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It’s that time of year for elves to enter popular culture and shopping malls, but for one Hardin County middle-schooler, a particular elf has been her focus for a couple months. And this elf wasn’t one of Santa’s helpers.
Sara Collins, an eighth-grader at Bluegrass Middle School, performed in the Kentucky Opera’s production of “Cinderella.” Collins is the first student from Hardin County to receive a paid role in a production. She plans to donate her pay to Feeding America, Kentucky’s Heartland.
Collins has been involved in the arts her entire life, and she has long loved operas since she saw her first, “Carmen,” at age 3.
“There were always these kids in these operas,” Collins recalls, and she felt it was something she could do.
“That really pushed me,” she said.
When she learned of the role of “Elf” in “Cinderella,” she sent in an application to try to win the part. The elf helps the Fairy Godmother and is considered to be her favorite. Collins said the director instructed her to play the part “a little like Peter Pan, a little mischievous.”
Collins applied for the role in September and learned it was hers in late October.
“I feel like it took forever because I was so nervous,” she said.
The news that the part was hers came in an email.
“I was ecstatic,” she said. “It’s a very cool thing to be involved in, so I was really happy.”
Collins rehearsed mostly on weekends. She was the youngest cast member and enjoyed working with her older counterparts.
“In some parts it was helpful and in some parts it was just really enjoyable just to hear about what they had done with their careers,” she said.
She enjoyed the fact that she had many scenes with the leads. Her most difficult task was catching Cinderella’s dress as it flew onstage on a wire.
“It was actually very stressful,” she said.
Her previous experience on stage helped her feel comfortable when the two shows took place earlier this month.
“It’s really nice knowing all these people came to see you,” she said.
Collins will be taking the $250 she was paid, along with $500 from her savings, to give to the Backpack Program at Feeding America. It’s a program her family has assisted before. They assist with preparing the packages of food to be given to students, and Collins had to miss the volunteer work this year. Collins previously has donated money to the organization.
“I kind of feel like I should contribute a little bit more,” she said.
Collins hopes to continue her work with the opera. She will begin taking voice lessons in December and plans to audition for the Kentucky Opera Chorus.
Kelly Cantrall can be reached at (270) 505-1747 or firstname.lastname@example.org.