Eight years. Thirty productions. This averages to 3.75 shows each year. Most of these thirty productions, however, were accomplished within the past five years.
This incredibly busy rehearsal and performance schedule has been maintained by Coleman Hemsath, a Butler High School junior who is a familiar face in Vandalia Youth Theatre and Muse Machine productions.
Some children do not listen to their mothers, but it is a good thing Coleman listened to his.
“My mother was looking for something for me to do over the summer in 2001. She found the Vandalia Youth Theatre and enrolled me in it. I think I fell in love after that. It’s something I couldn’t shake off.”
That first year he played the role of Cockroach in the Vandalia Youth Theatre children’s production, Bugz. Not a very auspicious beginning for the young man who would portray Javert in the 2009 Vandalia Youth Theatre production, Les Miserables. Nonetheless, it was Coleman’s start in theatre. The following year, his stage character vastly improved with the role Big Jules in Guys & Dolls.
Most of Coleman’s roles have allowed him to engage his comedic timing; however, this past summer, he was challenged to spread his dramatic wings as Javert in Les Miserables.
“This character had to be real and deep because of the choices and situations he endures leading to a final decision of suicide. My favorite part of the role was actually committing suicide. This was incredibly hard and for the longest time it was lacking emotion. But one day at rehearsal I remember literally breaking down in tears after singing the song leading up to the suicide. Something clicked. It was definitely the most challenging and yet, most gratifying role I’ve played.”
The seventeen year old thespian credits the cast’s dedication as a reason for the show’s success, and succeeding with his initial trepidation tackling his huge, dramatic role.
Thoroughly Modern Millie was Coleman’s first performance with Dayton’s Muse Machine. Like most first time performers with Muse Machine, he was in awe as he walked on to the dazzling Victoria Theater’s stage. Being in a show with tremendously talented teens he had admired in previous years from the other side of the lights was a moment he will always remember.
“Thoroughly Modern Millie just seemed to have a spark to it.”
This coming January, Coleman will once again join his fellow Muse performers on the Victoria stage in Singin’ In The Rain. Coleman will play the tightly-wound Diction Coach, as well as understudy to Don Lockwood, the character popularized in the 1952 movie by Gene Kelly.
Following his 2011 graduation from Vandalia’s Butler High School, Coleman plans on majoring in musical theatre or vocal performance, and one day hopes to play either Max Bialystock or Leo Bloom in The Producers. If performing is not enough for this jovial thespian, he dreams of someday opening his own theatre company.
Keep your eye on the Miami Valley’s own – Coleman Hemsath!