Recently Spotlight had the pleasure of interviewing two newcomers to Peninsula Youth Theatre – Julia Starr and Lainey Barcomb. Here are their stories.
Q: Tell us a little bit about yourselves!
Julia: I’m a senior in high school and I absolutely love musical theater, but I have also been doing ballet since I was two. In addition, I’m interested in Computer Programming (mainly web design) and I’m an avid connoisseur of memes. When I’m not onstage or sitting in front of my computer I love going to the city with my friends. My favorite school subject is probably english due it it relating to theater so much. As far as my favorite musicals go, I really love shows that either have pop/rock scores or are extremely dance heavy, such as Heathers, Bandstand, Dear Evan Hansen, West Side Story, and Rent (and even though I have about 15 more), those are my top five!
Lainey: I’m currently in eighth grade and living in the Mountain View area, however, throughout my life I’ve lived in eight houses among six different states since my dad is on active duty in the Air Force. My hobbies include crocheting and baking and of course, I love the theater! One of my favorite musicals I’ve participated in was Annie when I won my first starring role as “Annie”. Someday, I’d love to be in The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins – two of my favorite shows, both of which starred Julie Andrews, whom I very much admire.
Q: What was your first production with PYT and what made you decide to audition with PYT? How did you hear about PYT?
Julia: (Little Shop of Horrors, Summer 2017). I had some friends who participated in PYT shows in the past including Hairspray and more recently Sweeney Todd, and they both had amazing experiences. Little Shop of Horrors is one of my favorite shows, and when one of my friends told me that PYT was doing it I knew I had to audition.
Lainey: (Creepy Carrots, Stories on Stage, October 2017). When I heard I was moving to Mountain View, I looked online to find out about the theater companies here. I decided to do PYT because I love the play Beauty and the Beast and wanted to participate in it this winter. While looking on PYT’s website I found out about Stories on Stage (SOS) and thought it sounded like a great experience. (PYT’s SOS company is comprised of 12 -18 year olds who perform 45 minute plays of children’s literature for school audiences and family, friends and fans).
Q: How was the audition process at PYT? Was it similar to other theater groups you’ve participated with?
Julia: In the past I had only auditioned with my school’s’ theater department and with my ballet school, so the process was very different for me. I was pretty nervous going into it, but it was super organized and everyone, including the people I was auditioning with, was extremely friendly and helpful (which made the process a lot less nerve wracking.) Even during the audition while we waited to be called, we would review and help each other with the dance.
Lainey: PYTs audition process for Stories on Stage was unique because along with a typical memorized monologue, much of the audition was improvisation! Choosing a monologue is difficult, however, I suggest looking at Mountain View Public Library where there is a large binder full of great PYT monologues. Choose a monologue that you’re comfortable with and would enjoy practicing several times! Have fun.
Q: What was your favorite memory from your shows?
Julia: Oh man there are so many it’s hard to choose one! One that really sticks is when we were in the dressing room during tech week. It was during the song “Git It”, when the plant is convincing Seymour to feed him human remains. Most of us were in the dressing room when we were hanging out backstage as we listened to what was happening onstage through the sound system. One person jumped up and started singing, and then another, and soon everyone in the room was singing and dancing along. That moment was one of many favorites, because we really got to bond, relax, and have fun with each other. That and buying out all of the grilled cheese sandwiches from Le Boulanger and picnicking in between shows!
Lainey: I had a lot of fun with PYT’s Creepy Carrots and the most enjoyable time to me was the Friday school performances when the cast got to socialize backstage and we performed for lots and lots of kids. I also loved getting to interact with the audience after the shows. (PYT provides a “talk back” session after each Stories on Stage performance where the audience can ask questions of the actors and director).
Q: Lainey, what is something you learned during Creepy Carrots that was new for you?
Lainey: I learned a lot about the moving sets. It was different for me to have several set pieces that I needed to move around from scene to scene, but I learned how much the set pieces add to the overall feel of the play. (Creepy Carrots was performed on smaller black box SecondStage theatre at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts).
Q: Julia, you won the “Gypsy Robe” for Little Shop of Horrors, did you know what that was and how did that that make you feel?
Julia: Winning the “Gypsy Robe” was such a huge honor. We don’t really do anything like that at my school or at my ballet school, so just being apart of the ceremony let alone winning it was such an incredible experience. I always liked looking at the photos from bigger Broadway shows from their ceremonies, and kept thinking how cool it would be to be apart of such a historic tradition. Experiencing it first hand was even more spectacular. I was definitely surprised to hear my name called, but I am so so grateful to have received the award. I had such an amazing time being apart of this show, but winning made it one of the most memorable of my life.
Q: Lainey: What other PYT shows are you doing and if are you thinking of auditioning again, which show will you try out for?
Lainey: I’m going to participate with PYT again when I do The Ugly Duckling with SOS in January and then I plan to audition for PYT’s Main Stage production of Beauty and the Beast which performs in March.
Q: Julia, what advice do you have for other teens interested in performing with PYT?
Julia: Meet as many people as you can! Everyone has different knowledge about the theater and each brings something a little bit different to the table. Personally, I still talk to and take dance classes with people I met during my time at PYT. We really became a family during the show. Another piece of advice: this might sounds a bit dorky, but I kept a notebook with me a every rehearsal, and would write down notes that I found helpful or important, even if they weren’t for me. There was so much to learn while in rehearsals or during tech week, so really make sure to soak it all in because I still apply these notes when I’m acting in drama class or when I’m onstage dancing. The time truly flies, so make the most of the experience!
Q: Lainey, is there anything else you’d like to add about your first time experience with PYT?
Lainey: Everyone was super welcoming to me as a new member of PYT. I had a great experience. I look forward to seeing fellow cast members in future SOS shows. I’d definitely recommend PYT to anyone looking to get involved with a great youth theatre.
Q: What are your plans for college and anything else you want say about your experience with PYT?
Julia: I plan on majoring in Musical Theater and minoring in computer science, either in New York or in California. Musical theater is truly my passion, and I’m so incredibly thankful to have learned so much from my experience at PYT. I’m extremely excited to be able to pursue what I love!
To learn more about Peninsula Youth Theatre and all shows and classes, check out our website at www.pytnet.org.
Blog by Barbie Koch
Photos by Barbie Koch, Deb Barcomb, Karen Gough and Allison Devenney
* “A Christmas Story: The Musical” runs November 11 – 19 at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts