|Whitewater fifth-grader lands role in ‘A Fireside Christmas’|
|Written by Dennis HInes/Stateline News|
|Monday, 12 December 2011 14:18|
Catherine Yang, left, and Hannah Ahrens prepare backstage to go on for a Christmas medley during a recent performance of “A Fireside Christmas” at the Fireside Dinner Theatre in Fort Atkinson. Yang is from Whitewater and Ahrens is from Rockton. Fireside Dinner Theatre photo.
(Read the full story in the e-edition HERE.)
FORT ATKINSON — Two area children are helping to spread holiday cheer by showcasing their vocal talents.
Catherine Yang of Whitewater and Hannah Ahrens of Rockton are part of the cast for “A Fireside Christmas,” being performed through Dec. 22 at the Fireside Dinner Theatre in Fort Atkinson. The show is a musical revue, which features both Broadway and regional performers.
Both girls performed in the Fireside production of “Annie” in spring, giving them a leg up when it came to casting the Christmas show.
“They’re both extremely talented kids,” said Ed Flesch, Fireside’s artistic director. “Obviously, the girls I casted for (‘Annie’) had to have the right spark to be on stage. When it was time to cast for the Christmas show ... I asked the girls that were in the cast for ‘Annie’ to be in it.”
Yang, 10, has several singing parts in “A Fireside Christmas.” She performs two to four times per week.
“I sing a solo and some other songs,” she said. “I follow some of the adults in other parts, too. Sometimes, I dance with them.”
The cast is great to work with, as is Flesch, Yang said, and she enjoys singing, dancing and acting.
“I love learning things,” she said. “The first time I performed at Fireside, I was scared. But they helped me get rid of my fears, and I enjoy being on stage now.”
Yang also has appeared in “A Little Mermaid” at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. When she’s not on stage, the fifth-grader is involved in band, softball, volleyball and student council.
“It’s been hard keeping up with homework and everything, but it’s good to stay busy,” she said.
Despite a busy schedule, Joy Yang said having her daughter perform at the Fireside has been a great opportunity.
“It’s great to see her grow,” Joy Yang said. “Fireside is a great family. It’s a great experience.”
Ahrens, 12, agreed, saying that she enjoys being around the other young actors, as well as the adults in the cast.
“The kids are really fun to be around, and the adults are really talented — and they’re fun to be around, too,” Ahrens said.
She performs Christmas songs with three other children, as well as a solo.
Ahrens, a seventh-grader, also has performed with the Christian Youth Theater and Children’s Theater Project. She said her sister, Rachel, who also has some theater experience, spurred her interest in performing.
Performing at the Fireside has taught her daughter responsibility, said her mom, Ginny Ahrens.
“She’s had to stay committed to her school work, but I think it’s a wonderful, lifelong memory,” Ginny Ahrens said. “I think it’s broadening her theater experience. But she kind of does it more for fun. She learns a lot from watching the adults, who are very, very professional in terms of how they consistently perform every show.”
Flesch said being involved with theater helps children develop many valuable skills.
“Theater is a very disciplined world,” Flesch said. “We treat the kids like adults. All the actors have to be disciplined.
“It’s a great outlet. They have a moment to be in the public eye and to express themselves. They interact with the adults, and it’s a great learning experience, as well.”
For more information about the 18th edition of “A Fireside Christmas,” go online to www.firesidetheatre.com.
“We do something different each year. ‘A Fireside Christmas’ has become a tradition,” Flesch said. “It’s something audiences look forward to.”