A Look at Theatre Arlington’s 50-Year Walk of Fame

Women's Health Services Aug 2020

The first time I saw Kirstin Maldonado, she was standing alone in a drab corridor leading to the backstage of the Martin High School auditorium, where she and her Pentatonix group mates were about to blow the roof off the place. This was before Pentatonix became Pentatonix instrument-free legends, Grammy winners, hometown musical lords.


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They were popular and melodically proficient then; now, they are household names able to fill out pretty much any venue.

The first time Todd Hart saw Kirstin Maldonado, she was all of eight years old, pig-tailed and teeny weeny, yet your average run-of-the-mill Disney-like triple threat.


“She studied singing, dancing, acting,” said Hart, one of Maldonado’s voice and acting teachers at Theatre Arlington. “She had a natural musical and performance talent. Personality-wise, she was very shy. . . in the beginning.”


Last month, Maldonado and a slew of other former Theatre Arlington alums were cemented into its history, quite literally.


A Walk of Fame was revealed in celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Arlington’s artsy gem, honoring over 20 artists like Broadway vet Major Attaway, TV actor James Healy, and film producer Amy Greene. Fittingly, the unveiling coincided with the opening night of the theater’s second show of the season, Noises Off.


Each honoree now possesses an 18-inch bronze medallion embossed with the Arlington star, their name, and the genre of art for which they are best known. It graces the theater’s front entrance just as you pop in to see a production.


“A little surreal,” is the way Attaway put it. He started at TA at age 15 when the great BJ Cleveland, another honoree, persuaded him to give it a shot. Attaway played the Genie in Disney’s Aladdin through 1,500 performances over three years on Broadway.


“Acting was my gateway to empathy,” Attaway said, “and my escape. While I was singing, no one asked questions.”


He let out that booming laugh of his, which got the attention of Greene, the film producer slash in-demand stunt performer and fight choreographer. The daughter of former Arlington Mayor Richard Greene, Amy was the stunt coordinator of the Oscar-winning Sound of Metal and the nominated Knives Out.


She was trying to soak it all in.


“There’s nothing better than hometown love,” she said. “Coming back to Arlington, where I grew up, and Theatre Arlington, where I started, is very special.”


Several alums were there for the unveiling, but why they showed up was less about the place celebrating them than them celebrating the place.


“It was, is, a community that supports the arts so much I think I was able to jump into something at a young age,” Amy Greene said of TA. “They make you feel brave enough to do it. I’m clearly humbled.”


Development Director Cathy O’Neal came up with the idea to acknowledge the talent that has come through the theater.


“I am just really thrilled that it came together,” O’Neal said, “and we are able to do it because I love the public recognition of artists, and everybody at the theater is very excited about it.”


Walk of Fame criteria is artists who have appeared on stage and have gone on to accomplish regional or national notoriety. 


“Many of them you may not know about their connection to us,” said TA Executive Producer Steve Morris.


Thanks to brief bios of the honorees, all of that is spelled out on the TA website.


The plan is for these accolades to go on and on, much like the theatre that has long been the anchor of Arlington’s arts scene.


We often take our arts for granted, forgetting the vitality of community theater and how it is such a part of our cultural landscape and identity. How often have you walked out of a live play at TA and, oddly, just felt better as you stroll to your car?


“Theater, or art in itself, is intrinsically emotional,” said Attaway. “It creates a unique emotional response that reminds you that you’re alive. We need that. That’s why this city needs another 50 years of Theatre Arlington.”

Prippie Oct 2020