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Friendship guides MCT play in St. Ignatius

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Children of all ages filled the stage in the St. Ignatius Elementary School to tell the story of “Johnny Appleseed” with the help of the Missoula Children’s Theater.

The kids practiced their lines for several hours after school for one week to get ready for the show. On Saturday, the curtains opened as Grandpa, played by MCT actor Nick Schommer, told the kids, played by nine local students, about Johnny Appleseed’s adventures.  

Friendship was the main theme of the play, mixed in with a bit of history. The story delved into the adventures of early American pioneers and how apples helped them survive. “Before the 1800s, there were no apples out west, then came Johnny Appleseed,” Grandpa said. 

“I really liked this play,” said freshman Natalie Helser. She played the part of Molly, wearing a red hat. She was Johnny’s best friend and inspired him to travel west. 

Natalie acted in two other MCT plays but that didn’t make the lines any easier to learn. “We have a lot to learn in one week,” she said. “The long lines are tricky to memorize.” But, she said the hard work is worth is. “I love plays. It’s fun to dress up in costumes and perform.”

Patience Matt, seventh grade, played the part of the older Johnny Appleseed. She agreed that it was difficult to remember all the lines, but she loved every minute of it.

“My favorite part was when I got to sing with the younger Johnny,” she said. “I also really liked my solo part. I’ve been doing one of these plays every year since I was in kindergarten. It’s a lot of fun.”

MCT has been helping schools provide theater opportunities for students across the country for the past 45 years. “Just this year, we will work with 65,000 children in more than 1,200 communities in all 50 states and 17 countries,” according to MCT organizers. Their headquarters is located in Missoula. Funding for the nonprofit program comes from donations and tour fees. 

The characters included Allison Umphrey as the young Johnny Appleseed, and Patience Matt as the older version. 

The kiddoes were Abbie Orr, Arianna Robine, Ivy Weaselhead, Janie Mitchell, Joseph Cronk, Kairawen McIntyre, Leila Hogenson, Macklen McDonald and Sterling Jensen. 

Gracie DuMontier played the wolf. Jada Domebo was the bison. Klo’E Kipp was Sir Peter Prescott. Jake Helser was Rupert.

Natalie Helser was Molly Prescott. Anna Cronk was Rebecca Prescott, and Avia Lee was Sarah Prescott. 

Sayre Plimmer played Lewis, and Carlee Jensen was Clark. 

The critters included Aria Lyday, Braxton Wheeler, Gabriel Wersonick, Johanna Robine, Raileigh McDonald, Rainee Wilcox and Ysabel Smith. 

The apple seeds were Amberley Wheeler, Brayden Rau, Chaske Matt, Christopher McKay, Dalton Plimmer, Eammonn Rigles, Eire Biggs, Henry Bourdreau, Jaxon Dally, Kira Redhorn, Kyler McNutt, Lillian Cronk, Noah Robine, Rylla Seaman, Shadow Gariepy and Tuneya Moran.

The student assistant directors were Ashlee Peterson, Levi Good and Madyson Esslinger. The MCT director was Samantha Cage.


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