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Ledyard senior 'superstar' takes to the stage

Ledyard — Carter Smith has been in dozens of shows over his acting and singing careers, but the one that stands out to him the most was back in fifth grade.

"I did a world premiere of a play called 'The Green Briar Ghost' at Spirit of Broadway, and that was really, really cool because I got to originate the role," he said. "That kind of made me realize this is what I want to do."

Smith started acting as a preschooler, re-enacting lessons he learned at school for his parents and eventually pursuing formal lessons through Broadway Kids and Company. Throughout his career, he has performed with organizations including Broadway Kids, Chestnut Street Playhouse and Flock Theatre, as well as in several productions at Ledyard High School.

"I've always loved theater. I think it's a great form of communication," he said. "I think it's a great way to get ideas and stories across, and I've always had a passion for that."

Dorothy Lance, who joined Broadway Kids after teaching high school acting, said she first met Smith in 2010. He continued taking classes with her, and she worked with him extensively to develop his senior portfolio for applying to college musical theater programs.

"He's wonderful," she said. "He's a completely different person for each role, and he pulls them all off exceptionally well."

In one class Lance led, Smith performed a given monologue so well that every other student in his class asked to perform the same one because he brought the character to life.

Smith said his dream roles are Hedwig in "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" and the Leading Player in "Pippin," but some of his favorite characters to play so far have been the "naively evil" Judge Danforth in "The Crucible" and the more comedic Ken Gorman in "Rumors."

Russell Hammond, retiring choral teacher and drama director at Ledyard High School, said Smith shined as a freshman, taking the lead in the musical that year. Even with roles with significant speaking parts like Judge Danforth, Smith can not only handle the workload but also thrive in it.

"From day one, he's been this superstar you could count on to do what is needed," he said.

Smith has been in the high school's chamber choir for three years and served as the group's de-facto student leader this year. One of his most memorable experiences was the ensemble's trip to Europe last June.

"We went to Budapest, Vienna and Prague last year, and it was an unforgettable experience," he said. He said there's a culture of musical appreciation in those cities, so they would perform in cathedrals that were packed with guests.

Smith has performed for "A Wicked Good Time," a haunted trail fundraiser for the Lauren Candler Scholarship Fund, and this year he was president of the school's Tri-M music honor society. This semester, he also helped start the high school's storytelling club with social studies teacher Seth Galante to give a voice to students who may not otherwise have one.

"Our mission is to tell personal stories that will create more of an empathetic vibe in our school," he said.

In the fall, Smith will be attending Western Connecticut State University as part of the school's first class of musical theater majors.

"I kind of always knew I wanted to go into musical theater for college," he said. "I'm ecstatic and thrilled."


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