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Singer Impresses Audiences

Michael Royce acts and sings in his school plays and community theater.

Michael Royce has a voice that speaks volumes for a 16-year-old, high-school sophomore.

To be more precise, he has a baritone voice that caused people to cry when he sang "A Story Book Love" this summer. A hush came over the audience when he performed in the musical, "Beauty and the Beast" in Sterling.

For most, it would come as a surprise that he only started taking voice lessons last month. His drama coach, Anne Pruitt, describes him as a "natural" with enormous potential. "Michael is very expressive, period. In anything he does, he just gives 100 percent. His voice, it’s big. It’s good," she said.

She encouraged him to hone his talent. "When I first heard him sing and knowing what a wonderful performer he is, I told him to tune his instrument," she said. "There’s passion in his voice, volume. There is strength."

Royce, 16, of Lowes Island, attends Dominion High School in Sterling. He was the prince in the school’s musical, "Cinderella," last year. He also played the part of Peter Flimsy in "The Butler Did It."

He has performed in many Sterling Playmakers’ plays. He sang in the chorus of "Fiddler on the Roof" both for his sixth-grade and the Playmakers’ production. He also has performed the part of Frederick in the "Sound of Music" and Mike TV in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." He sang in the chorus of "South Pacific."

Dominion did seven one-act plays last weekend, and Royce had parts in the "The Universal Language" and "The Lives of the Saints."

PERFORMING THE PART of the Beast in the Sterling Playmakers’ summer theater "Beauty and the Beast" has been his favorite role so far, he said. "It was so much fun. It had awesome music, an awesome character and I worked with a lot of talented people."

Kathy Bleutge, a founding member of the Playmakers, said Royce performed his first community play with her in "Fiddler on the Roof."

"He was a little boy then," she said. "Now he’s all grown up."

She said Royce is not conceited despite his talents, and he is "fabulous" to work with. "For someone his age, he has a lot of talent and potential. He has a great attitude. He’s really, really nice, a nice kid."

She said the audience was moved by his solos in "Beauty in the Beast."

"He absolutely blew everyone away," she said. "I can see him doing Broadway someday."

Royce, with thick, wavy dark hair, brown eyes, and a slender 6 foot tall frame, said he would like to be a professional actor and/or singer, but he is not sure if he could make a living at it. "I’d like especially to go into musical theater. I don’t know if it is something reliable professionally, something I could live off," he said.

His parents support his aspirations, but they too want him to be able to make a living, he added.

HE AUDITIONED for the Governor’s School last week. "I’m nervous," he said, prior to his performance. "It would be a really good chance to be with people who really get into theater, learn a lot, and it would look really good for a college application."

The Governor’s School Program is a four-week summer residential program for 6,500 gifted students. It provides one of the most academically and artistically challenging programs in Virginia.

Royce’s other passion is art, but he has the same qualms about that as a vocation. A member of the National Art Honor Society, he said he has been an artist "forever." He went to Pavan, the Governor’s School of Visual Arts during the past two summers.

Royce said he enjoys acting because it provides a break from "who you normally are."

"You can be whoever you want to be. It’s an escape from reality," he said, adding that’s a bonus for any teenager