October 12, 2016
Dressed in a T-shirt featuring a glasses- and headphones-wearing pug and the words “I’m still not listening,” Kasche Huehn bounces around a room as Meghan Trainor’s “Me Too” belts out of speakers.
Later, as he pretends to be a robot by not moving (“I’m a broken robot!”), he collapses to the floor, unable to contain his laughter.
Some days, he’s a paid actor, but today, at acting class, he’s just a 9-year-old boy.
Kasche has been taking classes with Sonia Walsh at Serendipity Acting Studio for about three years.
And in the past months, that’s turned into paid acting jobs — most recently in Omaha.
Kasche, son of Kirk and Sherry Huehn of Manning, is in fourth grade at IKM-Manning Community Schools.
At 9, Kasche isn’t new in his interest in acting.
“Even when he was a little guy, he’d wear his Halloween costume months before and after Halloween,” Kirk Huehn said. “He liked being in character.”
Kasche’s goal in acting class never was to become less shy.
“He’s a naturally effervescent person,” Walsh said. “He has lots of charisma onstage.
“He’s willing to jump in with both feet, and when you’re teaching any subject, it’s nice as a teacher to have a student who says,
‘Yeah, I’ll give that a whirl.’”
Kasche is good at memorizing lines quickly — a good thing, his dad said, since he often misplaces his scripts.
“I found my ‘Music Man Jr.’ script!” Kasche interjected.
“Yeah, from six months ago,” Kirk countered.
Kasche plays guitar and Minecraft. He likes watching comedy and movie bloopers and hopes to have his own show someday — “The Kasche Hour,” most likely, Walsh said. He’d love to play a funny action star. He likes superhero movies.
Anything but romance.
Since earlier this year, Kasche has worked with the Peak Agency in Des Moines, the same modeling and talent agency Walsh uses, and through that agency has found several paid acting jobs.
Walsh recommends asking lots of questions before signing your child on with an agency; some are more legitimate than others, she said.
Since this spring, Kasche has participated in a photo shoot and commercial for Mediacom, a commercial for Fong’s Pizza in Des Moines and, two weeks ago, an educational video shot in Omaha to teach fourth-graders about growing their own food.
He’s getting the hang of auditions and day-long shoots.
In the Des Moines commercial, Kasche was a brother who clashed with his sister over whether they should eat pizza or Chinese food. He doesn’t like Chinese — and neither did his character.
Kasche had wanted food on the way to the Fong’s shoot and his dad reminded him that, whatever he did, he shouldn’t get food on the shirt he was going to wear for the shoot.
They arrived and exited the car to find his shirt covered with chocolate ice cream.
“You had one job, Dad — to get him there with nothing on his shirt,” Walsh joked. “You learned — when you eat in the car, do it bareback.”
In Omaha, Kasche played a video game addict who had absolutely no interest in learning about his grandparents’ interest in gardening, until he got his hands dirty while planting tomatoes and peppers and learned about sharing home-grown food. It was chilly as they filmed the summer-themed video, and he snacked on an entire bag of beef jerky throughout the day — he likes the teriyaki flavor.
The filming of the educational video in Omaha hit a snag when the cast sat down around a table and Kasche was asked to eat — or pretend to eat — chips and salsa.
Kasche hates tortilla chips.
“He was supposed to reach out, grab the chips and put them on his plate — and he wouldn’t do it,” Kirk laughed. “Nine years old, and he’s big-timing them.”
It’s rewarding seeing a student successfully pursue acting, Walsh said.
“I don’t do this because I expect every kid who walks in the door to become a movie star,” she said. “But who’s to say there won’t be a kid from Carroll, Iowa, or Manning, Iowa, who doesn’t have some success?”
Walsh has had older students pursue acting with various degrees of success, but Kasche is one of her youngest students to professionally act.
Those jobs can be boring in between quick bursts of action, but Kasche is learning how it all works, “warts and all,” Walsh said.
“He enjoys the work, that’s probably the biggest thing, and he has two supportive parents,” she said. “They’ve said, ‘Maybe it’s not forever, but he likes it now, so let’s do it.’”
It’s impossible to tell what the future holds for Kasche, but Walsh isn’t about limiting.
“I never say, ‘Be realistic; not many people make it,’” she said. “That’s a terrible thing to tell a kid, not to pursue a passion of theirs.
“When you’re truly passionate and have the kind of talent Kasche has, why not look forward to a path of possibilities?”
One of the most important parts of being an actor is continuing to take classes and learn, Walsh said — and paid jobs or no, Kasche is doing that.
With games, songs, dancing and activities, his classes at Serendipity Acting Studio teach about stage direction, vocal use, character depiction, line memorization, body movement, on-stage focus and more.
During a recent class, Kasche showcased his outgoing and often quirky personality.
“He’s always good at volunteering for stuff — because he’s pretty sure he can nail it,” Walsh joked.
One game his class played that day, focusing on concentration, had students standing in a circle and trying to focus on one person — while screaming all the while. If one player saw another looking at him or her, they were both out. Kasche’s feet were rarely on the floor for portions of the game.
Another activity had students go around in a circle, each saying what he or she would take along if they were stranded on a desert island — as well as what all the people before him or her wanted to bring along, urging them to concentrate and remember.
The items, or people, students chose to bring to the island varied widely. Foot wash. A genie. A fishing pole. A pink fluffy unicorn (“Hey!” Kasche said. “That’s what I was going to say!”). A shovel. Sonia Walsh (to eat if the student got hungry enough to become a cannibal). Marshmallows.
“My name is Fred. I’d bring …
…a pink fluffy fish.”