Last summer, two Independence theatrical groups had hoped to make their first-time collaboration an annual occurrence.

Last summer, two Independence theatrical groups had hoped to make their first-time collaboration an annual occurrence.


That dream is now a reality.


Following up on the August 2011 production of “Night at the Wax Museum: The Musical,” the Children’s Performing Theatre and Encore Theatre (residents ages 50 and older) groups in Independence will join forces again when the comedic play “Mission: Possible” opens Friday night.


“Last year was so successful, and everybody seemed to have such a good time with it that we felt like we ought to give this another try,” says Marcia Armstrong, who directed last year’s play and is co-directing this year’s production with Sandy Dempsey. “We’ve just done great. I think everybody in this has really enjoyed it. Everybody’s gotten along well – it’s good camaraderie. It’s just really awesome.


“It’s a spoof on every spy thing that I can think of,” she says, laughing. “I mean, this is a hoot.”


Instead of the characters “Q” and “M” from the James Bond series, “Mission: Possible” features the characters “U” and “N.” James Bond himself is known as James Blond (played by Bobby Neal), and he comes back as a reinvented version of himself later in the production, James Blond 2 (played by Neal’s 13-year-old stepson, Christopher Gilbert).


Goldfinger is Silverthumb (played by Alec Kigera), and instead of Miss Moneypenny, “Mission: Possible” features Penny Shilling (played by 16-year-old Gabby Goering), who finds herself head-over-heels in love with James Blond.


Gabby, a junior at Van Horn High School who has been involved with Children’s Performing Theatre since she was 8, says she had to return for the collaborative effort after last year’s successful “Night at the Wax Museum.” She says the age difference between she and her love interest, the 52-year-old Neal, makes the production all the more comedic.


With cast members ranging from ages 12 through about 70, the production’s collaboration serves as a learning experience for all involved, Marcia Armstrong says. Acting allows the children an experience to speak in front of large crowds, while the older adults are able to keep their minds active through theater, she adds.


“I think the kids really do like the adults,” Armstrong says. “They get along extremely well together. (The kids) ask (the adults) for advice, and that’s pretty awesome. The kids have really attached themselves to some of them.”


Along with Gilbert and Neal, other real-life family members also share the stage in “Mission: Possible,” including Marcia’s husband, Dale Armstrong, and their 30-year-old daughter, Amy.


“It’s a really nice mix because you can talk to the older people, and they can share experiences and share funny stories,” Christopher Gilbert says, “and then there are also kids your age that you can get to know better. It’s just a great experience because I just always love theater. I’d take it over sports any day.”


The younger generations are certainly learning a few things from the adults, such as the history of “Ma Bell” or “Mother Bell,” the former conglomerate telephone company, which the children say they had no idea of what the term meant.


“I actually do like it with the kids,” Neal says, “because they just blossom right in front of you. We’re teaching them all kinds of things.”