HOLTVILLE — Johnny Appleseed, a nurseryman who introduced apples to a swath of the Midwest and a legend representing the best of America’s spirit, was exquisitely remembered in a barn-burner performance by local school students.
It was the
fifth year the Missoula Children’s Theater aided with a play in the Imperial
Valley, explained Marci Mange, a teacher for the Freedom Academy of Imperial
Valley that co-sponsored the performance.
provided scenery sets, costumes, grease paint and lighting to help students
work as a group and distinguish themselves as individual performers.
giving the students an opportunity to engage in the performing arts.” said
Mange. “In each cast girls and boys are equal. The shy experiment with
bravery and the lesson they learn is all of them are necessary for the show to
go on. Students have fun learning their lines, songs and dances. They push
themselves. It’s all worth the effort.”
The cast of
more than 50 included Cambria Day, a Freedom Academy 10th grader, playing the
role of Molly Prescott, who in childhood is John Chapman’s (Appleseed) best
Anxious Yet Upbeat Performers
other kids are good at memorizing their lines,” said Cambria, just before
the opening. “I’d urge other kids to participate. You have a good feeling
after it’s done and a sense of accomplishment.”
Garewal, a Finley fifth grader, played the role Rupert and, as a veteran of
prior MCT productions, noted he got a good role this year.
kind of funny and he gave Johnny the name Appleseed,” said Andrew of his
character. “This is one of my favorite plays because of the laugh lines
and I trip all over the place and get to make fun of Johnny.”
Knapp, another Finley fifth grader, who played Sarah Prescott, noted, “I
was really nervous because we had only a week to rehearse. We’ve done this
multiple times and now I’m in fifth grade (going to middle school next year) I
went to go out on a high note.”
Morin, parent to Finley second grader Ryleigh Morin who played one of the
Kiddoes, recalled students rehearsed very rigorously.
had some late nights and worked pretty hard,” said Morin. “She likes to
sing and maybe she’ll make a career out of performing if she can stick with
was also hard work for adults who volunteered and supervised, noted Tasha
Denton, mother of performer Charliann, a Pine School first grader.
(Charliann) could hardly sleep last night she was so excited,” Denton said.
“She’s very capable. She has natural (flair) character. She’s a free-spirited
girl and this is a good match for her.”
performances were turned in by Aleida Burns and Jasmine Garewal as the
cantankerous yet harmless Wolf and Bison, respectfully, as well as Natalia San
Pedro and Emily Stacy as the young and then older Johnny Appleseed.
Charles, a Pine School fifth grader, had a front row seat and watched the performance
with the intensity of a chess player.
the play,” said Julius at the conclusion. “I’ve never been in a play. Now
I’ve seen it, I think I might like to be in the play next year. I kind of like
standouts were Ava Legaspi and Octavio Enriquez, as the precocious Rebecca and
Kelly Prescott siblings who unload on the hapless young Johnny Appleseed with
some scathing wisecracks.
Padilla, Ava’s mother, did not miss a lick.
loves doing it,” said Padilla. “She’s been in the plays since third
grade and she was excited to get more lines this year. Oh, it’s fun to watch
and I always enjoy the beautiful sets.”
admitted she was nervous but looks forward to next year’s production.
just wish they (MCT) would do it more often,” she said. “Oh yes, I
really want to be an actress and go into the movies.”
Turner, former Imperial County counsel had three children in the production;
Adelyn Turner, played an Appleseed, Oliver Turner played a pioneer and Robert
Turner was one of the assistant directors.
know almost all the kids so it’s really fun to watch,” said Turner. “What’s
amazing, they do it all within a week. It’s been a bit tiring but in a good
way. Thank God it’s a holiday weekend.”
crisp piano accompaniment by Stacy Rolfe and a lot of support by MCT actor
Samantha Cage and MCT director Nick Schommer, who called it a great week.
we go to a town and you never know what the energy will be like,” said
Schommer. “But these kids brought their A game. I can’t see why MCT won’t
be back here for years to come.”
was organized in conjunction with the Holtville Unified School District,
Freedom Academy of Imperial Valley, G.A.T.E. honors program, and Pine School
Creative Arts program.
The Missoula Children’s Theater in its 45 year
has worked with 65,000 students in all 50 states and 17 countries. It’s mission
is to develop life skills in children, including an understanding of team
harmony and self esteem, by participating in theater, according to a handbill
distributed at the performance.