The Full Circle Experience At The Soo Theatre Project

Lizabeth Jenkins-Dale  July, 13 2017

As a parent of a young adult, it is often I catch myself reviewing the years of raising my daughter. With much gratitude, I remember all those who were kind and generous and compassionately aided my child during her formative years. I remember not only those people who were benevolent toward her, but also the organizations that promoted her well being and talents.

I know I am not alone. There are many parents who do the same reviewing and feel much gratitude for the people and organizations who have benefitted their children. Two such families are Mark and Sharon San Angelo and Duke and Katie Pepin for their two daughters, Holly and Gabbie, “grew up” in The Soo Theatre Project. No doubt about it, STP was a second home.

Hollyann Beck and Gabbie Pepin met at an audition for the first ever Soo Theatre Project musical, Annie, in 2007. They were nine years old. Since then, they have been in nearly every musical performance together at The Soo Theatre Project.

Katie Pepin remembers it well: “From the moment Gabbie was cast as Molly for the Sault Theatre’s presentation of Annie, she was hooked. It truly became a second home where a shy little girl met friends and mentors who made her feel safe and welcome. It became a second family.”

Fast forward ten years, Holly and Gabbie are now entering their sophomore years at Butler University in Indiana as roommates for the second year in a row. Now, that’s the magic of The Soo Theatre Project! Friendships that stick and create bonds that last for years.

Sharon SanAngelo puts it this way, “That place [The Soo Theatre Project] has magic in it. It will prove to be magical for other families, too.”

Sharon continues, “Tonight after the show, Mark and I went to DQ [Dairy Queen], and a little girl was in line in front of us. She kept telling us how much she loved being in these shows and how much she loves the older girls. I remember Holly being exactly the same way with Lola Kennedy and Melanie Case. Its very sweet. The whole full circle.”

By the “whole full circle,” Sharon is referencing these two young girls just beginning thespian lives and watching, learning from, and admiring the older actors and actresses such as Lola Kennedy, who still regularly performs on the theatre stage, and Melanie Case, whose mother, Dottie Case, teaches at The Soo Theatre Project. Then, after several years, Gabbie and Holly were the older ones who were the role models for the younger ones. It is the magical Soo Theatre Project circle indeed.

Sharon explains it further, “I just thought about how the Stratton girls [Rob and Ginger Stratton’s daughters] were so little when they started and now there are other littler ones. I guess from a parent’s perspective and how much history and personal history and memories…ah I could go on forever. But I reminded Holly and Gabbie that Lola, Liz Jacobus, Melanie Case and many others were the same age as these girls are now.”

Holly’s mother’s love for STP overflows, “I told some of the other parents that their kids will grow up there, too. And, it will again be full circle. What a great place the Soo Theatre really is!”

Katie offers her perspective on the whole full circle: “Spending so many years at the theatre has shown Gabbie how things come full circle.  Melanie, Lola, and Liz were always sweet and kind role models to Gabbie and Holly. They worked with each other under the watchful eye of such an amazing group of teachers.” 

Those of us who have put our hearts and souls into our children’s upbringings understand how it does take a village to raise a child…or children. The Soo Theatre Project is a classic example of this happening right here in our town. The Soo Theatre Project is a second home for many children.

FinaleJust ask any of the 75 children who participated in The Little Mermaid, Jr. this past April. Just ask any of the 49 children who performed The Rockin Tale of Snow White this past June as part of the high school, middle school, elementary combo Musical Theatre Camp this summer. Just ask any of the kids who are part of the 88-member cast for this July’s musical The Wizard of Oz.

Wizard of Oz’s Director, Karen Hughes Beacom, shares this information: “44 munchkins [beginning thespians like Gabbie and Holly were!] will grace the Soo Theatre Project stage in The Wizard of Oz alongside the principal artists such as Gabbie Pepin in the leading role of Dorothy and Lola Kennedy in the role of Glinda.”

It’s the full circle again!

Katie explains what is learned at The Soo Theatre Project goes beyond the stage, “There is so much that a child can learn when they have such an amazing place in the community.  The theatre has done amazing teaching Gabbie skills in Musical Theatre, Vocal Performance and Dance, but there are so many other things that have come from her experiences.  She has learned how to work with directors, stage managers, and cast members as she learned the workings of theatre production both on the stage and behind the scenes. 

“In addition, she has learned the benefits of hard work and the necessity to take constructive criticism for the improvement of a show or to continue to grow with her own skills.  During performances, she learned how to adapt and improvise and continue when things don’t go according to script because “the show must go on.” Gabbie will treasure these lessons and utilize them in all aspects of life in her future.”

What will you want your children to learn from their extracurricular activities? Where will you want your children to spend their time in their formative years? Consider The Soo Theatre Project. Read the STP teacher biographies at They are quite impressive.

One such teacher at STP is Karen Hughes Beacom. Katie Pepin writes, “We can’t even begin to explain what an impact Karen Beacom Hughes has had in Gabbie’s life. What an honor it has been for Gabbie to have the opportunity to work with such a talented, humble, and kind person who has been a teacher, mentor, and friend. Gabbie now has the opportunity to strive to be as good as all of these role models as she works with the children at the summer camps.  She finds great joy in watching them have the opportunity to experience the work, growth, and excitement that she does at this special place. We are so fortunate to have a place like the Soo Theatre available to us here.”

Consider the whole full circle effect at The Soo Theatre Project. It has happened to the San Angelo and the Pepin families. It continues to happen today. Will it happen for your family?

At the Soo Theatre Project, there is always something for everyone all year long. Call at 906-632-1930. Or, visit at 534 Ashmun Street downtown Sault Sainte Marie, MI. Or, like us on Facebook at Soo Theatre Project, Inc.