Danielle Carlson put on a colorful Hawaiian shirt and tied a blue bandana on her forehead, making the transformation complete. She was no longer a 10-year-old school kid from Palo Alto, California; she was Joseph's brother Asher, straight out of the pages of the Tanakh. Butterflies fluttered in her stomach; after months of rehearsing Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, the big day had arrived.
"I really like acting," says Danielle, a fifth-grader who is in her third year with B.A. Jewish Star- a Jewish theater group that meets twice a week at Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos Hills, California. Being onstage always fills her with simhah (happiness). But the happiness Danielle feels comes less from the applause of the audience than from a growing sense of confidence in her unique talents. She recognized the difference in third grade when she sang solo for the first time. "I was really nervous," Danielle recalls. "But when I was on stage singing, I knew that I just had to do it, and in that moment I had the confidence to perform my best. Now I have more confidence, and I like to help the younger kids feel good about themselves, too."
One of the best parts about putting on a production is the satisfaction that comes from working together as a team, says Danielle. "I like the friendships that I've made," she says warmly. "Each year we become a close team. Last year, a lot of kids were sick on the performance days, and half the cast performed with fevers, because no one wanted to let everyone else down... After all the work in getting ready, it was a great feeling to see how much we could accomplish."