One Boone native just wants to have fun — and make her way to the Broadway stage.

Fifteen-year-old Watauga High School student Peyton Walton recently performed in the 36th Birthday Pops Gala at Carnegie Hall in New York City on April 29 as one of 60 children from 26 U.S. states and Brazil in Camp Broadway Kids — a musical theater ensemble comprised of children ages 12-16.

The 2019 Pops Gala honored Grammy-, Emmy- and Tony Award-winning musician Cyndi Lauper and media company Scripps Network founder Ken Lowe. The 2019 Pops Gala co-chairs included writer, actress and producer Tina Fey; media executive Jeff Sagansky; tennis star and activist Billie Jean King; Lisa Barbaris of So What Management and president and CEO of Discover Inc., David Zaslav.

Steven Reineke was the concert’s music director and conductor, and the gala honored Lauper while featuring singer-songwriter Boy George; pop singer Carly Rae Jepsen; songwriter, rapper and producer Estelle and more.

Walton auditioned for Camp Broadway Kids the year prior, but was injured and was moved to the program’s waiting list. Later that year, Walton found out she was accepted for 2019 without having to audition due to her previous waiting list status.

The three-day Camp Broadway Kids program includes master classes in singing, dancing and acting, including the performance at Carnegie Hall.

“It was a really awesome experience because I met a lot of other kids who are into the same thing as me,” Walton said. “Every time I go to one of these theater things, I just learn how much work it is and I love it. I love every second of it. Every time, I learn how much I want to do this as my career. But it’s a lot of work. No one’s going to teach you exactly the same so you have to prepare for anything.”

Camp Broadway Kids were in class for three days from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and stayed through the Pops Gala performance, which started at 7 p.m. on April 29. Out of the 60 children at Camp Broadway, Walton was one of two representing North Carolina.

Walton was one of the lucky performers to dance and sing onstage next to Broadway stars Alex Newell, Lena Hall and Stark Sands during the big number: “Raise You Up/Just Be” from “Kinky Boots.”

“I love the show ‘Kinky Boots,’ so I was really excited to see a lot of people who work in it,” Walton said. “I loved being onstage in such a big theater because you would look out and there were so many levels. I’ve never performed in front of that many people before, and also performing right beside some of the stars who I’ve heard sing on some of the soundtracks … that was really awesome.”

To close out the show, Walton and the rest of the Camp Broadway Kids performed with Lauper as part of the Pops Gala finale. Lauper was at the rehearsal on Monday, and Camp Broadway Kids had a question-and-answer session with her along with the understudy for Lola in “Kinky Boots.”

Peyton’s mom and Studio K dance teacher Haley Walton was excited to see Lauper in person, but was even more thrilled to witness Peyton’s performance.

“I’m just so proud of her because she really does work her butt off for every bit of this,” Haley Walton said. “Just really proud of her work ethic and her drive.”

Peyton Walton started dancing at 2 years old, performed in her first community theater show at 5 and had her first speaking role in a show in fourth grade. It was the speaking role that made Haley Walton and dad, Chris, realize that Peyton had a natural talent for musical theater.

As a dancer, Haley Walton said she understands Peyton’s desire to continue going after musical theater as a career, and said she and Chris fully support her ambitions.

“You’re always growing your art; it never stops,” Haley Walton said. “It continues to evolve and get better. The thing with me is, yes, these things are expensive, but it is what she wants to do. And so, as parents we’ll try to do what we can to get as much experience as she can to get her there.”

Peyton Walton will perform in BeanStalk Community Theatre’s production of “Beauty and the Beast” this summer and will go to a weeklong Southeastern Summer Theatre Institute Musical Theater Summer Camp in Hilton Head, S.C. Walton plans to study musical theater in college then hopes to move to New York City in pursuit of her musical theater dreams.

For now, Peyton’s enjoying taking part in Watauga High School shows and community theater productions and sharing her theatrical passions with others.

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