2018-06-21 / Front Page

Teen takes final bow as North Kingstown Skipper

Fuquea has been performing since the sixth grade

Farren Fuquea was able to fly when she was cast in the lead of Peter Pan during the fall 2015 production by the community theater. 
PHOTO BY PAULETTE JUNGE Farren Fuquea was able to fly when she was cast in the lead of Peter Pan during the fall 2015 production by the community theater. PHOTO BY PAULETTE JUNGE A Jamestown teenager spent her first moments as a high school graduate doing what she loves the most: performing on stage.

Farren Fuquea, 17, was one of four newly minted graduates who sang the North Kingstown alma mater to culminate the June 11 commencement at the University of Rhode Island’s Ryan Center. The opportunity came two weeks before the ceremony when Fuquea was selected by music director Norma Caiazza to sing alongside fellow seniors Tori Paquette, Maisy Carvalho and Audrey Swanson.

“It’s a really big honor,” said Fuquea, a Grinnell Street resident. “It was cool to sing one last time for my school, just because I’ve been so involved in the choir program and the theater. I felt like it was a really nice nod to everything that I’ve done, and the time that I’ve committed to my school.”

FUQUEA FUQUEA The quartet only rehearsed a few times before the ceremony, although Fuquea said she practiced by herself after school. She sang the soprano part of the four-part harmony, and also performed the solo at the end of the song. That segment was on her mind the entire time she was on stage.

“I was pretty nervous,” she said. “I was worried I was going to forget my words, but once I started singing, I realized how excited and happy I was to be singing.”

There were plenty of onlookers in the audience who weren’t hearing Fuquea for the first time. As a member of the Jamestown Community Theatre, there have been several opportunities to hear Fuquea sing since she arrived in Rhode Island from North Carolina as a sixth-grader.

Because she wanted to become involved in the community, she approached Mary Wright, co-founder of the troupe, about appearing in the fall 2011 production of “The Wizard of Oz.”

“She let me be in one of the shows even though I had missed auditions,” recalled Fuquea. “It was just a really nice atmosphere.”

Wright remembers meeting Fuquea following those auditions. That didn’t stop the middle-schooler from trying out anyway.

“She was adorable and she had so much personality,” Wright said. “I told her the main roles were all gone. She said, ‘I don’t want a main role. I just want to be a munchkin. I don’t want to say anything on my own, I just want to be with everyone else.’ It was apparent she had talent because she sang for us. I took her at her word, and she shined as a munchkin.”

After that first show, Fuquea became a fixture with the theater throughout middle school, appearing in the productions of “Once Upon a Mattress” in 2012 and “Dear Edwina” in 2013. She was cast in the lead role for the 2014 production of “Peter Pan,” which also featured her father, David, as Captain Hook.

“That was really cool,” she said. “I got to be on wires and I flew. It was really awesome.”

Even when she wasn’t cast in an acting role, Fuquea found a way to work backstage during several productions, including a stint as stage manager. She also is the board’s teen representative, handling correspondence by writing thank-you letters to sponsors.

Fuquea’s love of acting followed her to North Kingstown, where she has appeared in three of the school’s annual musicals. She played Shprintze in the 2016 production of “Fiddler on the Roof,” and was cast as Ado Annie Carnes for the 2017 staging of “Oklahoma.” Earlier this year, she made her final North Kingstown stage appearance playing the feather duster Babette in “Beauty and the Beast”.

“That was such a fun role,” she said. “We put a lot of work into that show.”

Aside from the stage, Fuquea has been busy these last four years. She was on the swim team during her freshman and sophomore years, played tennis for three years, and also was a member of the student council, concert choir and yearbook club. That hard work has paid off.

Fuquea received two scholarships for graduating Jamestown seniors. She was the sole recipient of the community theater’s Patti Vandal Award, which was named for the troupe’s co-founder and longtime musical director who died in 2010. It is bestowed on students involved in the performing arts. Along with two letters of recommendation from their teachers or theater directors, applicants must write a 500-word essay. The winners are awarded up to $2,000.

“She did an outstanding job with her application,” said Michelle Gibbs, a member of the theater’s board.

Fuquea also was one of four graduates to receive the Elizabeth Stone Scholarship, which is administered by the local school district. It is named for the former teacher who vacationed in Jamestown, and awards soon-to-be college freshmen with $1,250. During the presentation earlier this month by the school committee, a comment by Chairman B.J. Whitehouse highlighted Fuquea’s stage presence.

“I’ve seen you somewhere,” he asked.

“Jamestown Community Theatre,” she replied.

Fuquea said the scholarships were a “nice show of support” from her hometown. The money will offset costs associated with her first semester at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn. She plans to major in global studies while minoring in theater arts with a concentration in musical theater. She was drawn to the school because of its small campus and emphasis on their arts programming.

As she begins her final summer in Jamestown before leaving for college, Fuquea said she is “bittersweet” about taking this next step.

“Four years have gone by really fast,” she said. “It’s exciting to be going off to college, but it’s also sad to be leaving behind all my friends and all the really nice memories.”

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