From what I can tell, there are few young performers whose vast talent is identifiable at an early age. And even fewer of those know that they want to commit to the performing lifestyle once they learn the amount of “kid stuff” they have to give up. Luckily for the rest of us, 13-year old Henry sees all the hard work as fun. If you have not seen this gifted youth perform yet, you should, and in light of his age and talent there will be many, many years of viewing available.
1. When did you know you wanted to be an actor/singer?
I always liked performing, but it wasn’t until my experience in 2012, at age 11 in A Christmas Carol at Ford’s Theatre that I began to take it seriously.
2. What was your first performance?
My first performance was in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in first grade at University Park Elementary School. 29 kids were each cast as a different color and I was the color “Blue.” When each color was mentioned in the song “Joseph’s Coat” the kid would jump up and shout their color. I was the last one – “Blue!!!!!!!”
3. I know you can act and sing, are you also interested dance?
Yes, I am trying! I am currently taking three dance classes a week. I take ballet at Adventure Theatre/Musical Theater Center and jazz and tap at New Chicago Dance Studio.
4. Do you picture yourself on Broadway one day? Do you want to do musicals?
It would be nice to be in a Broadway musical! But I think all performing is great – musicals, plays and operas. A couple of months ago I was in the National Symphony Orchestra’s production of “Der Rosenkavalier.” Having Renee Fleming and all of the other fantastic opera singers singing to me was inspiring. It is amazing what a human voice can actually do! As much as love to sing, it is hard to think long term about singing until my voice changes.
5. I had the pleasure of seeing you in The Love of a Nightingale at Constellation Theatre Company in Washington, DC, a few weeks ago. You handled yourself really well and did a fantastic job! What was it like to be the only “kid” in this play that deals with many mature themes? (Click here to read my MD Theatre Guide review of The Love of a Nightingale).
Being Itys in The Love of the Nightingale is a fantastic experience. I have learned so much. This is the first time that I’m not playing just a cute little singing kid on stage. The audience doesn’t like me very much but they also don’t really want to see anything bad happen to me. It’s been fun to have Itys tug at the audience’s emotions. Everyone in the cast and crew has been so nice to me, especially Dorea Schmidt, who plays my mom. They have all treated me like a mini-adult but I think they still watch out for me and make sure I am OK with the adult themes of the show. The worst part is that I can’t invite my friends to see it!
6. What is your favorite theatre show?
It changes all the time. The most often played shows on my phone playlist are: A Chorus Line, Title of Show, Wicked, Rent, Billy Elliot, Book of Mormon, and Avenue Q.
7. What are you reading right now?
“Allegiant” by Veronica Roth. It is the last of “Divergent” series.
Which faction are you? I’m Candor (The Honest).
8. Is there a role that you really want to play?
There are many roles that I have dreamed about performing: Michael from Mary Poppins, Michael from Billy Elliot, Gavroche from Les Miserables, Oliver Twist from Oliver!, Bruce from Matilda, Jem from To Kill a Mockingbird, Louis from A King and I, Winthrop from The Music Man, Jojo from Seussical.
Roles I want to do in the next couple of years: Toby from Sweeny Todd, Friedrich from A Sound of Music, but I could still be Kurt, I could be a Newsies in Newsies.
I think being in “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” would be great, Barfee or Chip. Unfortunately, at 13 years old, I’m already too old for most them!
9. What was the best advice you received about performing?
I have two. The first I learned at Adventure Theatre/Musical Theater Center summer camp at Glen Echo, and that is to NEVER, EVER give notes (advice or suggestions) to other actors in the show! Only the director can tell the other actors how do something. Just keep your mouth shut and do your own your part – it’s not your job to worry about how someone else is doing theirs. And the second came from Paolo Montalban, who was the King when I did King and I at Olney Theatre. He told me, “The four keys to success in this business are passion, talent, dedication and opportunity. You already have the first three in abundance. Opportunity will come with time. BE READY FOR IT!”
10. What advice would you give to performers just starting out?
That is hard. I don’t feel like I know enough to give advice. I guess I’d tell them that every time you go on stage it should be fun. Enjoy every moment. But if you want to perform to the best of your ability, then you should know that it is a lot of work. It takes 100% effort all the time. It is a huge life commitment. When my friends ask me to go to a party, my first response almost always is, “I can’t go – I have a show” or “I have a rehearsal.” I know I miss out on a lot of normal kid stuff but I wouldn’t want to do anything else. So keep following your dreams and don’t let minor setbacks pull you down.
11. Where can we see you next?
I start rehearsals for a musical called the Signs of Life: A Tale of Terezin the day after The Love of the Nightingale ends! We rehearse for a week at American University and then perform at the American Stage Theatre Company in St. Petersburg, Florida on June 8 and 9. After that, the youth choir I sing with, Vocetti, is performing as part of a mass choir in New York’s Carnegie Hall on June 22.
Thanks, Henry, for being our MD Theatre Guide’s Rising Star this month. Please keep in touch and let us know when you will be performing again in the area.