A troupe of young women will bring their talent to the stage in On Center Performing Arts’ annual production of “To Missoula, With Love” this Friday.

“It’s an interesting time we live in, and I felt it was worth exploring and discussing,” said Lisa Deer, owner and director of On Center Performing Arts in Missoula.

Deer has spent time observing the way social media platforms influence the way her students communicate with one another, both in positive and negative ways.

“With smart phones, they don’t have to see the reaction face-to-face, so they fire at will,” she said. The two-day event, titled “Instant Fame” will explore and address unique issues such as cyber-bullying, overnight sensations, and privacy issues we face in the age of social media.

The performers are part of On Center Performing Arts’ Curtain Up! Company, made up of performers ages 9 to 17, with extensive training backgrounds in music, theater and dance.

“They’re multi-dimensional artists,” Deer said.

The performers themselves have choreographed several of the pieces, she added, to include some of their own perspectives on the topics. On Center Performing Arts Staff and world-renowned choreographers and musicians choreograph the other pieces.

The amount of time and effort spent on these performances sets them apart, said Christine Baldwin, parent and second year member of the company.

“They live, sleep, and breathe dance and performance training,” Baldwin said.

Company members often put in between 20-25 hours of work per week while balancing academics, she said.

Performances will be held Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 at the MCT Center for Performing Arts, 200 North Adams St. in Missoula. The Friday, Jan. 31 performance will begin at 7 p.m. There will be a matinee performance on Saturday, Feb. 1, at 2 p.m., with an evening gala at 6 p.m., and an evening performance at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $10 for students, and $13 for adults. Admission to the Saturday gala and performance is $25 for all ages, and includes beverages and appetizers.

Dylan Chaffin is a journalism student at the University of Montana, and a reporting intern for the Missoulian.

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