My mother sent me the March 24 Columbian story “‘Pied Piper’ pulls kids in, creates confidence” after realizing I was cast as a mouse the same year Michelle Eussen played a pumpkin. I doubt we’d recognize each other now, but I’m glad that her experience in “Cinderella” 27 years ago inspired her to bring Missoula Children’s Theater to her child’s school.
“Cinderella” did so much for me as a child: It introduced me to new kids, allowed me to shed the low self-image I carried in grade school, and kicked off my love for the theater. Would I have gone on to perform in subsequent Missoula productions at the now (sadly) defunct Tears of Joy Theater? Would I have won the 1995 Drama Award as a senior at Hudson’s Bay or gone on to major in drama at the University of Washington? Not without that single, lovely, end-of-a-long-week production of “Cinderella.” (I still know all the songs!)
It’s a shame that our schools are starved for the arts. Let’s not forget the value of dancing, singing, collaborating, learning, and eventual performing. Take it from a super-nerdy kid who just needed a shot at playing a mouse on stage: Kids need opportunities to pop out of their shells and take the world by storm.