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Missoula Theatre Company comes to Chatom
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Students from Chatom rehearse the play "King Arthur's Quest." - photo by JONATHAN MCCORKELL / The Journal

Ross Egan and Morgan Briggs, actors from Detroit and Washington D.C. never dreamed they would visit Turlock — until they were hired by the Missoula Children’s Theatre based in Montana.

All last week they taught the budding actors of Chatom Unified School District for this year’s district play entitled “King Arthur’s Quest.”

On Monday, Egan and Briggs auditioned some 65 children for just 40 slots. In just three days of rehearsal the first through seventh graders memorized all of their lines for a nearly one hour long play.

For CUSD the play is one of the highlights of the school year.

“We don’t have anything like this here and the kids get really excited for this. It is a real treat and a unique opportunity to display their dramatic talents,” said Mountain View Middle School Learning Coordinator Jenni Robinson.

CUSD Superintendent Cherise Olvera said this is just the second year the district has worked with MCT.

“Last year the kids were so impressed. I remember one fourth grade little girl asking her mom if she could do it again next year and she is back on stage this year,” she said.

With budget cuts slashing the arts, Olvera said the play is one way the district can maintain an arts program. CUSD uses funding from its after-school programs to run the play and house Egan and Briggs at a local hotel for the week.

Egan and Briggs said they have enjoyed their work with Chatom students.

“They have been a lot of fun and they listen really well,” said Briggs.

Egan and Briggs travel across the Western United States and they say that the common trait among all the kids they meet is the humorous statements they make and that “they can smell fear.”