Dreamweavers -Spring 2020

by: Brian Bushard

photography by: Nicole Harnishfeger

Laura Gallagher Byrne knows that not all of the 30 children on stage at the Dreamland are there because they want to be professional actors. For some, the stage is a place to be with friends after school, or to overcome stage-fright.

For eighth-grader Chloe Girvin, there’s a sense of camaraderie in performing with the friends you make on stage, and a connection you take with you from musical to musical that’s unlike anything you get in school or on a sports field. “I started when I was 5 looking up to the older kids. If I hadn’t started so early, I might not want to keep doing it,” said Girvin, who played the princess Anna in the Dreamland’s production of “Frozen Jr.” She’s been performing at the theater for nine years, since she was 5, the youngest you can be to audition for a production.

Chloe Girvin and Merrick Brannigan in the 2020 production of “Frozen Jr.”

“I’m shy, but when I’m on stage I’m not as nervous. When you’re on stage, you’re not yourself. You can play someone else who’s completely made up.”

Byrne is sitting in the front row of the theater. She’s directing a group of two dozen children, ages 5-18, as they rehearse a scene out of “Frozen Jr.” for a few hours after school. There are 78 kids in the musical altogether.

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