Not in Order: Kalen Jensen, Kately Hansen, Shayla Lewis and Emma Tandy. Photo by Teri Nehrenz

When it comes to fostering an appreciation for the arts in the children in the local community, the Mesquite Arts Council and the Eureka Resort Casino is there every step of the way. For more than two generations MAC has continually adopted the Missoula Kids Theatre program each year where professional actors work with dozens of children in the performing arts.

On Monday, March 27, a crowd of Mesquite children auditioned for part in the production “The Tortoise and the Hare” that was, once again, co-sponsored by the Eureka Hotel and Casino. On Saturday, April 1, some of Mesquite’s most talented youth, 37 to be exact, performed two exceptional shows. The student director for the show was Eva Culahne.

Cast in the leading parts were Ava Noel who played the part of Curly Hare and Madison Marshall who was the tortoise who everyone referred to as “Coach.”

Eva Culahne (left) directed, under the guiding hand of Leah Sanginiti (right) Missoula Children’s Theatre production of ‘The Tortoise vs. the Hare” at the Mesquite Community Theatre. The week-long venture involved 37 student actors who were cast, rehearsed and performed a full children’s musical on April 1. Photo by Teri Nehrenz

The story begins long after the original race was won by the tortoise against the hare. The annual race between the reptiles and the mammals is the highlight of the year in West Sandy Bottoms. A team of strolling actors attempt to tell the tale in the classic fashion but the residents of West Sandy Bottoms aren’t having it.

There is a real rivalry between the reptiles and the mammals but a lost little bunny unites the two groups and together they search for the missing Bonnie Bunny.

The tale is told as seen through the eyes of the news team covering the event. When Bonnie Bunny is found and reunited with her family the two groups realize the error of their ways and that they can get along and live happily ever after.

Other characters in the show were: News Crew members: Baily, Emily Walsh; Cupcake, Mae Galliher; Stormy, Eris Lewis and Gordie, Elexa Green.

Mammals: Esther Bunny, Brooke Zarate; Bonnie Bunnie, Kelsey Ellis; Mo Weasel, Trevor Everett; Philoh Ferret, Andreina Gonzales; Felix Ferret, Gavin Lewis; Frank Ferret, Sasha Green.

Reptiles: Popsy Gecko, Mason Blazzard; Slinky Sidewinder, Stone Thornton; Oggy Froggy, Brianna Zarate and Lizard McChill, Rachel Kazek.

Bonnie Bunnie, (Kelsey Ellis) searches for her way home in Missoula Children’s Theatre version of The Tortoise vs. the Hare on April 1. Photo by Teri Nehrenz

Curly’s Posse: Connor Aughney, Taylor Blazzard, Grady Oliver, Bentlie Bundy and Montana Bundy.

Thespian Troupe: Kalen Jensen, Kately Hansen, Shayla Lewis and Emma Tandy.

Curly Hare Fan Club Members: Mira Vallejo, Kymber Vundy, Hattie Blazzard, Hosannah Tandy, Eliana Bennett, Kiera Jensen, Brielle Walsh, Dylan Aughney, Violet Deaver, Kamzlee Dalton and Jordan Howard.

Everybody was a winner in the “Tortoise vs. the Hare”, Missoula Children’s Theatre version, which was performed April 1 at the Mesquite Community Theatre. Photo by Teri Nehrenz

Their brave leaders, Brandon James Butorovich and Leah Sanginiti were “thrilled and overjoyed” to work with them for one short week and very happy with the end production.

Butorovich just recently completed a tour with the National Theatre for Children and is excited to continue his adventures on the road with MCT. He studied theatre performance at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

Sanginiti graduated from Southern Oregon University with a DFA in theatre with a minor in music. When not on tour with MCT or appearing in other shows, Sanginiti spends her time in a classroom for special needs students as an assistant after-school educator.

For more information on Missoula Children’s Theatre visit their web site at: