By Superintendent Dr. David Leach,
Warwick Valley Central School District
Seventh grade student Stephen Wyatt Cirbus is a born performer. For as long as he can remember, he has enjoyed staging performances around the house for his family. His early love of the spotlight led him to take part in a school play while he was at Sanfordville Elementary.
“At Sanfordville I played Shrek in the school production of Shrek,” said Wyatt, who uses his middle name as his registered stage name. “That’s really what sparked my interest in the acting world.”
More like ignited! It wasn’t long before Wyatt took a huge leap from the elementary school stage. At the age of eight he auditioned for and was selected to play two roles – Jack and Michael – in the national touring production of Finding Neverland. By age nine, he was on the road.
“It was almost two years ago, and it was actually my first audition,” said Wyatt. “I did multiple callbacks, learned scenes, learned choreography, and didn’t hear anything for about two months. It was super exciting – a whole new world of actually performing a show.”
The tour began in Florida, hitting major cities across the United States during its seven month run, including stints in Baltimore and Boston. Wyatt said the show even spent three weeks in Tokyo! Wyatt’s success on the road, led to even more auditions. He landed the role of Christian Bechdel in the White Plains Performing Arts Center’s production of Fun Home, which ran from October 12 through 28 last year.
Wyatt was also cast to play Christopher in the musical Whisper House. The ghost story, set in Maine, features music by Duncan Sheik, with book and additional lyrics by Kyle Jarrow. Wyatt had been cast beside Samantha Mathis, and the musical was set to premier in March.
Yes… March of 2020. The pandemic had other plans.
“So, this is pretty devastating because this was my favorite production so far, but two hours before we were supposed to go on stage, they shut the play down. They said, at the time, we’d ‘be back in two weeks.’”
Wyatt currently performs in an acoustic duo with eight grade student Layla Mesiano, and they had their first public gig in October at Blue Arrow Farm in Pine Island. Their repertoire includes what they call “feel good” songs, 13 or so covers including Perfect by Ed Sheeran, songs from High School Musical, The Musical, The Series, songs from Julie & the Phantoms, and even a little Journey – Don’t Stop Believin’ – for the parents in the audience.
Wyatt gets standing ovations for his grades too! Wyatt is an outstanding student. When asked what his favorite subject is, Wyatt said, “ELA, I like writing lab a lot. Oh, I really like social studies – learning about what’s happened in the past compared to what’s happening now. I also like science and, actually, I really love French, too. I just like school. I do. I love school.”
Wyatt studied with tutors while touring the world with Finding Neverland, so the adjustment to a hybrid learning model wasn’t too unfamiliar to him. His tutor would work with him to list and schedule his work for each day or the week, then form it to his production schedule.
“We were able to get all the same education while doing the show that way,” he said, explaining how much he enjoys the independence of hybrid learning, managing his own time and a more laid-back feel.
“It’s fun to spend your time learning from home. You can have pajama pants on, but a nice school shirt on top for Google Meets,” he said.
Although auditions and productions have been halted for much of the pandemic, Wyatt is looking forward to continuing his acting career and says things are beginning to look up.
“Not having [an audition] for over six months has been kind of weird. It’s been like part of me was missing,” he said. “It’s picking back up. I’ve had some auditions lately – voiceovers, a couple of TV and film auditions.”
“Wyatt is always incredible, enthusiastic and such a strong leader in chorus,” said Middle School Teacher Shane Peters. “His talent in singing is equally measured in the kindness he displays on a daily basis.”
Each week, Warwick Valley Central School District Superintendent Dr. David Leach shines the “Superintendent’s Spotlight” on one of Warwick Valley’s amazing students. “Superintendent’s Spotlight” features students who reach goals, face challenges, and are role models to their peers.