Person of the Week
Thriving In—and Adding to—the Creative Community
Some people just know how to put on a show. For Clinton’s Sam Reed, that includes the annual holiday light show he creates at his family home each winter, as well as his passion for theater end music. (Photo courtesy of Sam Reed )
During this holiday season did you take time to drive by the light show at Frederick Place in Clinton? If so, the person you have to thank for the joy is Sam Reed, a Morgan School senior who has been putting on a show for as long as he can remember—and the light show is just one facet.
Sam’s love of theater can be traced back to when he was in elementary school and a flyer for Kidz Konnection, a youth theater company that is based in Clinton, caught his attention.
“In 2nd grade, I was more of a shy kid, so I brought a flyer home and then I went to one 30-minute class and I fell in love,” Sam recalls.
Sam says he remembers taking the script from the class home that night and reenacting the show for is parents.
“I was captured by the creative bug,” says Sam.
So great is Sam’s interest in theater that even though still a teenager himself, Sam has been teaching classes at Kidz Konnection since he was 13. Sam teaches a class on improv and one on the backstage workings of productions.
“I’ve taught groups as big as 10 to 12 and as small as 2 to 3,” Sam says.
The kids in Sam’s classes learn everything from acting techniques in the improv class to how to do the curtains and lights from behind the scenes. Sam admits that being in charge of a group of energetic young kids can be hard, but he says he’s up to it.
“It can be challenging, but I’ve improved. I keep the kids in line and I learned how to control them but still let them have a good time,” Sam says.
Others may know Sam—or at least his house—from his annual holiday season light show. One day when he was in middle school, Sam was watching an episode of the ABC show The Great American Light Fight, a show about different families competing to see who has the better light display. But to Sam, who is Jewish, one part of the show didn’t sit right with him.
“The thing that bothered me is it’s all about Christmas. And being a Jewish family, that bugged me,” says Sam.
By this time, Sam had gotten enough experience with programming and production that he decided to make his own non-religious holiday light show. Though his whole yard is decorated, there are no religious or holiday-specific decorations. The light show is synced with songs that play on a special radio channel; the songs also don’t refence specific holidays.
Sam started doing the display when he was in 7th grade and since then it became an annual trip to make for many shoreline citizens every December.
For Sam, the best part of the holiday show has always been the response from the community.
“I’ve gotten letters from people that are thanking me or saying it helps their kids fall asleep at night. The light show is really just another show for me and I love it,” says Sam.
This year Sam asked for donations of canned goods to be made so they could be given to the food pantry to combat the rising instances of hunger from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I had so many cans in my car this year we could barely fit my mom in the passenger seat,” says Sam.
Sam’s interest in putting on shows has even extended to creating a solid side hustle for himself. Sam can be found DJing events and parties under his moniker DJ Sam. His interest began when he saw a friend with a sound board and enjoyed playing with it. Sam asked for one for himself for a Hanukah present and since then he’s been using it very regularly.
In fact, it was DJing that led Sam to one of his other great hobbies.
“I first joined student government at school because I wanted to DJ their social,” Sam says with a laugh. “I fell in love with it and have been class president every year since 8th grade,” says Sam.
For Sam, the best part of the group is the ability to connect with so many different groups of students from so many different groups in the school. Sam says he also enjoys working on the various fundraisers and planning for events held by the group.
Sam was born and raised in Clinton. Now a senior at The Morgan School, Sam says he’s still waiting to hear back from the colleges he applied to. When in school, he plans to join theater groups and study computer science to further understand the production side of shows.
His favorite part of growing up in Clinton is seeing all the support the community has for artistic-minded people like himself.
“For a small town, the community support for the arts is so great. Any theater production at Town Hall is always full,” Sam says
“We also now have an arts district and an arts council and I’m helping design their website,” Sam adds.
The support from the arts community and the connections he’s made through it have led to Sam referring to it affectionately as “second family.”
“Kidz Konnection and the community and the support they’ve give me has made me who I am, along with my parents who have always supported me and been by my side,” Sam says.