By Shelby Smoak
As budding musical songbird Katyrien Hall and almost anyone will tell you, “Bleeding disorders aren’t contagious,” but Kaytrien’s enthusiasm and passion for musical theater is.
Only in her freshman year of high school in the remote calm of Maine, she already has a pedigree of performances and a talent to match. “I’ve always enjoyed playing instruments and singing when I was younger,” she says, and after doing her first musical Dear Edwina Jr. in 7th grade, followed by another role in The Wizard of Oz, Kaytrien was hooked. She describes her next achievement playing the lead role Belle in Beauty and the Beast as “one of the greatest experiences of my whole musical journey so far.” She adds, “It made me fall in love with the whole idea of musical theater.”
One thing that made musical theater especially attractive to Kaytrien is that it was a “much safer place” for her than any other hobby. Kaytrien suffers from von Willebrand disease and platelet impairment and has two siblings with a bleeding disorder. While she participated in volleyball thinking it a safe “non-contact sport,” she still developed bruises and damaged her arms, leading her hematologist to recommend she quit. Luckily, musical theater was there to catch her, but it’s not all safe. “If I am in a scene where someone needs to grab me or do anything aggressive towards me,” she says, “I have to let the bruises come because it’s part of the show. It is hard having to do a scene like that over and over, but I make sure to take care of myself and keep an ice pack on my bruises.”
Let’s hope then her latest role in Hemophilia: The Musical didn’t give her any bruises. When she heard about the opportunity in 2018, Kaytrien filmed almost 100 takes of her audition video before feeling satisfied enough to send it along to Breaking Through, the group coordinating the awareness-raising event. Backed by funding from BioMarin, Hemophilia: The Musical was a work in art therapy meant to bring teenagers together to share their stories with each other as well as with a larger audience.
For her part in the musical, Kaytrien played a young girl afraid of bullying because of her bleeding disorder.
“She is shy and doesn’t want anybody to know about her disorder, Kaytrien says of the part, “but she eventually overcomes the fear and shares her story with others.” Certainly, the musical’s message is one many in our community can relate to.
Now back at home, Kaytrien is practicing alto sax, performing in chorus and jazz band and taking a class in musical theory and composition. She labels the ability to perform “so satisfying” and “one of the greatest accomplishments anybody can have.” If you have a bleeding disorder, Kaytrien advocates, “Don’t let it hold you back. Even if you have to do things a bit different from others, try your hardest to do what you enjoy and be proud of it.” True to form, nothing seems to be holding Kaytrien back. “Music has helped me through every rough situation I have been in,” she says. “When I am 20, 30, or even 85,” she adds, “I intend to keep music in my life forever.”
To watch the performance of Hemophilia: The Musical, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGWqxEalxKQ