Student excels on CLO stage, in St. Louise classroom
Even though Lucia Williams may look young for her age, she far from acts like it.
While some of her achievements may be in the spotlight – performing on stage at the Benedum Center and Byham Theater – and others unannounced to the public – earning straight A’s in her final year of St. Louise De Marillac Catholic School in Upper St. Clair – the balancing act of doing both for the 14-year-old might be the most impressive part.
A full day of class followed by a trip to the Pittsburgh CLO Academy for four to five hours of practice provides a hectic schedule for both Williams and her mother, Nikki Williams, who finally arrive back at their Presto home around 9 p.m.
Six years ago, that wasn’t part of the plan.
“In the summer, I like them to pick something they normally don’t do just to give them a taste of something new,” said Nikki, who not only is balancing Lucia’s schedule but those of her five other children.
“I give them all brochures I pick up at various places, and she picked the camp at CLO,” she said about Lucia. “I didn’t think it was going to turn into this.”
A fun summer activity before she entered third grade has progressed to Lucia’s eighth performance for Pittsburgh CLO, as Teen Fiona in “Shrek the Musical,” scheduled for July 15-24 at the Benedum.
A stage that may have once rattled the petite performer is now an area that embraces her.
“Getting over the nerves before you go out is probably the most difficult part,” said Lucia Williams, who readily admitted her first performance in 2012 was nerve-racking. “When you step on the stage, even when you might be a little bit nervous, it goes away and you get comfortable. The energy and vibe you get off of people really feeds into your performance.”
Whether there are no eyes on her or 2,800 pairs in a packed theater, her comfort remains and confidence protrudes through a demanding schedule, in the classroom or at crowded auditions.
“I have learned to balance school and CLO throughout the years,” said Lucia, who has performed in “Annie,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “A Musical Christmas Carol” and “Gypsy.”
“I’m not very competitive,” she said. “I just go into auditions not worried about anyone else except me and what I can do. I show them that and just lay it all out there.”
Shortly after her summer starts, she will begin 10-hour rehearsals for “Shrek the Musical,” along with practicing on her own time for what she needs to memorize for the following day.
“You get tired,” she said. “But you become family like that. Just the energy in the room with the jokes and humor keep everybody going, even if you are tired.”
Even though school always comes first for Lucia, theater is a close second. It will also be much easier with a 10-minute commute from Oakland Catholic High School, where she will be attending school next year, to the CLO Academy.
But Williams’ career path is as clear as it could be for a 14-year-old being asked if she wanted to turn her love for theater into a career. It didn’t take long for her give a commanding yes.