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Johnny Appleseed: Children’s theatre group performs at Crest
Children rehearse Thursday at the Crest Theater as they prepare to present “Johnny Appleseed” this Saturday. Donations from the 100+ People Who Care - Barton County group allowed the Great Bend Community Theatre to sponsor a week-long camp culminating in the Missoula Children’s Theatre production. - photo by photos by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune

On Monday, a little red truck from the Missoula Children’s Theatre Company arrived in Great Bend with sets, scripts and two directors who would lead a week-long drama camp for area youths. This Saturday, the public is invited to see the result of their work, the MCT production of “Johnny Appleseed.”

Children in grades 1-12 were invited to enroll in this one-week theater camp. On Saturday there will be two performances, at 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. at the Crest Theater, 1905 Lakin Ave. Admission is $12 for adults and children accompanied by adults can see the show for free.

Luke Abbott with Great Bend Community Theatre said the local organization underwrote most of the cost of bringing MCT here thanks to receiving more than $10,000 in donations from the group 100+ People Who Care Barton County in 2018. Promising to use the funds to benefit area youth, GBCT brought an MCT production of “Aladdin” to the Great Bend High School Auditorium the following year. (Most GBCT productions are at the Crest Theater, but it was unavailable for that show because of HVAC work being done.)

“We have the funding to do it one more time,” Abbott said.

MCT, based in Missoula, Montana, is the nation’s largest touring children’s theatre. It has been touring extensively for nearly 50 years now from Montana to Japan, and will visit nearly 1,100 communities this year with up to 44 teams of tour actor/directors.

The directors visiting Great Bend are Theresa Conner and Morgan Breuwer, two students majoring in musical theater at Florida universities. After Wednesday’s rehearsal, Breuwer commented on how the production was going.

“They should really be proud of the hard work they’re doing,” she said. “If you don’t limit children, there is no limit.”

There are 16 children participating in the Great Bend production. Amanda Shepherd, the mother of one of the actors, is serving as the musical accompanist.

About the show

“Johnny Appleseed” was conceived and written by Michael McGill and Jim Caron. Music and lyrics are by Michael McGill, Jim Caron, Tom Ten Eyck and David Simmons.

Here’s MCT’s synopsis of the show:

They say an apple never falls far from the tree, and we have Johnny and his good pals, the Apple Seeds, to thank for an ample abundance of apple trees! Johnny and his little buddies traveled across the land on foot, made friends with all kinds of people and animals, and slept under the twinkling stars. Their delicious, heartwarming adventures yielded orchards full of juicy, delectable fruit that took a crunchy bite out of hungry tummies across the west. Even a grumbly wolf is won over by the sweet taste of the apples and the kindness of friends. The tale of Johnny Appleseed is a tasty reminder that kindness is at the core of friendship.

All MCT shows are original adaptations of classic children’s stories and fairy tales. Sponsors say that creativity, social skills, goal achievement, communication skills and self-esteem are all characteristics that are attained through participation in this unique, educational performing arts project.