Singing her way to stardom – without even having a single lesson – a West New York sixth grader has been invited to participate in a selective musical theater program in New York City starting next month.
At 11 years old, Emory Kemph has already appeared in 12 theater productions, and her next show, The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley Jr., will be her second at iTheatrics Junior Theater Academy.
Students at the academy get real-world experience putting on a show, while also helping iTheatrics fine-tune the company’s musical theater adaptations for school productions.
“You just learn a lot about different things, vocal technique, new choreography,” said Kemph, “and it really helps you improve.”
Trying out new versions of plays and the like, she said, is also part of the fun.
“Sometimes, we are the first ones to do the production, so we’re kind of like the testers,” she said. “It’s really nice because everyone you work with is very dedicated to acting.”
Before she could be considered for the program, the young actress had to audition by singing one song she had prepared in advance and a new one on the spot. She also read aloud a scene from a play. Already a stage veteran, Kemph said she felt prepared when her name was called.
“I was going in there pretty confidently,” she said, “but I was a little nervous because you do it in front of everyone else who is auditioning. It was a little nerve-racking, but it turned out fine.”
Though she has been previously cast in several musical productions, Kemph said she hasn’t had much voice training.
“I don’t take singing lessons, but I’d really like to, and take dancing and acting lessons,” she said.
To prepare for her next performance, Kemph, alongside 16 fellow aspiring actors and actresses, will rehearse every day for a week for a private showing on Friday, Aug. 7 for families and industry professionals.
For her last iTheatrics show, The Phantom Tollbooth, Kemph said she turned her home into a practice studio.
“We had CDs, and pretty much, I would listen to them and then, act it out in my living room or bedroom, and I would just do the dance steps and stuff like that,” she said.
As much as she enjoyed all the rehearsing, Kemph said putting on the final show was the most exciting part.
“It was just really fun, and it was so nice to finally be able to do what we had practiced through all the rehearsals, and it turned out really well,” she said.
At five years old, Kemph started acting with the Hoboken Children’s Theater, and she has since appeared in two productions at the DeBaun Auditorium as well as venues in New York City.
“When I was little,” she said, “I kind of wanted to be a bunch of things, but ever since I was seven, I wanted to be an actress.”
Her favorite roles so far, she said, was Bet in the British musical Oliver! and the wizard in a production of Broadway’s The Wiz.
When she grows up, said Kemph, she hopes to make it big.
“I would like to be on Broadway, and as a certain part, Elphaba in Wicked, when I get older,” she said. “She gets to sing these really amazing songs and the play was outstanding.”
She added that she hasn’t gone to many auditions, but now, encouraged by her recent success, she plans to do more.
When she is not focused on advancing her acting career, Kemph said she enjoys drawing and playing sports like softball and basketball.
“Really, I like to do a lot of things,” she said. But, she added, she especially enjoys going with her family into the city to see a Broadway show.
Amanda Staab can be reached at email@example.com.