Blackbeard the Pirate is invading Baker City — along with Red Beard, beach bums, sailors, seaweed creatures, crabs, crocodiles, and a pandemonium of parrots.
Missoula Children’s Theatre is in town for its 16th show, brought to Baker City by Crossroads Carnegie Art Center.
Performances of “Blackbeard the Pirate” will be at 6 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday at Baker High School, 2500 E St. Admission is $5, and free for those younger than 12 who come with a paid adult.
“The goal this year is to incredibly increase attendance — bring your friends, bring your family,” said Ginger Savage, Crossroads director.
She said admission fees help bring MCT back the following year.
MCT is known for its little red truck that arrives carrying tour actor/directors, the set, scripts, props and costumes. In just six days, the lead team takes a cast of local youth through auditions, rehearsals and two performances.
“Blackbeard the Pirate” is led by MCT staff Hannah Lane, David Beran and Katie Farrell.
Lane and Beran have been touring the show for two months. Farrell couldn’t commit to a summer tour, so she is joining various teams to learn new shows.
Beran grew up in Nebraska, and graduated from Doane University with a double major in vocal performance and theater. He is a veteran with MCT.
“I was actually in a bunch of Missoula shows growing up, so being on this side is really interesting,” Beran said.
During college, he even returned to play piano for MCT shows. Now he’s the one instructing the young actors.
“I’ve seen it from all sides,” he said. “It’s really cool, being able to share theater with kids.”
Lane, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, grew up with no knowledge of Missoula Children’s Theatre, but she seemed born to perform.
“My mom tells me I used to sing in my crib,” she said.
She’s been in musicals since fourth grade, and she graduated from Ohio Northern University with a degree in musical theater with a minor in dance.
“I’m a theater kid,” she said.
“Blackbeard the Pirate” is the only show Lane and Beran will tour this summer. Although both have a hand in rehearsing the cast, they take turns as to who plays the lead and who is the director.
During training, Beran said they learned techniques that help them instruct and inspire 40 to 60 kids from age 6 to 18.
“High energy,” Lane said with a smile.
In rehearsal, they first teach words, followed by movements.
“And the kids never have a piece of music in their hands,” Lane said.
Prior to joining Lane and Beran, Farrell toured “Peter and Wendy” for 12 months.
“After this, I just need one more to complete the pirate trilogy,” she said, referring to “Treasure Island.”
She has a master’s degree in fine arts and acting.
“I’ve always been a fan of community theater, and now I’ve discovered I love teaching kids theater,” she said.
MCT first came to Baker City in 2009. Many of the older kids starring in “Blackbeard” started years ago as the littlest actors in the show.
“I’ve literally seen these kids grow up,” Savage said. “It allows those shyer kids to shine. It gives them a comfortable space to get over nerves.”
As rehearsal wrapped up Tuesday afternoon, Farrell waved her hand toward some of those veteran actors.
“A lot of these kids will have the keys to the truck some day,” she said.
First of three visits this summer
Crossroads is bringing MCT to Baker City three times this summer.
Following “Blackbeard,” July’s camp is “King Arthur’s Quest” July 23-28. The August show is “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” Aug. 13-18.
Each cast is open to 60 youth, with spots for those going into first grade all the way up to age 18.
Participants must register in advance by calling Crossroads at 541-523-5369 or stopping by the art center at 2020 Auburn Ave.
Registration cost is $35 for Crossroads members, or $55 for nonmembers.
Updates are also posted on Crossroads’ Facebook page.