published Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

Talent Show: Sophie Veys is a stage veteran at age 10

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    Sophie Zeys laughs during rehearsal for Jack and the Beanstalk Monday at the Chattanooga Theatre Centre,
    Photo by Angela Lewis.
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CLAIM TO FAME

Sophie Veys, 10, has been in the cast for five plays at the Chattanooga Theatre Centre since she began acting at age 5. Of those, three -- "The Women," "A Christmas Carol" and "A Christmas Story" -- have been MainStage performances. The other two, "Jack and the Beanstalk" and "Bridge to Terabithia," were Youth Theatre performances.

ABOUT HER

-- School: Sixth-grader at Center for Creative Arts.

-- Dream role: Scout in "To Kill a Mockingbird."

-- Acting hero: Helena Bonham Carter.

-- Hobbies: Sewing, playing touch football and reading.

-- Favorite books: The Harry Potter series.

-- Favorite play: "Hairspray."

TALENT SHOW

Do you know a child age 13 or younger with a precocious talent in academics, athletics or the arts? The Times Free Press is searching for children to feature in "Talent Show," which appears in the Life section on Tuesdays. To nominate a child as a possible subject of a future feature article, e-mail staff writer Casey Phillips at cphillips@timesfreepress.com or call him at 423-757-6205.

Sophie Veys is awfully old to be 10.

Since she began acting at age 5, Sophie's parents and director said she has exhibited a remarkable level of maturity.

Chattanooga Theatre Centre Youth Theatre director Maria Chattin-Carter said that seriousness of purpose was evident since Sophie was cast in the 2010 production of "Jack and the Beanstalk."

"She sat there and took notes and listened," Chattin-Carter said. "There was a maturity about her that even the teenagers didn't have."

For its initial run in May 2010, the Youth Theatre production of "Jack and the Beanstalk" was scripted by its all-student cast in the Italian commedia dell'arte style, which was popular during the late Renaissance. Earlier this year, Chattin-Carter was asked to revive the play for the Tennessee Theatre Association's annual conference on Oct. 20.

Sophie said she's excited at the prospect of reprising her role as a "zany," a masked character who prances about engaging in random acts of mischief.

Although she is looking forward to the performance, Sophie said she has preferred acting with adults rather than children since her theatrical debut at age 5 in "A Christmas Carol" on the Theatre Centre's MainStage.

She was the production's youngest cast member, portraying one of the children of impoverished clerk Bob Cratchit. She has claimed youngest credits twice more on the MainStage, including understudying for another actress in "A Christmas Story" last fall and portraying Little Mary, a major supporting character, in "The Women" this spring.

Adults are easier to work with, Sophie said.

"I like drama onstage, not offstage," she said. "[Adults] are so much more mature.

"With adults, I feel like they think that I'm childish, and I don't want them to have a bad opinion of me."

Sophie's mother, Emma Veys, performed alongside her daughter in both "A Christmas Carol" and "The Women." Veys grew up in London and said her family always attended the theater, but it never occurred to her to take the stage herself until Sophie expressed interest.

Veys said she loves being cast alongside her daughter since it gives her a chance to put the spotlight on Sophie, the eldest of her four children.

"She's always been my helper," Veys said. "I probably put a lot of responsibility on her.

"[Onstage] I get to have time with her and focus on her. I think I'm actually learning something from her when she's doing it because this is her thing."

Sophie said it wasn't long into her acting career that she became convinced it was a long-term passion instead of a flash-in-the-pan infatuation.

This year, she enrolled at Chattanooga Center for Creative Arts, where she is majoring in acting. Although she can't sing, her secondary studies are in dance, "so maybe I can be a double threat, if not a triple threat."

Sophie said she hopes to pursue acting when she grows up, or rather, when her age catches up to her maturity.

"I love acting so much," she said. "I want I it to be my life. That's all I want to do."

Contact Casey Phillips at cphillips@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...

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