The Thea Foundation celebrates and showcases the success of scholarship recipients like Isaiah Bailey, whose lives are transformed by the arts, at its signature event: Into the Blue.
By Jillian McGehee | Photography by Dero Sanford
Capital City native Isaiah Bailey is living his dreams on the Sight & Sound Theatre stage in Branson, Missouri. Isaiah will take a break from his Moses production schedule in order to attend and perform at the Thea Foundation’s Into the Blue fundraiser. This former Thea scholarship recipient credits his success to the confidence that a scholarship provides to pursue theatrical aspirations.
Into the Blue is a celebration of the organization’s continued mission fulfillment work and reiterates the importance of the arts in any student’s academic and personal life. Scholarship recipients have the opportunity to showcase their talent for patrons and friends of the organization.
“The energy in the room is always so great,” Isaiah says. “Guests are expecting something extraordinary and it’s exciting to be in an atmosphere where you’re amongst people with the same mindset. I look forward to sharing my gift with people again – it’s priceless.”
The third annual event promises some unexpected delights, notes Stacey Bowers, marketing and communications director with the Thea Foundation. “From the location to the ambience, this year’s Into the Blue is brand new. We invite you into the blue with us, where we’ll celebrate the achievements the Thea Foundation has made in advocating the arts and immerse ourselves in the stories and talents of our beneficiaries: young artists, musicians and actors.”
The evening will also honor Judy Tenenbaum, “a woman who has truly been a pillar for the arts in Arkansas, with our second annual Pillar of the Arts Award,” Stacey notes.
Thea Foundation Executive Director Paul Leopoulos says that after 15 years, it might seem he would be used to seeing the recipients come and go. “But I don’t. Isaiah is just another example of young people getting involved in the arts and the arts impacting them for the rest of their lives. The arts are so powerful, not only for these young people, but for the rest of us as well.”
Paul and his wife, Linda, established the foundation after the untimely death of their daughter Thea Kay. It’s become their family’s life work and continues to provide students and teachers across Arkansas with resources and access to the arts.
Isaiah has been entertaining the crowds since he was young – participating in the church choir and performing a solo in elementary school. He recognized and nurtured an unwavering passion throughout the years, enjoying the Wildwood Park for the Arts opera camp, then proceeding to continue his classical training at Little Rock Central High School.
Since 2015, Isaiah has been with the Sight & Sound Theatre, a Christian theatre group that welcomes millions of guests annually to experience the Bible brought to life on stage. “It’s been a really fun and exciting opportunity to do what I love. I’ve enjoyed connecting with people in a way you can’t in a secular theater,” noting he enjoys “shining a light and a smile” with any audience.
Living by the Bible verse from Colossians 3:23-4:6, Isaiah explains whatever he does, he does it with all of his heart, “as working for the Lord.” “I try to keep that as my focus so I can make sure that whatever I’m doing, I’m not doing for myself. I’m sharing my gift so that other lives can be touched, and I’m always blessed by the responses I get as I am able to bring some kind of joy to their lives.”