Every time the theater doors are open in Mt. Vernon, 13-year-old Marley McKinley is there -- and she doesn’t even live in Mt. Vernon. The young Aurora performer has been seen in both summer musicals and the children’s theatre performances for the last four years.

“I have no clue where her musical talents came from or her love of theater,” her mother, Jaime McKinley said, “but she has a true passion for it. There isn't a person in our family that can sing or play an instrument decently or would ever get up on a stage and perform in front of an audience, but I swear Marley was born for it.”

This summer is no exception. Marley can again be seen onstage in Mt. Vernon Community Theatre’s production of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," by Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice. Marley is one of the leaders of the children’s ensemble, which sounds like it might be a small role, but in this show, it doesn’t work that way.

“Everyone is on stage all the time,” Marley explains. “Everyone has something to do in every scene. The whole show is singing and dancing, and nobody really has a small role.”

Even though Marley seems to have been born to perform, developing that natural talent takes hard work. Marley has been taking voice lessons with Janet Hunter in Aurora for almost four years, she plays guitar and piano, and she sings at First Presbyterian Church in Aurora. She’s a rising eighth grader in Aurora, and she plans to do theatre at Aurora High School next year.

“One of the things we love about Marley is how hard she works,” says Matt Teel, Marley’s director in the production. “She got her tonsils out this summer and was back in rehearsal just a couple of days later. She’s quite a pro, and she really gives the younger performers a great example to learn from.”

With all that talent and dedication, it would seem like a career in musical theatre would be in Marley’s future plans.

“I’ve thought about it,” she admits, “but I also really want to help people. I’m thinking about either music therapy or drama therapy. Music and theatre can really help people find their way.”

"Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" win run July 26-28 at the MARC in Mt. Vernon, and July 29-30 at the PAC in Monett. For more information, or to order tickets, call 366-9526.