CommunityRising Artists


Rising Artists: Puppetry among Lockwood teen's many creative gifts

Hailey Barta and Reggie
Posted at 6:44 AM, Jan 28, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-28 08:44:01-05

LOCKWOOD — Hailey Barta is a theatrical jack-of-all-trades. You want a stagehand? Call her. How about a light board operator? She's got that. Assistant director? No problem.

"What you want in a student? Check, check, check," said Lockwood High School theater and choir teacher Q Staton.

She's also become one of the best young singers in Yellowstone County.

"She has really started to shine the last couple of years," Staton said."Her confidence level has really shot up."

"When I was little, I was a very quiet singer," Barta admitted. "I didn’t have my voice yet, and then one day it just clicked."

But there's one thing right now above all that makes Barta really special: Reggie.

Hailey Barta and Reggie
Hailey Barta shows off Reggie, a puppet she created for Lockwood High School's most recent play.

Reggie is Barta’s latest - and greatest - attempt at puppetry, made specifically for Lockwood’s latest play.

"One of the scenes calls for a puppet, and she made the puppet, which was absolutely amazing," Staton said.

More specifically, she brought Reggie to life. That’s the point.

"If you have a puppet, to me, it should be living," Barta said. "It should always be a person sitting right next to you."

Reggie isn't Barta's first puppet, but he is her most advanced, created after watching YouTube videos while dreaming of the Jim Henson shows she loved as kid.

"I’m able to create a character, then I’m able to become that character," Barta said. "Use my voice, my songs, my everything. It combines so much of what I enjoy doing."

Hailey Barta
Lockwood High School senior Hailey Barta has become one of the best young performers in Yellowstone County.

Barta is a performer. She’s in multiple choirs at Lockwood but loves to sing solo. She’s even passed a soloist’s toughest test: the national anthem, not an easy task.

"It is not," Barta agreed with a laugh.

"It has a wide range, so some people have an issue with that," Staton said, "and it sings itself."

She adheres to those words, singing the song simply but powerfully. Barta has sung it all over, from Mustangs games to Lockwood’s homecoming football game. She hopes - as a former athlete turned artist - that she’s inspiring more Lions to flex those muscles.

"Lockwood has always been a very athletic-based community," Barta said. "We have the gyms. We have the workout facilities, and now we have this amazing theater that we want to use more.

"I’ve gone here since kindergarten and seeing this community build itself, there is such close connections here that I think we could see more of."

And who wouldn’t want more?

Hailey Barta
Hailey Barta always has multiple jobs in Lockwood High School productions, including stagehand, set design, assistant director and actor, among others.