines.  The assistant directors basically help kids stay focused, helping the leads remember lines and keep everyone quiet and doing what they are supposed to be doing, Kirk said.

After learning the show by Wednesday afternoon, the cast will run through the entire show twice on Thursday and Friday before receiving their costumes on Saturday morning for a dress rehearsal.  By afternoon, the cast is ready for their two performances, she said.

“It is pretty amazing to watch this process year after year.  The most impressive element is watching the main characters, who are school kids of all ages, learn a whole script in just a few days,” Kirk said. “We love this opportunity because we don’t have to worry about sets or costumes.  Although it requires a huge time commitment, it is done in one week which most families appreciate with busy schedules.”

Kirk said it’s a good arrangement as Missoula Children’s Theatre Company does much of the work, including providing the costumes.  Murray Cultural Arts secures a facility, finds a home for the tour actors to live while they are here, provides a pianist, prints the program and tickets, and other administrative duties. 

The performance is produced with funding assistance by residents of Salt Lake County and Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts and Park; Utah Division of Arts and Museums; and the National Endowment for the Arts.