Show gives kids confidence |

Show gives kids confidence

Watching a teenager break down in tears because of stage fright can have a profound effect on audience members. At least it did for Nancie Read.

About 20 years ago, Read’s daughter had finally talked her mom into letting her enter a teen pageant. As Read explains it, “My daughter was singing, I think, in the womb, and she came out a precocious singer.” In fact, she had been on stage singing since she was 2 years old. So when it was time to take the stage for the talent portion of the pageant, it was smooth sailing.

But not so for another competitor. Read watched in horror and pain as a girl walked on stage, froze, and ran off, only to repeat the process a second time. She never showed her talent.

That night, Read dreamed of kids in a green field, singing and standing around a blooming tree. Then the scene changed. The tree died, and only one child remained. She awoke, thinking, “If only that girl’s parents, or somebody, had given her an opportunity to be comfortable on stage, she wouldn’t have froze like that.”

So Read decided to be that “somebody” who would help kids gain confidence on stage: She started the Dream Machine in Loveland about 20 years ago.

Though she says she doesn’t have any talent, she has worked with more than 500 kids throughout the years, teaching them to perform in veterans’ hospitals, nursing homes, churches – even at the base of Mount Rushmore, where she traveled with 70 kids to present a patriotic concert.

“My only thing I come to the table with is enthusiasm and encouragement, and that’s where it all comes from,” Read said.

She teaches them sign language, saying “when you learn to sign songs, you almost can’t help but to sing while signing.” She aims to give every child a solo spotlight, so if they can’t sing, they can at least sign. From there, it’s a small leap to helping them feel confident enough to accept a speaking role in the next show.

“(The kids) go from their hands in their pockets – they won’t even look up – to loving being on stage in three months’ time,” she said.

Nine-year-old Sally Cross said Read helped her get over her stage fright, and as a result, this weekend, she’ll sing a song called “Multiply” and sign “Love Is.”

“I really like that we’re all getting together, having fun,” Cross said.

Other kids, like 5-year-old Kate Giles, love being on stage. And for Jeannie Ahn’s 5-year-old son, learning to memorize songs has been educational religiously. Read’s programs are Christian based, so kids learn Bible details, such as who was in the belly of the whale. They also sing about love and patience.

Dottie Rambo, a Christian kids’ songwriter and Southern gospel legend who wrote hundreds of songs in the 1960s and ’70s, composed the tunes in this weekend’s show, and Read filled in dialogue, based on the ages of the 35 or so kids she’s working with.

“I think audiences will enjoy seeing the children – just seeing them work together – and they’ll appreciate that they’ve memorized these songs,” said Carla Giles, Kate’s mom.

And, they’ll also be glad to know that some of these kids started by crying and running off stage, Read said, “and now they can’t wait to get that mic in front of them.”

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