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'Jungle Book' coming to Worthington's Memorial Auditorium

WORTHINGTON -- Sixty cast members will start their new year by participating in Missoula's Children Theatre (MCT) production of "The Jungle Book."

Adapted from Rudyard Kipling's classic story, "The Jungle Book" tells the tale of the abandoned young boy Mowgli, who is raised by a family of wolves in the Indian jungle.

"We have a lot of roles to cast this time -- all except for Baloo," explained MCT tour actor/director Adam Ward. "We have Mowgli, the bad guys, Bagheera -- the panther and a whole bunch of monkeys too."

A week-long residency by Missoula Children's Theatre staff members will begin Monday with an audition at Memorial Auditorium and Performing Arts Center. Students from first -- to 12th grade are encouraged to attend.

"Each role is very individualized," Ward added. "It's a dynamic show because it's not just a bunch of cute kids on stage. They're telling a story.

"We're looking for kids with loud and clear voices, big, expressive bodies, and who can listen and follow directions."

Students at the two-hour audition will take turn reciting lines with the staff. Once roles have been designated, a group of participants will remain for rehearsal on the same day. Daily rehearsals will follow until their weekend production.

A seemingly short rehearsal period works well for children in the production as well as the staff members.

"It's easier to grab their focus in a week because they could lose interest in the second week," Ward said. "The MCT has been doing this for forty years so the process is like a really oiled machine."

Missoula Children's Theatre, a Montana-based theatre group travels to all the 50 states and 17 foreign countries, working with K-12 students to produce theatrical performances.

"They're not just teaching them to run lines but also self-esteem and theater etiquette," said Margaret Vosburgh, Memorial Auditorium's manager. "They impart knowledge that kids would need to know if they return to theater as high school students or adults."

The audition will be at 3:45 p.m. Monday at the auditorium. "The Jungle Book" will premiere at 7 p.m. Friday, with an additional showing at 2 p.m. Jan. 7.

Tickets are available at the Memorial Auditorium ticket office. Call 376-9101 for further information.