Tuesday, March 1, 2011

‘Charlie,’ with a Twist

Like all talented directors, Mercy Vasquez sees the play onstage before it’s actually there.  And when she saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, she saw Charlie as a girl.

Jamie Ostmann
“I wasn’t thinking of a way to make the play different; I was just thinking of a way to make it work well.”  Vasquez said.  And she had the girl in mind: Jamie Ostmann.

“When I was casting the show, I saw in Jamie just the quality I had imagined, and I said to myself, ‘That’s Charlie.’”

Right before the first group reading of the play, Vasquez announced the cast (every member of the Players has a role, some multiple roles), and she did so in no particular order.

“When she said I was Charlie, I wasn’t the only one who was surprised,” Jamie said.  “I think we all were.  But after about ten seconds of surprise, I got so excited—I wanted to jump up and scream.”

Like all the Players—who received copies of the script at the beginning of their winter session in the Theatre Conservatory—Jamie had read the play several times; in fact, as a huge Roald Dahl fan, she had read most of his books.  But her take on Charlie will be her own.  “Mercy wants us to figure out how our characters look and act, so I won’t watch the movie during the rehearsal process,” she said.

The cast of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in rehearsal.
Jamie’s take on being Charlie:  “I’ve been trying to stay open and vulnerable, which has definitely been a challenge,” she said, “especially the sadder monologues.  Charles isn’t really a sad person.  She tries to make the best of her circumstances.  When she finds the ticket and goes to the factory, she’s the only one who is grateful to Willy Wonka—she admires him so much.”

Her take on being a member of SCR’s Junior Players ensemble group:  “It’s a fun challenge.  You have to be really focused and open to new ideas.  But it’s definitely worth it.  You have so much fun, you learn a ton, and you get to be with your friends.  How much better could it get?”

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