At the 3:30 p.m. matinee performance Saturday, April 5, the young actors in Valley Youth Theatre’s production of “Snow White” delighted the audience with their singing, dancing and acting. The familiar tale of jealousy and intrigue, the beautiful but evil queen, the fair Snow White, a magic mirror, a poisoned apple and the handsome prince brought out people of all ages, from small children to grandparents, and no doubt great-grandparents as well.
A show of hands indicated that many had come to VYT for the first time. One example was Lora Villasenor, who brought her granddaughter Ella. Ella happily accepted the invitation to the children to sit on the floor down front, near the stage. “I have friends whose children have been actors with Valley Youth Theatre, and I’ve always wanted to come,” said Villasenor. About her granddaughter, she said, “I hope she loves it so that we can come to more plays together.”
Directing and choreographing the performers, who are between the ages of 8 and 16, is Molly Lajoie. She previously designed dance routines for “Shrek the Musical” and “Seussical” at VYT. Everyone seems to sing and dance with ease, and when Snow White joins the dwarfs in “The Yodel Song” or in a song and dance admonishing the listeners to “Eat an Egg for Breakfast,” you can’t help but smile.
“Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?” Uttering those famous words to the mirror is Sarah Moss, impressive in the role of the beautiful but wicked queen. Through her mean selfishness, the queen takes on the appearance of an ugly witch, and Moss carries off this transformation amazingly well. Moss enjoys composing songs on piano and performing at nursing homes and weddings. She is a freshman at Scottsdale Online School and has portrayed Ella in “The Recess Queen” at Desert Mountain High School, Ariel in “Little Mermaid Jr.” at Greasepaint Youtheatre and Belle in “Beauty and the Beast” at Desert Foothills Theater. She also hopes to become a Broadway performer. According to her mother, Cindy Moss, Sarah Moss has been doing theater for 10 years, since she was 5. “She really likes this theater and the level of knowledge she’s learned. This is her first show here, and I know she said she wants to continue doing more shows.”
Appealing as Snow White, Jessie Jo Pauley keeps the audience cheering for her as she endures the machinations of the evil queen. A sophomore at Mountain View High School in Mesa, Ariz., Pauley has appeared as Laura in “They Chose Me!” and Duffy in “Annie,” both at VYT. She has also performed professionally as Baby Louise in “Gypsy” at Phoenix Theatre, and as Louisa in “The Sound of Music,” Pepper in “Annie” and Martha in “A Christmas Carol” at the Broadway Palm. She hopes for a career on Broadway or in broadcasting.
As the handsome prince, William Deihl makes a late appearance in the story, but he arrives just in time. A sophomore at Sunnyslope High School in Phoenix, Deihl is active in theater, choir, crew and debate. Previous VYT credits include Seymour in “How I Became A Pirate” and Thelonious in “Shrek,” in addition to being in the ensemble for “Seussical.” Diehl also played Daddy Warbucks in “Annie Jr.,” Sir Harry in “Once Upon A Mattress” and King Triton in Little Mermaid Jr. in the Art and Sol Performing Arts Program. He hopes to make it to Broadway.
The voice and spirit of the mirror belongs to Sara Matin, a homeschooled seventh grader who has played Gail in “They Chose Me” at VYT. Other credits include Helen Keller in “The Miracle Worker,” Edna in “Best Christmas Pageant Ever” and Emily in “A Christmas Story.” Matin has trained with Eden Espinosa and Jeff Shade at Broadway Artists Alliance in New York and is a member of VYT’s improv troupe known as the HA HA’s and of Spotlight Youth Theatre’s music and movement performance troupe.
Playing the woodsman who couldn’t quite carry out the evil intended by the queen is Connor Baker, a sophomore at Arizona School for the Arts (ASA), where he is a member of the show choir. His stage credits include the Big Bad Wolf in “Shrek,” Wickersham in “Seussical” and King Maximillian in “Princess and the Pea” at VYT, and Don Kerr in “A Chorus Line” at Spotlight Youth Theater. Baker’s hobbies include dance and modeling, and he would like to make his living in musical theater.
Let’s not forget the seven dwarfs:
New to VYT, Katie Brown is Scrubber. A fifth grader at ASA, Brown has studied violin for six years and participates in the chorus and orchestra. She has also played in “Dear Edwina Jr.,” “How I Became a Pirate,” “La Boheme,” “Little Mermaid Jr.” and “A Christmas Carol.” She would like to be a doctor or an actress.
Playing Flubber is Thea Eigo, a seventh grader at ASA. Her hobbies include piano, dance and theater. At VYT, Eigo has appeared in “Seussical,” “A Winnie-the-Pooh Christmas Tail” and “They Chose Me!” She has also had roles in “Heddatron” at Stray Cat, in “Wizard of Oz” at the Orpheum and in “Little Mermaid Jr.,” “Cinderella” and “Aladdin” at Greasepaint.
Ian Gray plays the bashful Fred. A Boy Scout who has his sights set on becoming a scientist, Gray is a second grader at Lookout Mountain Elementary School. He enjoys playing baseball and soccer. He played Edgar in “Aristocats Jr.” at VYT’s summer camp program. “Snow White” is his first VYT mainstage production.
Charlie Siegel takes the role of Blubber. Siegel is in the sixth grade at Villa Montessori School and is active in voice, dance and the running club. At VYT, he previously played Sammy in “They Chose Me!,” and has also been in “Seussical” and “A Winnie-the-Pooh Christmas Tail.” Other credits include “Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson” and “Gypsy.” He enjoys animals, art and cooking, and would like to act for a living.
Justin Vaught plays Scotty. A sixth grader at St. John Bosco Catholic School, Vaught hopes to become an actor. He has appeared in “Seussical” at VYT, and other credits include “Beauty and the Beast Jr.” and “A Christmas Carol.”
A sixth grader at ASA, Alexandra Kirby takes the role of Pepito. At VYT she has been in “The Jungle Book,” “The Wiz” and “They Chose Me!” Other credits include “Alice in Wonderland Jr.,” “Little Mermaid Jr.,” “Ruthless! The Musical,” “South Pacific” “Hairspray.”
Andy Wissink portrays Mosquito. A fifth grader at Christ Lutheran School, Wissink plays saxophone in the band and also plays basketball. His hobbies include theater, swimming and skiing. “Snow White” is Wissink’s first VYT show, but he’s been in several class performances at Childsplay, such as “Little Mermaid Jr.,” “Jungle Book Jr.,” “Frog & Toad” and “Alice in Wonderland Jr.”
“Snow White” runs through Sunday, April 20. Order tickets online or by calling the VYT box office at (602) 253-8188, ext. 2. Cost is $18.00, plus service fees.
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