Leader Blues

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

TOP STORY >> The world is a stage for Cabot girl

Mattingly Bartole, 9, (left) and her sister, Montana, 7, are performing in “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” at the Cabot Community Theater.

By JEFFREY SMITH

Leader staff writer

For 9-year-old Mattingly Bartole of Cabot, all the world is a stage.

Mattingly, a fourth-grader at Jacksonville’s Lighthouse Charter School, was recently in the Arkansas Art Center’s Children’s Theater production of “Mr. Popper’s Penguins.” She also appeared in “The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus” and “The Wind in the Willows” at the Children’s Theater.

Now she’s been cast in the Cabot Community Theater’s up-coming production of “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” as Claude Herdman.

Mattingly’s sister, Montana, 7, is also in the play cast as an extra in the angel choir. The play will run Dec. 4, 5, 10, 11 and 12.

This will be Mattingly’s first role portraying a little girl. She has been a fairy, an otter and a penguin in past plays.

Mattingly’s interest in the performing arts began when her parents, Loren and Thomas, started taking her to the theater. She’s participated in the Junior Arts Academy at the Arkansas Arts Center for the past four summers.

The academy is an intensive two-week art and theater day camp. Students study improvisation, movement, voice and diction.

“I always liked watching the shows. It looked like so much fun. Fortunately there were open auditions. I got lucky and got a few parts,” she said.

She has a huge commitment to the theater that she must balance with school. Her parents require her to get good grades to participate in plays.

“I gave up gymnastics, family dinners, sleeping and being with my family,” Mattingly said.

Her mother said there is a lot of driving to and from rehearsals.

Mattingly said, “You are in rehearsal for three weeks from 4 to 9 (p.m.). You have to give up other after-school activities. You miss a few classes in school,” during the performance-run.

She spends weekends catching up on homework.

“During the play’s run, they miss two weeks of actual school to perform for other schools,” her mother Loren added.

The Children’s Theater had three performances on the weekend and two performances a day for schools.

Some of Mattingly’s classmates from Lighthouse Academy took a field trip to the Children’s Theater to watch Mattingly perform in the production of “Mr. Popper’s Penguin.”

“As a parent, I appreciate the support the school gave,” Loren said.

She continued, “I am pleased that Matti found something she’s passionate about and has the opportunity to do it and learn.”

Mattingly said she loved participating in the Children’s Theater. Her favorite part of performing is giving other students a chance to see what goes on in the theater. She wants the students to enjoy it and come back.

Mattingly said that her fellow cast members have become her best friends.

“I look up to the adult actors, because the help me, they believe in me and they are kind. The theatre is my family,” she said.

Loren said there are many opportunities for children to become involved in acting. She mentioned the Children’s Theater, the Arkansas Repertory Theater, the Little Rock Weekend Theater, local playhouses and the community theater in Cabot, which has open auditions if children’s roles are available.

Mattingly’s dream is to graduate from college with good grades. Then she dreams of being an actress on Broadway or having a career with animals, either as a veterinarian or a marine biologist.