Scarselli students venture down the rabbit hole |

Scarselli students venture down the rabbit hole

More than 50 first- through fifth-grade students at Scarselli Elementary school had five days to memorize lines for a two-day showing of “Alice in Wonderland.”

Sponsored by the Carson Valley Arts Council, a team from Missoula Children’s Theatre arrived in Gardnerville last week with a set, lights, costumes — everything it takes to put on a play except the cast. The team held open auditions and cast 50-60 students to perform in the production showing today and Saturday at the elementary school.

Students agreed learning lines has been the most difficult part, especially in the short amount of time.

“I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but that’s also the fun part and I just laugh because I know I’ll keep doing it and get it right,” said fifth-grader Emily Cooper.

Many of the students have never acted or participated in a performance before now.

“It’s fun being able to express yourself,” said fifth-grader Elizabeth Bodenstein. “That’s the one thing I like about acting. It’s always been something I was interested in doing and it’s just been a lot of fun.”

Based in Missoula, Mont., the children’s theatre was organized in the early 1970s by Jim Caron and Don Collins with the vision to provide creative outlets to communities that lack the resources.

“We want to provide access for places that have none,” according to the group’s website. “We envision helping our country’s children grow into confident, successful citizens using the positive results of our programs. It is our dream to share everything we have learned about developing life skills in children with the world.”

The plays, as well as the idea of developing live theatre for kids, were well-received in Missoula. Soon, nearby Montana and Idaho communities requested performances of their own. Now the group brings the arts to all 50 states, five Canadian provinces and 16 other countries.

“Kids are kids, no matter where they grow up. Children in China, children in small towns, and children with special needs all have something in common: a desire for opportunities to express themselves, learn and have fun doing it. That’s where MCT comes in,” a statement reads on the website.

The play will be 7 p.m. today and 1 p.m. Saturday at Scarselli Elementary school, 699 Long Valley Road, Gardnerville. Cost is a suggested $2 donation to support the school.

“This is a win-win situation for the students as well as the greater community,” said Scarselli Elementary school teacher Doug Odell. “The children gain a rare opportunity to participate in a theatrical production and the community benefits by having a highly regarded international theater company come to town presenting a unique cultural experience which everyone can enjoy.”

For more information, or 782-8207. For more information about Missoula Children’s Theatre visit