On the Langley stage: She never imagined singing in public

Like her character of Belle, Taraneh Talebi is chasing her dream.

by Alex Wilks/Special to the Langley Advance

Taraneh Talebi’s love of singing stems from her childhood and has heightened substantially since she was casted a lead role in her school play.

“As far as I can remember, I always sang,” she explained. “I would have people tell me to keep quiet, because I couldn’t stop singing and it got annoying after a while.”

Having recently moved to Canada from Iran, the lead role in a musical is a dream Talebi never thought was possible.

“I sometimes don’t believe it’s true. I’m doing my part and I’m so lost in my character when I suddenly realize… I’m going to be performing in front of hundreds of people,” she noted.

“As soon as this realization hits me, I start feeling millions of emotions all at once, from stressing and freaking out to happy tears and screaming from excitement.”

For 40 years, strict regulations throughout Iran have banned women vocalists from singing in front of men who are unrelated to them.

“I could never sing publicly or pursue a singing career in anyway,” Talebi explained.

The 17-year-old Langley Fundamental School student will be playing the role of Belle in her school’s upcoming production of Beauty and the Beast.

“The play is about Belle, a girl with all these dreams that she wants to reach someday, but suddenly has to forget about them because she gets held as a prisoner by a beast,” she explained.

“The concept of this story is to show that people can change for the better and worse in life. Also, it explores the fact that beauty comes from within and not everything is about looks.”

The Willoughby resident’s dreams have become her reality because her family, both in Iran and Canada, wanted to provide her with more opportunities.

“When I went to Iran, I realized how talented she is. She has a voice of an angel and she is extremely smart academy wise, too,” explained Talebi’s Aunt, Haleh Magnus.

“When I came back (to Canada) I found a way to bring her over and give her more opportunities to grow. As you know there is still lots of limitation for woman in Iran.”

Talebi sees it as a “great experience” and she is grateful to everyone who has made it possible.

Although she’s only lived in Langley for just a few months, with no musical theatre experience she described it as excited and nerve-wracking to sing in front of her classmates.

“I got to perform publicly which was exciting,” she added describing her experience during her audition.

“Getting to play a character that is going through changes that are happening in her life and being able to connect with her on some levels is the most exciting part,” Talebi added.

“The story of my life and hers are not the same, but I can relate with her and that makes it all much more fun.”

The school production of Beauty and the Beast has six public performances starting Friday. It’s set to run from April 27 to May 5 with tickets ranging from $12 to $25.

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“I don’t know what opportunities can come from the show, but I am putting all my effort to do well and to showcase my talents,” noted Talebi.

“I am not entirely sure of what to expect, but I know that every performance I do could lead to a different opportunity.”

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