Tucumcari children learn of drama

TV Hagenah

Many children dream of being on stage and hearing the applause of an audience saluting them for performance well done.

A pair of theater professionals are in Tucumcari working with a group of local children to help them experience the thrill of theatrical accomplishment. Justin Bennett and Jacki Hasty of the Missoula Children’s Theater Company from Missoula, Mont. are in town for one week to produce, choreograph, and direct the play “Tales of Hans Christian Anderson” using local children to play all of the different parts of the musical.

“We came on Sunday and we leave on Sunday,” said Hasty about the time she and her partner stay in a community to help create a theatrical work.

The two theater professionals said they were in Albuquerque last week and San Angelo, Texas the week before that and are off for Canada in the near future.
The two said since they have been in Tucumcari, they have been charmed by both the city and by the 30 young people they have been working with on the Hans Christian Anderson play. “It’s always great to see how they can pull it off by Saturday and have fun,” said Bennett.

Hasty agreed with her partner about the local youth who are involved in the production.
“They’re definitely not afraid to have fun,” said Hasty.
Hasty and Bennett said one of the frustrating things about being in charge of the production is that they have little or no chance to get involved with communities they come in contact with. They said they are going from 10 a.m. to 2:30 each day with directing and working with the young people on the show and then at 3:30 they have workshops they are directing and finally in the evenings they are putting up the set for the show, or doing laundry or working on paperwork concerning the play. “All our time is taken up,” said Bennett.
The two said the ages of the young people taking part in the show range from 5 to 16 and the children are taught all aspects of a theatrical production from dance to projection and stage presence. “We even teach some life skills,” said Bennett.

The children in the show said that they are elated by being involved in the production Saturday evening.
“I love it so much,” said Marriah Tipton, 15, who plays Anna in the play. “I want to be a theater major when I go to college. I think it’s all exciting – the costumes, the make-up and being a different person than I am every day.”
For Kelsey Gentile who plays three different parts in the show, it is a simpler reason that has drawn her interest to taking part in the summer production. “It’s easy and it’s fun,” said Gentile about taking part in the show. “I can read the lines and it’s easy for me to remember.”