Performing Phia

Musical actress starts journey at 6 years old

Growing up most families spend the month of December partaking in family traditions like making Christmas cookies, building gingerbread houses, and decorating the Christmas tree. However, this was not the case growing up for Phia Foley, an incoming Senior at Martinsville High School. Foley spent every Christmas season, starting in first grade through freshman year, performing in the Yuletide Celebration at Hilbert Circle Theater in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Phia Foley is showing off her Bell Kick tap dance move. When in middle school Foley and her sister performed in the Yuletide Christmas celebration show as dancers. “There’s these tap dancing Santa’s and we’d put on this full Santa suit and tap dance in it. It is literally so exhausting,” said Phia Foley.

Phia’s mother, Sherilyn Foley, is a professional dancer and spent many years as a dancer in Yuletide before having kids. When Phia and her twin sister, Gwennie, were born, their mother took a year off before going back to dancing. “My mom then got us into it [performing] once we were toddlers,” said Foley. As young kids, Foley and her sister were cast in the role of the two kids in the scene “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.” They played that role until they grew out of it and then they transitioned to being tap dancing Santas. 

Soon the whole family was involved! Their dad got hired as one of the technical guys in charge of maneuvering heavy props on stage. The whole family was getting paid to be apart of the Christmas celebration, including the girls. They performed the whole month of December, starting around November 30th and then ending shows on December 23rd. Mondays were days off, then they would perform in the evenings on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and finally Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were two shows a day. Imagine having such a crazy schedule so close to the end of the year! 

After one year of trying to juggle the stress of being a high school student and doing Yuletide, the family decided to discontinue their part in the show. Phia and Gwennie wanted to be a part of the cheer squad and take all these difficult classes that the Yuletide performance would inhibit their focus on school. 

“We would do our homework in the car on the hour drive up and back home. We’d do it between shows and during intermissions…it was just a lot.” Even though Foley missed being apart of the Yuletide show she says it is really nice being home for Christmas.