By Ellen Chappelle
The Madrona Children’s Theatre (MCT) offers students at Madrona K-8 School an authentic theater experience in a full-scale musical every spring, complete with a live orchestra. This year, 80 students will participate in MCT’s 19th production: the beloved Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella.”
Students received coaching from renowned deaf actor Howie Seago, whose acting and professional credits include the National Theatre for the Deaf; various international festivals; Hunter, Star Trek, and Equalizer television shows; and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
As public education funding for extra-curricular activities, especially the arts, is drastically reduced, the Madrona Children’s Theatre in the Edmonds School District continues to make aspiring actors’ dreams come true.
The MCT program is different from typical school-based programs in that it operates like a professional theater company, with producers and an advisory committee that hires directors and oversees operations. A nominal participation fee helps fund the program, as do ticket sales and fundraising. The school’s parent-teacher-student organization, Madrona Integrated Team, covers the group’s non-profit status.
The multi-age productions are open to all Madrona K-8 students in 4th-8th grades, including students in the District’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) program. Every student who auditions is given a role and the shows are double-cast, with each cast performing three shows of the production’s six-show run. This also allows half the shows to feature ASL interpretation, as well as actors (hearing and non-hearing alike) who sign their lines.
National studies have shown a connection between student participation in drama and academic success, which is no surprise to Madrona Principal Lynda Fischer. “Our program helps kids develop confidence, communication skills and leadership,” she explained. Madrona K-8 was recently given a Washington State Achievement Award for overall academic excellence.
Over the years, more than 1,400 students have gone through the program, with some going on to success in regional theater groups, television and film.
Cinderella will open Thursday, March 29 and run through Sunday, April 1. Half the cast performs Thursday and Saturday (Dreams cast), the other half Friday and Sunday (Wishes cast and ASL actors). Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students/children 14 and younger. For tickets, contact Deborah Hargrave at 425-774-8639 or go online to find an order form. Performances are held at Mountlake Terrace High School, 21801 44th Ave. W., Mountlake Terrace.
To see more photos from the rehearsal process, visit MCT’s Facebook page.