For Signal Hill fourth grader Alanna Stein, performing on stage is something she’d rather do more than anything else.
Her journey into the world of theater started at age 5 when she first saw one of her best friends in a play. From there she became hooked.
“I absolutely loved it, and I wanted to be up there just like them,” Alanna recalls.
Soon after, she took her first theater class the Music Training Center of Marlton and began performing in productions at the school, eventually performing in productions with the Voorhees Theater Company as well.
Now at the age of 9, Alanna was recently able to take the next step in her young career, as she was cast as part of the children’s ensemble in Walnut Street Theatre’s ongoing production of “A Christmas Story, the Musical.”
Based on the popular 1983 film of the same name, the production seeks to capture movie’s spirit through song and dance.
The show marks Alanna’s Walnut Street Theatre debut and with it a whole wealth of new experiences.
“At first, I felt really nervous, but then as I saw that everybody was feeling comfortable and everybody was nice, I kind of made it my home and I love it,” Alanna said.
Whether it’s memorizing her cues or navigating her biggest stage so far, Alanna said she’s still learning a lot by being cast in even just one of the production’s smaller roles.
“It’s a big opportunity for me, and even though you’re not on stage the whole time, I get to interact with the kids and adults backstage and you learn the other dances you’re not in and you learn all the songs even though you’re not in them and it’s fun,” Alanna said.
According to Alanna’s mother Fran, the experience of being in the show has also been helpful in teaching Alanna some important life lessons off the stage.
Since this show is bigger than anything Alanna has performed in before, rehearsals required her to miss time in school, which was something she and her parents had to learn how to handle.
“That was the biggest difference between this and what she’s ever done before,” Stein said. “It required her to be there and miss school, and we weren’t sure what that would be like.”
Stein said Alanna handled the responsibility well by learning to ask her teacher what she had missed, and is now heading into the end of the marking period with straight A’s.
“The first week was a little tough with the rehearsals and school work, but then we sat down with her teacher and figured things out,” Stein said.
Although she loves singing, dancing and acting, Alanna said right now her favorite aspect of performing is the acting, which allows her to play different roles and sometimes become things she would never get to be in her real life.
“It’s so magical and amazing and it’s just so cool how you can turn into a role like you have in a play,” Alanna said.
“A Christmas Story: The Musical” will run at Walnut Street Theatre through Jan. 10. To purchase tickets or learn more about the show, visit www.walnutstreettheatre.org.