News Column

'Once' in a lifetime [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (PA)]

September 5, 2013


Before she could talk, Kolette Tetlow would sing -- babbling in tune with children's songs her parents played on the car radio.

This year, she'll have a bigger stage than the backseat: For six months, Kolette, 7, will be part of the touring cast of "Once," the musical theater adaptation of John Carney's 2007 Oscar-winning film.

Her mother, Karly, and siblings Keaton, 5, and Korinne, 2, will travel with her across the United States and Canada while she performs the part of Ivanka, daughter of the female lead. The male and female leads in the movie and play are known only as "Guy" and "Girl."

Her father, Nate, will remain at home in Mt. Lebanon but will visit on some weekends and meet the rest of the family for Christmas, when the show lands in Toronto from late November to early January. The show will come to Downtown's Benedum Theater from March 11 to 16.

"I'm really excited that I get to travel all over the world," said Kolette. "I think (bringing family) is going to be a little hard; my sister can sometimes get a little worked up."

Living in suites and hotels for stretches of one to six weeks in each city, Kolette will begin most days with several hours of tutoring in lieu of attending classes at Mt. Lebanon's Markham Elementary.

On Fridays, Kolette's tutor will take her and the family to educational sites such as museums in each city of the tour, and she'll get an hour of "class time" during the first part of each show before she goes onstage, Karly Tetlow said.

When the show starts in Providence, R.I., on Oct. 2, there will be family and play time for Kolette on Mondays when the show isn't traveling, in mornings before tutoring and in afternoons between tutoring and reporting for the performance around 6:30 p.m.

Representatives of the production company couldn't be reached for comment.

"We'll explore places, check out the zoos and museums when we can. Then she has to be back at the theater an hour before the show for costume and makeup," Karly Tetlow said.

Kolette tried out for the part in February, her largest role after appearing in local theater productions, commercials and the Children's Festival Chorus of Pittsburgh. She learned she got the part in early August but couldn't announce it until the rest of the cast was published this week, her mother said.

The Broadway version of the show "double-cast" Ivanka's part with two actresses who switch from show to show, but the role will be Kolette's alone on the road. Barring any illness, she'll be in eight two-and-a-half-hour performances a week, including matinees and evening shows on weekends.

Matthew Santoni is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-380-5625 or

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