I met Alaina Kizer when she was in AST’s production of Alice in Wonderland a few years ago. I asked Matt Chiorini (our former artistic director) who that lovely, talented young college intern was who played the Queen of Hearts in the show. I was floored when he told me that Alaina was in high school. Then he told me her story–how Alaina had been auditioning for AST since she was almost thirteen (for The Sound of Music), and though she had not been cast in the early years, she had been volunteering for the festival in every imaginable capacity since that very first year. Alaina certainly paid her dues and has gone on to play major parts in the festival, most notably in last year’s As You Like It (certainly many of you will remember her sweet singing voice). Alaina just graduated from high school this year and will take off on a theatre scholarship to college in the fall. But first she will play prominent roles this season in Big River and The Tempest.
I think a lot about Alaina as an example of what this festival has done and can do for our community. Without a doubt, Alaina has the talent to make it in a big way. She is also kind, considerate, and wise beyond her years. And from the start she has offered her many gifts to AST generously and without a whimper of complaint. I like to think that AST has reciprocated in kind–offering Alaina the stage, both literal and figurative, on which to grow and develop as an actress and member of a special community.