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SHE HITS MORE THAN A FEW HIGH NOTES.

Byline: - Evan Henerson

When she attended a B.J. Thomas concert in her native Illinois, a then-4-year-old Sara Niemietz recalls being plucked from the audience to join the singer on stage.

Starstruck? Intimidated? Not this young lady.

``After that, when we'd go to concerts, I'd be like, `Do I get to go up on stage and sing?''' says Niemietz. ``My parents would say, `No. That was kind of a special thing.'''

A decade later, a Niemietz stage appearance is by no means a specialized occurrence.

The 14-year-old Niemietz, who lives in the Santa Clarita Valley, has a leading role in the new musical ``13,'' opening this weekend at the Mark Taper Forum. Her five-song CD, ``Without a Net,'' is for sale on myspace.com, and she is a a vocalist on the soundtrack for ``The Exorcism of Emily Rose,'' and on the ``Barbie Sings: The Princess Movie Songs'' album.

Niemietz has also appeared on Broadway in Carol Burnett's play ``Hollywood Arms,'' and in the film ``Akeelah and the Bee,'' and is as apt to take a non-singing role as a musical one.

``I never really knew much about acting,'' Niemietz says, ``Then I started taking some acting classes, and I realized that was a fun thing to do, too.''

Her ``13'' character, Patrice, is something of an outsider who befriends leading kid and New York transplant Evan (played by Ricky Ashley) but, alas, doesn't score an invite to Evan's bar mitzvah.

Niemietz sees a lot of herself in Patrice: a girl who is studious and on the quiet side, yes, but also able to speak up when the need arises.

One of only four current cast members who participated in the musical's workshop last February, Niemietz has become something of the cast ``rock,'' according to director Todd Graff.

``She's a total pro without sacrificing her kid-like qualities,'' Graff says. ``You never look at her and think, `Eew, she's this little creepy actress automaton.' She's kind of goofy, and kind of lovably awkward. She's also the first one there and the last one to leave.''

She'll get to work on a follow-up to ``Without a Net'' following ``13,'' and in school has discovered a new interest: languages.

``I just started learning Mandarin Chinese,'' she says. ``Next year my school is probably going to take 10 kids to China. I'm hoping to go.''

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(color) Sara Niemietz of the Santa Clarita Valley is in the limelight with ``13.''

John McCoy/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 4, 2007
Words:413
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