‘I sing to breathe’ says musical’s young star Kyla Johanis

December 15, 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

Mr. and Mrs. Johanis were driving their car with their two year daughter in the back. On the radio the song, She Will Be Loved by Maroon 5, was playing. What was their surprise when their little girl, who had not really started talking yet, began singing along with the song, words and all.

That was 12 years ago and this month, Kyla Johanis is playing the role of Young Nancy in Theatre Orangeville’s The Last Christmas Turkey until December 23.

From that early age, “I just kept singing and my parents realized that singing was my thing. They got me a [voice] coach when I was four years old. Now I’m studying with Alexandra Pomeroy and I am loving  and appreciating every minute of it.”

Kyla learned about the auditions that were being held for this year’s Christmas musical from a friend of the family, a professional actor who has been in other Theatre Orangeville productions and “she suggested that I might be interested in trying out for a part.”

She went on to say, “I did the audition and there were lots of other kids doing it too. My monologue was from St. Valentine’s Day. I wanted to do something from Anne of Green Gables – it’s my favourite movie – but there are no monologues that are two minutes long.”

There is always the agony of waiting to hear how things turned out after an audition but, according to Kyla, “I wasn’t expecting to get it because I’ve never done anything with Theatre Orangeville before. So, I was beyond excited when I got it.”

Kyla is now 14 and in grade 9 at Orangeville District Secondary School, where there is a drama department and a choir.

“I’m not  in them at the moment,” she commented, “ since I’m doing this right now. The drama is mostly improv and I’ve signed up for it to start in the New Year.”

She talked about her studies: along with drama and music, she is also taking science, math, English and French.

Having come to high school from French Immersion, she remarked about the subjects, in addition to drama and music, that matter to her: “French is definitely part of my life; English and French – I’m equal with the two. But I definitely want to take math and science in high school, too. The sciences are important and I definitely think I’m going to need them in my life. I think it’s important to be well rounded in education.”

Set to take her grade six exams in singing, with all her ambitions centred on performing, if not necessarily specific at the moment, Kyla was clear about music, “I sing to breathe. I love music, being on stage – I just love performing. Especially on stage, I say a line and people laugh, that really warms my heart when I make people happy.”

She added “Really, I want to do anything that is music or performing, where I get to be on stage.”

Young entertainers are great philosophers: asked how she feels about social media, Kyla had an interesting take on the subject: “Social media has pros and cons. It can keep you in contact with your friends but it can ruin a happy situation. You should keep yourself happy and, with social media, it can bring you down and I don’t like that.”

Of the show, The Last Christmas Turkey, she was all enthusiasm: “The music is amazing – it’s so fun. The show does teach you quite a bit – it teaches kindness.

“At the end of the day,” Kyla said, “we all share the same earth – so, why don’t we all just be kind to each other!”

The Last Christmas Turkey plays until December 23. Tickets at the Box Office, 87 Broadway or the Information Centre on Buena Vista Drive at Highway 10; phone 519-942-3423 or online  .

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