On Friday, the Children’s Performing Theatre will open its latest production with three skits – “Mother Goose Has Flown the Coop,” “Law and Order: Nursery Rhyme Unit” and “Do You Believe in Santa Claus.”
Just in time for the holidays, Children’s Performing Theatre is undertaking a new endeavor.
Since Marcia Armstrong began directing the Independence theater’s shows a little more than five years ago, the group has performed two mini-plays to make up one performance, but never three in one showing.
Until now. On Friday, the Children’s Performing Theatre will open its latest production with three skits – “Mother Goose Has Flown the Coop,” “Law and Order: Nursery Rhyme Unit” and “Do You Believe in Santa Claus.”
“Neither one of ‘Mother Goose’ or ‘Law and Order’ were long enough, and because it’s Christmas, I think we have to have a Christmas one, too,” Armstrong said. “To me, we’ve got to have a Christmas play at Christmastime, so we put that one in. It’s a full evening’s worth of entertainment.”
The children in this production range in age from 5 through 13. Armstrong, a retired registered nurse who also is active in Encore Theatre, said she keeps coming back for the director’s role because “of the kids.”
“I love them,” she said. “There is nothing more rewarding than helping a child overcome a fear of being up in front of people. It’s so rewarding to see them grow and to watch them develop their characters and to help them in learning how to do that. It’s just a really great feeling. I don’t think you can get a better reward than that.”
Armstrong also has watched many of her Children’s Performing Theatre regulars grow up, including 13-year-old Maddie Petentler, a seventh grader at Bridger Middle School who has done Children’s Performing Theatre since age 6.
“If I ask her to do it, I get it, and I don’t have to ask twice,” Armstrong said of Maddie’s leadership, “and I really like that.”
Maddie’s younger sister, 10-year-old Gabbie, also is in the latest production. Although she’s been involved in theater for most of her childhood, Maddie says acting in front of crowds hasn’t always come naturally for her.
“I used to have – well, it wasn’t really bad stage fright – but I always get nervous,” she said. “But when I’m on stage, and people are watching me and they’re enjoying seeing me, it just gives you a really good feeling. You know you have to be your best and put on your best show.”
Sam Culver, a 13-year-old eighth grader at Osage Trail Middle School, is another Children’s Performing Theatre veteran whom Armstrong described as someone she can always lean on. Sam is unique in this production in that he is the only child to appear in all three skits, with roles as the Mirror’s Voice, a prosecutor and as Mr. Filbert.
Page 2 of 2 - “You get to be yourself, but you also get to be other people that you normally wouldn’t be able to be,” Sam says of what he enjoys about theater. “I never really pictured myself as a lawyer person, but I get to act like one. It’s been that way with other parts, where I thought I would never like that, and then I get to act like it. It’s just kind of fun in getting to be different people and getting to insert your characteristics into theirs and coming up with a totally new character at the same time.”