Standing beneath the stage lights on a stage, Noah Huseman said he often feels like he's administering group therapy.
Theater, the 11-year-old Signal Mountain actor said, can be emotionally cathartic.
Noah has been exploring acting since he was in kindergarten and took on the role of Jack in a class production of the "Jack and Jill." It was a small part but the experience was thrilling, he said.
Noah began participating in local children's theater performances at age 6 when his family moved to Signal Mountain from Franklin, Tenn.
He has since performed in about a dozen productions at school and the Mountain Arts Community Center, including "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe," "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" and "Beauty and The Beast."
A working mother, Diane Huseman said her involvement in Noah's acting often stops at the curbside when she drops him and his younger brother off for rehearsal. When it comes time for a production's opening night, she said she is just as wowed as the rest of the audience.
"For the most part, it's really their thing," Huseman said. "When I go to opening night, it's like this huge present they've unwrapped for me. That's really cool; I enjoy that."
Most recently, Noah completed a turn as Humpty Dumpty in the MACC production of "Wonderland," a comedic retelling of the Lewis Carroll classic children's novel.
Tired of sitting atop a wall with unfulfilled dreams of success as a country western star, "Wonderland's" Dumpty was a stark departure from the fairy-tale norm. Despite the difficulties of quickly changing in and out of a bulky costume, the role offered opportunities for delivering comedic lines with an exaggerated southern drawl, something Noah said he found rewarding.
"That was a fun role because I got to interact with another character, and I got to be funny, too," he said.
CLAIM TO FAME
In the last five years, Noah Huseman, 11, has been in a dozen dramatic and music theatre productions at the Mountain Arts Community Center. His most recent role was as Humpty Dumpty, a major supporting character in the musical "Wonderland."
School: Fifth-grader at Nolan Elementary School.
Favorite comedian: Nathan Lane.
Favorite director: Mel Brooks.
Favorite pianist: My dad, Michael Huseman (a Grammy Award-winning composer).
Person he'd like to meet: Matthew Broderick.
Dream role: Sheriff's friend in "Blazing Saddles."
Do you know a child age 13 or younger with a precocious talent in academics, athletics or the arts? The Times Free Press is searching for children to feature in "Talent Show," which appears in the Life section on Tuesdays. To nominate a child as a possible subject of a future feature article, e-mail staff writer Casey Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 423-757-6205.
Noah has often participated in musical theater. He said he enjoys those productions because they offer opportunities to combine his love of acting with his love of music, both singing as well as playing instruments.
One of Noah's father's songs, "You Came Into My Life," was included on Jimmy Sturr's 2004 album "Let's Polka 'Round," which won a Grammy Award for Best Polka Album.
Music has always been a part of Noah's life. Earlier this fall, Noah added composition to his skill sheet. A piece he wrote for the piano won first place for musical composition in the local level of the national Parent Teacher Association Reflections arts education program. The song advanced to the countywide level, the results of which will be revealed when school resumes in January.
When he enters sixth grade next year, Noah said he hopes to further his study of musical theater at the Center for Creative Arts.
Colleen Laliberte has been directing Noah in plays at the MACC since 2005, when he performed in the ensemble for an earlier production of "Wonderland."
Laliberte said Noah is a pleasure to work with, not just because of his self-motivation, but because of the lack of trepidation he shows when presented with new roles, something some young actors have trouble with.
"He's always willing to let it all just explode out and try all kinds of different ideas," she said.
"It's not bravado; it's absolute fearlessness on stage. Having that attitude inspires other people to be confident and courageous."
Contact Casey Phillips at email@example.com or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.