Horlick High School senior Taylor Stefanski is living one of her childhood dreams as one of 20 principal players with Kids from Wisconsin.
This is her first year with the group, and performing as one of the core Kids has come of something as a surprise because Stefanski was first admitted to the group as one of eight alternates. An opening among the principals was unexpectedly available and one of the Kids directors called Stefanski to take the spot.
“It was such a surprise,” she said. “Instead of just going to camp for two weeks, now I’m going to tour all over the state for the summer.”
Stefanski first fell in love with the Kids from Wisconsin when she was five and saw the group perform at the State Fair during a visit with her family. Her love of musicals and theater was reinforced at Bull Fine Arts, where she went to elementary school, and by her participation in just about every play and musical at Horlick and during the Racine Unified summer programs as well.
“I’ve just always really been into music, and going to Fine Arts exposed me to a lot more music and theater,” she added. “Going there helped set me in my ways.”
She’s also appeared in several productions with the Racine Theatre Guild and First Stage Children’s Theater in Milwaukee.
Stefanski reported to the 17-day Kids boot camp at the state fairgrounds earlier this month, and she couldn’t be happier.
“It’s so exciting and I’m enjoying every second being with a group who feels like I do and has the same drive I have,” she said.
The boot camp is aptly named, Stefanski’s mom, Lori, said. Rehearsals run eight to 10 hours a day and include singing, dancing, costume fittings, try-outs for solos during songs, breaks for meals and then more of the same.
“It’s very rigorous because it is all day rehearsing as a group and then making sure individual parts are there,” Lori told Racine County Eye. “As a parent, I’ve been very impressed with the Kids organization. They really prepare parents for what our children will be doing, and the level of communication is just great.”
Kids from Wisconsin has their first 2015 performance June 24 at West Allis Central Auditorium, and their tour around the state commences two days later. The program consists primarily of medleys from a variety of music genres. Stefanski said audiences of all ages will have the opportunity to sing along.
“We have a Journey medley, songs from Carole King, a Latin Dance medley and more contemporary songs from Fall Out Boy, Miranda Lambert and Meghan Trainor,” she continued. “I just love all the songs.”
Stefanski was too modest to admit she earned a solo during the Carole King set, but Lori is so proud of her daughter she made sure to mention it.
“I am a very proud mom,” Lori admitted. “Being part of Kids has always been a dream for her, and she just couldn’t wait until she was old enough to audition.”
After the summer tour ends, Kids from Wisconsin may still perform a few dates. Stefanski’s attention will turn toward college applications. She’s looking at a number of options where she can pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, including Columbia College in Chicago and schools in both New York City and Los Angeles.
“I’m looking at schools for both the education and also for opportunities to be on stage doing musicals,” Stefanski confirmed. “This is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”
Tickets for the premiere performance of the 2015 tour of Kids from Wisconsin are still available. Children are $10; adults are $30; and seniors are $15.