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Finding Nemo Jr. inspires love of theater in Big Sky kids, advises ‘fish are friends, not food’

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Rowley demonstrates how to put on the costume properly. PHOTO BY JEN CLANCEY


Something fishy was going on at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center last week. From July 31 through Aug. 4, Big Sky students grades 1-4 rehearsed “Finding Nemo Jr.,” a musical production based on the 2003 Disney film, “Finding Nemo.”

In total, 45 kids enrolled in the summer program, which aims and succeeds at giving each person a role in the production. The kids were split into morning and evening casts with performances at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Saturday, Aug.  5.

The production included students in grades 1-4. PHOTO BY JEN CLANCEY

Barbara Rowley, co-producer and co-founder of Big Sky Broadway, checked in with students and production staff to make sure the afternoon rehearsal and separate sessions were running smoothly.

Meanwhile on the stage, or in Nemo universe, the sea floor, stage actors and co-director Max Romney called to the cast in the auditorium seats.

“Who’s excited for the last day before the show?” he asked.

The cast erupted into cheers, some even jumping out of their seats in excitement.

Not only was the cast of “Finding Nemo Jr.” made up of young talent of a wide range of age groups, but it was also led by experienced Lone Peak High School students, alumni and former Big Sky Broadway participants.

“I think it’s really fun to just like, see kids’ excitement grow throughout the week, we’re adding new elements every day,” Ava King, who co-produced the musical alongside Rowley, said. The production staff added more elements to the set that day and also began incorporating costumes.

“It’s fun to see through their eyes as everything comes together,” King said. Costumes turned out to be a feat of organization. With three sharks, several turtles and specific fish costumes, everybody was careful to keep pieces with each costume.

Sharks dance during the Saturday afternoon show. PHOTO BY JEN CLANCEY

On Saturday, the production went swimmingly as the actors sang about fish being friends not food and how to escape a fish tank, among other ballads. Choreography by Jennifer Waters and Logan Barker accompanied the music.

Madelyn Browne, co-director of “Finding Nemo Jr.,” commented that seeing a passion for theater in younger generations was rewarding.

“It’s special for me to watch their love grow,” Browne said.

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