Dutton embraces the theater community


Junior Thea Dutton (right) was cast as Ariel in PA’s production of “The Little Mermaid.”

Rachel Phinney, Staff

Junior Thea Dutton has enjoyed being on stage since she was 8 years old. “I’ve always loved  the theater community, and they have always made me feel welcome,“ she said. 

Dutton is currently cast  in the role of Ariel in PA’s spring production  of “The Little Mermaid.” She is proud to play the lead role, seeing theater hasn’t always been easy for her. While she has made many friends in the community, it was particularly difficult for her to remain involved during the pandemic. 

“With the Covid-19 pandemic, I used to go to the Palace Theatre [in Manchester] but it was just too much with driving there and back,” she said. “My friends made me stay.” 

And if it weren’t for her friends in the Drama Club, she might have not auditioned, she said. 

Dutton said she sees theatre more as a hobby than a career path, however. She wants to either pursue history or anthropology in the future.  

Dutton has been cast in roles in plays both school-sanctioned and community-supported. In her first role, she played in the fish ensemble of “The Little Mermaid” at the Palace Theatre in Manchester. Dutton said her favorite role, however, was Ti Moune in “Once on This Island Jr.” during her eighth grade year. 

“It was my first main role, and it was a great experience,” she said. “I’m so thankful I got to do that in my last year of middle school.”

While Dutton admits to succumbing to shyness at times, she said that she enjoys acting as “a different person.” 

Dutton also encourages people who have an interest in theater but have not participated to  try it. “You never know until you try it, and it’s a great way to make friends,” she said. “You have nothing to be afraid of. Everyone in the community is extremely supportive and kind.“

Even with her past experiences on the stage, and the lead role in the spring play, Dutton said she still experiences a touch of stage fright before performances.

“I have anxiety about getting onstage, but it’s lessened,” she said. “It’s daunting knowing you could be the only one on stage and everyone is watching you. But when the lights shine on you, you can’t even see them.”