Melissa Weiland is a whiz at singing and performing on stage, thinking nothing about putting it all out there in front of an audience.
So it was no surprise that she heeded the call of a friend to audition for the Village Players production of “Bye Bye Birdie.”
“Last night my friend talked me into it,” said Weiland, at the Feb. 16 audition.
Indeed, it didn’t take much to convince Weiland, a homeschooled student from Riverview, to take to the stage for another shot at would be her 12th show in community theater.
“I feel like I can do anything on stage,” she said. “For some people, out on the soccer field is where they belong. I feel like when I’m on the stage, this is where I belong. I feel that’s why God gave me a voice, to use it.”
Weiland is a frequent performer with the Florida Academy of Performing Arts (FAOPA), in residence at in Brandon. She also has performed with other theater troupes, including Riverview Little Theatre and the Village Players.
Her credits include “Songs for a New World,” “Godspell,” “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” “The Pirates of Penzance,” “Gypsy,” “Peter Pan,” “Saving Christmas” and “Hotel Bethlehem.”
Most recently, Weiland said, “I was in the (FAOPA production of) ‘Hairspray,’ I was Little Inez.”
Weiland pursued her interest in the theater after seeing her uncle, Todd Hasty, in the Village Players production of “Syliva.” She was in the fifth grade.
“I always enjoyed singing but I was never in a show before,” Weiland said.
After her first show, she was hooked.
“I like the opportunity to express yourself in any given way, because each character has a different personality to explore,” Weiland said. “Dorothy, in ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’ is different from Inez, in ‘Hairspray.’ Inez is spunky, upbeat and a character from the ‘60’s, and Dorothy is rich, and wants people to see her for who she is and not for what she has, so she disguises herself as a poor person.”
Weiland’s goal is to be on Broadway, and she hasn’t yet bothered with a backup plan, but that’s not because she’s naïve. She knows it will take a lot to realize her dream. As she put it, she’ll get there “with faith, trust and pixied dust.”
“I believe that if God wants me there then God will put me there,” she added.
In the meantime, she’ll take to the stage with the same goal in mind: to give the audience the best performance she can.
“Every performance I’m in I look at it like it could be someone’s first show they’ve seen or it could be their last,” Weiland said, “and I try to make every experience memorable.”