La Jollan adds role in 'White Christmas' to her list of performances

Claire Scheper said she began taking voice lessons about five years ago because she loved to sing, but never dreamed that would lead to performing on stage. “I never expected to be in musical theater,” she said. “As soon as my voice teacher, Karyn Overstreet, sent me to my first audition, I fell in love with musical theater.”

Now a seventh-grader at the School of the Madeleine in San Diego, Scheper, the daughter of J. Scott and Susan Scheper, is building quite a resume with her roles. She appeared as Baby Louise in Cygnet’s “Gypsy,” Nellie in “Annie Get Your Gun” at San Diego Musical Theatre (SDMT), Dorothy in “Wizard of Oz” at Christian Youth Theatre (CYT), “Annie” at California Youth Conservatory (CYC), and Young Cosette in “Les Miserables” at Christian Community Theatre, (CCT). Currently Scheper is appearing in SDMT’s “White Christmas.”

“I wanted to be in ‘White Christmas’ because the music is incredible and the role of Susan Waverly reminded me of myself,” she said. “Susan falls in love with theater just like I did in real life. The most important thing to remember about this story is the message to count your blessings. There will always be things you wish you had, but you have to be thankful for what you have and not take your family and friends for granted.”

Based on the beloved, timeless film, the plot tells the story of WW II veterans Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, who have a successful song-and-dance act. With romance in mind, the pair follow a duo of beautiful singing sisters en route to their Christmas show at a Vermont lodge, which just happens to be owned by Bob and Phil’s former army commander. The dazzling score features 17 songs by Irving Berlin, including “Blue Skies,” “How Deep Is the Ocean” and “White Christmas.”

To maintain her musical stage skills, Scheper said she takes weekly voice lessons and dance classes, and has attended workshops and camps that focus on singing, acting and dancing. Success can meet a lot of sacrifices, and Scheper has been down those roads. “There are times when I cannot go to birthday parties or other fun events because I have to go to rehearsals or the shows,” she said. “But I would not trade those times for performing. My family is so supportive of me doing musical theater — even my brother, Luke. Regardless of his disinterest in musical theater, he comes to every single one of my shows to support me.”

One of Scheper’s pleasures is living in La Jolla. “La Jolla has the most beautiful beaches in all of San Diego,” she said. “It’s the first place we take family and friends from out of town to visit. Meanwhile, it’s my dream to go to Broadway and make performing my main career.”

Scheper said she has two favorite scenes in “White Christmas” and hopes families come to see the show. “One is at the beginning of Act 2 when Susan — who is usually very studious — is bitten by the theater bug and comes out in a pink boa, pearls and a crown. She begs to be in the show. My other favorite is my song-and-dance number. It is an amazing experience to sing with a 22-piece orchestra!”

IF YOU GO: San Diego Musical Theatre’s “White Christmas,” plays through Dec. 4 at Spreckels Theatre, 121 Broadway, downtown. Tickets from $21. (858) 560-5740.

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