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Julian Wiles, Founder and Producing Artistic Director
Marybeth Clark, Associate Artistic Director

December 9, 2008

Acting With Children by Susie Hallatt

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 8:27 pm

The famous vaudeville and 1930’s film legend W.C. Fields is often quoted as saying “Never work with kids or animals.” Now, I have to tell you that the few live animals I’ve worked with onstage have been mostly hairily unpredictable.  However, the kids have been more often than not exciting, fun and above all have taught me more about letting go onstage than the finest acting coaches.  I’ve always enjoyed working with children of all ages – I once directed a cast of 50 children and 12 adults. The kids were FANTASTIC!!


My husband David, who has the dubious honor of being the OLDEST actor in the show, loves to watch these children from the Charleston Stage Acting School and Theater Wings grow from young, inexperienced actors and stage technicians to confident young people with an interest and knowledge to take away with them to college and beyond. Charleston Stage should be proud of the achievements of Julian Wiles and Marybeth Clark with these young people, and we both hope that with the help of the community they’ll be able to carry on this great work for many years to come.


This particular cast of A Christmas Carol is special this year, because we have been blessed with a small herd of youthful actors that are adding a new dimension to this fabled tale of Christmas magic. In a time when speaking of “foreclosures” and “the desperately poor” has special meaning to so many, I think it is very important that we see that failures in the Victorian economy (and in our own 21st century economy) affect the children first and hardest. I am pleased with the fact that having these youngsters onstage remind us that we have a responsibility to the young to give them a good start, whether it is in the theater or in life.


And the children of Charleston Stage are some of the best-disciplined, most well-behaved people with whom I’ve ever had the pleasure to act with. I have especially enjoyed the performances of young Matt, who plays Peter and the astounding Gavin, Tiny Tim. But each and every young actor on this stage in these performances gives 150% every night, and that is an inspiration to me to push my old body a little harder, to smile a little bigger and to sing a little louder. I’m determined not to let them out-do me too much!!



(Susie Hallatt as The Ghost of Christmas Past, photo by Leslie McKellar) 


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