Sutton Hamm loves Broadway. She sings and dances like other little girls, but also has a wider repertoire than most 5-year-olds.
“Her songs and dances generally include Broadway tunes,” Sutton’s dad, Robert Hamm, said.
Just down the street, a fellow Olathe native, 4-year-old Tenley Thompson, also loves music.
As a baby, she used to have a problem falling asleep at daycare nap time, because they always played a CD.
“She was always falling asleep 45 minutes after everyone else, because she didn’t want to miss the music,” Tenley’s mom, Celia Thompson, said.
Both girls are getting the chance to nurture their natural interests and be a part of a big show as cast members in the Tony Award-nominated musical “Waitress,” which makes its Kansas City debut Nov. 14-19 at the Music Hall in downtown.
Robert says Sutton’s love of Broadway was kindled last summer with a trip to New York, where she attended the musical “Cats” with her mother.
“She and a couple of other girls were there waiting patiently for autographs, when a cast member invited them in,” Robert said. “They were very excited. It was something very memorable for her.”
Sutton got to see the costumes, meet the cast, and walk out on the stage of the theater. She was hooked.
It’s not uncommon for Sutton, who also loves arts and crafts, to have song and dance parties around the house. She also takes dance and theater classes.
When friends told the Hamms about the upcoming audition, they discussed it and asked her if she wanted to try it. She said yes.
The Music Hall is a big stage, but they think having been on the “Cats” stage will help.
“I think as parents we’re both a little nervous for her, but we just want her to have fun and be in the moment and not put too much pressure on her,” Robert said. “We’re just going with a laid-back approach and I think she’s going to do great.”
Tenley also has a love of stage productions, kindled by watching both of her parents perform in community theater around Kansas City.
Celia, who was once was a full-time actress in New York City, said they have taken Tenley to see shows since she was a baby.
Now, Tenley has the chance to do something at age 4 that it took mom years to earn — be a part of a union show.
“I don’t think she really understands how big of a deal it is, but she’s excited to do a show,” Celia said. “She loves being on stage and she’s seen mom and dad do it so much, it doesn’t seem weird to her.”
Friends also told the Thompsons about the auditions.
Most of them know about Tenley’s love of performing because of Dad’s tendency to share a lot of videos on Facebook.
“She just loves to get up in front of people,” Celia said. “She memorizes really easily. You can tell her something and she can recite it back.”
Tenley enrolled in theater camp during the summer. Hoping to make sure Tenley doesn’t get nervous, Celia told her they were just going to do some more camp for the audition.
“She went in there and thought she was playing a game and came out wanting her granola bar,” Celia said.
The Music Hall is a familiar stage already for Tenley. It’s the theater where her dance school, Miller Marley School of Dance & Voice, has its annual recitals.
“She’s been on that stage,” Celia said. “She’s comfortable with that stage. That’s a place that’s familiar to her, which was exciting to her, because I knew she would feel comfortable.”
The two girls will split the eight-show run. Each will play the part of “Lulu,” the daughter of the main character in the show, who shows up for about five minutes on stage at the end of the musical.
The Broadway Across America show casts local girls for the “Lulu” part in each city it stops for the tour. In Kansas City, approximately 40 girls auditioned for the role.