Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has announced that they will record a cast album and that they will begin a policy for rush tickets! Get more details about both on TheaterMania.com.
Happy 40th Anniversary to Annie, which originally opened on Broadway on this day in 1977!
“Shadowhunters,” starring Broadway alum Katherine McNamara (A Little Night Music), has been renewed for its third season! Find out more on Deadline.com.
The casts of Kinky Boots, The Lion King, A Bronx Tale, and many other shows will perform at this year’s Easter Bonnet Competition! In addition, Waitress and Sunday in the Park with George will be among the shows honored in a bonnet parade. Find out more on BroadwayWorld.com.
Check out Austyn Johnson (Matilda, Dream Street) featured in US Weekly!
Teens Emma Howard (Violet) and Jaidyn Young (Annie) grew up in Southern California but didn’t meet until the final callbacks for Annie on Broadway as pre-teens. Last month they performed together for the first time in both California and New York. We talked to them about their beginnings in the arts, their lives as California girls, and how their cabaret Together At Last came to be!
1) How did you two start performing?
Emma: When I was around 4 years old, a family moved in across the street. The mother of the family ran a small children’s theater group and she invited my mother to have my siblings and I participate in their next show, The Wizard of Oz. I was cast in the role of a munchkin, and that was the start of my acting career. It was in that group that I first met Derek Klena who has also gone on to perform on Broadway in Wicked and Bridges of Madison County and Off-Broadway in Carrie and Dogfight.
Jaidyn: I pretty much was ALWAYS around music and performing. When I was in my mom’s belly she was managing a all girl singing group, so she says I heard music 24 hours a day before I was even born. And my older sister was involved in a local performing group so I was always hanging around and watching the rehearsals and shows. When I was 2 I started dancing and singing classes and when I was 6 I was in my first show, HONK! I was one of the little ducklings. Then when I was 7 I got my first professional gig, a soloist in the Glory of Christmas and we performed every night in front of 2700 people during the holidays. What I remember most is that every night I’d get to pet and play with the camels and the baby donkey. After that I was hooked!
2) What came first – acting, singing, or dancing?
E: I started taking dancing lessons around the age of 3. My father claims that I could sing the entire ‘Elmo’ song before I was able to speak in complete sentences. So I guess you’d have to say I started singing first.
J: The singing classes started really early because my mom was a singing teacher, I was always singing! Then the dancing, I begged the owner of the dance studio to let me start before I was 3 (that was the starting age for the studio), he finally caved and let me start dance classes when I was 2 and a half. And the acting started around 6 when I started doing local theater.
3) When did you know you wanted to pursue a professional career in performing?
E: When I was about 9, I was cast as ‘Oliver’ in a production of Oliver for a small theater group in North Hollywood. It was my first lead role. I had so much fun I thought I’d love to do it again and I asked my Mom where the best place to do musical theater was. That was the first time I heard about ‘Broadway’ in New York City. So my goal then was to get to Broadway. Luckily, my mom is very good at networking and finding out what was out there. A year or two later I was accepted into a summer program with Broadway Artists Alliance in New York City. That led to my signing with the Carson-Adler Talent Agency in New York City, which later led to auditions for Annie and later Matilda.
J: At first it was just on a whim that I started auditioning for professional shows, really just to have the experience. Then I got my first job, Glory of Christmas and right after that I got another at a Dinner Theater in Annie. I was Kate and I was only 9 years old. I feel in love with performing and wanted to audition for everything after that. After I had played the part of Annie 3 times I found out about the Annie auditions for the Broadway Revival. Once I started progressing thru the callback process, I needed to get an agent. So that’s what I did and its just been one thing after the other since then.
4) How did the idea for this cabaret come about?
E: Jaidyn and I had wanted to perform together for a while, so when our mothers came up with the idea of a two-girl show we were totally onboard.
J: Ya, Emma and I had met during the Annie auditions in NYC. We stayed friendly throughout that year that we both lived in New York. But when we both moved back home to Los Angeles, we were both in a Cabaret and started talking about how we’d like to be able to sing more than just one song. Then our moms said lets put on our own show and it kinda just got created from our wanting to sing together and sing a lot of songs.
5) How are you deciding what to perform? Is there a certain theme you’re going for or something else?
E: The name of the show is Together At Last, which, of course, comes from one of the songs in ‘Annie’ and we felt it best described how the two of us are finally able to perform together, because while we both ended up on Broadway at the same time, we were in separate shows. We often talked about how cool it would be to be cast-mates, so this is our opportunity to finally do it. Our show explores how we met, what it was like at the final Annie auditions, our Broadway openings and life as a ‘Broadway Kid’, what it’s like now being a ‘Broadway Kid’ in Hollywood and our dreams for the future.
J: Before the show was created, we met many times to discuss how we met and how our time on Broadway was so cool. As we talked thru these sessions the show just kind of created itself. We knew what songs we’d like to sing so we just worked the stories around those songs.
6) What is your go-to audition song?
E: It’s changed over the years and depends on the audition. Right now it’s ‘One Perfect Moment’ from Bring It On. I also like to sing ‘Don’t Rain on My Parade’ from Funny Girl if they’re looking for more belting. I also love the music from “Carrie.”
J: My book of songs has changed thru the years. When I was younger I was always being seen as the “Annie Belter” type. So for a very long time I had this one go to song that was really obscure and no one really had hear about it, but it was a really good song to show off my belt. But since I have gotten back home and my voice has matured, I like to change it up for every audition and I don’t really like to use the same songs over again. It keeps it exciting and I don’t get bored. But I don’t really recommend that. I think its best if you have your favorite audition songs and always use the few that make you sound best.
7) Take us through a day in each of your lives.
E: Weekdays start with school. I attend Los Angeles County High School for the Arts where I am a Dance/Musical Theater major. The school is about 35 miles from my home, so I have to leave by 6:30 in the morning to get there by 8AM. We have our academic classes in the morning, then after lunch we have our arts curriculum for 2 ½ hours. School ends at 4 PM. Before I get home, I usually take a few more dance classes (jazz, ballet, lyrical, contemporary and hip-hop) at my favorite dance studio where I am in the studio’s company. Once I’m home it’s a quick dinner and time for homework.
My weekends are a little less crazy, but still filled with different lessons (acting and vocal) or rehearsals for different projects I might be involved in.
J: Well, I have chosen to go to a public High School. I really enjoy my everyday life. I usually get up around 7:00 and get dropped off for school around 8:00. Then its school all day until 2, from there I go to Cheer Practice most days or a game that I have to cheer at. Some nights I have Tumbling Class to learn new skills. And I try to have a voice lesson on the weekends. Some days I have an audition in LA and we try to swing by the Acting Coach before so that I can really get the lines down. When I have the time I try to take a Dance Class or go to the recording studio and record a song.
8) Many of our fans live on the east coast. So with that in mind, can you tell us what it’s like growing up/living in Southern California?
E: I think it’s kind of like living anywhere else, except the weather is usually nicer. In the winter, it gets kind of chilly and sometime rainy, but never as cold as what you guys get in the east. In the summer, it’s usually just as hot, but there’s no humidity, so that makes things a lot more tolerable. And, of course, in Southern California it’s so spread out that you have to drive everywhere. So you spend a lot of time in cars trying to get somewhere. Which can also be good because it gives you extra time to review music or go over your lines (since I’m too young to drive my parents take me).
J: Well, most definitely the weather is the best! Nothing beats Southern California weather. Most days its like 70 to 80 degrees. I love where I live. You can pretty much go to downtown LA if you want museums or theater, or Snow Skiing, or Water Skiing, or to the beach, or Disneyland, or Palm Springs if you want to be out in the desert. You can go to any of these places in under an hour. No where else has so many things you can do. But I do LOVE New York City. And I hope to one day call that my home too. The best of all worlds would be if I could have a home in both places!
9) What do your high school friends think about your Broadway experience? How often does your past experience on Broadway come up in conversation?
E: I started into high school right after I got done with Violet. It was the first time I had been back in LA after two years in New York. I tried to keep my Broadway credits quiet because I didn’t want people to like me or be jealous just because I’d been on Broadway. I don’t bring up my past experience much because I want my current skills to speak for themselves, not my past accomplishments. Sometimes my Musical Theater friends will ask me questions about how things were done in New York in comparison to how they’re being done in the particular project we’re doing, and sometimes I’ll be asked what it was like working with a particular actor, but other than that, it doesn’t come up much.
J: I just started High School this year. And I like to keep the two worlds separate. Most of my closest friends haven’t ever seen me perform. At school I’m just an average girl. I play volleyball, like to tumble and cheer and just hang out with my friends at Starbucks. So I don’t really talk much with anyone about my time on Broadway. Of course every once in a while it comes up when someone first finds out, and that’s always fun.
10) What’s been your favorite memory as a performer?
E: My first opening night is a wonderful memory. There was electricity in the cast and audience, walking the red carpet, attending the opening night party. It was kind of like a dream. I also got to go on once as ‘Lavender’ in Matilda. My main role was ‘Hortensia’, but I understudied for ‘Lavender’, which I got to do once. ‘Lavender’ has a rather lengthy monologue in the show, and I’ll never forget giving that monologue alone on the stage of the Shubert Theater in front of a full house.
J: There are so many. Opening night is so very special, the excitement and all the hard work coming to that one magical night was overwhelming and we were all making our Broadway Debut, so that was a really great night. Also, we were lucky to have Jane Lynch join us during the show and her opening night was really fun because all her “Glee” cast came and saw at the show and we all got to meet them and hang out with them at the afterparty! So that was a pretty special night. But probably the MOST FAVORTIE MEMORY for me was the night I got to go on as Annie for the first time on Broadway. The Palace Theater was standing room only and it was filled to to top balcony! I got a standing ovation and I can t even describe that feeling. It was so so very special, and one I will never forget!
11) What are your plans for the future (Broadway, education, TV, etc.)?
E: I plan to keep pursuing a career as an entertainer/actor. Where exactly that takes me, I have no idea right now. I’m working on developing my skills as an actor and hopefully doing some more film and television work. I just recently performed the role of “Becky” in Transparent! It has been so much fun to work with Jeff Tambor, Kathryn Hahn, Gaby Hoffman and the rest of the cast! But, of course, Broadway is my first love so I imagine I’ll be spending a lot of time in New York, too. I’m currently a sophomore in high school, so I’m just starting to look into colleges. If I do decide to go to college, I’ll most likely pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, which I imagine will be at a school in the East or Midwest
J: When I graduate I want to attend the University of Michigan in their Musical Theater Dept. A lot of the people in our cast went there and I admire all of their work so much. And then, I want to go back to NYC and be on Broadway again one day. That is my number one goal. I want to have an apartment there in the city and just be in the middle of it all. Now that I’m back in LA I am focusing my time on learning my craft and learning about Television and Film Acting. It’s a whole different thing than Musical Theater. I hope to one day have a career where I can maybe do a movie or television and from time to time get the opportunity to be on a Broadway stage again. And have homes in NYC and LA, now THAT would be the perfect life.
Congrats to Shahadi Wright Joseph (School of Rock) who is on for Tomika tomorrow (6th) and the 7th! Go see her if you can!
Alexandria Suarez (On Your Feet) collabed with Tyler Mount in his latest video! Watch below:
TOMORROW (April 6th) Baylee Littrell (Disaster!) will take over Backstage.com’s Instagram account. Be sure to follow them at @backstagecast!
Joshua Colley (Les Miserables, Newsies), Douglas Baldeo (Kinky Boots), and Luca Padovan (School of Rock, Newsies) performed at Monday night’s Miscast 2016 gala! We’ll have video soon but here is a picture below:
Happy Trails to Jahi Diallo Winston, who played his final performance as Young Simba in The Lion King last weekend! We can’t wait to see what’s next for you, Jahi!
And congratulations to Tre’ Jones, who has made his Broadway debut in The Lion King as Young Simba! Here’s his announcement post on Facebook:
The cast album of First Daughter Suite is now available in stores!
Check out interviews from Lyrics for Life in LA courtesy of Rising Star Magazine in the YouTube playlist below:
On Sunday, Rachel Resheff (Fish in the Dark, The People in the Picture, Billy Elliot, Shrek, Mary Poppins) returns to Feinstein’s/54 Below with a new show! Get more information and check out the updated list of special guests for the show on 54Below.com.
And here are pictures and videos from the kids of Matilda, Annie, Fun Home, Disaster!, Kinky Boots, and School of Rock!
You can also find more videos from Cabaret for a Cause below!
The Outer Critics Circle nominations will be announced on April 19th! Winners are announced May 9th with an awards ceremony on May 26th.
In case you missed Alexandria Suarez (On Your Feet) on #LiveAtFive with Broadway.com, you can watch it below!
Broadway World has even more pictures from Claire and McKenna Keane‘s photoshoot right outside the Brooke Atkinson Theatre where their Broadway debut show Waitress will begin previews tomorrow! Take a look HERE.
Get your tickets for Jaidyn Young and Emma Howard‘s cabaret at 54 Below on March 30th! I (Lindsay) saw it just a few days ago and we loved it from start to finish! Get your tickets HERE.
And here are more pictures from the kids of Tuck Everlasting, Matilda, Les Miserables, Disaster!, and Fun Home!
On Saturday March 19th, dozens of talented kids and teens gathered at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center in LA for Lyrics for Life, a benefit concert presented by Kids of the Arts for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (http://afsp.org). This organization strives to prevent suicide as well as provide resources to those suffering from mental illnesses. It also assists those affected by suicide by bringing hope, love, and support. We talked to many of the night’s performers about the important evening!
QUESTION: What makes you the most excited about tonight?
(Note: You can either listen or read a transcript of all the interviews below!)
I’m really excited to see all the amazing performers come together as one big group and just support this amazing cause.
–Lexi Underwood (The Lion King)
I’m really excited to watch all my friends perform and get to see what songs they’re doing and getting to support this cause, too.
–Issie Swickle (Annie)
Helping with the cause!
–Jillian Shea Spaeder (Nicky, Ricky, Dicky, and Dawn)
Helping with the cause and it’s fun singing in front of everybody!
–Jamie McRae (H-E-B commercial, The Fine Bros)
I like making people smile when we’re on stage.
–Carolyn Dodd (Game Shakers)
Spreading awareness and spreading positivity and I think that’s really all that matters and it’s a great way to spread love.
–Jordan Mazarati (Supergirl)
It’s just such a great cause. That’s what make me excited. And to perform!
–Joy Kate Lawson (A Little Princess)
I’m excited to perform!
–Peyton Ella (Sound of Music LIVE)
I’m excited to perform and we get to use our talents for a good cause and that’s the most amazing thing you can do.
–Raquel Wallace (Dream Street)
I agree with everyone. I mean it’s great that we’re performing to prevent suicide and mental illness. So that’s great that we get to do the things we love and support a cause.
–Madisyn Shipman (Game Shakers)
I think it’s great because this show is so important with this cause especially for young people because so many people deal with mental illness and are afraid to speak up because it’s not talked about with young people so I think it’s cool to have so many young performers standing for this and it’s been successful in New York so it’s so fun to kind of follow it to LA.
–Alex Davies (I Don’t Need To Know)
I’m just excited to be performing for a special cause, especially since [suicide] is an event that’s been happening a lot around the world and it needs to be stopped.
–Michael Keith (Macy’s, Verizon commercials)
Well I think that suicide is a cause that can be prevented and all we need to do is fund the research for it.
–Casteen Legaspi (FASO Children’s Ensemble)
Well I’m happy and excited to help suicide prevention and supporting this new cause.
–Sophie Nack (Truth Be Told)
All the people in the audience and having them here!
–Emilie LaFontaine (Les Miserables at Musical Theatre West)
I’m just so excited to be a part of this. I was watching the rehearsals earlier and everyone is so talented. Like, it’s crazy. Like, literally, everyone is just so talented and so I’m just excited to listen to everyone perform.
–Jaidyn Young (Annie)
I am most excited to raise money for such an amazing cause. I think [suicide] is a big problem and I think that it’s really an honor to be a part of it and to be able to raise money for [suicide prevention].
–Brooke Besikof (Carnegie Hall soloist)
I know it sounds cheesy but I’m really glad that this is for charity. I get an opportunity to perform. Performing isn’t super rare but it’s not super often but nonetheless it’s really special when I get a chance to do it for a cause instead of just pleasure, which it always is.
–Major Curda (The Little Mermaid)
Well, I get to sing in front of people I act with, sing with, dance with, and it’s a great cause.
–Shane Davis (Matilda)
I love performing with all these great people. They’re amazing performers and I’m really lucky to be working with them.
–Lilly Mae Stewart (Annie)
Seeing all the amazing talent. All the kids are absolutely amazing.
–Darielle Loprete (Lyrics for Life stage manager)
It’s really fun. I’m definitely on the older end but I remember when I was their age and performing, so that’s really cool to see younger people already getting involved in such an important cause and performing for something that means a lot to a lot of people.
–Heather Braverman (Take It Off)
What makes me the most excited about tonight is my performance is – well, I’m singing “Reflection” in Chinese and English, which is really cool because I kind of got to learn a new language. But what makes me the most excited is it’s for a really good cause. All the money is getting donated, so it’ll be really nice to see all of the people that are being helped from this concert.
–Chelsea Chiu (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend)
Same as Chelsea, it’s for a really good cause. And there’s a lot of famous people performing, like Piper Curda and all those people!
–Erica Delos Santos (Violinist)
Seeing all the people here to see us!
–Scarlet Spencer (WowWee commercial)
Well I’m so excited for all the performers, obviously. Me, and my friend Maddie [Shipman] are also hosting tonight so that’s gonna be really cool. And we’re also performing. It’s gonna be a really fun night and I’m stoked for it!
–Casey Simpson (Nicky, Ricky, Dicky, and Dawn)
I think just the fact that this is for such a good cause and there are so many talented people here. Just all of us being able to come together for such a great cause – something that I’m super excited about for tonight.
–Riley Curda (Jane by Design)
Just being able to perform with all these other talented people and it’s fun and it’s for a good cause.
–Saylor Curda (I Didn’t Do It)
I’m really excited. This is the first time this is being done here in LA and watching the rehearsal and see everybody else do it, it’s really coming together and seeing the whole thing fall into place makes me really excited to be part of it, too.
–Glory Curda (Sam and Cat)
I just love singing in general and I love performing in front of people so I’m really psyched to do that.
–Kayla DiVenere (Helix)
There’s a lot of great talent here and it’s gonna be so fun to see them perform. I’m telling you, I saw during rehearsals. These people are awesome so I’m really excited, but I think everyone is going to be excited about this. I think it’s gonna be pretty awesome.
–Daniel DiVenere (Warm Bodies)
I feel like it’s a really good cause. There’s so many good performers tonight and I think it’s really cool that we got this entire group to come out and we’re all very talented and it’s just really exciting to be here and to be a part of this.
YBAN owner Lindsay had a great time today at the first-ever cabaret for 13 Wishes, which brought together kids and teens from the entertainment industry to bring the arts to those who have no access otherwise! Find out more about the organization on 13Wishes.net, and check out Lindsay’s pictures from before the cabaret and with Major Curda (The Little Mermaid, Radio City Christmas Spectacular) and 13 Wishes founders Maya Jade Frank (Mary Poppins, Evita, A Little Princess) and Tehya Rose Frank (Lincoln Center Ballet) below! Also in the performance was Hayden Signoretti (Finding Neverland, Mary Poppins, Richard III).
The Young Artist Awards took place tonight in LA! Break a leg to our alumni Ripley Sobo (Matilda, Once), nominated for her performance in “Steve Jobs,” and Myles Erlick (Billy Elliot), nominated for his performance in “The Next Step”!
Peyton Ella (The Sound of Music LIVE, A Little Princess) will take part in Lyrics for Life in LA! Get tickets HERE.
Cabaret for a Cause is tomorrow! Get your tickets to both performance HERE!
Here’s Carly Gendell (School of Rock) singing “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele, with Diego Lucano (School of Rock) on piano, at Broadway Sessions!
Check out Corinne Wilson (School of Rock) and Evie Dolan (School of Rock) singing “Riptide” by Vance Joy at Broadway Sessions!
And here are pictures and videos from the kids of The Lion King, Fun Home, On Your Feet, Tuck Everlasting, School of Rock, and Matilda!
Hayden Signoretti (Finding Neverland, Richard III, Mary Poppins) will take part in this Sunday’s 13 Wishes cabaret in LA! Get more info HERE.
Alessandra Baldacchino (Fun Home, A Little Princess) and Gabriella Baldacchino (A Christmas Story tour) will perform at next week’s 8:30pm performance of Cabaret for a Cause! Find out more HERE.
Lyrics for Life LA host Madisyn Shipman made her Broadway debut in 2010 in Enron! Catch her and her co-host Casey Simpson in LA on March 19th! Get more information HERE.
Luca Padovan (School of Rock, Newsies) talked to BroadwayWorld about Hamilton, Laura Osnes, and more! Read his Q&A on BroadwayWorld.com.
Baylee Littrell (Disaster!) is featured on Pix11! Read the interview HERE, and watch the video below!
Also, check out Baylee and Lilla Crawford (Annie, Billy Elliot) figuring out emoji puzzles together at Disaster! opening night below or on Playbill.com.
Ethan Khusidman (School of Rock, Soul Doctor, Chaplin), Luca Padovan (School of Rock, Newsies), Isabella Russo (School of Rock), and Evie Dolan (School of Rock) were interviewed recently! Check out the video below:
Watch the kids of School of Rock sing “Sweet Child O’ Mine”!
Check out highlights from She Loves Me below or on Playbill.com!
And here are pictures and videos from the kids of The Lion King, School of Rock, Fun Home, and Matilda!
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