Kalyn Hemphill of Lake Jackson is singing and dancing her way through her first professional show.
I have a really small part but its been a really great learning experience and a ton of fun, said Hemphill, 16, who is appearing in Singin in the Rain. The musical continues through Sunday at Theatre Under the Stars in the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts in Houston.
Hemphill is part of the teen chorus and wears a 1920s-style costume for the ensemble scenes. She is also one of four feather-headdressed teenagers in the Beautiful Girl sequence and sings off-stage in a backup booth when the dancers cant wear their microphones.
Hemphill, a Brazoswood Belle, Brazoswood Choir member and honor student, is the daughter of Jim and Roberta Hemphill of Lake Jackson.
Shes pretty good at budgeting her time, her mother said. Kalyn knows every word of every Broadway musical soundtrack she can lay her hands on.
Its really a passion for her. We try and encourage her and give her a lot of opportunities, Roberta said.
Kalyn said she would love to someday be on Broadway but shes taking it one step at a time right now. She wants to keep her priorities straight.
I think when she was real little, her music teachers (Charla Carey and Margaret Norman) at Beutel really encouraged her and gave her the bug.
Since most of the Singin in the Rain cast is from New York and Los Angeles, TUTS pulled the chorus and smaller parts from Houston-area auditions. Though rehearsals lasted only two weeks, the big challenge for Kalyn has been going to school during the day and showing up for each of the TUTS shows, which will number 21. She has missed no school. She does homework in the car and during downtime backstage.
Shes a terrific kid, said Carole McCann, executive director of TUTS Humphreys School of Musical Theatre, where Kalyn has been taking tap lessons. When we have someone like Randy Rogel telling us she needs to be in LA, you know youve got a winner.
Rogel plays second-lead Cosmo Brown in Singin in the Rain. He has won three Emmys, a Peabody, and two Annie Awards as a television writer and producer. He now writes for Disney after a nine-year stint at Warner Brothers.
There are a gadzillion hopefuls. To single out this one student as having the package, thats something unusual, McCann said.
Kalyn is the one who impressed him immediately. Thats a real tribute not only to her brilliant talent but her looks and general personality. Shes such a hard worker, shes very disciplined, warm, generous and helpful with the other kids, McCann said.
Kalyn is personable and is poised beyond her years.
Shes not a diva at all. Thats personality and training from her parents, McCann said.
Kalyn has participated in Brazosport Center Stages since she played Gretel at age 8. Following that have been The Sound of Music, The King and I, Annie, three performances in the Madrigal Feast and the title role of Cinderella.
Kalyn stays busy even beyond her Center Stages roles, school work and Brazoswood extracurricular activities.
She has been taking voice lessons, and has trained at the Masquerade Youth Theatre, Mercury Studios, Beginnings Workshop, and TUTS Humphreys School of Musical Theatre. Credits include Grease, Godspell and Once on This Island.
Her tap lessons at the Humphreys school in Houston led to an audition and an exciting call-back leading to the ensemble part.
Singing in the Rain is playing through Sunday at Theatre Under the Stars in the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, 800 Bagby at Walker, Houston. For show times and tickets ($27 to $72), call (888) 558-3882 or go to the Web site, www.tuts.com.
Brazoswood Varsity Choir Member
By: Karen Nace
Facts Photo By: Shannon Bock
Published December 15, 2004