BRUNSWICK — It may be a tiny character, but playing Tiny Tim in the Great Lakes Theater’s production of “A Christmas Carol” is no small role.
For 9-year-old Avery Pyo, it’s the biggest role in her young career.
But the fourth-grader at Towslee Elementary School in Brunswick isn’t nervous.
“I can’t even see anyone in the audience,” she said of performing in Ohio Theatre at Playhouse Square.
Even when she can see the audience, it doesn’t get to her.
“Sometimes I look out, but I try to stay focused on what I’m doing,” she said.
It’s that focus, among other qualities, that caught the attention of Kimberly States, owner of KS Vocal Studio in Medina.
“She had so much enthusiasm, and was such a bright light,” States said of her decision in taking Avery on as a vocal student. “She is effervescent on stage and has quite the voice and personality to go along with it.”
States privately teaches students ages 8 to 82. Avery was 7 when they first met.
“I choose who I work with extremely carefully,” States said. “First, I have to know I can help them. Second, I have to really see something in them that I can nurture. Avery had both. I saw that spark.”
Avery’s parents, Sung and Karisa Pyo, have seen it too.
“Plays, we kind of fell in to,” Sung Pyo said. “We were looking for something for her to do, and one of our friends was working on a play and thought Avery would be good at it.”
She was, and she quickly asked to do another.
So far, she has performed in 12 plays, including “A Christmas Carol.”
“She has given up a lot of things she would normally do so that she could go to rehearsal, tech week and performances,” Sung Pyo said. “She just loves it.”
A large portion of the plays available for her age group happen to be musicals, which required her to know how to sing, read music and control her voice.
Singing “Just Can’t Get Enough” by the Black Eyed Peas, which is something she does at home, is different from performing “Ding! Dong! Merrily on High” on stage at the Ohio Theatre.
That’s where States came in.
In addition to giving Avery lessons for more than a year and a half, she helped Avery prepare for her audition for “A Christmas Carol.”
“I chose ‘I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” for her to sing,” States said. “I’m not surprised at all she landed it. It was the perfect song for her. She totally nailed it.”
Avery practices with States once a week for a half-hour, which is a lot for someone her age, States said.
She also takes ballet and jazz funk classes at an area dance studio.
“I liked being on stage,” Avery said of performing for the first time. “I just wanted to try it and I just liked it. I like being the center of attention.”
And she doesn’t get that from her parents.
“My wife and I are not like that — at all,” Sung Pyo said. “But Avery wants to be at the front of the stage. The larger the crowd the better for her. She just loves it.”
Who knows? This month the Ohio Theatre. Pretty soon … Broadway.
Maybe one day.
Avery knows she wants to be an actor, on Broadway, in the movies, or both.
For now, she’s is focused on the task at hand. Not only does she play Tiny Tim, splitting the role with another actor, but she also plays the role of Master William in the production.
“Opening night is always the hardest for me,” Sung Pyo said of watching his daughter perform. “I’ve asked Avery if she ever gets nervous before the first show. She just says no.”
In fact, Avery is excited to be performing on such a big stage.
“It took a lot of hard work,” she said. “But I like it.”