FAIRFIELD — Kyndall Sillanpaa will sing “Edge of Seventeen” on Friday night at the Oakland School for the Arts spring showcase.
Sillanpaa, 15, who lives in Fairfield, isn’t old enough to drive but has her life planned out beyond the edge of 17. It involves Broadway. She did her first show with Missouri Street Theatre when she was 5 or 6.
“I was a fairly introverted kid,” she said.
There was magic in theater. She grew more comfortable singing on stage, made new friends and loved the audience’s approval.
What started out as something to do over summer break turned into a passion, then a career choice. That path was solidified when she auditioned for the Oakland School of the Arts, which opened its doors in 2002. It’s housed in the Fox Theatre and offers an intensive arts program with a comprehensive academic curriculum.
A veteran of about a dozen local theater productions, mainly musicals, Sillanpaa faced a tough choice on whether to focus on singing or acting at the arts school.
“My voice is my strong suit,” she said. “That’s what I felt I was best at.”
Her school day begins at 8:10 a.m. She leaves Fairfield at 6:30 a.m.
The morning is spent with core subjects such as math and English. The afternoon centers on her studies in the school of vocal music, where she is also a member of the school’s Vocal Rush, an a cappella group that was featured on TV’s “Sing-off.”
Sillanpaa joined Vocal Rush after they appeared on TV. She is the youngest member of the group, which spent its spring break on tour in Puerto Rico. Vocal Rush has also sung at gatherings for employees of Yahoo and Oracle.
“We’ve done some amazing different things,” Sillanpaa said. “We’ve even done home parties.”
With the spring showcase on the horizon, Sillanpaa’s school days have been longer with extra rehearsals. When she gets home, it’s time to do academic work. Her hard work is paying off with a 4.0 GPA.
Sillanpaa plans to attend college after graduation. Then, it’s off to the Big Apple and stage work. It doesn’t have to involve starring roles, just a steady, well-paying job on Broadway, one that will pay the bills, she said.
“I just love Kyndall,” said Cava Menzies, vocal program director at the Oakland School for the Arts, in a press release. “She’s the ideal student. She comes to class or rehearsal always focused on point.
“Even with older students, we’ll start and I see them taking out their cellphones. But not Kyndall, she’s always there and ready to work.”
Dae Spering, artistic director at Missouri Street Theatre, used to call Sillanpaa “mini me,” as both got involved with theater young and stayed with it.
“I saw this incredible talent,” Spering said of her first interaction with Sillanpaa. “It’s nice to see it cultivated.”
Sillanpaa already has everything it takes to be a theater professional, Spering said.
“Missouri Street Theatre nurtured me into the performer I am now,” Sillanpaa said.
Spering and Kat McFadden taught her the skills she uses today, she said.
Friday’s show will mark Sillanpaa’s second consecutive year as a featured soloist in the spring show. This year’s is titled “Soundtrack” and will feature tunes from Hollywood movies.
The show is at the Fox Theatre, 1807 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. It starts at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at www.ticketmaster.com.
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.