It wasn’t Broadway, but for nearly a dozen Valier Elementary School children it was the next best thing! If they had stage fright, the 11 students and the show’s producer and director certainly didn’t show it when they performed Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs three times last week. Their debut performance was held the evening of Wednesday, March 24. Two encore performances were done for the high school and elementary school students in Valier the next day.
Melissa Peebles, director and producer of the show, was very proud of her young cast and the hard work and dedicated they exhibited in the undertaking. “It was just a song/skit that I have wanted to do with some of the grade school kids for a while now,” said Melissa, explaining how the production came to be.
“We practiced in the basement of the St. Francis Catholic Church, which worked well, since it is kitty-corner from the elementary school and the church has a piano.” The kids would just walk over to “play practice” after school, she said.
Melissa noted her young cast only had six practices before their first performance. “The kids were very enthusiastic, and it was really fun to hang out with a group of girls for a change,” said the mother of three boys. Melissa did a “casting call” for any interested second and third graders. “I ended up with nine girls and I thought for sure we would have to draw names out of a hat for the Snow White part,” she stated. “But after learning all of the lines, the girls actually all picked their own characters. It was great, and I think they all really took ownership of their character because they picked it!”
Bringing the production to life was the result of one of Melissa’s childhood memories. “I actually had a really wonderful second grade teacher who performed this play with her class. It was so fun, and I still remember it all these years later,” shared Melissa. “I really enjoyed getting to re-learn it with my daughter, Violet, who is now a second grader, and her friends.”
According to Melissa, the biggest challenge on recruiting the cast was finding someone to play the part of Prince Charming. “Luckily, we had a brave first grader who agreed to join the group last minute. Jaxson (VanHaur) did a great job, and we are so thankful he joined us,” she said.
Melissa extended a huge thank you to all the children’s parents who worked around practice times, provided snacks and drinks, and attended our final performance. “I also want to thank St. Francis Catholic Church of Valier for letting us use their basement for a couple of weeks,” she added.
Melissa is hopeful the Missoula Children’s Theatre program will be returning to Valier. “My three oldest kids participated in the Missoula Children’s Theatre production in Conrad in February 2020 before COVID hit. It was so fun! I would love to get them to come back to Valier again.”