Baldwin High School senior prepares for final show benefiting Make-A-Wish
Mikayla Davic held a cellphone up to her ear and listened to the song playing from it.
She paid close attention to the professional recording to make sure the cast members before her were performing it just right.
“Yeah, that’s it,” she said, as a girl burst into song on the makeshift stage in the basement at North Zion Lutheran Church in Baldwin Borough, as more than 60 kids watched from nearby, waiting for their own turn to shine.
Taking charge and running the show is nothing new for Davic, 18, who, for the fifth straight year has written, directed and produced a show starring her Baldwin-Whitehall classmates to raise money for Make-A-Wish Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
She’s even performed in four of the five shows.
To date, her shows have raised $46,000 for Make-A-Wish. That’s 11 wishes she’s granted.
“If you think about the amount of money, it’s hard to contextualize that. But knowing that’s 11 lives that were changed, I think that’s something that’s still kind of hard for me to grasp,” she said. “But it’s amazing.”
This year’s show, “Lost & Found,” set for Jan. 3 to 5 at the Baldwin High School auditorium, is even more special for Davic, as it’s her last — at least in high school.
“This show means the most to me because I wrote it sort of as a tribute to these past five years,” Davic said.
Davic fell in love with theater in second grade. As a member of the school chorus at McAnnulty Elementary, she had the chance to perform as a little munchkin in the Baldwin High School show, “The Wizard of Oz.”
In fourth grade, the little ones were invited back to the big stage to perform as children in the high school’s production of “The Children of Eden.”
Davic was hooked.
Then came seventh grade and an assignment to do a year-long project in the gifted program at Harrison Middle School. She could do anything she wanted for the project.
So, Davic chose to write her own show.
While that was enough for the school assignment, Davic said, she thought about her options and what she could do with the final product. She decided to produce the show.
She writes her shows using outside music, such as Disney and Broadway tunes. The plots come from things she sees in the world around her.
“In the back of my mind, there’s like a vault of just random ideas,” she said.
Anyone who wants to can try out for her shows. She casts everyone.
The cast of her first show, “A Not So Magical Story,” was “a bunch of middle-schoolers and a couple of fifth-graders,” an experience Davic now calls “quite the experiment.”
That show alone brought in $8,000 for Make-A-Wish.
But Davic thought, “I could do better.” She learned from the first show and wanted to try again — and again and again.
Each show has been different. There was “A Murder on 34th Street,” which as a murder mystery show set in the ‘50s. “Paradise” was Davic’s first dabble into “mature writing.” That show was inspired by the Counting Crows’ version of “Big Yellow Taxi.”
Last year’s show, “Misfits,” followed a group of runaway teenagers on their way to Woodstock.
This year, in “Lost & Found,” a recent group of high school graduates are on their way to their senior trip when their plane crashes on an island.
Davic wrote her own character, Sara, as a reminder for herself. The character questions if she’s peaked in high school and worries she might disappoint people in the future.
“That’s sort of me reassuring myself that I’m going to be OK — that this isn’t the best, this isn’t the last thing, this isn’t the last the world’s going to hear of me,” she said.
Callie Siefert, 10, a fourth-grader at Whitehall Elementary, is performing in her third Davic show.
“I like it because it’s for a good cause,” she said. “That makes me feel really good.”
Alexa Trimbur, 17, a senior at Baldwin High School, also is performing in her third Davic show. The best part, she agrees, is finding out how much money each show raised.
Davic also is great to work with, she said.
“She’s so talented as a writer, and she’s also a very talented singer and actress,” Trimbur said. “I know she’s going to go really far in the future.”
Davic has big plans for her life.
She’s already in the process of writing a feature-length film about a high school senior suffering from addiction.
Her dream is to be a director and screenwriter, but she wants to do films about issues people don’t talk about.
“I want to write stories that really change people and make them challenge their prejudices,” she said.
She hopes to go to the University of Southern California and major in film production. She’s applied to five colleges on the West Coast and in Texas.
Looking back, she’s learned a lot.
“It all just does not feel like it’s been five years,” she said.
Helping people has been the best part.
Along the way, she set a goal to raise $50,000 for Make-A-Wish while in high school — she’s getting close.
“This is remarkable since she set the personal goal in seventh grade,” Baldwin High School Principal Walter Graves said. “Mikayla is a unique individual who demonstrates a willingness and passion to serve others. It has been a pleasure working with her over the past four years. I am very proud of her!”
Stephanie Hacke is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.