Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Seeing Triple..."Mary Poppins" is a Family Affair

Sarah and Lauren Cocroft, Kelsey and Sean Kato, Christopher and Mitchell Huntley.
Three sets of siblings will appear in SCR’s Summer Players production of Mary Poppins (August 8-9 and 14-16 on the Argyros Stage)—a first for a Players show, but no surprise to Theatre Conservatory Director Hisa Takakuwa.

Christopher and Mitchell Huntley in rehearsal for Mary Poppins.
“Over the years, many little brothers and sisters have followed their older siblings into Conservatory classes,” Takakuwa said.  “As they advance in the acting program, it’s not unusual for them to audition and be chosen for Players.  But this is the first time three families have been represented in one show!”

For Christopher and Mitchell Huntley, that’s nothing new.  In the past six years, they’ve shared the stage in five Summer Players shows—and each has experienced his moment in the spotlight, Christopher in the title role of Peter Pan and Mitchell as Jack in Jack and the Giant Beanstalk.

According to Chris, “We’ve developed different approaches to our work, but onstage together we both try to  immerse ourselves in the world of the play and only see each other as fellow characters.”

Mitchell agrees.  “Onstage, I don’t think of him as my brother.”

Of course, there are exceptions.  Like the moment in Peter Pan when Mitchell (as Tootles) asks Chris (as Peter) for a hug, and Peter shakes his head—no!  “Being brothers, that was pretty funny,” Mitchell admitts.  And even older brother Christopher sometimes lets this thought slip into his mind:  “I bet it’s really exciting for our mom, sitting out there watching us!”

Sarah and Lauren Cocroft.
Lauren Cocroft will be appearing in a Players show with her sister, Sarah, for the second—and last— time.  A Players pro, Lauren graduated this year and is off to college in the fall.  The girls appeared together in Annie, and Sarah hopes to continue in the ensemble group, just like her older sister.

But that first show was a little intimidating.  “I was a newcomer and kept asking Lauren for advice and help.  This time, I’m a lot more comfortable in rehearsal because I know almost everyone in the Mary Poppins cast.”

The best part is that the girls play characters who are long-time friends.  They share a scene—and a song. “Mary Poppins is a big conversation topic at our house,” Sarah adds.

“We rehearse together all the time,” Lauren agrees.  “The car is meant for singing.  The living room is meant for dancing.  And our parents are meant to be driven insane!”

As for advice to her sister, Lauren says, “SCR is my favorite place, too great to explain in words.  But the days go by quickly, so I’ve been reminding her to always cherish the process and the people.”

Kelsey and Sean Kato.
Like Lauren and the Huntley boys, Kelsey Kato is a Players veteran, having appeared in numerous Teen and Summer Players shows.  His younger brother, Sean, has been onstage only once, in Peter Pan—one of the few Players productions that Kelsey wasn’t in.

So, how does it feel to finally join his big brother?  “It will to be like nothing I’ve ever done,” Sean says.  “But in our scenes together, I won’t think much of it because I interact with Kelsey all the time!” 

Kelsey, who is off to college in the fall, is a bit more philosophical.  “Just because he’s my younger brother, I don’t consider Sean any less of an artist than I am.  That’s the beauty of Players. The environment that our directors create stimulates equal respect for each member of the ensemble.  I can try to give Sean a few pointers here and there, but he’s his own special person, and he’s bound to shine brightly and uniquely—just like every other Summer Player!”

Be there to see them all shine when Mary Poppins opens on August 8.

Learn more and buy tickets.

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