"Fantastic Mr. Fox" steals the show for MAT

by Derek Hann, Havre Daily News, March 21, 2019

Friday, Montana Actors' Theatre will be performing its production of "Fantastic Mr. Fox" in the Little Theatre in Cowan Hall at Montana State University-Northern.

"It's very family-friendly, very much geared toward our younger audience," director Kate Hagen said. "It's good fun for the whole family."

This play is based on Roald Dahl's 1970 children's novel by the same name, she said.

The story is about an anthropomorphic, tricky and clever fox named Mr. Fox, the hero, who is trying to feed his family and the other animals. He faces off against three wicked, rude, cruel and dimwitted farmers named Boggis, Bunce and Bean, who try to get Mr. Fox by any means. However, Mr. Fox outsmarts them at every turn.

Hagen said there is a giant cast for the play, 30 children and three adults. The part of Mr. Fox will be played by Koby Preputin and the part of Mrs. Fox will be played by Izabelle Hagen, she said.

She said one of the impressive actors in the production is Clara Haslem, one of the children performing for the first time with MAT, who plays one of the fox children

"She's so fun to watch on stage," Kate Hagen said.

The three adult cast members are Michelene Edwards, who plays Boggis, Kiera Patera, who plays Bean, and Anjanett Hawk, who plays the badger who narrates the story.

The cast includes a large age range of children, Hagen said, spanning from ages of 7- to 13-years-old.

"It's really been fun to see," she said. "We have some kids that have done shows with us before and we have a lot of kids who this is their first show."

She said it's fun seeing the children bringing their animals to life, especially the children who have never been on stage before or don't already know the process.

Hagen said the production has costumes. However, she said, they have decided to go with more comfortable clothing for the costumes so the focus is more on the children.

She added that makeup for the cast members is being done by Robin Thompson.

"Bringing all those pieces together," she said.

She said before producing the play, MAT members sat down to find a child-friendly show, and decided that "Mr. Fox" was a good way to "go big on the kids."

"I think it is working out quite well," she said.

Hagen, a fifth-grade teacher at Sunnyside Intermediate School, said she is a big Roald Dahl fan, adding that she love his books and reads them to her class every year.

She said she was unfamiliar with "Fantastic Mr. Fox" before starting to work on MAT's production, but it was like everything else he writes, very humorous.

"Just good wholesome fun for anybody of any age," Hagen said. "You're just going to come and have some laughs and have a good time."

Hagen, who also directed MAT's production of "Steel Magnolias."

It's very different working with such a large cast, she said. She added that this first time working with children in a play and it was a totally different experience.

Bill Chambers is co-directing the production, she said.

The play opens Friday at 8 p.m. with a 2 p.m. matinée and an 8 p.m. showing Saturday.

It runs for for three weeks, with 8 p.m. showings the following Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. matinées on the Saturdays and Sundays.

Tickets can be bought online or at the theater. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for students and seniors, and $5 for children grades kindergarten through eighth grade.

Hagen urged people to come see the production.

"It's been a lot of fun," she said. "Just everybody should come out and see the show."

© 2019 Montana Actors' Theatre