A love of theater from the very beginning

Daily News Staff

Feb. 17, 2017

Slingerís Taylor Loomans, right, performs in First Stageís 2017 production of "Robin Hood" in this undated photo. Also pictured is Grace Berendt, left, and James Fletcher.
Submitted photo

Taylor Loomans, a freshman at Slinger High School, will perform in her first play when First Stage in Milwaukee presents Robin Hood.

It opens tonight and runs through March 12.

"I'm very excited," Loomans said. "I have a great cast, a great director; it's really coming together."

This is Loomans' 22nd performance, but her first play. The other 21 were musicals.

"I feel that doing musicals throughout my entire life, I know what I need to do," Loomans said. "Now, I need to learn how to hold my sword, speak with an English accent. It's making it an experience and expanding my acting career."

Of her 22 performances, "Robin Hood" is her third with First Stage.

She also did "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" and "Ella Enchanted."

She's been with First Stage for three years.

In "Robin Hood," she plays Joan, one of the Merry Men-in-training.

It didn't take long for Loomans to be drawn to the theater lights. It took five days after she was born.

Loomans was born in Texas, but was adopted by Mercedes and Larry Loomans.

The week Taylor was born, Larry was in the middle of a production by the Musical Masquers, "1776."

It was what theater business calls "tech week." During the week, the production preparation steps up as the cast and all involved go through mock runs of the show with costumes, lighting, etc., to get ready for the rapidly approaching opening night.

The Loomans got a phone call that a baby girl was born and they were needed in Texas in 24 hours.

"We dropped everything and flew to Texas," Mercedes said.

That call came on a Monday and they were on the plane Tuesday to Texas. On Thursday, Larry had to fly back for the final rehearsal. On Friday, Mercedes and the family's latest addition, Taylor, were on a plane to Wisconsin. Hours upon their arrival, Mercedes and Taylor were in the audience for Larry's opening night performance.

When she was in kindergarten, Mercedes and Larry decided to test Taylor's interest in the theater. They enrolled her in a one-week theater camp at the Schauer Center in Hartford. At the end of the camp, the campers would put on a production.

"The stage bug bit her hard from that moment on," Mercedes said.

"She's had amazing opportunities with talented directors and cast members."

"We say that I was born into acting," Taylor added.

Since then, she's done show after show after show. Her stage debut was at the Schauer Center in "Princess and the Pea."

For "Robin Hood," it's not only her first play, but her most extensive role. She plays Joan as part of the married men group.

"A little bit nervous because it's a lot of acting and we're using English accents," Taylor said. "Our adults in the cast have really helped. I'm ready."

Each year, First Stage holds auditions for its members for productions coming up in the performance schedule. About 700 kids audition for about 100 roles.

She got a callback and it was for "Robin Hood."

"I knew that I was going for a speaking role, but I didn't know which one," Taylor said.

Despite the inexperience in a speaking role, she was surprised, but excited about the opportunity.

"I had really wanted to be in the show," Taylor said. "I put a lot of effort into my auditon."

Because most of the cast is in school, the show is double cast. There are 60 performances, meaning Taylor will be in about 30 of them. She is in the Sherwood cast.

When she was cast for the role, she knew she had a lot of work ahead of her.

"I was walking into something I didn't know too much about," Taylor said. "It was definitely a learning process."

What she learned was knowing and understanding her surroundings, the castmates' roles. And you have to trust them.

Acting is like a sport for Taylor.

"This is my sport," she said. "Some of my friends play basketball. I act. I love to sing and dance. I love meeting new people.

"It's a great way to build self-confidence and share stories with someone else."

She plans to compete in track and field at Slinger in the spring.

While Larry was in acting, Mercedes ... not so much.

"I am a professional audience member," she said with a laugh. "I'm the best one to cheer and cry and laugh."