Smoot getting kids into the act

PARKERSBURG – About 60 local children are spending this week learning about acting, singing and dancing at the Smoot Theatre in downtown Parkersburg.

The Missoula Children’s Theatre, which has been coming to the Smoot every spring for 17 years, is putting on the show “Pinocchio,” with local children playing all of the parts.

The show will be presented to the public at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday at the Smoot at 213 Fifth St. in Parkersburg. Tickets are $9 for adults and $5 for children. For more information, contact the Smoot at 304-422-PLAY (7529) or online at

Following auditions on Monday evening, the students are working every evening this week to prepare to put on a live musical production Saturday through the MCT program at the Smoot. There was no cost to audition and students from kindergarten through 12th grade could try out for this week’s program, Smoot director Felice Jorgeson said.

The MCT is the largest touring children’s theater program in the U.S. It is based on a week-long residency during which a team of two staff directors from MCT develop and produce a full-scale musical with local students as cast members. Audition, rehearsals, workshops and finished performances for the public are all part of the residency.

The program brings together children of all ages and all ranges of experience.

Parkersburg Catholic Elementary School sixth-grader Arianna Nedeff is a veteran of the Smoot stage, participating in her seventh season with MCT after starting at age 5. She also participates in the Camp Vaudeville summer theater program at the Smoot.

“It’s just a really good experience for all kids in this area,” she said of the MCT program and why she keeps coming back. “I love doing plays and I always have. I love being on stage.

“Just the experience and being on stage, that’s my favorite part,” Nedeff said Tuesday as the week of rehearsals got underway.

That experience has paid off for the 12-year-old, since Nedeff is taking on the title role as “Pinocchio” for Saturday’s two shows on the Smoot stage.

“I’m very excited, I wasn’t expecting it at all, to be Pinocchio,” she said of her casting in the lead role.

Parkersburg resident Olivia Deaton, a fifth-grader at Blennerhassett School, is participating in the MCT program for the first time this week and making her first try at live theater. She became interested in trying out for a role after watching her older sister in school productions at Blennerhassett Middle School and Parkersburg South High School.

“I liked watching her and I thought I should try it,” Deaton said.

While Tuesday marked only the first day of rehearsals, with more work scheduled through this week, Deaton has been bitten by the theater bug and plans to continue her involvement in the future.

“It’s really fun. I love the people who are doing it, they are awesome,” she said, referring to MCT staff directors Rachel Bailey and Blaire Smith.

Cast members of “Pinocchio” are Andrea Barnhouse, Sean Bell, Holly Buskirk, Lakyn Campbell, Erin Carmicle, Ava Cottrill, Anna Crum, Emma Daley, Zoe Daugherty, Sarah Davis, Ella Day, Olivia Deaton, Emelee Deming, Preston Demster, Alexander Earl, Andrew Earl, Lorelei Erwin, Cate Evans, Ali Evans, Stella Flannigan, Anna Floyd, Taylor Galloway, Zachary Graham, Aaron Grose, Quade Harris, Nikki Hart, Haylen Irvine, Matthew Lebo, Hannah Lee, Grayson Linnell, Owen Linnell, Isobella Marteney, Alexis McMillion, Lakyn Moore, Arianna Nedeff, Kylee Newberry, Joanie Owen, Maddie Owen, Grace Pedersen, Clara Pettit, Rachael Puls, Kadence Riggle, Emily Robinson, Kayviona Robinson, Isabella Ruble, Jenna Sams, Christian Schwendeman, Marlee Sheppard, Lexie Smith, Julianna Stephens, Shelby Thomas, Matthew Thornton, Nathan Thornton, Nevaeh Vansickle, Skylar Walsh, Jackson Whited, Abigail Wilson, Kayla Wilson, Chelsea Wilson, Olivia Wilson and Ellie Yeater.