During the 2002-03 season to create opportunities for four high school student journalists, covering Broadway news for Playbill's teen readership. From September 2002 until May 2003, four students who were selected for the program will be responsible for writing an article every other month. One such article appears below.
Any actor will tell you that acting is hard work. Eight performances a week, in addition to sometimes three to four hours of rehearsal, warm ups, classes, and auditions during the day. This is a lot to do for an adult. But imagine being 11 years old and having all of those things to do, and tacking on four to five hours of school and extra time to study. Now, that's a schedule!
Children who perform on Broadway are, in no way, ordinary. Though most claim to lead regular lives, it takes an exceptional amount of responsibility, enthusiasm, persistence, will power, and intelligence to pursue a career on Broadway. Playbill On-Line sat down with three young stars to find out what life is like for a kid on Broadway.
Jeremy Bergman hails from Millburn, New Jersey, and attends South Mountain School. He currently plays the role of Chip in Beauty and the Beast at certain performances.
Joey Caravaglio, from Hazlet, New Jersey, attends Lillian Drive School in his hometown. He also plays the role of Chip in Beauty and the Beast, alternating with Bergman. Leovina Charles, from Brooklyn, New York plays Young Nala in The Lion King at selected performances. She is a student at the Mark Twain Intermediate School for the Gifted and Talented.
Following are Playbill On-Line's interviews with these young talents:
Playbill Online: When did you start performing?
Jeremy Bergman: I was seven years old. The first thing I ever really did was a commercial for Campbell's soup. I really didn't like the soup, so the only thing that could make me smile was if they put on the Aladdin video.
Joey Caravaglio: I was a fit model for Ralph Lauren. Then I was on the Beauty and the Beast tour, before coming to Broadway.
Leovina Charles: Well, I haven't done anything really this big. I probably started in fourth or fifth grade.
PBOL: When did you first realize that you wanted to act?
JB: Well, I didn't really realize it because I was too young to actually know anything. No one knows what he or she is doing when they are this little kid. Everyone thought I had a good sense of humor, they thought I was cute or something. I'm not bragging or anything, but they thought I was sort of cute... One person, I don't know who it was, said, "Hey this kid should go into the acting business." Originally, I thought that I'd be scared going on stage... I thought I'd be able to see [the audience], and you know those thoughts of seeing people in their underwear?... Well, they don't work at all, I'm telling you that. And so, I just really thought I couldn't do stage until I came to Beauty and the Beast.
LC: Well, I always dreamed of being an actress, but at first I didn't really know... I was either going to be a dancer, singer or actress, but then I [realized] that being an actress combines all of them, and I like doing all three.
PBOL: Did you have to push your parents into letting you go into acting, or did they have to push you into it?
LC: Acting was something I always wanted to do. My parents, they're always supporting me [in] everything that I do. They're like, "You want to do this, okay, do it." They are always behind me 110 percent. Acting was sort of a big thing for me.
PBOL: Do you think you are giving up a lot to be an actor?
JB: I'm still sort of being a kid. I still attend birthday parties, because, you know, they're fun. I like sports a lot, so I try [to be a regular kid].
PBOL: What's your favorite sport?
JB: Well, it depends on the season. Baseball or basketball. When baseball season starts, I just get glued to baseball. I am going to try to make it to Little League.
PBOL: How about you, Leovina, do you feel that you are giving up a lot to be an actor?
LC: I feel that acting is a wonderful thing, and I would almost give anything up for acting. I still have my regular education, and I enjoy that. I still have my friends and my family. So acting does not really take away [from] the rest of my life. It just makes it better.
PBOL: How do you deal with going to school and doing the show at the same time?
LC: It [depends on] the time of the show, because really, the only days I leave early [from school] are Wednesdays, or if there is an early rehearsal. I like going to school. It's not something like, "Oh, I have a show, so I can't go to school, whoopee!"
JB: On Monday, unless I have an audition, I am free. I do homework, and then I play basketball outside. Tuesday, I go to school regularly. But on Wednesday, I leave school at 12:15 PM, and probably get [to the theatre] by 1 PM. Thursday and Friday are basically the same as the other days. The toughest part is Sunday; we have a 1 PM show and a 6:30 PM show. On Sundays, I get to sleep late, until 9:30 AM.
PBOL: What time do you have to go to school?
JB: 8:40 AM.
PBOL: So how do you do that?
JB: Well, I go to bed at around 11:30 PM, and wake up around 7:50 AM.
PBOL: You must be exhausted.
PBOL: Joey, how do you stay a kid when you are in the theatre?
JC: Well, on stage, I just do what I have to do, but once I'm offstage I go home, I hang out with my friends, skateboard, play baseball, do my homework. It's hard sometimes, because you might be looking forward to something, like a party, or something big, but then you have to go to a show, so it's disappointing sometimes. It's hard also, because I get up at 6 AM sometimes, and I get home from regular night shows at around 11-11:30 PM, so I don't get that much sleep.
PBOL: How do the kids treat you, knowing you are in a Broadway show?
JB: Well, once I got into kindergarten...all my friends knew I was an actor. I met new friends, and sort of lost some friends, but they knew I was an actor, and I am not sure they treated me like a king or anything, but sometimes.... I don't like to be called famous, I just like to act. My friends just don't really care, I mean, except that I have missed pretty much five birthday parties since I've been in Beauty and the Beast... I am not saying that's a bad thing, but I'm missing out on events that I would like to [go to]... Like, every Wednesday I either miss Social Studies or Science, which really puts me down. I don't really like Science that much, but I really like Social Studies.
JC: My mom always says that I'm the same kid off the block.
LC: They don't treat me any different. It's not something like, "Oh you're on Broadway, you're famous..." It's more like, "While you're on Broadway, and I'm really happy for you, I'm not going to treat you any different because a lot of other people are on Broadway also. It's not really that big."
PBOL: I'm sure it must be easier being in a gifted and talented school.
LC: Yeah, and it would be much easier for me to be treated regular, so I won't feel different from anybody, because I'm not.
PBOL: How has being on Broadway affected your life with your family and friends?
LC: Oh my Gosh! Being on Broadway, when I first told my friends, they were like "Oh my Gosh!" It's like opening a whole other world to yourself. Because like, on Broadway, it's so much bigger and...it's really amazing. It's like, you can step into one room, that'll be your regular life. You'll still have your friends, your family, your education...you'll still have everything. Then you'll step into another room, and you'll still have all those things, but it's like a big humongous party. It's really exciting.
PBOL: What are your ambitions? What is your goal?
JB: My goal is to really enjoy my time [on Broadway], if it's limited or if it's a long time, and try to let the little kids in the audience have a good time. Some people think that acting is all about bossing people around, and making the big bucks, buying the mansion, riding around in a limo, and buying your own video game set, but that is not the whole thing.
PBOL: Those are just perks.
JB: Yes. So I really just want to have fun. Let them have fun. And just let the whole world know that I'm on Broadway.
PBOL: What about your goal as an actor?
JB: I don't want to be an action figure. I can't do any of those action things. I can't be like one of those body builders. But, I can be like one of those comedy dudes like Jerry Seinfeld or something, and then I can be one of those... romantic people.
JC: I want to try to get on TV or commercials. I think it would be kind of fun...like, maybe a series of shows because then you can do something different every day or every week. And on the set, you'd have fun with other people. A commercial would be fun because its on TV, and you can watch yourself, and [see] how you act. On Broadway, you can't really see yourself, you're not allowed to tape it or film it, so you can't really see how you are.
PBOL: What's one piece of advice you can give to other kids who want to do what you're doing?
JB: Don't be greedy, and just enjoy what you're doing. It's a big responsibility.
JC: Just keep trying, because if you don't, you're never going to get a job. You just have to keep practicing and practicing.
LC: Follow your dreams, stay in school, and don't do any drugs. Always follow your will, because you never know what's going to happen. Don't do anything that you're going to regret. Don't let anyone make you do anything that you don't want to do. If there is something that you really want to do, you should go with it. You can never be a true actor, or you can never have a true job unless you like what you're doing.