BIG SHOW: The ACCS student makes his professional opera debut
Published Tuesday, November 1, 2022, 2:20 PM
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Keaton Ross acts as a mute servant on the Natchez Festival of Music and Mississippi Opera called “The Medium.” (Ben Hillyer | Natchez Democrat)
Myka Murphy catches Ross in an intense opera scene. (Ben Hillyer | Natchez Democrat)
Ross hugs Kelly Singer during the show. (Ben Hillyer | Natchez Democrat)
NATCHEZ – The 8th Grade Adams County Christian School made his professional acting debut at the opera house last weekend in Natchez and Jackson.
Keaton Ross, the 13-year-old son of Leslie Parker and Jeffrey Ross, is a teenager of many talents. He can draw, play, sing, and also makes a unique voice experience – including imitating a trumpet.
His vocal talent impressed a theater club teacher, Malori Giannaris, who recommended Ross when she was asked by the Natchez Festival of Music and the Mississippi Opera to fill the open space in two short operettas, Medium and Gianni Schicchi.
Ross, who is no stranger to the scene, started performing in plays when he was 10 or 11, but he never got nervous about it until last weekend, he said.
“I was very nervous about this at first,” Ross said, adding that he had never played two different plays at the same time before.
Fortunately, his first character in “The Middle” was a mute servant with a tragic end.
Ross had to learn to act using only his facial expressions and body language, which came naturally to him.
“I didn’t know how many lines I would have to remember, but it turned out to be easy,” he said.
His second character was an “annoying child” who only wants to go for a candy on Halloween, but is instead forced to stay because his family is plotting a nefarious plan.
In this play, Ross has a singing line at the Opera, adapted from the original version, which was supposed to be set in 20this– century Mississippi and is sung in English.
Giannaris said she knew she would do well singing in the opera. She caught him making random noises while rehearsing for a play at ACCS. Impressed by his vocal range, Giannaris said she knew she needed a good singing voice.
“There is a factor to it,” said Giannaris. “He has so much natural talent.”
Ross said opera performances are very different from the plays he is used to at ACCS and Natchez Little Theater. The hardest part, he said, was learning to syndicate your movements to the sounds played by a live orchestra.
After performing at the Natchez City Auditorium and Duling Hall in Jackson, Ross was offered to join the Mississippi Boychoir.
Ross said he has many hobbies related to art and has no interest in sports. In recent years, Mike TV has played in Willie Wonka Jr. and one of the palace wardens in Aladdin Jr. He also enjoys drawing and comedy, and takes part in AC’s Got Talent as a ventriloquist.
“It’s simple,” he said. “You just need to open your mouth enough to say the words without moving your mouth.”
He also played Lady B’s Christmas Spectacular at the Natchez City Auditorium last year.
“He’s like the jack of all competitions,” Parker said. She and Ross thanked Giannaris and Dr. Jay Dean, who is the director of the School of Music at the University of Southern Mississippi and is involved in the Natchez Festival of Music, for allowing Ross to perform professionally and connect with several people in the performing arts.
“He has more connections than I do now,” said Giannaris with a smile.
Ross has earned some money for his performances, which he plans to use to purchase an oculus, a virtual reality gaming system. When he graduated from high school, Ross said he was planning to go to college and hopefully become a palaeontologist, dig up dinosaur bones and discover new species of dinosaurs, “because there’s no way we’ll discover them all,” he said.
When asked if he had plans to pursue acting in college, Ross replied, “Absolutely.”