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Raleigh Little Theatre helps teen prepare for life on stage

Confidence. Clarity. Character. Maya DeAndrea Hamer, a senior at Enloe High School, gained all of those things through the theater programs at Raleigh Little Theatre. Her mom Michelle Hamer shares more.

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Raleigh Little Theatre will open "Mirandy and Brother Wind" this Friday as part of its youth series, which is designed for kids and their adults.

The musical, based on the popular children's book by Patricia McKissack, is set in South Carolina in 1906 and tells the story of Mirandy, who is determined to catch Brother Wind so he can be her partner in a dance. The show starts Friday and runs on select days through Nov. 16.

In the cast is Maya DeAndrea Hamer, a 17-year-old senior at Enloe High School whose childhood has, in large part, centered around theater, mom Michelle Hamer tells me. (Watch the video to hear more from Maya and see her sing a snippet of a song from the show. She's a remarkable girl!). 

Maya not only is involved in Raleigh Little Theatre productions, classes and camps, she's also currently a member of the Thespian Society, Enloe's drama club, and an improv troupe called the Happy Accidents. She's web designer for the Enloe Drama Department web page. And she participates in the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America Club.

Hamer, her husband of 25 years and Maya live in Cary where Hamer, a Wilson native, is a broker with Keller Williams Realty and owns and manages land development and rental property management companies.

I checked in with Hamer to learn more about how Raleigh Little Theatre has had an impact on Maya's life. The community theater offers a host of programs for preschoolers to adults.

Here's our email chat: 

Go Ask Mom: How did your daughter get involve in Raleigh Little Theatre? Did she have an interest in the stage from a young age?
Michelle Hamer: Maya’s interest in the Raleigh Little Theatre started after seeing a few performances. Her most memorable and perhaps one of her favorite shows as a young child was Cinderella. Her interest progressed through taking classes and participating in summer camps (Teens on Stage) and productions. She is now performing in other shows and working as a teaching assistance at RLT. Also, this year a new group called Kids on the Block was created to promote interest in theatre. Maya is the president of this group and she is excited about their mission to get more young kids involved in theatre.
GAM: What has she been involved in there? 
MH: Through Teens on Stage, Maya has acted in the following three productions: East of the Sun West of the Moon, in the role of the South Wind; Animal Farm, in the role of Napoleon; and Fiddler on the Roof in the role of Yente. She is currently in the play Mirandy and Brother Wind as the character Orlinda.
GAM: What's it like seeing your daughter on stage? Is it nerve-wracking, exciting or both?
MH: I am both excited and a little nervous when I see Maya performing on stage. I think it takes a lot of courage and confidence to perform on stage in front of an audience. There are obvious vulnerabilities with performing for anyone, but I don’t worry too much because Maya loves acting on stage and she has the passion and confidence to do it. I am very proud of her performances, commitment and dedication to the theatre.
GAM: Besides knowledge about performing and theater, what has your daughter gained by being involved with Raleigh Little Theatre? I imagine it's a great confidence builder!
MH: Maya’s confidence, character, and appreciation for the arts has grown tremendously over the past several years. She got challenging opportunities at RLT. Some of them required her to stretch beyond her comfort zone, for example, the role of Napoleon in the play Animal Farm. RLT gave her the support and instruction she needed to succeed in that role. Each time Maya gets an opportunity to do something outside of her comfort zone and she is successful doing it, she gains more confidence.
GAM: Why would you recommend Raleigh Little Theatre to parents looking for activities for their kids? What role has it played in Maya's life?
MH: RLT helped give Maya clarity about what she wants her future to look like. The RLT is where Maya’s passion and excitement for theatre was ignited. Now, she has decided to pursue theatre/acting as a career. She will be attending college in the fall and pursuing a BFA in theatre/acting. While at RLT, Maya was given enough opportunities to explore theatre production and acting that she was able to make an informed choice about whether she wanted a career in theatre or not. Without the experiences at RLT ,I don’t think she would have made that decision with such clarity this early in her life.
RLT gave Maya a lot of fun experiences. She has made a lot of friends and grown very close and fond of the RLT family. To Maya, RLT feels like home, a place where she can be herself.

RLT helped Maya develop her gift for acting. They also helped her develop the character she needs to excel in theatre or any other career. In addition to learning skills and techniques, RLT focuses on team building, collaboration and positive reinforcements to promote a win win for the entire cast and theatre. RLT teaches and encourages many of the basics attributes of successful individuals, i.e. perseverance, integrity, and commitment.

I would recommend Raleigh Little Theatre to any parents looking for activities for their kids because I can see the positive influence it has had on my daughter’s life.

"Mirandy and Brother Wind" opens Friday. Tickets are $14 for adults and $10 for kids 12 and under.
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