TRAVERSE CITY — Take a good look at Madison Hertel's face.
You might be seeing a lot of it.
The Traverse City West Middle School student stars in a new commercial for Build-A-Bear Workshop, a make-your-own stuffed animal "retail-entertainment experience" with more than 400 stores worldwide.
The commercial began airing in October on stations including the Nickolodeon children's channel. That's where Hertel, 12, also was seen in a promotional spot for September's Worldwide Day of Play. The annual event is designed to encourage kids and parents to turn off the television and play, especially outdoors.
The Traverse City girl began performing after seeing a local high school production of "Les Miserables" at age 5. She joined the Old Town Playhouse Young Company and quickly worked through the ranks, eventually crossing over into adult theater. Meanwhile she took singing lessons from some of the region's most respected vocal coaches and studied acting in summer workshops and master classes at the Broadway Artists Alliance in New York City, which provides professional training for promising young musical theater performers.
About four years ago, encouraged by her teachers and professional artists, she began auditioning at open casting calls in Chicago and New York.
"She's an amazingly talented performer, very mature for her age, very gifted," said OTP Young Company Executive Director Mychelle Hopkins, who has directed Hertel in several productions. "She's not only a great triple-threat performer, because she can sing, dance and act, but she's just got that joy in her face and in everything she does when she performs. The planets are aligning for her and I'm so thrilled."
Hertel's big break came last summer when a casting agent from Chicago spotted her in a musical theater production at Interlochen Arts Camp and signed her to a contract. A scant two weeks and two rounds of auditions later, Hertel got her first professional job with Build-A-Bear Workshop — her first on-camera role.
The 14-hour shoot involved everything from getting her hair and makeup done and trying on several outfits to memorizing a script and blocking, delivering lines and taking on-the-spot direction. She also got tips for on-camera acting, which differs from stage acting.
"Theater's a lot bigger," said Hertel, who was flown to St. Louis for the shoot in a Build-A-Bear Workshop store. "For on-camera, it's more like you're talking to somebody. It's still animated, it's just not as big. And you had to be on the balls of your feet. Unlike musical theater, where you have weeks to practice, you say your lines and then it's like, 'OK, we don't like that. Try it this way.'"
The experience will come in handy for other jobs and auditions, said the actress, who has tried out for everything from commercial voiceovers to television, movie and opera roles. So will the pay — $3,000 — which went right back into her performance education fund. The account is supplemented by prize money from a local Danny Boy singing contest and a scholarship from the Grand Traverse Musicale, among other awards. It helps cover the costs of travel when video auditions and performing by Skype aren't options.
"She works hard at what she does," said mom and chaperone Karyn Hertel. "Every opportunity, she goes for."
While juggling a performing career with school, homework and family life can be stressful, Hertel is an A student and winner of her school's Pride Award. School comes first, she said, with performing a close second.
"It's always fun. It's my passion. It's what I love, it's what I want to do," she said. "I knew from a very long time ago that auditioning and getting rejected was a big part of this.
"So I'm able to cope, I don't shut down. It's not about talent, it's about what they're looking for."
The Build-A-Bear Workshop commercial also is airing in the United Kingdom and online.
To view it, visit http://www.buildabear.com/shopping/contents/content.jsp?catId= 100003&id= 1000016.
Traverse City's Madison Hertel in a Build-A-Bear spot
TRAVERSE CITY — Take a good look at Madison Hertel's face.
Fishing companies try to set the hook in tourists, youth
Soni Aylsworth wouldn’t return to his home town of Empire until he could own his own business.Continued ...
All Aboard: SUP (stand up paddling) is up
Ryan Tiderington’s affair with the water began with a broken heart. “She” was replaced by a stand up paddleboard.Continued ...
Blue Angels dazzle crowds
An estimated 400,000 people lined the beaches along West Grand Traverse Bay to experience the thrill of graceful, aerobatic maneuvers in the sky.Continued ...
Restaurants, charter guides collaborate
Sandra Enness said it’s thrilling to wrangle a big fish on a charter boat tour, but many customers’ experiences fizzle when they return home with their catches.Continued ...
Top draft picks take part in camp
One week after being drafted by the Detroit Red Wings, Dylan Larkin and Dominic Turgeon are getting their first taste of professional hockey.Continued ...
MacUpdate launches new app, website
Joel Mueller can easily click through the process of downloading and installing apps on his Macintosh laptop, but he’s fed up with the long routine that confuses beginners and annoys experts.Continued ...
Cleaning in Character: Housekeeping happiness from a TC professional
It’s five o’clock and you walk in the door from work. Guests will arrive momentarily. You scan the landscape: toys jumble the carpet, dog hair blows across the floor like tumbleweed and, lo, yesterday’s dishes declared trench warfare in the sink.Continued ...
Jason Tank: Mutual funds — a riddle wrapped in a mystery
As the popularity of exchange traded funds (ETFs) has ballooned, many investors are understandably left scratching their heads about how they differ from mutual funds.Continued ...
Letters to the Editor: 07/06/2014
Wind can power economy; A fear-minded approach.Continued ...
Business owners speak out against shelter
Jim Chan invested $100,000 to modernize the building that holds his business on Eighth Street, money he believes he’ll lose if city commissioners approve a 100-bed homeless shelter nearby.Continued ...
Allison Batdorff: Firecracker phobia completely normal
It’s “perfectly normal” for kids to develop odd phobias, they say. It’s like a rite-of-passage. Kids walk. They talk. They freak out at potholders. They drive.Continued ...
Flying flapjacks kick off the festival
If breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day, the Cherry Pancake Breakfast at the Open Space would have to be the most important meal of the National Cherry Festival.Continued ...
Sports in Brief: 07/06/2014
Former Traverse City North Stars goaltender C.J. Motte was one of two Ferris State athletes to receive the Dean Davenport “Bulldog of the Year” Award. (Plus more)Continued ...
Forum: Extend Heritage Trail along CR 669 to Good Harbor Bay
With the completion of the multi-use Heritage Recreational Trail from the Dune Climb to Empire, the focus now turns to constructing the trail eastward from Glen Arbor. We highly encourage the construction of the Heritage Trail northward from M-22 along CR 669 to Good Harbor Beach, using federally owned land that avoids traversing private property.Continued ...
On Poetry: From one laureate to another
This poem is by way of introducing you to JoAnn Balingit, who was selected as poet laureate of Delaware after I moved to Traverse City.Continued ...
Traverse City motel receives recognition
A motel on Munson Avenue is one of several in the region to receive accolades from Tripadvisor.com.Continued ...
More visitors mean no time off, extra help for officers
Scores of pedestrians with towels slung over their shoulders crossed Grandview Parkway as Traverse City Police Sgt. Steve Drzewiecki walked toward the National Cherry Festival’s entrance.Continued ...
Bringing the festival to life, Jessica Hardy
It takes a community to bring the National Cherry Festival to life. Traverse City resident Jessica Hardy, age 14, volunteered at the Oasis, the food station located near the main stage at the Festival Open Space.Continued ...
Best Sellers: 07/06/2014
Best-selling books across northwest Michigan and the nation:Continued ...
Books in Brief: 07/06/2014
Book signings; Author McNees visits Gaylord; Library welcomes Fleda Brown.Continued ...
Today at the Cherry Festival: 07/06/2014
9 a.m. Four-Person Beach Volleyball Tournament: Today’s tournament features Co-Ed Open (18 teams), Co-Ed Recreational (12 teams) and Women’s (6 teams) play.Continued ...
Community in Brief: 07/06/2014
Support group forms; Junior gardening series; Elder law talk; UAW retirees lunch. (Plus more)Continued ...
- Saturday, July 5, 2014
Police: Man seriously injured after fall
A man found injured in an alleyway near Union Street likely fell and hit his head, authorities said.Continued ...
- Sunday, June 29, 2014
Fruit crop a mixed bag
No hard frost in spring is a good thing at the Guntzviller’s Berry Farm.Continued ...
Bardenhagen Berries a family tradition
Steve Bardenhagen is following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather in the family tradition of raising strawberries.Continued ...
- Fishing companies try to set the hook in tourists, youth