Stretching her young theatrical wings
Sophia Scott of Boothbay has been in front of audiences since the age of 3 thanks to the Y-Arts program here in Boothbay Harbor. Now, at 10, the young lady is stretching her theatrical wings, from Boothbay Harbor show locations to the Lincoln Theater with Y-Arts, Heartwood in Newcastle and most recently the Maine State Music Theater’s (MSMT) production of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.”
Her path to MSMT began in November 2017 when her voice teacher, Beth Preston, entered Sophia in the National Association of Teachers of Singing competition at Bates College. Preston asked Ed Reichert (USM Music Faculty, Musical Theater Director and vocal coach) to be Sophia’s accompanist in her final round. Reichert played piano as Sophia sang, “The Girl I Mean To Be” and “I Won’t Grow Up.” She later walked away with First Places honors.
Recalled Reichert, “Sophia impressed me from the first note out of her mouth! I witnessed something very special about her and her talent.”
Sophia, a Center For Teaching and Learning student, continued with her studies, guitar lessons in Portland with Nathan Kolosko, and voice lessons with Preston until she decided to audition for Heartwood Regional Theater Company’s annual student show this past winter. The production: “Wiley and The Hairy Man.”
Initially, knowing Sophia was a singer, Heartwood’s Artistic Director Griff Braley asked her to be a vocalist in the show. But Sophia offered to learn a few songs on guitar. The songs, backed up with cello, saxophone and percussionists, were of the swampy, bayou, Cajun variety. Sophia ended up playing lead electric guitar for the production.
“Sophia was calm, collected and confident at the audition. She was prepared and was able to offer ideas and take direction right from the start,” Braley said. “Sophia was spot on in every rehearsal and performance.”
“We think Griff is a rock star in this house,” said Cherie, Sophia’s mom. “She played lead electric guitar. He told her he didn’t have anyone who could play as well as Sophia did – and Cajun music. Griff is so good at nurturing all of the kids’ strengths.”
“He has his own way of teaching and putting a show together,” Sophia said. “Griff takes it scene by scene and when it’s perfect, he puts it all together.”
Reichert showed up at the “Wiley Man” performance Cherie attended. After the show, he encouraged Sophia to audition for the 2018 MSMT season.
And audition she did – but not before preparing with Preston on her choices for audition songs “When Will My Life Begin” and “The Secret of Happiness.”
You know Sophia’s a pro because on March 11, the day of her audition for MSMT, she woke up with a doozy of a cold. But, because she loves to sing, Sophia went anyway.
“I can’t remember much about it,” Sophia said. “It felt weird to sing … everything was all blurred.”
Sophia may not remember much about that day, bur Cherie sure does. “Sophia went in and sang, and she came out. Then Ed came out to where we were, and said Curt Dale Clark, Marc Robin, and a few others wanted something razzmatazz and did we have something. I remembered I still had the folder from the NATS show. So there I am, running as fast as I can out to the car to find the sheet music! Ed knew what she could do. And, they gave Sophia another shot – and she blew them away!”
Clark said 200 kids up to age 12 showed up for the auditions. They hired four.
“Sophia was like a mini-adult, but with all the joy and fun that comes from being a kid,” Clark said. “She’s a pro; polite, respectful, and understanding of the process (from audition to rehearsals to performance). And, she has great parents. They aren’t pushy. She’s a kid with her feet on the ground.”
One of Sophia’s classmates at CTL, Aymeric Dauge-Roth of Bath, played Chip in “Beauty and the Beast.” Between going to Aymeric’s house between shows, or going to dinner with her family, the kids were always in the company of MSMT’s kid wrangler. Clark said it’s important for parents to know their children are well cared for, well looked after.
“It gives parents peace of mind,” said Cherie. “Kudos to Curt and MSMT for putting the pieces in place to be sure the children are not left alone.”
“We played games and talked; I practiced Spanish on an app,” Sophia said. “We have our own dressing rooms. There was a speaker in the ceiling so we could listen to the show – we (youth ensemble) were only in two scenes, the first one “Belle” and last song and we sang along with the actors and actresses. Whenever they would go by us they would always say hello. And we would always say ‘Good job!’ We always feel included. And when you watched them dance you were learning something from them. It’s really fun and exciting, always something magical about it.”
Sophia continues to perform with the Y-Arts group and was in its recent production of “Junie B. Jones the Musical Jr.” performed at the Lincoln Theater. Sophia said she learned a lot from Emily Mirabile, director-choreographer for Y-Arts and Boothbay Region YMCA Arts & Humanities director (a longtime, talented singer-actress as well as a teacher herself).
“Emily taught me how to act as my character, how to sing out holding a mic and how to use a head mic,” Sophia said. And, her shows are really fun to do!”
Added Cherie, “Em got those kids on a solid footing. Shows at Maine State Music Theater are put together fast. Sometimes, with Y-Arts, the kids would learn in a show in five to seven days from scratch. Sophia and the other kids are conditioned to doing it that way.”
“We are very fortunate here to have the triangle of opportunities with MSMT, Heartwood, Y-Arts/Lincoln Theater,” Cherie said. “It’s unique for parents to see their children grow (creatively). Unless we took her to New York City, she wouldn’t find this level of training anywhere else.”
Now that the MSMT show schedule has ended, Sophia will be spending the rest of the summer taking sailing lessons and playing guitar and … just being a kid. Still, Sophia said, “I’d love to do all my theater shows again and again, it’s so much fun.”