‘A Quick 5′ with The Kids from ‘Big The Musical TYA’ at Adventure Theatre MTC

Big The Musical TYA opens on September 21st and runs until October 28th at Adventure Theatre MTC. Today I want to introduce you to the kids ensemble component. These five very very talented kids have lots of stage experience and have some have worked theatres in and around the DC area. In no particular order I want you all to meet Marley McKay who plays Little Josh(the kid who wants to be big), Talia Brenner who plays Cynthia Benson(popular girl in school and others), Brendan DeBonis who plays Billy (Josh’s best friend) and our two dancing dynamo ensemble members Emma Sophie Moore and Maya Brettell. You know how they always say in the theatre never work with children and animals, I usually say they are one in the same. In this case it could not be further from the truth. I am quite blessed and thrilled that these kids are a Stage Manager’s dream. Always professional when they need to be and they act like kids only when it’s appropriate (95% of the time). You will note that most of these kids don’t have anything lined up after the show closes. I hope that will change because there is a whole lot of talent in these 5 young performers.

Can you please tell us what shows you have performed in?

Marley-I have had various types of ‘film’ performance work (ex. West Wing, Lovely Bones as Nate with director Peter Jackson, upcoming House of Cards series). I have done voice over work for several radio commercials broadcast in the Baltimore/Washington area.  On stage I was Young Scrooge in A Christmas Carol at Ford’s Theatre and Winthrop in The Music Man at Atlas Performing Arts Center.

Emma- The Washington Ballet Nutcracker for 6 years and TWB Alice in Wonderland. I just started my music theatre career and this is my first professional show.

Brendan- I was in Sound of Music (Friedrich) at Olney Theatre and in Liberty Smith (Child Actor) at Ford’s. I’ve been in some community shows like Guys and Dolls and Wizard of Oz with MTC and various camp shows with CCTA.

Talia- Kensington Arts Theatre Mainstage: Sunday in the Park with George (Louise) (Ruby Griffith Winner for All Round Production Excellence, 2012). I have also performed at The Washington Savoyards, Kensington Arts Theatre 2nd Stage, Elden Street Players, Potomac Theater Company, Laurel Mill Playhouse, Montgomery Playhouse, and Walt Whitman High School.

Maya- Last year, I was at Studio Theater in The Big Meal, at Synetic Theatre in Macbeth and in their teen company production of Romeo and Juliet, and at Toby’s Dinner Theatre in Annie.  I’ve done a lot of community theatre shows such as Gypsy, Annie Get Your Gun, Music Man, Peter Pan, Scrooge the Musical and A Christmas Carol.  The funny thing is that I played the role of Annie for a year in three productions going from a children’s theatre to a community theatre to the professional show at Toby’s.  My family and I joked that it helped having my hair dyed red when it was time for the next audition.  I laugh but the role at Rockville Musical Theatre landed my first WATCH nomination as a lead actress in a musical so it’s pretty cool to think back on those days.

Besides performing what other activities do you like to do?

Marley- Basically the normal kid stuff … playing video games and hanging out with my friends. I own and administer a game website. I also enjoy writing songs on the piano and singing.

Emma- I enjoy playing violin (9 years), ballet, pilates, tennis, cooking with my mom, and playing with my dogs.

Brendan- I like playing guitar, writing songs, and recording my music on Garage Band. I also love going to the beach and doing stuff in the ocean.

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Talia-  I take private voice and piano lessons. I participate in the Maryland All State Chorus; Montgomery County Youth Chorus; my high school’s Treble Chorale; and Marak Hayom, a Jewish teen A Capella Group that performs locally. I also placed first in both my high school’s Poetry Out Loud and Shakespeare Monologue and Sonnet Competitions, and competed in both at the regional level.

Maya- I love to read, do yoga, dance, go shopping, and learn all about my craft. It’s really hard to keep up with friends so I like to just hang out on days off.

Rehearsing takes up a lot of time. How do you balance going to school, getting your homework done and rehearsing a show?

Marley- Actually it’s pretty hard and takes a lot of planning. I get my reading done on the trips back and forth to rehearsal.

Emma- I try to stay very organized and efficient.  I practice music in the morning and right after school.  I do some homework in the car and during breaks.  I try to keep a positive attitude and somehow it all gets done.  And my mom feeds me lots of good food to give me energy.

Brendan- It helps that I’m homeschooled this year, so I do that from 8:30-2, with the only homework being Algebra from my math tutor. I fit guitar playing into my breaks at rehearsals.

Talia- I am used to juggling school and rehearsals, and commit a lot of time to both. Fortunately, Whitman High School has been really accommodating. I study and do homework during rehearsal breaks and backstage. Often, I stay up late to get it all done.

Maya- You just learn to study and sleep in every spare minute, like in the car going to rehearsal or when you aren’t onstage during a show.  My parents are pretty strict about me keeping up with school and staying on my honors track so I make it work.

What do you like the most about performing in Big The Musical TYA at Adventure Theatre MTC?

Marley-It’s fun to work with the cast and other kids. I really enjoy the singing

Emma- I get to hang out and work with people who love doing the same things as me.  I spend half the day at school and half at rehearsal, and I never want rehearsal to end.  The directors here are so nurturing—they’re always complimenting our singing and dancing. And Big, The Musical TYA is a FUN show!  I love the songs and choreography.  I love working with the people here.

Brendan- It’s the most similar character to my personality that I’ve ever played, plus I like the fun music in this show. I also like that there are other kids in it that I can talk to and they’re all really nice. The director and everyone working with us are supportive and fun to work with.

Talia- I spent a lot of my childhood at Glen Echo park, taking classes, attending performances, and riding the carousel. Being in a production here lets me be back in the Park.  Best of all, though, is working with Michael Bobbitt and such an amazing cast and production staff!

Maya- I like knowing that I’m not just entertaining an audience, but that I’m helping create memories for children and their parents.  It’s also pretty awesome that I am a part of the world premiere of Big The Musical TYA and then there is Michael’s choreography that I just love doing.

After Big The Musical TYA closes do any of you have any other shows lined up?

Marley- I don’t have any shows lined up at this time but I will continue to work on my career and hope to work on Broadway someday.

Emma- Not yet but I am always looking for new opportunities to perform!

Brendan- I don’t have anything lined up now. I’m mostly just going to get back to my old schedule of school, guitar, Young Columbians ensemble, and I want to start taking drum lessons.

Talia- No, but I plan to audition for my school’s productions this year, and I’m always looking for local opportunities.

Maya- I’m staying at Adventure Theatre to play Mary Ingalls in their next show Little House on the Prairie Christmas!

About Elliot Lanes

Elliot Lanes has been a professional stage manager/sound designer/board op for over 20 years. After relocating to Washington, DC from the New York City area and marrying the girl of his dreams Jennifer Perry, he has been privileged to work on productions at Theatre J, Synetic, Prince George's Community College and Studio Theater to name a few. He has contributed designs for many shows in the last three Capital Fringe Festivals, two of which garnered critical raves. He is also the creator of MD Theatre Guide's highly successful 'A Quick 5' column.