By Cindy Worley
Madalynn Luikart has a resumé. She “loves ballet and playing with her kitty cats” and her favorite color is purple. Those might seem like unusual statements for a resumé until you take into consideration that Madalynn is 5 years old.
Madalynn is the youngest Theatre West Virginia cast member this year and shares the stage with her brothers, Ben, 12 and 10-year-old Ryland.
Ben was the first to show interest in theater, and took classes from TWV’s Professional Training Academy. Soon he had roles in the musicals and the historical dramas. Brother Ryland soon followed, and little Madalynn debuted in “Rocket Boys the Musical” last summer.
The children of Tim and Mistey Luikart, their mother says they learn valuable lessons at TWV. “They learn skills they can use for the rest of their lives. They know how to present themselves in front of people. They work with a professional opera singer (Terry Chasteen) and a professor like Dr. Pam (Chabora). They met Homer Hickam. They’ve met people from all over the country; people who remember them and send them postcards,” she noted.
“They are learning to be part of a team, and that everyone plays an important role in making any job work,” Luikart says
Benjamin Luikart says seeing TWV’s “Beauty & The Beast” inspired him to audition.
“I like meeting all the new people,” Benjamin says, “and onstage, I like knowing how to express feelings and what those feelings look like.”
As for little Madalynn, her mother says she enjoys meeting people after the shows and signing autographs. “She got tired of trying to sign ‘Madalynn’ last year, so she just started to write ‘Bob’ for her autograph,” Mistey laughs.
The Luikarts are not the only siblings at TWV this summer. There is another trio consisting of 14-year-old Sarah Cline and her twin brothers, Jacob and James, who are fifth graders.
All three are veterans of TWV’s PTA, and have appeared in the historical dramas, musicals and as residents of Munchkinland in “The Wizard of Oz.”
Jacob says, “I love TWV. When I am here, they help me with my singing and acting, but my favorite part is all my friends. I love to make people laugh.”
Both his brother and sister echo his sentiment that TWV is like a “second family.”
The Cline’s mother, Ruth, says her children came to Cliffside Amphitheatre to see “High School Musical” and decided to try PTA classes.
“They have learned tempo and rhythm, as well as different aspects of theater; when they’re not on stage, like scenery painting,” she said. “They have also learned to listen, to be patient and that they have to work by the rules. They use those skills everyday. ”
Cline says the children are more confident thanks to their theater experience.
“They are able to talk to just about anyone, and they are not shy anymore. They like meeting all the people after the show.” James Cline says, “Whenever I think of TWV, I say ‘I can’t wait till I get back home’.”
Six stars in the making? Only time will tell. But no one will be surprised if in a few years, we are saying “I knew them when ...“
— Cindy Worley is secretary of the Board of Directors and
marketing representative for Theatre West Virginia.