Apples spread far and wide in America, thanks to American pioneer nurseryman John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed, who traveled across the land on foot planting scores of apples perfect for making cider.
The story of the legend the man became has been told and retold down through the centuries, and most recently was heard again in Richland County thanks to the annual Missoula Children’s Theatre program, which sent two directors to Sidney to put together the Johnny Appleseed show in a week.
“Thirty-seven of our students participated, and they rocked it, grades K through 12,” said Nick Kallum, who helped coordinate the event this year, along with Christy Pierce.
Kallum said the two decided it would be a good way to cultivate early interest in theater, as well as an opportunity for all grades to participate in a large musical.
“The first one we did was Jack and the Bean Stalk,” Kallum said. “It was 60 cast members, and it was very successful.”
This year, due to COVID-19, there were some restrictions on the show. The cast all had to wear masks, and the size of the cast was cut down to 40 people. Since only 37 tried out, everyone who wanted a part this year got one.
Kallum said he has seen firsthand the good that the Missoula Children’s Theatre program does for participants.
“It’ allows them to be a character, which teaches them to be outgoing and it also gives them the opportunity to work as a team,” he said. “It also just gives them that experience of theater, and hopefully, sparks an interest that they can continue on in high school.”
The Missoula Children’s Theatre has served more than a million children during its 45 years in existence, and will serve 65,000 in 1,200 communities in 50 states and 17 countries in 2021.