Young actors will present play Saturday

Young actors will present play Saturday by David Lias Debra and Dan Workman's home is Rapid City � except for one problem.

They're rarely there. In fact, this week, they're calling Vermillion home as they hold auditions and rehearsals for Saturday's performances of The Missing Mountain Mystery.

"We do a week-long residency, and we put together a short, full-scale musical production," said Debra Workman, who with her husband is associated with the Children's Theatre Company of South Dakota. "We come with sets and lights and costumes, and by the end of the week, we have a show put together to perform.

"The show is a lot of fun. This is our first year of touring, we've been in development for a year, and we really wanted to cover South Dakota in our first tour since the play is based on South Dakota and is very educational," she added.

The Missing Mountain Mystery, which in a nutshell is the story of the cast searching for Mount Rushmore, will be presented at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4 in Old Main's Farber Hall on the USD campus.

Viewers of the play will watch cast members search the Black Hills, the Badlands, the grasslands and the farmlands.

The play was written by Dan Workman and Eric Johnson. Johnson wrote the production's music, and the two men wrote the songs' lyrics.

"We're an initiative of South Dakotans for the Arts, and the South Dakota Arts Council," Debra Workman said. "South Dakotans for the Arts put out a proposal to theatres around the state because they wanted a parent company to take over the children's theatre company."

The Workmans signed on with the Black Hills Playhouse.

"We put a proposal in, and the Black Hills Playhouse was chosen to go in on it with the South Dakota Arts Council and South Dakotans for the Arts. And then we all put in a grant application to the National Endowment for the Arts."

Debra Workman said the goal of this program, besides reaching kids across the Midwest with art, is to create jobs for�South Dakota artists.

"Dan and Eric wrote the script, we have a South Dakotan who designed the set and the costumes," she said.

The music sequencing also was done by a state resident, she said.

"We really want to keep talented people here," she said. "It's our goal, once we're done touring, once the company gets going, that we will hire South Dakota artists to be the actors and directors to take the tours out on the road."

Auditions for the play started at 4 p.m. Monday.

"We can use 20 to 55 people," Debra Workman said. "We can cast up to 49, and then we take on assistant directors. We had 35 people audition today (Monday) so we can cast all of them, and that's really great."

The cast members range in age from 5 to 13 years old.

"The week is really programmed out well," she said. "The younger cast members are here for shorter amount of time. Normally, we get in about 20 hours of rehearsals in before a performance."

The tour is made possible by funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the South Dakota Arts Council, the South Dakota Community Foundation, and BankWest, which donated the sound system.

The performances are sponsored by the Vermillion Area Arts Council. The Vermillion's Children's Theatre Company residency is underwritten by the Wayne S. and Esther M. Knutson Foundation.

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