Will Ravenstein

Wellington Daily News

Wellington’s Hannah Shelley has been cast in the Christian Youth Theatre Wichita production of “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” set to appear on stage Jan. 26-28 at Isely Magnet School, Bel Aire, Kans.

The talented teen has been a member of CYT for several years and has had roles in “Tarzan”, as Tarzan’s human mother and as a member of the ensemble; and “Mary Poppins”, as the bird woman and in the ensemble.

Locally, Shelley, was a member of the Wellington Community Theatre where she was Violet in “Willy Wonka” and Peter in “Peter Pan.”

Christian Youth Theatre Wichita was started in 2009 as a place where kids, five to 18-years old, could take classes on drama, vocal and dance according to artistic director Linda McGinness. The classes are geared towards equipping the students towards the different parts of music theatre.

“One of the things we are interested in is the character of the student,” McGinness said. “We are not just interested in making stars, we are interested helping the kids discover who they are. Who they are, cause we’re Christian, in their walk with God. Not many of them will go to New York, some will, but most will use this in other parts of their lives as they walk through life. Be more equipped to relate to people, to speak in front of them and know who they are.”

The group performs two to three shows a year with normally 80 to 90 students auditioning for parts. This show had a lower turnout, 62 students representing 15 schools and home schools from the surrounding area, for auditions, which helped ease the pain of cutting people McGinness said.

“We didn’t have to cut anybody,” she said. “It’s usually hard to cut someone. It’s very hard, you have a lot of people that can fit each role. So you have to decide who looks good with who. How does the chemistry work, all that kind of stuff.”

Shelley’s audition, along with her previous roles, made her the perfect fit for the part of ‘Milly’ the female lead.

“Hannah has done some other things and she did a nice job with this, and we felt that she would pull it off well,” McGinness said.

Shelley stated she was excited when she got the news of her casting.

“I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t,” Shelley said. “I had to look at it like 10 times to verify that was really my name.”

Her mother, Dawn, recalled the excitement a little differently.

“She came to our bedroom, beating on the door, at 10 p.m.,” Dawn said. “I was like - she got the part. I was very excited and grateful. I think that every time you try out for a show you want the lead part. You don’t get the lead some time, but she is always grateful for the part that she has had. Later in the show she is glad that she got that part. I told her, there are a lot of girls, but whatever part you get is going to be okay. I know it’s going to be devastating if you don’t get the part that you want. She’s had a great attitude. So we were thrilled.”

Memorizing lines is not something new to Shelley, but she stated that she has not had to for a long time.

“I was like, oh great I have to memorize lines,” she said with a laugh. “It hasn’t been to hard, the lines are all super conversational. So, it hasn’t been to hard to learn.”

In the film version of the show, ‘Milly’ sings in a high soprano tone, Shelley who is a mezzo-soprano was preparing for the higher keys when she found out the stage version is different and more suited to her.

“In the movie ‘Milly’ is a super high soprano, so I was prepared for that,” she said. “In the show she is a mezzo-soprano, which is what I am. I just wasn’t expecting it, so the singing has been a little bit harder than I thought it would be.”

The harder part for Shelley has been the dance numbers. Shelley, who is trained in ballet and jazz forms, is not use to having to dance with someone, but enjoys the routines they are doing for the show.

“I love dancing but have never done partner dancing before, which is what we do in the show,” she said. “The flips and lifts that we do are completely new to me, but I love doing it. It’s a totally new experience for me.”

The group will continue to rehearse until the public performances on Jan. 26-27 at 7 p.m. and Jan. 28, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. for more information about the show and ticketing visit www.cytwichita.org