For Pam Wilson, life is a Cinderella story--on and off the stage.
The 15-year-old Orange Glen High School sophomore snared a starring role in the Moonlight Amphitheatre's production of "Cinderella" this summer, meaning she will wear the glass slippers for the storybook role during the show's four-performance run at the outdoor amphitheater in Vista's Brengle Terrace Park.
But her Cinderella story actually began years ago--at the same theater--when 8-year-old Pam was bitten by the show-biz bug during a production of "The Music Man."
"My mom saw the audition notice, and she asked me if I wanted to try out," Pam recalled. "I only had one line, but I loved it."
From then on, Pam made the rounds of auditions, honing her skills in singing, dancing and acting when she wasn't actually using them on stage.
"I began voice lessons when I was 9 years old," she said, "and I study tap, jazz and a little ballet."
Although playing Cinderella is Pam's biggest role to date, it isn't her first crack at the limelight.
"I had a big dancing part in '42nd Street' and I played Dorothy in 'The Wizard of Oz.' But playing the lead in 'Cinderella' is really great, and I'm very excited about it."
Pam was a heavy hoofer in "42nd Street," a tap-happy show based on Gower Champion's challenging choreography; it concluded its run at the Moonlight Amphitheatre on Sunday. For "Cinderella," her dancing will have a very different look.
"It's mostly waltzing and looking glamorous," she said. "But the most difficult part of the show is the singing. I have to sing softly, in a very sweet voice--not my own natural voice--and I have to be meek and timid.
"Cinderella dreams a lot, and in one of my dreams, I dream a whole bunch of things," Pam explained. "There's a big song ('In My Own Little Corner') that I sing alone. That's hard."
Singing is her strong suit, however, and Pam is hoping that her voice will catapult her into the prestigious, New York-based professional school, Juilliard. "I'd like to get into college on my singing," she said. "I'm hoping to get into Juilliard, but I'll start looking into that in my junior year."
Cinderella director Grace Ann Etcheberria-Jacobs said she believes Pam has a good shot at making it professionally. "Pam has a beautiful voice, she's a good dancer, and she's a great actress."
"I think with all kids, they need to continue to focus on their goals. They have to realize you have to study and learn all the time," she said. "But Pam is very good at that. She can go all the way."
Pam is the youngest star in the Moonlight Amphitheatre's Youth Production company. "Most of the (cast) are teen-agers, but the leads are older. The prince (Tim Flannagan) is 18," Pam said.
Is playing the lead intimidating to a girl who just turned 15?
"No, I've been performing since I was 8," she said. "I tried out for Starlight and I was too tall," said Pam, who is 5-foot-7, referring to the Balboa Park-based musical theater troupe. "Now I'm waiting until I can get into the regular chorus, but you have to be 16."
Pam's willowy good looks will show off nicely in her Cinderella role, but her long blond tresses will be transformed when the fairy godmother enters the picture.
"I have naturally curly hair," she said, "but I'll be wearing an elegant fall for the ball, because you need long hair and perfect curls."
This youth-dominated production is meant to appeal to a younger audience than the Broadway musical. "It was first done by grown-ups," Pam said . "We're making it for children, so we're emphasizing the fairy-tale (elements) as much as possible."
But even before the musical moved into its final rehearsals, this Cinderella was casting a spell over young audiences.
Pam made an appearance at the Vista library to read stories to neighborhood children. And about 60 eager members of the small-fry set showed up to hear their favorite fairy-tale character bring the stories to life.
What: Moonlight Amphitheatre Youth Production
Where: Brengle Terrace Park, Vista
When: 8 p.m. today, Friday and Saturday
Cost: Tickets $6 for adults, $4 for students 16 years and younger
Notes: Box office opens at 6 p.m.; gates at 6:30 p.m. Theater-goers are welcome to bring picnic dinners. Box dinners can be reserved by calling 726-2057. Limited stadium seating; folding chairs allowed.