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Dike School of the Arts student shines in 'A Christmas Story'



Dike School of the Arts student Samone Cummings is only 11 years old, but she is already making a name for herself in Cleveland’s theater scene.

Samone’s latest, and biggest, role yet has been in “A Christmas Story” with the Cleveland Play House. She plays the character Helen in the production, which premiered Nov. 24 and runs through Dec. 23 at the Allen Theater in Playhouse Square. 

Helen wasn’t a main character in the movie, but the theater adaptation gives Samone plenty of stage time. Samone describes her character as, “kind of sassy and a know-it-all who actually does know it all.”

It’s a character Samone has coveted for the past three years. She auditioned for the role every year until she succeeded.

“When I finally got it, I was ecstatic,” she said.

Acting in a professional production has been a whirlwind experience for Samone, but she has enjoyed every second. It helps that several of the other roles are played by children, which makes for a fun backstage experience.

samone Samone and her castmates have made a game out of pranking each other. Her favorite trick was when she switched her character’s glasses with those of the boy who plays Ralphie. Another time, she and the other girls on the cast found a big ball of tape and hung it on the boys’ dressing room with the message, “Girls rule.”

But it’s not all games. Samone also appreciates the advice she has received from some of the older actors who have performed in New York and London.

“It’s nice getting all that knowledge and wisdom from them about theater,” she said.

Last week, Samone’s class took a field trip to see a matinee performance of “A Christmas Story, which Samone said was special. At the end, her classmates surrounded her with a big hug.

“There’s nothing like applause at the end of a show,” she said. “It’s even better when that applause is from people you know and have spent a lot of time with.”

The seventh-grader has had a knack for the arts since she was 3 years old. Samone used to make her house a stage for productions of stories like Goldilocks and the three bears -- with Samone playing every role.

Her mom, seeing Samone’s natural talent, enrolled her in kindergarten at Dike.

“That’s when I realized I love the arts and I love acting,” Samone said.

At Dike, Samone gets 50 minutes of arts instruction each day - including theater, dance, choir, band, orchestra and visual arts. She doesn’t have a favorite or a least favorite; she loves them all.

Samone said the drama classes are especially enjoyable because her teacher lets the class take on writing and choreography roles.

“I like that because we’re not being told what to do, and it’s teaching us collaboration,” Samone said. “It’s very good to have that so you don’t have to depend on the director.”

Because of her busy rehearsal and performance schedule, Samone often has to miss school. But she keeps on top of her grades with her parents and teachers helping her stay on track. It helps that she can access most of her schoolwork through an online application on her phone.

Samone is keeping the details of her next acting gig under wraps but did excitedly disclose her plans for the more distant future. After eighth grade, Samone plans to enroll at MC²STEM High School, where she can learn more about technology, which she loves, while still pursuing the arts. She wants to earn an associate’s degree online by the time she graduates from high school.

Samone doesn’t have a college picked out yet, but her ultimate goal is to open her own theater company that uses props that require advanced technology. She plans is to double-major in theater arts and engineering.

It's these big plans that drive everything Samone does, including "A Christmas Story."

"It's a good thing to have on my resume, of course, which will help me with my ultimate goals," she said.