PERRYDALE -- Perrydale senior Carisse Brewer discovered early what she wanted to do.
The star of Perrydale's spring production of "Thoroughly Modern Millie" and many other school performances wants to teach theater.
"I really enjoy it," Brewer said with a smile. "I figured I might as well do something I love."
Brewer said participation in school productions was something all elementary students at Perrydale did. Having attended Perrydale since first grade, she had plenty of chances to perform.
Brewer caught the acting and singing bug from that early exposure. Since then, she has been part of the cast of several middle school and high school musicals, as well as school choir.
This year, Brewer had the opportunity to watch the ultimate in inspiration: a Broadway play.
Brewer had third-row tickets to a production starring Angela Lansbury. She said her excitement wasn't understood by some of her classmates.
"I said `It's Angela Lansbury. I could almost touch her,'" she said with admiration in her voice. "It was amazing."
Described as a "quiet spirit" by Perrydale drama teacher Misty Matthews, it's hard to imagine soft-spoken Brewer taking center stage.
But she does.
"She just becomes the character and you don't expect that," Matthews said. "That's want makes it so fun to watch."
Matthews has taught drama at Perrydale for 15 years and has watched Brewer's talent develop since first grade.
"She's always getting better and better," she said. "Her growth has just been phenomenal in the last four years."
In the fall, Brewer will be taking that talent to Harding University in Arkansas, where she will major in theater.
Brewer wants to use her education to pass on her love of drama to others in a church youth-group setting.
"I want to learn more about theater so I can teach it to kids," she said. "I think it's a good way to express yourself ... and a good way to make friends."
And of course, Brewer is thrilled about the performance possibilities that await her in college. Having been cast only in musicals at Perrydale, Brewer is looking forward to starring in plays.
Brewer acknowledged Arkansas is a long way to travel to make her dream become reality, but the brave performer seems to be taking it in stride.
"It's a little bit (scary) because it's so far away," she said. Then, smiling again, she added, "That's also the exciting part."