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Outstanding Educator

Casper Children's Theatre

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03/01/2009 - This particular Saturday morning the 4- and 5-year olds are rehearsing for "Froggie Went a-Courtin'" at Casper Children's Theatre. Their tiny, happy voices squeal as they dance around the stage in their costumes, often being led in their endeavors by the show's director and technical director, Becky Morris and Steven Spicher. Proud Moms and Dads watch from the theatre seats as each kid says his line. When they say them right, which is most of the time, they get a high-five from assistant director Renee Naquin. In the greenroom, Casper Children's Theatre's fourth teacher, Charity Naquin, is babysitting the siblings that are still too young to be on stage. Happy, delightful, controlled chaos.

In addition to this age group, four other groups are taught by the four teachers at other times on Saturdays and after school. This group, and the age group just above them (6- and 7-year olds), is called Kinderdrama. The group for 8- to around 12-year olds, which is rehearsing for a different show, is called The-Not-Ready-for-Bedtime-Players. The group for kids ages 12 and older, rehearsing for yet a third show, is called Acting in the Afternoon. If you think these group names are inventive, you should see how inventive their shows are. Actually, you probably have because the theatre's popularity and reputation has grown immeasurably over the years.

Renee Naquin and Becky Morris co-founded Casper Children's Theatre in 2000. In 2001, the theatre moved into its current space in the Commissary Mall at 138 S. Kimball, near East 2nd Street. In the past couple of years, Renee and Becky have added two more teachers, Charity and Steven, hired Candice Cochran as Development Director, and expanded the theatre's offerings by, at the District's invitation, sending its teachers into our schools for enrichment opportunities.

And here's another feather in their cap. In January, CCT traveled to Atlanta, Georgia for four days to compete in the largest musical theatre festival for grade- and middle-school children in the world. What you may not have heard yet, Casper, is CCT's adjudication results. In each of several categories, each theatre could receive either 'platinum,' 'gold,' 'silver,' or 'bronze." Casper Children's Theatre, competing against theatres that have audition-only entrance policies while CCT has open enrollment, competing for the first time ever, won a platinum, two golds, and a silver.

Now, I know that CCT's directors' goals are "to help kids get along in life and in school" and "to not create divas." However, regarding their achievements, I can't help but say, Wow.

Watch for Casper Children's Theatre's upcoming productions, which number about nine per year. If you'd like to learn more about CCT, call them at 473-8470.

Oh, and CCT holds a fun fundraising dinner every October. Rumor has it that "the nuns" have been known to show up, serve food, and offer lessons to the diners. You remember "the nuns," don't you? Think Casper College Theatre Department. Think the Nunsense series. Yep. Once you've met them, you can never forget "the nuns."

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