Meet the Artist: Emma Zander

Emma in the blue, swoons over Gaston as Silly Girl #3

-What is your role in the production?
On stage, I’m Silly Girl #3 (Laurette), a featured dancer and Babette’s understudy. Behind the scenes, I’m a makeup gal.

-What have you been up to so far for “Beauty and the Beast?”
Well, the dancers have been choreographing their own movement sequences which is so cool. We just got the initial blocking down for both of the wolf chases and I hope the audience loves it. Everyone’s definitely been working on immersing the audience in the story. Allison Rowe is a great dance captain- she’s brought a ton of ideas to the dances, but really everyone contributes ideas and it’s an extremely collaborative environment. In fact, the whole show has been that way.

-What sort of person is going to love this show?
All people. No, really, this is definitely a show for everyone. If you hate musical theater, I’m still pretty sure you’ll find at least one part of this show you’ll enjoy. Kids will like it. Parents will like it. Students will like it. It’s really a show for everyone.

12470966_959886494061291_1156660189_o-What’s challenging about bringing this script to life?
As soon as this show was announced, I think a lot of expectations were put into this show. You’ve got people thinking about the movie and all of the fabulous animation, imagination and creativity. You’ve got people thinking about the Broadway musical and its elaborate costumes, sets and outstanding actors. There’s lots of ideas coming together with this show and with all of those influences we still have to figure out our own spin. So, it’s a lot of pressure and the majority of it is coming from within the cast and crew; which is the way it should be. We should all be holding ourselves accountable for making this show wonderful.

-Why did you want to be involved in this production?
This production is monumental, it could be pivotal for our department. We’ve never done any show of this magnitude (at least in my time at Homestead). Also, I couldn’t do Mikado last year so I was very excited for the next musical to roll around.

-How is this production bringing something new to this story?
As always, you’re in store for lots of physicality and dance sequences. It’s a trademark of Homestead shows. So definitely more dancing than one will expect or have seen in the movie/musical. Additionally, we have something like 52 kids in this show. Which is beautifully chaotic. It’s so awesome to see so many people in the show, but that is a lot of people. So, naturally, rehearsals and choreographing all of us can get a little chaotic. So it’ll likely be a bigger ensemble than most people have ever seen on one stage. Specifically, I don’t know how we’re bringing something new. That’s more of an individual thing. As a performer, one needs to decide on his/her own as to what he/she is doing with the character. So I guess we’ll see how that all comes together in the coming weeks.

-How is this character like you? Different?
This character can be a little naive and I think I’m that way sometimes. However, I’m significantly more independent than Silly Gal 3. I like that all of the Silly Girls can depend on each other though.

-Is it easier to play this character or to be yourself on stage?
The character. That’s what acting is- you leave any personal feelings, good or bad, and play the character.

-What do you love about this character?
I love how exaggerated the Silly Girls’ emotions are – they’re absolutely ridiculous. If they’re not loudly giggling and fawning over Gaston then they’re crying.  

-What do you hate about this character?
Not this character in particular, but the townspeople in general- the fact they’re obsessed with Gaston. I was reading something analyzing Beauty and the Beast and it was so interesting. Many critics of the story accuse the plot of promoting Stockholm Syndrome or beastiality but the article pointed out the worst part of the story is everyone’s obsession with Gaston and disgust with Belle. Their hero is an egomaniac misogynist, and the girl they ostracize is kind, introverted, humble and just likes to read. Actually, I think I found it on Ms. Figg’s Pinterest.

-What’s the biggest challenge about taking on this role?
All of the Silly Girls have to be really in tune with what the others are doing which can be difficult, but it also makes our characters great. We’ve all gotten along well so far which makes working on the show together a lot easier.

Emma Dressing up as a Disney Fan

-What do you want to be when you grow up?
I definitely want to work at Disneyworld or Disneyland at some point in my life. It’d be a fun summer job. Other than that? I have no idea. For a while I thought I was going to be a journalist and that desire died out. So, right now I’m just doing what I love in and out of school and waiting for something to click.

-If someone was going to make your life into a movie, who would play you?
I would be very content if Khoi Do played me in a movie. It’d be very entertaining.

-When did you first get into theatre?
Community theater and school plays in 4th grade

-Who do you look up to?
Virginia Lee, Andrew Lococo, Sarah Mai, Emily Boehlke, Jada Davis, Silma Berrada, Khoi Do, Lauren Burghardt, Grace Nemcek, Sophia Nelson, Jessie Schoessow – just to name a few. I look up to all of those people in several different ways- as actors, dancers, singers and people. Not only do I have the privilege to work with them in these shows, but I have the privilege to be their friend.


-What’s your perfect vacation look like?
Disneyland with all of my friends. It’d be insane, but I’d love it.

-When you have a five-minute break during rehearsal, what do you spend that time doing?
Talking to people or annoying Ms. Figg. Probably the latter. Actually, always the latter.

-Who’s the funniest person in the production in real life?
Hily Liggins? There’s too many. I think everyone in this musical has had their moments.

-What do you do when you’re not doing theatre?
Well, I used to do some photography and schoolwork and a little volunteering, but in the past few months theater has consumed my life. I’m ok with it. It’s not something I see in my future at all so I want to indulge in it while I can. I’ve met my best friends here and amongst all the drama that occurs it’s the best thing in my life.

-If you had a magic wand, what show would you do next?
Lococo: The Musical is in the works, the casting process has proven difficult as we haven’t found an adequate actor to play AJL.

In the spring, I’m hoping to do The 39 Steps as a student-directed independent show. It’s a brilliant comedy and with the talent we have, I know it has great potential. As a musical, my dream is to do The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee in the Black Box as an independent show as well. It fits perfectly with the type of shows we do in the Black Box and we’ve never done a musical for one of them! It’s a huge project which is why we’ve never taken it up, but I’d love it. I’d also love love love to do an independent show during the summer. Eurydice is the best show I’ve done at Homestead and I want to give that experience to other people as well. We’re filled to the brim with talent and it needs to be showcased.

As far as the musical.. Kiss Me, Kate anyone?

-What’s the last thing you do before you step out on stage / the curtain goes up?
Every opening night since freshman year, Ansley Laev and I always stand in the Black Box and we just hug. It’s right after warm-ups. I close my eyes and I can hear her heartbeat and I don’t know, it’s very calming. It’s just a nice, quiet moment before the chaos of the show. It means a lot to me.

-What is it like being an upperclassman?
It’s crazy and scary. I love it, but I swear it was only a few days ago I walked into the Black Box for the first day of Carousel rehearsals. You start the program as a freshman looking up to people like Grace Bobber, Joe Schwalb, Bridget Cushman, Emily Eckhardt and all the other upperclassmen and now you look around and they’re not there anymore. You realize you’re where they were. And it’s scary. And honestly nobody has stepped up as a leader in the same way they did. I think we’re still figuring things out. It’s all coming together, instead of individuals it’s definitely more of an upperclassmen force leading.


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