Vt. school musical features some international flair - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. school musical features some international flair

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

For Rice Memorial High School students it's taken months of rehearsals to get to this point. It's the final countdown before their first performance of "Hello, Dolly!" in Burlington.

Dolly is being played by a 17-year-old senior who goes by the name Sabrina.

"I like Sabrina," she said. "It's easy to call and everyone knows that name."

Her teachers and classmates had trouble saying her real name, Qian Sainan.

Sabrina is from Beijing, China. English is her second language. She came to the U.S. last year and lives with a host family.

"I love music and performing and I want to learn musical theater and America is the place to learn, that's why I came here," she said.

"She first came to Rice last year and she didn't say a word-- quietest-- she was feeling her way with English," said Mary List-Wheeler, the music and theater teacher at Rice.

Sabrina learned English as a child in China, but this is the first time she's used it on a daily basis, a challenge she's up for.

"Ms. Wheeler is helping me to pronounce everything right," she said.

At times there are lines and nuances in "Hello, Dolly!" she doesn't understand, but friends help her out.

"Sometimes people are laughing but you can't find a point-- you don't know why they're laughing," Sabrina said.

Her director says Sabrina is brave, playing the role of a strong-willed matchmaker while learning a new language and her place in a new country.

"She did a fantastic audition so I did cast her," List-Wheeler said.

The spotlight is something Sabrina knows all about. She was a child star in China, starring in several movies that are still played today. It's something she doesn't talk much about, wanting to stand on her own and not the past.

Reporter Gina Bullard: Have you heard of "Hello, Dolly!" before this?

Qian "Sabrina" Sainan: No, actually, but I know Barbra Streisand though. I saw the movie. She's just perfect, just gorgeous, most amazing voice ever.

A big role for a student hoping to make it big as an adult. She plans to make this a career-- going to college in the U.S. for musical theater.

"Hello, Dolly!" will be performed at Contois Auditorium in Burlington's City Hall starting Friday. It runs through the weekend. Click here for ticket information.

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