Snow White, played by Gillian Pons, 14, meets the dwarf Bob, played by Karis McMurry, 9, during rehearsal Wednesday for “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” at Vive Les Arts in Killeen. The show starts at 3 p.m. saturday.

By Colleen Flaherty
Killeen Daily Herald

The cast of Vive Les Arts’ Saturday musical production of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” has been in rehearsal all week, faced with learning an entire show in five days.

It’s a feat multiplied by the fact that the members are all under the age of 18, with some in early elementary school.

But it’s nothing the Missoula Children’s Theatre tour hasn’t done before. The world-famous theater’s signature, whirlwind approach to production works something like this: A community group or institution offers to sponsor a visit from the theater. Sometime later, staffers roll a theater on wheels into town, bearing sets, costumes and scripts. The Missoula staffers, usually two, then hold auditions, followed by five days of four-hour rehearsals and additional workshops. On the sixth day, curtains rise on a one-time production.

The Missoula, Mont.-based theater, with roving production teams, began in 1998, according to its website. Vive Les Arts Theatre has been its local sponsor for six years, administrative assistant Tami Young said Wednesday.

It’s something Vive Les Arts is proud to offer the community, she said.

“They make it really fun and non-intimidating,” Young said of Missoula staff, and the camp’s fast-paced nature offers a dynamic that traditional children’s theater experiences don’t.

More than 90 kids tried out. Sixty were cast, and paid a $50 fee to participate.

Harker Heights mom Michele Whitehead said Wednesday that her daughter, Chloe, 9, had already made new friends.

“They have that acting bug in common,” she said. “She feels like she belongs here.”

Harker Heights High School student and Vive Les Arts veteran Gillian Pons, 14, plays Snow White. The Missoula program “gives you more interaction with more people, with different amounts of skills,” she said.

By Thursday, she said, her biggest take-away was that “you have to keep your voice loud and clear, and never break character.”

Mariah Hutch, 15, plays the Evil Queen, and nearly steals the show with her high-tempered looking glass rants.

The Harker Heights High School student, who is new to Vive Les Arts, said the Missoula format “makes you more dedicated. You don’t have long to learn your lines and want to make it perfect.”

Beyond “Snow White,” Missoula production team member Hannah Barudin said Thursday, the camp is about building life skills through theater.

Barudin, a New Jersey native, and her partner Laura Barron of Pennsylvania will spend about 46 weeks on the road this year, hosting 40 different “residencies.”

Vive Les Arts was their first residency of their Missoula careers.

“We’re blessed to have had them for our first week out,” Barron said of Killeen’s cast. “They’re smart and well-behaved and expressive.”

The Missoula Children’s Theatre tour will return to Vive Les Arts in August for another week-long camp and production of “King Arthur’s Quest.”

For more information, call (254) 526-9090 or go to www.vlatheatre.com.

If you go

What: The Missoula Children’s Theater Tour production of “Snow White and the Dwarfs.”

When: 3 p.m. Saturday

Where: Vive Les Arts Theatre at 3401 S. W.S. Young Drive.

Cost: Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for children. To purchase, call (254) 526-9090 or visit the box office.