This is the third in a series of blog posts about “Our Town,” by Brian Michael Riley.
Rounding up the two youngest cast members of Our Town took some doing. Getting them to share their nervous excitement over their fast approaching opening night was a piece of cake. I’m always thrilled to see kids sharing the stage with us old fogies in community theatre – it so often livens the place up. Having young ones around during rehearsals and shows lends a real sense of family and fun to a show. Come to find out, these two ten year olds were having a blast.
James Avery and Alice Jackins are the newest recruits to the Powerhouse Players, both of them making their New Canaan debut with Thornton Wilder’s classic play Our Town. I had the distinct honor of interviewing these two dynamos and here’s what I found out.
Master Avery is a resident of New Canaan and attends nearby Saxe Middle School where he is in the 5th grade. James was recently seen in Curtain Call’s Pinocchio, which was a part of that theater’s summer kids program. It was during that experience as well as a school play that James was bitten by the theatre bug – and bad.
“I’d like to be on t.v.,” he tells me when I ask of his long term goals. “I want to be like a working actor, ya know? It would be great to be in movies and stuff.” James’ favorite actor is comedian Adam Sandler and his current favorite movie is this past summer’s blockbuster Pacific Rim.
“It’s awesome to act with adults on stage, I never did that before. The director is the best, and all of the other actors treat us just like everyone else,” James said. “I’m definitely going to audition here again..!”
But make no mistake, James is really just an ordinary kid. When he’s not working on lines or blocking with the cool cast of Our Town, he’s enjoying a game of flag football with his friends, or playing his favorite video game Assassin’s Creed.
“Oh man I better get backstage,” James realizes when he hears a scene change happening in the theater. “I think I’m on next!”
This gave me a chance to ask Miss Jackins a few questions before losing her to the dress rehearsal as well. Alice is from Norwalk and commutes to Greenwich to attend Riverside School where she is also in the 5th Grade. But unlike James, she passes on the school plays.
“I like spending time after school on my extras instead,” Alice tells me. “Like dance class and voice class. These help me get parts for bigger plays, like Our Town. I do those at night or over the summer.”
Alice is especially excited about this show because she gets to work with her dad on stage for the first time. Other shows on Alice’s quickly growing resume are Three Dragons with the Crystal Theatre in Norwalk and Aseops Fables and Puss ‘N Boots. All together, Alice has performed in nine plays already..!
“I’m really, really enjoying Our Town. Julie is a really good director and a real nice person, too. She gives us notes on our acting that are very helpful – and I like that a lot.”
Obviously in the theatre scene for the long haul, Alice’s offstage interests are much quieter and a lot more relaxing. She enjoys making rainbow looms, which are bracelets made out of tiny rubber bands, and she loves indulging in fantasy books. Her favorite book right now is Sinister Sweetness of Splendor.
And before I know it, Alice is excusing herself from the interview as well. She doesn’t want to miss her cue to go on stage. I sneak in one more question before she goes.
“Alice, will you miss Our Town when it’s over?”
“Miss it? It hasn’t even started yet!”
Like James, Alice is just an ordinary kid with extraordinary talent – the kind of talent that lands her parts in some pretty big local shows.
As she disappears through the backstage door I realize what a nice time I just had with these two young actors. The whole interview was like coming across two neighborhood kids for a couple minutes and having a little chat.
Truth is, of course, James Avery and Alice Jackins are not just two neighborhood kids at the moment – for the next few weeks, they’re the spectacular and downright lovable kids of Our Town.