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Volume 24, Number 10 — November 2017

Arts for Youth Spotlight — Olivia Stevens

Barrett Guyton, Olivia Stevens and Joseph Matthew Veale in a scene from
Barrett Guyton, Olivia Stevens and Joseph Matthew Veale in a scene from "Something Wicked This Way Comes" at Barter Theatre, Abingdon, Va. (photo by Billie Wheeler)

By Leslie Grace | A! Magazine for the Arts | October 26, 2016

Olivia Stevens is 10 years old and has been on the stage for two years. Her first role was a part in a church play.

That first role sparked a love of acting and the theater.

"I realized just how muchI enjoyed being on stage, so my parents enrolled me into Barter Youth Academy.After one semester they held open auditions for "The Wizard of Oz.' I auditioned andI have been performing ever since.

"I have been acting at Barter now for three shows and will take the stage again for their Christmas production.I have also performed in three productions with Theatre Bristol," Olivia says.

Barter Theatre is more than a place where Olivia performs; it's also where she met Kristy Bissell, her vocal coach, piano teacher and one of her influences. Her parents are her biggest influences, she says.

"They have been so supportive of my dreams, and they encourage me to continue working hard and never give up.Another big influence for me has been Kristy Bissell.I met Kristy during the production of "The Wizard of Oz.' She is so talented and sweet and can sing so amazing.After "Oz,' Kristy took me on as her student. She became my vocal coach and piano teacher and helped me become confident and prepared for future auditions."

"The Wizard of Oz" is one of her favorite plays. "The costumes were so fun, and the set was just so awesome. The whole production was just full of energy, and it's one of my all time favorite stories and movies, so just being a part of the show was really great," Olivia says.

Tiny Tim was one of her favorite roles. "It was my first big role, and my first time singing a solo on stage," she says.

She is currently in Barter Theatre's "Something Wicked This Way Comes." She has three roles: Girl, World's Tiniest Woman and a member of the Townsfolk.

She says the part she enjoys the most about "Something Wicked" is "the creepy costume. I have never been a part of a production that was such a dark story or scary setting. It has been lots of fun being able to create a character to fit the costumes and story line. Plus all the special effects are just crazy."

Olivia thinks of the stage as magical.

"I have always loved to sing and act since I have been old enough to talk. Once I started acting in the choir and drama at church,I realized just how much I loved being on stage and acting.

"I just enjoy being able to take the form of different characters and seeing people laugh/enjoy the performance. There is just something magical about being on stage with all the lights and hearing the audience applauding for your work. Gosh, it's hard to even put into words what it means to me to be able to be on stage and do whatI love. Being able to stand in the spotlight and sing or bring a character to life for an audience is a feeling you can't even explain.

"I love all types of theater.But I really enjoy musicals. I love music and love to sing so being able to put all of it together on stage is lots of fun," she says.

She plans to continue acting and singing and hopes to stay a part of the Barter family.

"Acting and singing have just become a part of me. I would love to do some more commercials, maybe some TV or movie rolesor maybe record some music," Olivia says.

Olivia is a fifth grader at Valley Institute Elementary School in Bristol Virginia.She lives in Bristol, Virginia, with her parents Brock and Amber Stevens and younger brother Cooper.