Young Twinsburg actress featured in Great Lakes Theater's production of 'A Christmas Carol'

by April Helms special products editor Published:

Twinsburg resident Kiara

Durbin, 10, may be involved in Great Lakes Theater's "A Christmas Carol," but the Dodge Intermediate School fifth-grader is already looking to the future. When the staff at Record Publishing Co. contacted her, she had just auditioned for Walsh High School's production of "Les Miserables."

Father Mark Durbin said in an email that Kiara's theater experience actually began before she was even born. Older sister Marissa was in the ensemble for Twinsburg Community Theatre's production of "The Wizard of Oz," and mother Lisa was pregnant with Kiara while assisting with rehearsals.

The entire family has been involved in various productions with the Twinsburg Community Theatre, he added. Mark said he played Fagan in Oliver, Daddy Warbucks in Annie, and appeared twice as Captain Hook in two versions of "Peter Pan." Her mother, sister, and brother have continued to perform in the ensembles of various shows. Kiara made her onstage debut in 2009, when she portrayed an 'Oompa-Loompa' in Twinsburg Youth Theater's "Willy Wonka, Junior." Since then, Kiara has participated in 14 musicals in Twinsburg, Beachwood, and Solon, and has attended four summer theater camps as well as taking Musical Theater and Improvisation classes at Weathervane Community Theater in Akron. She said her favorite roles include Violet Beauregard in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," and Amaryllis in "The Music Man Junior" at Solon Center for the Arts earlier this fall.

In "A Christmas Carol," Kiara plays the Young Mourner at the grave of Tiny Tim and sings, while the Cratchit family mourns the loss of their youngest child. She also sings in the street ensemble and in the "Miners and Mariners" scene. She was one of 10 children cast in the show.

"I'm really excited," Kiara said. "I can't believe I got the part."

The rehearsal schedule was intense, Kiara said. Rehearsals were initially on the weekends, but also included nine days of rehearsals that lasted up to 10 hours a day before Thanksgiving. The cast took two days off for Thanksgiving, then started several days of 12 hour tech rehearsals. The show officially opened Nov. 30, and there are "seven to eight shows a week," she said.

Freedman's adaptation of A Christmas Carol is presented as a story within a story. The fictitious Cleaveland family gathers in its Victorian-era parlor on Christmas Eve to read Mr. Dickens' book. As Mrs. Cleaveland reads the story to her family, her youngest child, Master William, re-imagines familiar faces as characters in the story: the Cleaveland's crotchety manservant becomes Scrooge; Father becomes Bob Cratchit; Mother becomes Belle, and the Cleaveland children become the Cratchits, with Master William becoming Tiny Tim.

"I really like getting to know the characters and the people in the show, and learning how they do all the special effects," Kiara said.

Kiara said one challenge was balancing school and performances, particularly with the matinee shows.

"I go to school at 7:30 until 9:45, then my mom picks me up and we drive to the show," Kiara said about the days she has a matinee. "Then after the show we come back to school."

Kiara said she would love to be an actress when she is an adult.

"I want to go to New York and be on Broadway," she said. Acting "makes you feel you are free, and you can do whatever you want to do."

Ticket and show information

Great Lakes Theater's "A Christmas Carol" will run through Dec. 23 at the Ohio Theatre in Playhouse Square. Curtain times for all evening performances are at 7:30 p.m., with a 1:30 p.m. curtain time for Saturday matinees and a 3 p.m. curtain time for Sunday matinees.

Single tickets for Great Lakes Theater's production of A Christmas Carol range in price from $28 to $60 (student tickets are $26 for any performance and any seat), and are available by calling 216-241-6000, by ordering online at www.greatlakestheater.org or by visiting the PlayhouseSquare ticket office. Groups of 10 or more receive discounts and should call 216-241-5490, ext. 302 to make reservations.

Email: ahelms@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9438

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