[By Phyllis Shaikun]
Chances are if you have attended a production at the Jewish Community Center’s CenterStage Theater, Derby Dinner Playhouse or Music Theatre Louisville or caught the national touring company production of Oz, the Musical or Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, you have seen nine-year-old Samantha Cutler doing her thing on stage. A dancer since the age of three, Cutler has now hit the “big time” as a member of the touring company of Billy Elliot The Musical, now in production in Durham North Carolina.
“Samantha has always wanted to be an entertainer,” recalls her mother, Kim Goldman. She began taking dance lessons at Dancensation at age three and studied with King Voice Studio. Goldman has also taken part in CenterStage shows. They might well be following in footsteps of their mother/grandmother, Toni Goldman, who appeared in a number of Heritage Theater shows at the Jewish Community Center.
Cutler’s first venture outside of Louisville came about last winter when she and her mother flew to New York for an “open casting call” for a part in one of the touring company productions of the musical Billy Elliott. She kept getting called back, and they returned for more try-outs every two or three weeks until the magic call came that she was offered a six-month renewable contract to be in the show!
Rehearsals began August 23, and Cutler moved to New York to live out her dream. She and Goldman shared an apartment with the family of another actor in the group. Goldman, a local oral surgeon, has been alternating between spending a week in Louisville and the next 10 days with her daughter and will continue with that schedule for the foreseeable future. She plays down any heroics and just says she is thrilled she can play a part in her daughter’s success.
“They worked really hard in New York,” said Goldman, where the cast rehearsed until late September when they moved to Durham to begin the play’s initial run. Schooling continues with the touring company providing tutors and assignments from the home school (Kentucky Country Day in Cutler’s case) implemented in a one-room schoolhouse that accommodates students of various ages. It is hard work since studies are tempered by the students’ need to perform in eight shows during the week and on weekends.
The show’s creative team has asked Cutler to serve as an understudy to a young actress in a principal role. In addition to gaining valuable theater experience, Goldman says her daughter and the other children have the opportunity to learn about the different cities they will be visiting during the play’s run. They also gain great independence and understand the need for flexibility and organization. With 15 shows under her belt already, Cutler has obviously learned her lessons well.
One day you just might see Samantha Cutler’s name in lights, and then you can say you read about her in Louisville “way back when.”