Opera, basketball, ballet, Girl's State and ventriloquism are just some of the things Megan Dover does well.
Megan, the daughter of G. Mark and Merrilyn Dover of Centerville, someday wants to sing in an opera. But for now, she's busy with local performances. Her most recent starring role was in Viewmont High School's musical "The King and I," and she has been featured throughout the state as a ventriloquist with her dummy, Mirky Mirth.After she learned ventriloquism from her aunt, Kiera Newbury, in Arizona, she taught her older sister, Mindy, who now lives in California.
"I watched my aunt and she taught me how to do it," the 18-year-old said. "You don't really `throw' your voice, you just hold your lips and teeth still. It's really done with your tongue," said Megan. "Most of being a ventriloquist is how you react to the dummy."
Ventriloquism runs in Megan's family. Besides Megan and Mindy, a younger sister, Maryl Lyn, 14, and two cousins are ventriloquists. Her grandmother in Montpelier, Idaho, has commented that she has real dummies for grandchildren.
Megan and Mirth have performed throughout the state, including at Lagoon, the Primary Children's Medical Center, rest homes and schools.
Megan and Mindy started as part of their mother's singing group, the "Confectionary." Mindy's dummy was quiet and friendly, but Mirky was the opposite. Mirky would roll his big, brown eyes and say sarcastic things to the audience.
"Mirky Mirth is kind of sarcastic, but he is a good dummy," Megan said. "He's been with me through many things." Including Megan's campaign for governor at Girl's State. "People remember me because of the dummy," she said. "His head is carved of wood and you can make his eyes move by using the wires inside. I dress him up for different holidays with clothes my mother has made."
Megan's father bought Mirky Mirth in New York City at a magic shop and brought him home in his carry-on luggage. The packed dummy looked like a skeleton on the luggage monitors at the airport, and when the attendants questioned him, Dover replied that he was bringing a body home for burial.
Megan likes to get a rise out of people, too, according to her mother. She and a friend sometimes go to the airport and serenade people waiting for planes. They pretend they are part of a "singing group."
But despite all the joking, Megan is a dedicated student of music and wants to become an opera singer. From her vocal coach, Heidi McKay of Centerville, she is learning about composers and expanding her repertoire.
Jeannie McGuire, a music teacher at Viewmont High School, said, "She is an incredibly talented girl. She wants to become an opera star and I think she really has a chance."
The highlight of her young career came when she sang "Ave Maria" in the Salt Lake Tabernacle after the Temple Square Christmas lighting ceremony. "It was an incredible experience," she said.
Around the house, "she sings from morning to night," her mother said. "Megan has had good teachers that came just at the right time for her. She has gleaned from them," she said.
"I have an operatic voice. I sing popular music and musicals but my voice is more like opera," Megan said.
Besides her school work and musical training, Megan teaches voice students of her own. "I love to teach. I am learning by helping them. I teach the younger ones to have confidence and self-esteem, because that will help even if they don't go on with their studies." Megan is so good with her students that the music teacher at a local junior high recommends her to her students.
After graduating from Viewmont High this spring, Megan will go to Brigham Young University to continue her studies. If her wishes came true, she will someday work with a voice coach from the New York Metropolitan Opera, see all the musicals in New York and then tour Europe - and she plans to take Mirky Mirth with her through it all.