& Theatre Mom
Shelly, thanks for taking a moment. I know you're a busy person. Can you tell me when you first were involved in the performing arts/theatre?
My very first performance in front of an audience was in Kindergarten at the age of 5. I had a lot of fun pretending to be a very loud, roaring lion. That was a long time ago, but I remember it so clearly!.
So you've been involved for a long time?
My Great Grandmother was also an opera singer and sang with my Great Grandfather on the radio in my home town of Wichita, KS, so music and performing is definitely loved by my family.
I actually became pretty shy in middle school. I had not planned to enroll in choir the following year, but had a wonderful music teacher who encouraged me to keep doing it. That really set me on my path for continuing to be involved in music and performing. She was very young and sadly, passed away in a car crash just weeks after those encouraging words. I think of her often. If it hadn’t been for her, my life would be so very different. Music is such a huge part of my life, I just can’t imagine what it would be like without it.
In high school, a friend introduced me to the music from Phantom of the Opera and I fell I love with musical theatre. I pushed my fear aside and auditioned for my first musical in high school and performed in the ensemble for The Music Man.
Very interesting. So, how did you become involved with CWCT?
My first personal connection was as a performer in CWCT's production of "Newsies" in 2018. I was very impressed with the way the children were supported and encouraged during rehearsals and as part of the show. As a result, I decided that CWCT would be a wonderful organization where my children could become involved in theatre and where I would also love to volunteer.
That is a great takeaway. So, as a parent and a volunteer, what would you say is a highlight of your involvement?
You know, I think that the simple act of watching a show come together from early rehearsals to the full stage production is a fascinating experience. Seeing how excited the kids are to bring their characters to life and then doing it when they are on that stage and performing in front of a full house - exciting!
I agree that there is something really special about that process. You obviously have love for music and the theater. You must have other activities and hobbies as well. Can you let us in?
Apart from singing and the stage, I love to travel, and am fascinated by cultures abroad. I also love to spend time outdoors when it is warm (soon?) and go berry picking and hike the trails in the area with my kids and bike with my son to our favorite sushi spot. We are a homeschool family, too, which keeps us very busy.
I am also the cofounder of the Greater Wausau Children’s Museum. I volunteer as its Executive Director and I love to create fun events and programming in art, science, and literature for children in our community!
Can you tell me what makes CWCT important in your mind and what would you want people to know?
While CWCT, of course, provides children an amazing opportunity to explore and develop their talents in singing, dancing, and acting, it is also an incredibly supportive environment that fosters a growth in confidence, that translates from the stage to real life.
When you witness a teen or young adult come running up with a big smile to greet one of the directors of a show they were in as a child, you just can feel how the loving and supportive environment within CWCT made such a positive and lasting impact on their lives.
Three of our children are now old enough to be involved in theatre and they absolutely love it! It does make it so much fun and easier when they all have a love of performing and they all are in the same show. The challenge comes when I am also in a (different) show at the same time. Rehearsal schedules can be pretty crazy to coordinate. My husband is very supportive of us being involved and theatre and, together, we make it work!
The family that tells stories together is an amazing thing.
Thank you for taking the time to talk with us Shelly. As our final question, do you have a meaningful or funny meme or theatre joke you can share?
I have one that means a lot to me. It's a lyric from the Musical "Wicked" and it touches so many important ideas.