Meet the Artist: Mari Duckler

11822536_1063296430350339_3282116774906990581_nEVERYONE is going to love Beauty and the Beast, but especially young girls who love the disney princesses. This show has humor, love, and dance numbers that will make anyone smile.  I am playing the role of Belle.  Dominick Cole (the Beast) and I have been doing a lot of scene work together, and at this point we have almost all of our scenes blocked.  For me, the most challenging part of this script is staying true to the character of Belle, while making her my own. Many people have expectations of how Belle should be played, but I want to put my own personal twist on the girl in the yellow dress that so many people know and love. This is true for all the characters.  We are taking the iconic characters we know and love and putting our own twists on them. Ms. Figg and I have had many conversations about how I personally interpret Belle, and each of our characters in the show are very reflective of how we have interpreted their inner dialogue, their wants, and their dreams.

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Dominick Cole as the transformed Prince and Mari Duckler as Belle at the end of the show

I think I am very similar to Belle in the way that I am a very strong willed person. Many people look past the fact that Belle is one of the only Disney princesses who stands up for what she believes in, makes sacrifices, and speaks her mind. In that sense, I admire Belle and strive to live like her every day. It makes my job much easier and much more introspective to play a character that I am similar to and can relate to as a person.  I love how passionate Belle is. Everything she does, she is passionate about. Whether it is reading a book, or sacrificing her own young life for her elderly mother’s, Belle invests 100% of herself into whatever she does.

 

I personally dislike that this character can likely convey the message that love changes people. I do not believe that love has the power to change someone, so this is also the biggest challenge of the role. I am constantly trying to form new ideas and new tactics to try to convince the audience that love does not change Belle and the Beast, but helps them to realize who they truly are.

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Mari as Belle and Derrick Karas as Gaston

Another big challenge I face is finding the balance between the movie, the Broadway musical, and my own interpretation of Belle. Belle has been my favorite princess since I was 5, so that means I have seen the movie so many times that I have basically memorized it, and when I was 7 I went to see the musical at the Mariott Lincolnshire, and the woman playing Belle waved at me as she exited the stage. My challenge is to figure out what different things I can bring to this character to do her justice, but to also stay true to myself.

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“Theater helped me figure out who I am, and theater is the only thing in life I truly love.”

I did my first musical, an ensemble performance of The Wiz, when I was in first grade, but I have been influenced by theatre my entire life. For example, when I was 4 years old, my favorite movie musical was Chicago, I would sing the “The Cell Block Tango” in my preschool class. My passion has been with me my whole life, and will follow me into the future.  I have been involved in Homestead Drama since I was cast as Nellie in Annie Get Your Gun in 2010. Because of my amazing experience in 6th grade, I have been in every Homestead musical since my freshman year. I love the theatre community at Homestead and the magic in the air during rehearsals.

I hope to pursue a BFA in Musical Theatre next year. I am currently in the process of auditioning for about 14 schools in the midst of all of these rehearsals. Although I have Broadway dreams, my goal in life is to be able to impact lives in some way through theatre and the arts.


Fun questions for Mari Duckler:

If someone was going to make your life into a movie, who would play you?
I am currently sitting in class and asked my group who would play me in a movie and they simultaneously responded, “The girl from Glee!” So I guess Lea Michelle? I’d like to say I can’t see it, but I totally can.

When you have a five-minute break during rehearsal, what do you spend that time doing?
I’d like to say “going over my blocking and working on my lines” but…FOOD.

If you had a magic wand, what show would you do next?
Is this even a question? Hamilton. And every night I’d want to alternate being every single Schuyler sister/Mariah Reynolds. Those girls can BELT. But realistically, I’d love to be Rose in Dogfight. It is such a beautifully written and composed show, and it gives a wonderful perspective on the Vietnam War.

What’s the last thing you do before you step out on stage / the curtain goes up?
This is gonna sound real weird, but before I go on stage I slap myself across the face two times. For some reason it focuses me, and gets me in the right mindset to run a show.


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