talent makes up
Oldham County Day lineup
M to feature dance routines
as part of entertainment
Helen E. McKinney
LA GRANGE, Ky. (July 2006) Since opening her
performance art studio one year ago in Oldham County, Mel Smither cant
think about anything other than giving her heart and soul to the students
she teaches every day.
Studio M is a diverse group of local talent of all ages. Smither has
students ranging from ages 6 to 62. We are a production company
as much as a studio, she said.
Smither not only coaches the students in performance art through song,
speaking and dance, but often teaches them the technological side of
acting. They run their own shows by learning the basics of how to direct
lighting, sound, write programs, and design flyers from their studio
located behind the Mallory Taylor building in La Grange.
Studio M will perform from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on the East Lawn on Oldham
County Day, along with a long program of other entertainment. Their
repertoire will include a variety of selections from a show that will
be presented the following weekend. M Stock, Love Songs to the
World, is a collection of rock, pop and country songs that will
appeal to all ages.
Studio M is made up of about 35 students who are encouraged to do everything
to figure out what they like, said Smither. These drama-driven
performers are encouraged to write their own monologues, songs, and
dramatic pieces. What they say comes from them, said Smither.
For Smither, Studio M is all about communicating feelings and instilling
confidence in children. A lot of studios are into competition.
Its a whole different ballgame, said Smither. But her performances
are not recitals, theyre shows.
Smither, 46, has taught at the Music Theatre of Louisville, Derby Dinner
Playhouse in Clarksville, Ind., and on her own. She is also the former
youth program director at the Little Colonel Playhouse in Pewee Valley.
Students in this later program wrote their own shows and musicals. Through
her work with the Little Colonel Playhouse, she really became familiar
with her students and had a chance to see how incredibly talented they
Studio M will offer dance classes in the fall, which will lead up to
a Disney-themed production. Students will choose either a big opening
number or the grand finale to participate in, and learn all dance steps
and song routine for the number they choose.
Also on the East Lawn from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. will be performer
Joe Vala. Accompanied by acoustic guitar and keyboards, Vala will entertain
crowds with his own version of classic rock and blues music.
by Darrel Taylor
years Oldham County Public Library
parade float featuring a Harry Potter
theme motors down Main Street.
Originally from New Jersey, Vala sang with bands and performed
as a solo artist from 1983 until 1999 after graduating from high school.
He experienced some regional fame on the East Coast.
He was transferred to Kentucky in 1996 because of his job with the United
Parcel Service and often sang in his church, Highview Baptist. Vala
is now ready to get out and play again, he said.
Vala, 41, said he began playing in clubs when he was 15. He writes some
of his own music.
Oldham County Day will be a good test to see if I want to get
back into performing, said Vala. He had taken time off for health
issues but said he misses the fun of performing and prefers smaller
Most entertainers on Oldham County Day are returning acts, such as Living
Statues, various church singing groups, Tae Kwon Do demonstrations,
the Oldham County Community Band, the Oldham County Singers, clogging
groups, with one more new act for this year, Totem Soul.
When it comes to entertainment, were always looking for
new and different things, said Melissa Walton, Project Guild Entertainment
Chairperson for Oldham County Day.
Smither leads a group of dancers
at her Studio M in La Grange. The troupe
will perform at Oldham County Day.
Project Guild, which organizes Oldham County Day, sends
out letters to past performers to solicit entertainment for the day.
This year, the Project Guild has had to re-route its annual Saturday
morning parade because of the rough condition of the railroad tracks
on Main Street, according to the Guilds Lucy Ricketts. Normally,
the route would run east on Jefferson, turn right onto Walnut, then
turn onto Main Street. This year, it will go across Main to Washington
Street (instead of turning and staying on Main), then across Hwy.
53 and right onto Second Street to avoid the tracks.
There will still be booths on Main Street, she added.
For more information on Oldham County Day,
contact Melissa Walton at (502) 222-9514. For information on joining
Studio M, contact Mel Smither at (502) 320-9178.
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