Leilani Carr was an actor even before she could speak.
Carr, a 16-year-old Garner resident who is a junior at the Longleaf School for the Arts, was humming songs even before she said her first words, according to mother, Judy Jacobs-Carr.
Leilani will sing and dance Sunday during the North Carolina Theatre’s Master Summer Theater Arts Schools summer musical “Crazy for You.” The cast is made up of children from 12 to 19.
Carr plays Irene Roth, the fiancée of leading man Bobby Child, and will be performing in her first classical theater show.
But she is no rookie on stage. Far from it. She has been on stage since she was 7 years old when she was in the Towne Players of Garner summer “Godspell Junior” in 2007. She learned from Arlie Honeycutt, who was crowned as Miss North Carolina in 2010.
Carr was bitten by the stage bug then and the fever hasn’t abated.
“For as long as I can remember I have wanted to be on stage,” Carr said.
She has been the title character in the Towne Players’ “Mulan,” the title character in the Raleigh Little Theatre’s “Annie,” and had a part in the Raleigh Little Theatre’s “Hairspray.” She also was in six productions at Fuller Elementary.
She has taken voice lessons from Garner professional actor Rozlyn Sorrell.
Carr currently is an intern for Theatre Raleigh, a professional company run by veteran actor Lauren Kennedy. Carr got on stage for Theatre Raleigh’s production of “Dream Girls”, joining a professional cast of primarily New York actors.
She is slated to be a production assistant for Theatre Raleigh’s upcoming “Carousel.”
Right now she is rehearsing “Crazy for You” from 9 a.m., until 5 p.m. at the conservatory and going to “Carousel” rehearsals from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m.
Her summer schedule is similar to the one she has during the school year. Last year, she had 18 hours a week in conservatory classes.
“It is a lot, but she loves it,” her mother, Jacobs-Carr said. “As long as she keeps her grades up, we’ll let her continue.”
Carr said the way Honeycutt treated her years ago was the spark for what she hopes will be her career.
“Arlie just went out of her way to be nice to me,” Carr said. Carr said she still tries to treat other cast members the way she was treated by Honeycutt years ago.
“With the Towne Players I learned about being a part of a team and working together,” she said.
At the conservatory, she is learning about being a professional and is surrounded by other students who are as driven as she is. One of the actors who is a role model is English Bernhardt, who was Eponine in the N.C. Theatre’s production of “Les Miserables” while she was still in high school. Bernhardt is now a professional actor.
Big things are expected from Carr.
“Leilani Carr is a North Carolina Theatre Conservatory Superstar,” said NCT Conservatory artistic director Ray Walker. “She is active in all facets of the conservatory’s education, outreach and performance programs.
“She is a a true triple threat (as a singer, dancer and actor). Leilani epitomizes the conservatory’s values of hard work, dedication and commitment. She is a wonderful role model for our younger students.”
Carr may need to call upon all of her past theater experiences in “Crazy For You,” a show former The News & Observer theater writer Bill Morrison once called the perfect musical.
The show features Gershwin music, almost continuous dancing, high energy, sophisticated humor, slapstick comedy and unexpected plot twists, including one featuring Roth, Carr’s role.
“I’ve never been in a show like this one,” Carr said. “It is amazing to see people that I have grown up with in these roles.”
The show runs Aug. 14-16 and will be at the A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $25.
“I can’t wait to be on that stage,” she said.
Tim Stevens: firstname.lastname@example.org, @TimDStevens