Ask Samantha “Sammy” Aubin, 11, what she wants to be when she grows up, and she’ll tell you a marine biologist.
The Terrace Community Middle School sixth-grader and New Tampa resident said she loves animals and wants her job to reflect her passion.
So, you likely wouldn’t imagine that Sammy—a regular kid who also likes to read and hang out with friends—is rehearsing for the lead role in “Holiday Inc.,” an upcoming show at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. Especially when you consider that Sammy has never memorized lines before.
“I think the cool part about it is that she has no acting experience whatsoever,” said her mom, Michele Matrumalo.
Let Patch save you time. Get great local stories like this delivered right to your inbox or smartphone everyday with our free newsletter. Simple, fast, sign-up here.
Sammy has been singing and dancing for the last four years with South Tampa ensemble Entertainment Revue. She even sang “The Star Spangled Banner” at this year’s Temple Terrace Relay for Life.
But acting was something she had never tried before.
So, she and her mom were unsure when Entertainment Revue Director Cynthia Gries encouraged Sammy to try out for the lead part in “Holiday Inc.”
The producers were looking for a strong, young actress who could sing well and appeared to be between the ages of 8 and 12. Dancing ability was a plus.
“Ivy is precocious, curious, a bit sarcastic, yet endearing,” the description of the role read. “Should have ‘regular kid’ qualities with solid performance skills.”
After her first audition in October, Sammy said she doubted she had won the part. She said she thought the producers didn’t like her glasses and questioned her audition song choice: Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.”
“I just thought they didn’t like me,” she said. “I didn’t know why.”
Sammy said she was excited when she got called back for a second audition.
Yet she didn’t seem to care that the other girls surrounding her in a room at ESP Theatricals in Ybor City were auditioning for the same role.
While she waited for her turn to audition, Sammy helped her more-experienced peers rehearse their monologues and songs. One girl was still having trouble with her lines.
“I gave her my sheet of paper with the lines on it, and I helped everyone practice the song,” she said.
In the end, Sammy’s cooperative, regular kid attitude likely helped her land her debut role as Ivy in “Holiday Inc.,” which runs Dec. 13-22.
She was in her room doing her homework the night of the second audition when she got the most exciting phone call of her life.
Jonathan Van Dyke, the show’s writer and director was on the line to offer Sammy the role of Ivy.
“I was like ‘Really?’” Sammy said. “And I was so excited. I thought they wouldn’t like me at all, but they ended up giving me the part.”
Then, Sammy’s mom, Michele Matrumalo, got on the phone, and said Van Dyke gave Sammy one of the greatest compliments she’s ever received.
“He said: ‘I just want to let you know that your daughter is so special,’” Matrumalo said. “‘Most girls have an ego confidence, but Samantha has a beautiful confidence.’”
“Holiday Inc.” tells the story of Ivy, a young elf who thinks people focus too much on getting gifts during the holidays, Sammy explained. With help from the Holiday Inc. Board of Directors, Ivy rediscovers the spirit of the season.
According to producers, the show is filled with high-energy musical numbers, which encompass Broadway, disco, swing, R&B and pop.
“It’s a really fun and entertaining show, and it’ll put you in the Christmas spirit,” Sammy said. “The actors are really good—it’s just really fun.”
The show schedule is:
- Dec. 13, 7:30 p.m.
- Dec. 14, 7:30 p.m.
- Dec. 15, 3:30 and 7:30 p.m.
- Dec. 16, 5 p.m.
- Dec. 19, 7:30 p.m.
- Dec. 20, 7:30 p.m.
- Dec. 21, 7:30 p.m.
- Dec. 22, 3:30 and 7:30 p.m.
Ticket prices start at $34.50.
Since she got the part of Ivy, Sammy said her schedule has gotten busy. In addition to rehearsals, she’s made promotional appearances at the Straz Center and the Tampa Convention Center.
“These shows are really fun,” she said. “I would consider doing more.”
Sammy is a straight-A student, and she said she isn’t going to let her performing affect her studies. After all, she has to keep her grades up if she wants a career in the science field.
“I like entertaining people,” she said, “but I really like marine biology.”
For more information, visit “Holiday Inc.” on Facebook.