Enlightenment and empowerment abound as east meets west in the Downtown Dance Collective’s (DDC) production of The Monkey Queen; an original theatre for young audiences production presented through the DDC’s Artist in Residency Program. Written and directed by Missoula Children’s Theatre Education Director Matt Loehrke, this adaptation of the Chinese folktale, The Monkey King, provides patrons of all ages to experience one of the oldest folktales in the world re-imagined for a new generation. This show will have four performances at the Downtown Dance Collective with tickets priced at $10 for adults and $5 for students through www.ddcmontana.com.
A new leader is needed for a monkey family and two entrants emerge, but will the family have a monkey king or a monkey queen? To decide, each monkey is given a year to learn how they will use their head, heart, and heel to lead their family. Along the way, travels and trials from gods, monsters, and more will teach us all that there is more to being a leader than just sitting on a throne.
This exciting, original production features a multitude of Missoula artists; featuring Hailey Stone as the Monkey Queen, Marquis Archuleta as the kind and whimsical narrator – the Jade Empress, and Dara Wilson, Billy Pipinich, and Eric Buhler performing in various roles that help and hinder our Monkey’s progress. The artistic team includes Choreographer and Co-Director Megan Wiltshire, Stage Manager Arielle Nachtigal, Costumes by Fiona McNeil, Graphics by Phil Stempin, and American Sign Language Consultation by Anna Loehrke.
Education Director Matt Loehrke has been with the Missoula Children’s Theatre (MCT) for eleven years – four of which were spent on the road for MCT’s international tour project as he toured to forty states and five countries before joining the home office of MCT in 2012. As Education Director, Matt has traveled as an arts ambassador for MCT to the Chinese National Children’s Theatre in Beijing as well as to arts organizations in Cambodia, the latter through the Professional Fellows Program through the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. In Missoula, Matt has increased arts opportunities to the Missoula community both at MCT and in the Missoula community by providing increased classes and performances to young audiences. As such, Matt received the Arts Educator of the year from Arts Missoula in 2019.
Matt holds a BA in Theatre Arts from Linfield College in McMinnville, OR and is currently working on his MA in Theatre Education from the University of Northern Colorado. Before settling down in Missoula, Matt spent three years as a teacher and outreach coordinator at the Northwest Children Theatre and School in Portland, OR and spent a season at the Seattle Repertory Theatre interning with their education department. Matt enjoys participating in the other half of MCT, the Missoula Community Theatre, as well as volunteering at the Missoula Food Bank and M-Power Voices, a choir that provides musical theatre performance opportunities to adults living with disabilities.
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