Every little girl dreams of being a princess. For Aurora's Rachel Sanderson and Stouffville's Gabrielle da Silva, this dream has become a reality! Both ladies will take the stage this May at Newmarket Theatre as Sara Crewe in A Little Princess. This production is the Mother's Day weekend event you don't want to miss. Both girls bring their unique personalities and incredible talent to their portrayal of the girl that just wants to "live out loud". At ages 15 and 14, the young ladies are in fact veterans to the stage. Rachel Sanderson began her theatrical journey at Wavestage in grade six in the ensemble of Little Women. In addition to playing Sara Crewe, Rachel will also be seen next season as Pilar in Legally Blonde and as Peter in Peter Pan. Gabrielle da Silva's first leading role at Wavestage was six years ago, when she starred as Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden. Most recently, she performed as Hodel in Wavestage's Fiddler on the Roof and will also be seen next season as Peter in Peter Pan.
We had the chance to ask these girls a few questions as they prepare for opening night. Here's what they had to say:
What part of being in the show are you most looking forward to? Rachel: The thing I'm most looking forward to in this show is working and interacting on stage with all different ages of people. Our cast ranges from children age 4 to adults at age 65. This is a huge cast which makes it so interesting and fun to perform. Gabrielle: So many things! This show is one of my favourites to date. One thing that I am definitely looking forward to is the dancing; there are a few full-cast dance numbers in the show that are coming along really well! Being a part of such a large cast and having everyone dancing together is incredible! I'm also really looking forward to the music. Andrew Lippa has written some beautiful songs for this show that I love to sing!
What sparked your interest in musical theatre? Gabrielle: I became involved in theatre when I was 9 years old. My mom got me into it; I was always singing around the house and she thought it might be good for me. That year, I performed in my first show: Into the Woods. I started taking voice lessons with Sarah Langford, and began preparing for my first leading role as Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden. This show definitely got me interested in musical theatre; I loved the stage, I loved singing, and I had found something that I was good at!
Do you see any similarities between yourself and Sara? Rachel: I think Sara goes through a lot of very realistic experiences which makes her very relatable. She's outcasted because she likes telling stories and she's different. I can relate to Sara because I am very different than a lot of people and sometimes outcasted for that. Everyone is intimidated by her because she's rich, but once they get to know her they realize the real wealth is inside her heart and spirit.
What's been the biggest challenge during the rehearsal process? Gabrielle: A big challenge for me is letting go of myself to become Sara Crew. She's a rich girl, which would mean she always have outstanding posture and a proper British accent. Sometimes I slip out of the accent while singing or speaking, just because it isn't natural. It's also difficult to consistently sit or stand with perfect posture all the time, so I constantly have to fix my posture.
If you could meet any Broadway star, who would you pick? Rachel: Lindsay Mendez because I am a HUGE fan of the shows shes done on Broadway and off Broadway. She also seems like such a down to earth and real person. Gabrielle: Sierra Boggess. She actually did the cast recording for A Little Princess as Sara. She has an amazing voice, and I think she's great because she can sing a variety of different roles. Her voice in Phantom of the Opera is gorgeous! Not only that, but she's also a really positive, happy person!
How do you think the message of A Little Princess will translate for children seeing the show? Rachel: "Let your heart be your compass" is one thing that I think everyone in the world needs to know. All those children in the audience need to know that it doesn't matter if people don't believe in you, you must believe in yourself and follow your heart. Gabrielle: I'm hoping that the children seeing the show really get Sara's main message throughout the story; that anyone can be a princess. It doesn't matter if you aren't super rich, or pretty, all that matters is that you behave like one. That you are always kind to others, and help them when they need it. That you can believe in magic, and that friendship is one of the most important things. I hope the children watching the show will connect with Sara and realize that they too can be princesses, if they use their imagination.
See Rachel perform on Saturday May 10 at 7pm and May 11 at 1pm. Gabrielle's performances are Thursday May 8th (7pm), Friday May 9th (7pm), and Saturday May 10 (2pm). Tickets are available for A Little Princess at www.newtix.ca or by calling the box office at 905.953.5122.