MARCO ISLAND — Malena Rose Marcase started singing “How Much Is That Doggie in the Window” at two years old around the house. Now, at age 15, she belts the national anthem to sell-out crowds at sporting events across the Midwest.
Malena, a sophomore at Blue Springs High School in Missouri, is called on often to sing the anthem at basketball, football and baseball games. In 2010, she stood in for country star Sara Evans and performed the song in front of 80,000 people at the Oklahoma City Arena.
“I was very nervous,” said Malena who lives in Missouri but spends her summers on Marco Island. “I was on the sidelines looking at the humungous crowd, and there’s a countdown going with how much time before I had to sing. That was pretty nerve wracking.”
Singing in front of thousands is a long way from Malena’s first ever performance at a theater camp when she was five years old.
“We thought it was the biggest thing ever, and invited 20 friends to see her,” recalled Terri Marcase, Malena’s mother, who owns three properties on Marco. “We had no idea it was going to lead to this.”
Soon after Marcase, noticed Malena’s singing talents, she enrolled her daughter in voice lessons. Malena began training at age seven and continues to do so today. She considers singing and performing one of her favorite pastimes.
“I love singing,” Malena said. “Just feeding off the audience, and whenever I hear them comment on how much fun they had, it makes me feel good because I know they enjoyed it.”
In addition to singing at events, Malena also performs in youth and professional theater near her hometown. Since age seven, she has acted, danced and sang in more than 17 shows, including “Who’s Tommy,” “Seussical” and Peter Pan. This year, Malena landed a coveted place in the Starlight Theater’s chorus. The professional performing arts company in Kansas City chooses only a few youth to be part of its choir.
“My favorite is theater and Broadway,” Malena said. “I just love everything about. When I saw “Wicked” that got me hooked.”
She loves it so much that her Ipod is filled with Broadway show tunes, which is something Malena admits is very different from what most teenagers listen to.
“The whole thing is pretty much show tunes,” Malena said. “I feel kind of like a nerd. Most people look at it and say, ‘I don’t know any of this stuff.’”
When not rehearsing or taking voice lessons, Malena is playing the piano or dancing. She has studied piano for 10 years and participated in ballet, tap and jazz classes for six.
“Right after I eat and do homework, I’m off to a class or rehearsal,” Malena said. “It’s really busy around here.”
“My friends always wonder where I am,” she said with a laugh.
After high school, Malena would like to pursue theater in college. She also has big Broadway dreams.
“The greatest thing I want I want to do with my life is to go to New York and be in Broadway musicals,” Malena said. “That would be amazing.”