CMA Stories

stART Teaching Artist Kathleen Armenti on Musical Improv

stART Arts Teaching Artist Kathleen Armenti has been creating art with toddlers at CMA for over two years now. Her singing voice shines at music time, and her creativity inspires children while they build with blocks, collage and paint.

Outside of CMA, Kathleen has been working on a solo cabaret show where she performs as the character Sadness from the beloved family movie Inside Out, where human emotions are personified. Her performance as Sadness includes a rendition of songs that somehow always spiral south, like the character who can’t help but think of the worst outcomes and unhappy events. Kathleen will be taking the stage as Sadness on Monday, 11/27, at The Duplex at 9:30 pm.

Kathleen has been performing Sadness: A Sad Show for almost three years now, but this one will be a brand new hour-long version. The idea for the show came shortly after the movie premiered. Her father had recently passed and she identified with the character Sadness.

“A friend of mine was like “If Inside Out were a musical, Sadness is you,” so I started thinking about if Sadness were to do a cabaret, what songs would she sing and what would be her anecdotes,” she said.

In the performance, Kathleen sings existing pop and broadway songs with a combination of musical improv, all with Sadness’ melodramatic style. Musical improv is something Kathleen does a lot of, both at CMA and outside of it.She performs on musical improv ensemble Wonderland with Annie Moor, also WEE Teaching Artists, at Magnet Theater every Tuesday night. WEE Teaching Artist Curry Whitmire also performs on Magnet Tuesday nights with the ensemble Kittyhawk.

“A lot of being in stART is chatting with kids and following their imagination wherever it is going,” says Kathleen. “Working with little ones helps with improv because there is a certain level of being an adult that you have to turn off to accept that you are making up a reality.”

Kathleen’s favorite memories of making art as a child are with her dad. “We would spend a lot of time drawing together, usually looking at something and trying to do our best version of it. I just remember sitting and doing art with my dad, not particularly what we drew, but it is a very good memory.”

That is something Kathleen enjoys doing at CMA as well, sitting with the kids and chatting while drawing together, as imaginations come to life on paper.

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