Ten tiny thespians transformed Destin Elementary School's cafeteria into a Broadway stage Tuesday afternoon as they recited their monologues from "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown."
Led by their instructor, Nathanael Fisher, the producing artistic director of the newly-formed Emerald Coast Theatre Company, in conjunction with the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation for its All Kinds of Art program, held a 10-class workshop from Jan. 22 to Apr. 9 at Destin Elementary School for students in grades second through fourth.
This acting class was the first of its kind to be held at DES and it offered the children more than just a chance to develop their acting muscles. The classes provide the children an unmatched level of confidence, not only in their skills as performers and public speakers, but an overall confidence in them selves as well.
According to Fisher, although only 10 students were present for the performance on Tuesday, there were actually 11 dedicated students enrolled in the program. But, unfortunately, one small starlet was under the weather and was unable to perform.
If nerves played any sort of a role for the teensy troupe on Tuesday, it didnít show. Trudging along like true professionals, shaking off any butterflies they may have had fluttering about their bellies, the group pressed on, keeping the crowd ó made up of their parents, grandparents, siblings and friends, laughing the whole time. As they say, the show must go on.
Second-grader Gabriel Stevens, 7, hit the nail on the head so to speak with his portrayal of Linus van Pelt, Charlie Brown's best friend and the younger brother of Lucy van Pelt.
Known for being a bit shy, Linus is rarely seen without his security blanket throughout "Peanuts," history. During his monologue, Stevens played on this dependence as he tugged on an imaginary blanket during his monologue. After his performance, Stevens told The Log that this wasn't his first time on stage, and it wouldn't be his last either.
"I'm going to be in 'Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp,'" said Stevens, referring to one of the events the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation and the Emerald Coast Theatre Company has slated for this summer. When asked how he conquered his stage fright, Stevens said he didn't have any.
"I wasn't nervous at all, I like doing this."
Fourth-grader Aliesha Ledbetter, 10, played Charlene Brown ó the female version of Charlie Brown. Flying through her monologue with extreme ease like a young Judy Garland, it was fairly obviously Ledbetter was a virtuoso on stage.
"I'm very fond of acting," said Ledbetter. "I never really get nervous when I'm on stage. I feel like I belong up there, like that's where I'm supposed to be, even though the lights can be really bright sometimes." Ledbetter added that she would also be in "Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp," this summer.
"I hope I get the part of Princess Jasmine," said Ledbetter. "But I would even play Jafar."
Both Fisher and Deb Nissiley, the director of operations at Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation, said they were very pleased with the studentís performances and the overall alliance of the programs.
Continuing the partnership with two programs this summer, the Emerald Coast Theatre Company and Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation will hold group auditions at Destin Elementary School starting at 3 p.m. July 21, with a camp being held Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m., and the performance following on
Saturday at 6 p.m. Children in grades second through 12th are invited to audition.
Additionally, Kamp Kellywamba, "Life is a Circus," will be held at Destin Middle School from June 17 to 21, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Registration is open to students in grades first through eighth, and can registration can only be made through Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation. Registration is limited to the first 50 students.
For more information on the Emerald Coast Theatre Company, or their upcoming programs, visit them online at EmeraldCoastTheatre.org, email them at info@EmeraldCoastTheatre.org or call them at 850-687-1637.
For more information on Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation, or their upcoming events and programs, visit them online at MattieKellyArtsFoundation.org, email them at info@MattieKellyArtsFoundation.org or call them 850-650-2226.