There's a story in the Bechtel family about the moment they learned that then four-year-old daughter Mallory could sing. "I was in a dance class," the now 14-year-old tells us. "We had to sing a Christmas song while we danced ... when I came home I told my mom, 'They all sang it bad. They did it all wrong.' So she asked me how they were supposed to sing it and I got up on our coffee table and I sang."
Mother Annette Bechtel knew talent when she saw it. She pulled out the Annie album and the video camera and taped young Mallory performing some tunes.
"When my dad came home, she showed him the tape and he said, 'Oh, you have to turn down the Annie vocals; you can't hear Mallory.' My mom said, 'That is Mallory!'"
"Then she put me in musical theater classes right away and I've been doing it ever since."
Less than a year later, the tiny talent was cast in a production ("It was either The Wizard of Oz or The Jungle Book. I can't remember which one I did first.")
Fast forward to today, and Bechtel has some 30 shows on her resume. The latest is the musical Brooklyn where Bechtel plays the lead character, a teen on her own in New York City in search of her missing father.
What She Does: At 14, Bechtel doesn't exactly get asked, "And what do you do for a living?" But when the occasion to tell people she's a performer does come up, she's gives a modest answer: "I usually just tell people that I do musical theater or that I'm a performer."
We'd say that she does musical theater very, very well and is a fantastic performer, but Bechtel is much too polite to brag on herself.
"The thing with musical theater is that for a lot of people, it's just a hobby. That was how this started for me, but now I know that this is what I want to do when I get older. This isn't just a hobby anymore. Musical theater is actually a very serious thing for me. You really do have to be a triple threat and sing, act and dance, all really, really well."
Why She Likes It: "I like that I get to meet so many new people all the time. Everyone in musical theater is so outgoing and I love getting to work with new people. That's why this production of Brooklyn is so fun; I've gotten to meet lots of new, really talented people.
"I also like performing in front of a live audience. It's just exhilarating. Having a live audience in front of me and getting to open up and tell a story, I just love it. It's great."
What Inspires Her: "People inspire me, Broadway performers like Megan Hilty, Sutton Foster, Idina Menzel, Sherie Rene Scott. That's really what got me started in musical theater, listening to them when I was younger and saying, 'I want to be just like them when I grow up.'"
Bechtel says finding the inspiration for an individual character is sometimes more difficult. "I relate to [the character] Brooklyn as a singer and all the pressure she's under, but sometimes a character has done something that I just have no experience in and I just try to put myself in that situation."
Not literally in the character's situation, she's quick to say. "There are some characters where I say, 'I'm glad I'm not her' like young Cosette [in Les Miserables] is one. I once played Tina Denmark in Ruthless, The Musical. She's a ten-year-old murderer, she goes around killing people. I'm glad I'm not her."
If Not This, Then What: "If I wasn't doing musical theater, I would want to be an author. I'm definitely more right brain than I am left. I love writing."
If Not Here, Where: "I would like to be in New York City because there are just so many opportunity there. I do try to audition in New York, but that's just a lot more difficult to do. Living there would be great."
What's Next: "After Brooklyn, I'm going to be playing Eva in Bring it On at TUTS."
More Creatives for 2014 (In order of most recently published; click here for the full page).
Janine Hughes, visual artist Nyssa Juneau, artist John Merritt, artist Leslie Scates, choreographer and dance educator Denise O'Neal, producer, director, playwright Jason Poland, cartoonist Courtney Sandifer, filmmaker, actor, writer Lloyd Gite, gallery owner Henry Yau, The Children's Museum of Houston's publicity and promotions guru Angeli Pidcock, fantasy writer and mentor Jennifer Mathieu, author Scott Chitwood, writer Anat Ronen, urban artist Amber Galloway Gallego, rockstar and sign language interpreter Michael Weems, playwright Lane Montoya, artist Jordan Simpson, SLAM poet Joey & Jaime, designers Suzi Taylor, photographer Ashton Miyako, dressmaker T. Smith, artistLindsay Finnen, photographer Kaitlyn Stanley, tattoo artist Eleazar Galindo Navarro, video game maker Kate de Para, textile and clothing designer Shawn Swanner, video game painter Andy Gonzales, painter Chris Foreman, comic book sketcher Theresa DiMenno, photographer Jessica E. Jones, opera singer Atseko Factor, actor John Pluecker, writer, poet and language justice worker Ricky Ortiz, painter, tattoo artist Rabēa Ballin, artist David Wald, actor Lisa E. Harris, performing and visual artist Stephanie Todd Wong, executive director of Dance Source Houston Pamela Fagan Hutchins, novelist Heather Gordy, artist Mark Nasso, comic artist Shelbi-Nicole, artist Marian Szczepanski, novelist Jonathan Blake, fashion designer Doni Langlois, interior designer Kat Denson, dancer Blame the Comic, comedian Margaret Menchaca Alvarez, artist Jacquelyne Jay Boe, dancer Rene Fernandez, painter Teresa Chapman, choreographer and dancer