By Dianne Cornish, REVIEW STAFF
Cassandra Pearse is counting the days to Friday, Nov. 16. That’s when she’ll climb on stage at the Milton Centre for the Arts to perform in the opening night presentation of The Music Man, a musical that will allow the Waterdown teen to showcase her talents as a dancer, singer and actor.
“I’m getting really excited about it,” said the 14-year-old student of Waterdown Dancers Inc. “I can’t wait to get to the theatre to actually perform on stage.”
Pearse landed the role of Amaryllis, a young piano student to the female lead in the musical, after auditioning with several other teens for the role.
“Up until now, Cassandra has played a lot of roles as part of an ensemble, but this is like her own part” explained her mom, Elizabeth, adding that her daughter’s training in competitive dancing helped prepare her for the role. Being a real-life piano student also helped.
“It’s a fun role,” said the Grade 9 student at Waterdown District High School (WDHS) who has also been a carrier for the Flamborough Review for the past four years.
“I play a kind of cheeky character who makes fun of others.” That’s a bit of challenge as she explains, “That’s not really my character (in everyday life).”
For the past month, Pearse has been travelling to the Georgetown Armouries to rehearse for the show, three times a week. She also practices dancing three times weekly at the Waterdown Dancers Inc. studio on Mill Street.
Despite a busy schedule, she continues to maintain her standing as a straight ‘A’ student. She has aspirations of being a marine biologist, but also dreams of performing on Broadway someday. “I just love being on stage,” she confided.
The Music Man, being presented by Globe Productions of Milton, tells the story of a con man who poses as a boys’ marching band organizer and leader in River City, Iowa, where he sells band instruments and uniforms to naïve townsfolk with the intent of skipping town with the cash. But his plans go awry when he meets and falls in love with the
town’s librarian and piano teacher.
The show, featuring music and lyrics by Meredith Willson, was a Broadway hit in 1957 and won five Tony Awards. Its success led to a popular 1962 film adaptation, starring Robert Preston as the manipulative but charming con man.
The Milton production features a large cast of children and adults, including a barbershop quartet with singers from Hamilton’s Harbourtown Sound group that rehearses every week in Millgrove.
It will be presented Nov. 16-18, with evening performances beginning at 8 p.m. and matinees, Nov. 17 and 18, beginning at 2 p.m. Tickets are $27 for adults, $25 for students and $16 for youth, 12 and under; they can be obtained online at www.miltoncentreforthearts.ca or by contacting Chudleigh’s Box Office at 1010 Main Street East in Milton at 905-878-6000 or 1-866-957-0004.
Despite her youth, Pearse has performed widely in theatre and dance productions. In 2009, she played young Cosette in the WDHS production of Les Misérables and in 2010 she appeared as part of the children’s ensemble in Theatre Aquarius’s A Christmas Carol. Last year, she appeared in The Rose Theatre’s production of A Christmas Carol in Brampton and also appeared with performers in the opening act at the 2011 IIFA (International Indian Film Academy) Awards at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
Pearse said a lot of preparation work is required for her role as Amaryllis in the upcoming Music Man production. “I’ve got a lot of lines, I sing with the main character and I also play the piano.” In addition, she’s featured in all the dance routines and is busily learning a new skill, baton twirling.
She started her dance instruction at the age of three at the former Linda Collins Dance Studio in Waterdown. Later, she began taking dance instruction at Waterdown Dancers Inc., leaving there for a couple of years before returning to the Mill Street studio this year because she “likes it best.”
Pearse finds dancing to be “a lot of fun” and is eager to expand her skills as a dancer, singer and actor on stage. The Music Man will help her meet that goal and she’s genuinely looking forward to her time in the spotlight.