Steamboat graduate gives back with theater workshops
June 29, 2012
Steamboat Springs — At the very end of the original short musical "The Loneliest Whale in the Universe," the main character, Winnie the Whale, learns a very important lesson.
Maya Kissane, who played the lead role in an outdoor performance Friday, emoted vividly the moral of the story with some of her last lines:
"Every single fish in the ocean just wants to be loved," she said, flapping her paper whale fins. "Because you know what happens when you feel loved? Then your voice can be heard."
Friday's late-morning performance of the children's production was the culmination of a two-week theater camp led by Fordham University senior and Steamboat Springs High School graduate Emily Stout, who is visiting her family in Steamboat.
Stout, her younger sister Liza and her best friend she met at a theater school, Emily Koch, produced the show by organizing costumes, coaching the children on singing and leading them through stage blocking and acting basics.
Recalling the memories of her early childhood theater programs, Stout wanted to help elementary school-aged children find their voices through acting and singing.
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"I wanted to offer younger kids a little confidence," she said. "So if they want to try theater in middle school or go to Perry-Mansfield (Performing Arts School & Camp), they can.
"And I just think art and theater is a great opportunity for personal voices to be heard."
About 20 young students went to the Stouts' downtown home each day for the past two weeks to rehearse for the musical, which Stout wrote based on a New York Times article she had read about a whale that sings at a higher pitch than other whales and thus can't be heard.
The songs were from "The Little Mermaid," "Anastasia" and "Seussical" and came complete with choreography and toothy smiles from the young performers.
"I think the best part was watching them and their creative juices flow," Liza Stout said. "I think they really learned to work together."
Maya Kissane, who memorized many lines and a solo song, said that singing, acting and being onstage "just feels good."
"The best thing onstage is you look your best if you're happy," she said.
She also liked rehearsing and performing with her best friend, Julia Buccino, who played the whale that bullied poor Winnie for her inability to sing like all the other whales.
"I think it's fun just being able to show my personality to other people," Julia said.
To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@ExploreSteamboat.com
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