My Name Is ... Kristen Samu

Iowa native is actress, composer and voice teacher


About me

I was born in Clinton, Iowa. My dad was a Lutheran minister, so we moved around a little bit. I ended up in Spearfish, South Dakota when I was 10 and graduated high school there. I went to college as a vocal performance major and decided that wasn't for me, so I went to Los Angeles and sang with the Young Americans.

I went back to Spearfish at a break and met up with a friend who was moving to Denver. I decided to move to try singing here — the jazz community was really big at the time and that's what I wanted to do. I sang jazz in clubs for several years. I saw an audition for "Godspell," a dream show of mine, so I auditioned for it. I got in and that started me down the track of doing theater here in Denver.

I auditioned for a show that my husband was the music director for. After the show was over we began to date. We got married in 1995. Together we moved back east. He worked on Broadway and I did some work. In 2006, because our kids were little, we came back to Highlands Ranch. We've been here for 13 years.

At Heritage Elementary School

We established a theater program called Caught in The Act. It started when our daughter was in sixth grade. We were asked by the then principal to put on a real theater program — not a kids theater program, a theater program for kids. That was always a distinction for us. We really didn't water it down.

We started off doing simple shows that were for kids and then started doing Broadway musicals junior programs. We had lights, a sound system. We did costumes and makeup. We had a tech program. The kids got to experience building the sets.

Last year was our 10th year. I'm really proud of that program. I think it's something that no other elementary or middle school program has done. Those kids really experienced theater.

Why it's important

I think it's important for young kids to experience the arts, period. When kids are learning art and music in conjunction with math and science they learn all things better.

Arts teach compassion, empathy, kindness. You have to learn how to work with other people. To me, I think that's something we need right now.

Fun fact

I'm a yoga and barre fiend. I do yoga three times a week at Mind Body Life Transformations and work out at Barre Forte three times a week.

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