My name is Madeline Dalton. I’m 14 years old, and I’m a student at Youth Theatre Northwest (YTN). I played the part of Princess Fiona in our production of “Shrek: the Musical,” and I wanted to share some things with you about my experience in the show.
The process of putting a show together is one of the greatest things in the world. I got to meet a cast of kids who I, for once, didn’t know. The vast majority of the kids were new to YTN, and the older kids in the cast (like me) had to show them what being in a show was all about. On the first day of rehearsal, a lot of them were confused and scared. Now, they’ve grown into little actors and actresses who put 100 percent into every performance.
Not only did I get to watch the younger cast members blossom, but I had an amazing time working with my older cast mates. We’ve all been at the theatre for a long time and have developed good instincts on stage, so the directors had the time to really help us delve into our characters. Shrek tells Donkey about how ogres are like onions — they have layers, and Kate Swenson (our director) helped all of the leading characters discover how they are like onions, too.
After all of our hard work, we had opening night. When you step out onto that stage, you get this adrenaline rush that just can’t be explained. For the first time, audiences are laughing at our jokes. They even laugh at things that you don’t expect them to laugh at. Knowing that all of our hard work has paid off is just so satisfying.
Being in “Shrek” was such an important experience for me. Every time I do a show at YTN, it strengthens my bond with the YTN community. My friendships become better, and my passion for performing grows stronger. Also, I learned a lot as an actress. “Shrek” is written in such a way that the leads and ensemble members generally don’t work together on stage all that much. When I was just working with my fellow co-stars, I was able to develop my advanced acting abilities, which will help me if I pursue a career in theater (which I hope to do). In the rare moments that I get to perform on stage with the ensemble, I get to be a role model for the younger kids, and that’s an important life skill for me to learn. I interact with the younger actors a lot backstage, and I have met some of the sweetest kids ever through this backstage bonding. I remember thinking that the older kids in my first show (“Oliver!”) were super cool and that I wanted to be like them. Now that I am one of the older kids, I hope the younger actors will look up to me.
Hopefully this letter has shown you and the Mercer Island community just how important Youth Theatre Northwest can be to kids of all ages. There’s something for everyone to learn at YTN, whether it’s about theater or about life.
I hope that the community will support Youth Theatre Northwest so that it can live on for future generations of YTN kids.