EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSYoung Actors Honed Their Skills At HOT
from Eyewitness News Online
Reported by: Kennie Bass
Videographer: Kenneth Barnette
Web Producer: Kennie Bass
Reported: Jul. 22, 2013 5:10 PM EDT
Updated: Jul. 22, 2013 5:21 PM EDT
Huntington , Cabell County , West Virginia
For 20 years, Huntington Outdoor Theatre has been a summertime staple. But it's coming to an end.
Director Helen Freeman is closing up shop to pursue other interests.
Of the hundreds of performers who have taken the outdoor stage, many were very young children when they made their debut.
They say they've grown up as both performers and people with H.O.T.
"I started when I was 10-years old in the pre-show for 'Footloose'" Levi Kelley (Edna Turnblad) said. "And I've done seven shows with H.O.T. since then. I'm not good with math but that's a lot of shows and a lot of years."
Kelley is starring as Edna Turnblad in "Hairspray", which is H.O.T.'s final production. He says it s a dream role and he's very happy to have the chance to perform it outdoors.
"When I was about six years old the first show I saw here in Huntington was "Cinderella" here at H.O.T." Kelley said. "And then I saw the 'Wizard of Oz' and it was always a dream of mine to be an actor, even as a young child. And H.O.T. exposed me to it. And it was a dream to do it then and it's certainly a dream to do it now."
Casey Homonai and Alaina Krantz also have H.O.T. in their performing blood. Before they were teenagers they were part of the H.O.T. pre-show, eventually graduating to the main stage where they've had key roles in several productions.
"It's just been a great experience every year," Homonai (Shelley) said. "You always have something to look forward to. Knowing the people that you work with and always having a family to come to over the summer."
In "Hairspray" they're a part of the "Nicest Kids in Town", the dancers on the local music show starring Corny Collins.
"It was really cool to see what they were doing and I knew I wanted to be a part of something like that," Krantz (Doreen) said. "I've stayed because it's my family. My family is here. My friends are here. I just grown up with all of these people and I love them and I would continue to do it every day."
As the ride nears its end, H.O.T.'s cast members say it's been a wonderful experience.
"It's helped me mature for the better," Krantz said. "Like I said, I grew up here/ I've learned a lot of life lessons with everyone here. It's been a good environment to grow up in because it's family-based and we're all always close."
"It's really sad for me because I've done it so many years," Homonai said. "It's going to be a big change in my life to not have it to look forward to every summer. They'll just be a lot of time that I've got to figure out what to do with."
The Huntington Outdoor Theatre production of "Hairspray" closes its run this weekend with shows on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Gates at the Ritter Park Amphitheater open at 6:30 p.m. There is a children's pre-show at 7:00 p.m. A community pre-show follows immediately with "Hairspray" taking the stage at 8:30 p.m.
Tickets are $15.00 for adults. $13 for seniors 65 and older and children 5-12. Children younger than 5 are free.
Tickets are on sale at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena Box Office or at the amphitheater ticket office on show days.
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