Janesville student lands role in Fireside production

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Andrea Anderson
Tuesday, November 26, 2013

JANESVILLE—Kahler Thiele wanted to be a karate teacher, then a roofer like his father, Dennis. Now, the Madison Elementary School fifth-grader dreams of being an actor—or maybe balancing all three.

Kahler, 10, is one of seven children starring in The Fireside Dinner Theatre's holiday production, “A Fireside Christmas," in Fort Atkinson.

When he auditioned in August, he didn't know if he would get the role. It was his first audition, and he had been practicing and memorizing the sheet music for “I Wish You a Merry Christmas” with his sister for a while, working to make it perfect.

As the audition went on, the group of children left on the potential cast list shrank steadily. Eventually, Kahler and three other boys and girls were cast as doubles for various roles in the show.

Kahler's favorite part is his solo. He sings "He'll be Coming Down the Chimney" in the kids' medley, in which he portrays a child. His other roles include a shepherd, king and brother in a family.

“I like everything in the show,” Kahler said. “I like to put on the tux at the end when you bow. I like to sing with the other kids.”

The 10-year-old's schedule is busy, but that is nothing new for Kahler.

Before starting the show, he juggled karate lessons several times a week, school-related performances, homework and family. Now, he has swapped karate for acting—a decision he and his parents didn't make lightly.

Kahler's performance schedule alternates. One week he performs in five shows; the next week he has two.

His mother, Angela Thiele, drives him to the performances. She also made sure he was at every rehearsal before the show opened Oct. 31.

“I'm a stay-at-home mom, and what I love to do is be able to give these guys the opportunity to do whatever they want,” Angela Thiele said of Kahler and her two daughters, 13-year-old Keegan and 11-year-old Kiley, who are involved in volleyball, dance, show choir and band.

Thiele has seen growth in Kahler's confidence and performance skills. She credits the entire Fireside cast, which has become her son's Fort Atkinson family.

“He has gotten so close to his family over there,” Thiele said. “The older guys, he looks up to them. He is just fitting right in and picking it right up.”

While this might be Kahler's first try at professional acting and singing, it's not his first time on stage. He's been involved in various musical performances at his school.

Kim Schram, a music specialist at Madison Elementary School, worked with Kahler in a fourth-grade performance of “Rockin' America” by Mark Brymer. Kahler had a solo in the show.

Schram describes Kahler as a natural who is energetic and creative.

"He is a great singer and has a great voice,” Schramm said. “Music comes to him, and he understands the concepts of things really quickly and is very animated, which is great for performing.”

Kahler has missed some school, mostly his favorite subjects: gym and music. But his father said Kahler doesn't mind.

“You love missing school,” Dennis Thiele said to his son. “You'd rather be singing and dancing than sitting in class.”

Kahler laughed and smiled in agreement. 

Kahler's classmates are supportive, he said.

“They say I do a good job,” Kahler said. “One kid said my voice was like gold.”

Kahler wasn't always sure he would like acting, but after he started at the Fireside, he grew to love it. He is looking ahead and trying to land his next big gig.

His parents say they are taking it one step at a time, looking at other theaters in town and enjoying watching Kahler perform.

“I can't believe how good he is and doesn't care who is watching him,” his father said.

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