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MCT back on stage in Ronan

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RONAN — Mission Valley children brought Johnny Appleseed to life during a Missoula Children’s Theater production last Friday at the Ronan event center.

In one week, a cast assembled from the Boys and Girls Club of the Flathead Indian Reservation and Lake County learned the lines for a complete one-hour production with assistance from MCT directors who arrived in a little red truck with costumes and stage décor. 

“They transformed this group into people you won’t recognize,” Boys and Girls Club Director Aric Cooksley said to the crowd before the show started. 

Cathy Gillhouse provided a musical note to the performance from the piano as the actors shared the history of Johnny Appleseed and his adventure west as he planted apple seeds. Ultimately, the play was about the importance of friendship, which was a message the children were especially aware of due to the COVID-19 pandemic and being separated from friends when the club was closed last year to help prevent the spread of the virus. 

Emma Knowles played the lifelong friend of Johnny Appleseed, and she said her character helps Johnny realize the value of friendship. She added that wearing a mask during the performance made it necessary for the actors to talk louder to project their voices, but she was grateful for the experience.

“I’ve never done a play before and this was great,” she said, which is exactly what MCT was hoping for. They travel across the United States to bring the experience of theater to children who might not ever get that chance. MCT began bringing theater to children in 1998. To date, the group has hosted 1.3 million guests and plans to continue their mission after canceling many shows last year due to the pandemic. 

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