PEQUOT LAKES -- She's been taking singing lessons since she was 4 and appeared in her first theater production when she was 5.
Now Jessica Kuhne, a Pequot Lakes 10th-grader, has been cast in a leading role in her first Children's Theatre Co. production in Minneapolis. She was one of 400 children of all ages who auditioned this month for 15 children's roles in the upcoming production of "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas."
This was the first time the 15-year-old has auditioned for the Children's Theatre Co. She took acting classes there this summer. She noticed the audition notices for the Dr. Seuss play in a Twin Cities newspaper and decided to try out.
Kuhne was told by Children's Theatre veterans not to get her hopes up, since it usually takes actors five to 10 years of auditioning to get selected for a play. Her hourlong audition Sept. 9 involved performing on-the-spot dance steps in a group of 20 hopefuls, singing a song from the play and acting.
The audition was on a Sunday. By Wednesday, Sept. 12, Kuhne and her parents, Kevin and Jenny Kuhne, received a call saying she was chosen for the play.
She was cast as Annie Who, who is Cindy Lou Who's older sister in the musical production. There are 15 children in the play and 15 adults in the entire cast.
"I was crying," said Jessica. "I think it'll be fun. It'll be a lot of work, but it'll be fun."
The play runs Nov. 14 through Jan. 5 with 80 performances, many of them scheduled for twice a day.
It's expected to be a grueling yet rewarding experience for the Pequot Lakes teen and her parents. Rehearsals start Oct. 2. Until the end of first quarter at Pequot Lakes High School, Jessica plans to commute back and forth each day between her six-day-a-week rehearsals and school in Pequot. Then Jessica and her mom plan to live with Jessica's grandparents in the Twin Cities for the next few months while Jessica has a tutor.
"I felt this was what she wanted to do and this was the next phase," said Jenny. "She wanted to give it a try so we figured we could work it out."
Jessica is no stranger to stages in Pequot Lakes and Brainerd. She has appeared in Pequot Lakes community plays, including "The Secret Garden," and high school productions of "Sorry, Wrong Number," "Fools" and "I Remember Mama." She has appeared in Central Lakes College Theatre productions that include "Annie," "Kids Go To The Movies," "Kids Go Out West" and "Kids Salute The Red, White and Blue." Each summer for the past three years she has attended the Minnesota Institute for Talented Youth at Macalester College in St. Paul and appeared in several plays there.
Kuhne placed ninth in the state speech competition in serious interpretive drama as a ninth-grader last year. Last year she also won two Miss Minnesota Junior titles and placed 10th and 12th in talent and acting competitions at the national pageant held at Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
Tickets for "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" at the Children's Theatre Co. in Minneapolis go on sale Oct. 1. The show runs from Nov. 14 to Jan. 5. To order tickets, call (612) 874-0400.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.