Stage Life

Written by Lydia Benedict.

Within the first year of living in Virginia, my oldest son started participating in Southern Virginia University’s theater program. First it was Guys and Dolls. Then it was Seussical. And now that he is a theater student at Southern Virginia, Tennyson is involved in most of their productions. From cast and crew to sets and sound, he spends a lot of time around the stage. Just last fall, he was part of the ensemble of the University’s production of Hello, Dolly! and I went to every performance, often taking the rest of my children too. By closing night, my girls were walking around the house singing “Before the Parade Passes By” and “Hello, Dolly.”

Lydia with Tennyson after Hello, Dolly!

Then I learned that there was a new community theater in our town called Camelot. I spoke to the owner/producer and found out that auditions were coming up for their next show The Taming of Katy Lou. To me—a homeschooling mother—community theater is a gem. Excited, I spoke to my children to see if they wanted to try-out. My 8-year-old daughter, Clara Belle, jumped at the chance. It was no surprise when she decided to sing a piece of the song “Hello, Dolly” for her audition.

In the end, it wasn’t just Clara who ended up in the play. I told my daughter that if she tried out, I would too! I was about my daughter’s age when I first saw a play and wondered what it would be like to be up on stage. Thanks to Camelot, I have the opportunity to participate in a play. For the past several weeks, Clara and I have been going to rehearsals three days a week. We have been practicing our lines, singing new songs, and learning to Waltz. We’ve learned that cheating isn’t always a bad thing and that on stage it means to place your body facing the audience while turning your head toward the cast member you’re addressing. We’ve learned terms like blocking and grape-fruiting. And we’ve begun to appreciate just how hard it is to project your voice on stage.

Lydia & Clara Belle in costume

 The Taming of Katy Lou is set in the old west in a small town called New Padua.

Like a lot of small towns in the old west, New Padua has its share of town gossips,

lazy cowboys dreaming of gold nuggets,

and mischievous children.

There are city slickers,

not so law-abiding citizens,

and a rough-and-tumble sheriff named Katy Lou Larue.

As the story goes, the whole town is waiting for a man who dares marry Katy Lou. The well-to-do Mrs. Larue (that’s me) offers a dowry to Katy Lou and the brave man willing to take on her daughter. But unlike her younger sister, Katy Lou has almost no suitors. That is, Katy Lou has no suitors until a certain Pete Johnson comes to town.

A visit to New Padua offers a show-down, a chase, plenty of toe-tapping music, and a double wedding. If you happen to be passing through town, come join the citizens of New Padua for The Taming of Katy Lou on the evenings of February 28 and March 1 at 7:15 p.m. at 2047 Magnolia Avenue in Buena Vista, Virginia. For more info check out Camelot on Facebook or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The cast of The Taming of Katy Lou