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home : columnists : betsy reason August 21, 2017


8/10/2017
NEMS student singing his way
The Times photo by Betsy ReasonNoblesville East Middle School’s Maddux Morrison competes in the Youth Talent Show.
The Times photo by Betsy Reason

Noblesville East Middle School’s Maddux Morrison competes in the Youth Talent Show.

By Betsy Reason
Editor


Young Noblesville actor and singer Maddux Morrison kept track of the time, because he was worried that he wouldn't make it to his final performance when the curtain opened.

He had just competed in the Junior Division of the Indiana State Fair Vocal Solo Male contest on Sunday. Although he was first to go on stage in the competition, when he went to sing, there were microphone issues. This delayed the start, but he handled it well.

Maddux sang "Corner of the Sky," a song from the Broadway musical, "Pippen," about a young prince on his search for meaning and significance.

Just 13 days prior, the handsome blonde-haired 12-year-old, an incoming Noblesville East Middle School seventh-grader, sang the same song for judges at the Hamilton County 4-H Fair and won the Junior Division of the Vocal Solo Male contest.

His whole family watched from the audience as he confidently walked up and took the stage. He had never done anything like this before, but his vocal coach Lynne Mlott with Musicality Arts encouraged Maddux to compete at the county level.

"I was nervous and wasn't sure how it would go. However, I know that getting nervous is a good thing because if you are not nervous, you don't care," Maddux said.

Winning the county Youth Talent Show meant that he would move on to the state level at the Indiana State Fair, a positive for any young aspiring singer.

The only snafu was that the state competition was on the same day as Maddux' final performance as Prince Eric, the lead male actor, in The Belfry Theatre Apprentice Players' production of Disney's "The Little Mermaid." Vocal competition was at noon, and show call was at 12:30 p.m. with curtain at 2 p.m., and the venues were 30 minutes a part, minimum.

While some wouldn't like to perform first for a contest, he said, "I was happy that I got to go first because I didn't want to be late to 'The Little Mermaid,'" Maddux said. "But, that made it hard because I didn't know what to expect when I was on stage getting ready to perform (at the State Fair)."

But he need not worry, because later that afternoon, he was given the great news. Maddux was named Champion in the Vocal Solo Male category at the State Fair. "I was excited and happy that I won," he said.

Maddux, I'm sure, thanks his parents for safely getting him to both of his performances on Sunday, and thanks his "Little Mermaid" director, Noblesville's Connie Murello-Todd, for not having a heart attack about the conflict and allowing him to compete.

I first saw Maddux when he performed as Jafar in NEMS's "Aladdin Junior" during his sixth-grade year. And again this spring at The Belfry Theatre, as Bill in "Cheaper by the Dozen."

But I was most impressed when he showed up at "The Little Mermaid" audition in June, and he sang "Corner of the Sky." I thought he would be perfect for the role of Prince Eric, playing opposite mermaid Ariel. He had this dreamy look about him and "the voice" to go with his role. So I wasn't surprised when he was cast as the Prince.

Amy Morrison said her son got started in musical theater when he was in preschool by taking classes through Christian Youth Theater Indy. He then went on to perform in Carmel's Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre production of "The Wizard of Oz" in fourth grade where he played both a munchkin and flying monkey. "That's when he got hooked," she said.

He has continued to perform in a variety of shows through Booth Tarkington and was also cast in the show "Gypsy" at Anderson University last fall.

"He's always looking for ways to continue to develop his skills in musical theater which include taking acting classes, dance lessons, singing lessons, and participating in musical theater workshops," she said.

So maybe that's why he seemed comfortable in the role of Prince Eric, dancing opposite Ariel in "The Little Mermaid."

He said, "This is the biggest role I have ever played being the lead male character. I didn't know hardly anyone in the show, and I had never met Riley Hobbs who played the role of Ariel. So I thought it would be awkward because I didn't know her and she was going to high school where I was only going into seventh grade. It became less awkward doing the romantic scenes because I became friends with her and a lot of other cast members who are older than me."

By the time that the ballroom dance scene was rehearsed, he was quite smooth and confident. It didn't hurt that he had already taken dance lessons. While he had learned some dance choreography at Civic, he had also just started ballet EnPointe in Noblesville.

Parents Amy and Brock Morrison are proud of their son, as they should be. It's only a matter of time until we see Maddux again on stage. He's already been cast in one of three choruses that rotate performances for Booth Tarkington's "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," Dec. 15-Jan. 7. But closer to home, he's auditoning this month for NEMS Drama Club's "Guys and Dolls Jr.," on stage Nov. 10-12 at Ivy Tech Community College in Noblesville.

-Contact me at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.





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