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Propel student joins CLO cast

| Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, 1:21 a.m.

The Christmas season is steeped in traditions, and for many that includes a visit to the Byham Theater in December for Civic Light Opera's production of “A Musical Christmas Carol.”

The show opens Friday and continues weekends through Dec. 22.

The cast includes long-time favorites Tom Atkins as Scrooge, Tim Hartman as Mr. Fezziwig/Ghost of Christmas Present, Jeffrey Howell as Bob Cratchit, Daniel Krell as Marley's Ghost/Young Marley, Amanda Serra as Ghost of Christmas Past, and Terry Wickline as Mrs. Fezziwig/Mrs. Dilber.

A newcomer to the show is 11-year-old Jonathan Parker, who plays the Turkey Boy and a Cratchit child.

“This is very exciting,” the sixth-grader at Propel East Charter School in Turtle Creek said. “I have a friend who was in the show last year.”

Although this is his first professional show, Parker most recently was in the CLO Academy's production of “The Little Mermaid Jr.” He also played a Who in his school's production of “Seussical Jr.”

It was at the academy that he learned about auditions for “Carol.”

“There was a signup sheet for auditions. My audition was 4 p.m. on Friday and I was called back on Sunday,” Parker said. “Two weeks later on a Friday my mom told me I got the part and I was so happy.”

One reason he likes the show is its message.

“When the three spirits meet Scrooge, it's a good reminder of the meaning of Christmas,” he said.

His favorite scene is the Christmas party at the Fezziwigs' home. “It is so upbeat and it just makes me want to dance. That scene is a lot of fun,” the young performer said.

Looking forward to opening night, Parker said he will be nervous.

“I keep thinking about it, but the director does a really good job in helping us not to be nervous. The actors give us a lot of advice and they are always thinking about the kids and taking us under their wings. It's amazing,” he said.

Parker said his interest in the theater was sparked when he was 5.

“My family and I went to see ‘Lion King' at the Benedum Center and I thought it would be so cool to sing and dance for a million people,” he explained.

Taking the advice of one of his acting instructors, Parker studies jazz, tap and ballet.

Hoping to pursue a career in musical theater, he said his dream is to perform in “Phantom.” “I think it would be so cool to be in that show.”

He hopes theater-goers will leave the Byham “wondering how they did that in just a few weeks of rehearsal. I hope they say ‘Wow, they did such a good job' and the director hears it and is happy.”

Carol Waterloo Frazier is an editor for Trib Total Media.

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