Conservatory Students Shine in "A Christmas Carol"


by 
Beth Fhaner
 | Dec 18, 2017
Christmas Carol Kids

Sean Kato, Hal Landon Jr., Julia Meads, Maeve Callahan and Olivia Drury in ​a photo shoot for ​A Christmas Carol.

Christmas Carol Red Team

THE RED TEAM: (clockwise from top left) Sean Kato, Emme O'Toole, Chloe Ashbach, Olivia Drury, Julia Meads, Maeve Callahan, Remington Walker and Dane Bergman.

Christmas Carol Green Team

THE GREEN TEAM: (​clockwise from top left) Sebastian Naranjo, Josina Montes, Lauren Dong, Tara Thompson, Maxfield Ney, Tayler Peterson, Micah Clemons and Celine Ngo.

A Christmas Carol requires a large cast of actors, and kids play a significant part in this production. With eight roles for children that are double-cast, 16 kids total have the opportunity to appear onstage in this beloved holiday show. Having two groups of children—“Red” and “Green” teams—allows the opportunity for the kids to perform on alternate days and to also build-in understudies for various roles. We recently spoke with some of the kids cast in A Christmas Carol about the play, their acting studies and their favorite part of the holidays.

Other cast members include Dane Bergman, Micah Clemons, Olivia Drury, Sean Kato and Tara Thompson.

Maeve Callahan

What character do you play?
I play “Tiny” Tim Cratchit, and also a dinner guest at Fezziwig’s, and a schoolboy from Scrooge’s memories.
Why did you want to be in A Christmas Carol?
Because I love being onstage, it’s Christmastime and I think it is so fun to be onstage!
What’s the most fun part about being in this play?
I love playing a member of the Cratchit family! Everyone is funny and supportive and, like I said before, it’s really so fun to be onstage!
How does it help your acting studies by working with the adults in the cast?
It really helps me watching the adults perform, so I understand better about moving onstage, and speaking onstage. The adults also give us tips and are very supportive.
Who inspires you most as an actor?
From this cast: Sarah McGuire. She is so funny!
What is your favorite part about the holiday season?
Being a part of A Christmas Carol, of course! Also spending time with my family, sharing the Christmas spirit, and waiting for Santa Claus.

Remington Walker

What character do you play?
I play Turkey Boy!
Why did you want to be in A Christmas Carol?
I thought it would be a fun experience. I love Christmas!
What’s the most fun part about being in this play?
Everything!
How does it help your acting studies by working with the adults in the cast?
They help me out and I learn a lot from them. They are funny and nice.
Who inspires you most as an actor?
I love to watch comedies and funny characters in movies, so anyone who makes me laugh.
What is your favorite part about the holiday season?
Decorating the Christmas tree while eating cookies and drinking hot chocolate.

Tayler Peterson

What character do you play?
Belinda Cratchit.
Why did you want to be in A Christmas Carol?
Because I wanted to experience professional theater, and I love the story of A Christmas Carol.
What’s the most fun part about being in this play?
The most fun part about being in the play is getting an opportunity to act with professional adult stage actors. They are all so talented!
How does it help your acting studies by working with the adults in the cast?
Acting has always been lots of fun to me. But, as I’ve been working alongside the adults and observe how they behave, it reminded me to take every rehearsal serious and give my best efforts as well as having fun.
Who inspires you most as an actor?
Daniel Blinkoff, who plays my father, Mr. Cratchit, has been my biggest supporter since we began rehearsals. He's always telling me that I'm doing a great job​ and I can tell when he is having a lot of fun when he is acting as well.
What is your favorite part about the holiday season?
Doing special things with my family. Just like families who come to see A Christmas Carol, my family is always finding fun ways to celebrate Christmas.

Celine Ngo

What character do you play?
I play “Tiny” Tim Cratchit.
Why did you want to be in A Christmas Carol?
I want to be in A Christmas Carol because this show is happy and has a wonderful message about being kind and giving your money to help people who don't have as much as you. And I love performing and meeting new friends.
What’s the most fun part about being in this play?
​My​ pretend​-daddy Bob Cratchit because he’s really funny and teaches me new things. And my new bff is Belinda, her real name is Tayl​er Peterson, and we have a lot of fun during rehearsal.
​​How does it help your acting studies by working with the adults in the cast?
All the actors are amazing and when I watch them, they inspire me to do better. ​JD [John-David Keller] is really a great director and actor because he helps me with my acting skills. I want to be as good as they are when I grow up. ​
Who inspires you most as an actor?
Anna Kendrick inspires me the most because she acts, sings and dances. I have been in musical theatre since I ​was 5 years old and one day ​I want to do what she does, since she’s a triple threat. ​She's an amazing actress.
What is your favorite part about the holiday season?
When we have two weeks off from school and ​I get to relax, bake cookies​​ and hang out with my family and friends. And the best part this year is that ​I​ get to perform in A Christmas Carol almost every day! I just love that I get to be part of this show this year...I love my Cracthit Family!​

Maxfield Ney

What character do you play?
I play Oliver Shelley, ​Boy Ebenezer, Ignorance, and party guests at Fred and Fezziwig’s parties.
Why did you want to be in A Christmas Carol?
I wanted to be in A Christmas Carol because I love acting.
What’s the most fun part about being in this play?
The most fun part is being onstage in front of 500 people.
How does it help your acting studies by working with the adults in the cast?
The adult actors give me notes on my acting and help me get me ready between scenes.
Who inspires you most as an actor?
I find Hal Landon Jr. to be the most inspiring.
What is your favorite part about the holiday season?
How cold it gets because then I’m super cozy and warm inside.

Julia Meads

What character do you play?
Belinda Cratchit.
Why did you want to be in A Christmas Carol?
I wanted the experience of being in a professional production, working with adults and I wanted to learn what it felt like to perform in front of a large crowd
What’s the most fun part about being in this play?
Standing on stage with the lights in my face, playing a character who is nothing like me and telling a story that people love to hear.
How does it help your acting studies by working with the adults in the cast?
The adult actors show me how committed they have to be, how they rehearse and how you have to prepare for a role.
Who inspires you most as an actor?
My family inspires me the most. Some of them have been in plays or acting classes. They motivate me and help me to be who I am today
What is your favorite part about the holiday season?
Decorating our house and spending time with my family.

Josina Montes

What character do you play?
I play “Girl About Town.”
Why did you want to be in A Christmas Carol?
It seemed like [it would be] a wonderful experience, and it is. I also enjoyed the idea of being in a production around the Christmas season.
What’s the most fun part about this play?
It’s all fun! I do love all the dancing, and I love using the trap door. I’ve also made a lot of friends through this show, and that’s been pretty great too.
How does it help your acting studies by working with the adults in the cast?
It’s helped my studies immensely. It’s a different experience than being in class. In class you do have your teacher, but you’re still surrounded by other students. The people surrounding you in class are there to learn, just like me. By working with the adults in the cast, I’m surrounded by grown-ups who have been doing this for years. They are full of experience, and they definitely know what they’re doing. It’s been phenomenal to watch how they work, most importantly to me, how they remain relaxed yet focused.
Who inspires you most as an actor?
The person in the cast who inspires me most is Erika Schindele. She got a good education in acting at UCLA, and now she spends her time performing for regional theatres and at Disneyland. 
What is your favorite part about the holiday season?
I definitely love the feeling in the air. There’s just something magical about Christmas. Christmas music I know and love is playing everywhere, instead of the usual pop music, and there’s a special excitement everywhere.

Emm​e O’Toole

What character do you play?
I play Fan, Ebenezer’s older sister. I also get to play various other roles in the ensemble, like a flower cart girl and a party guest at both Fezziwig and Fred’s parties.
Why did you want to be in A Christmas Carol?
After doing the show for the first time in 2011, I was eager to audition again because of the amazing, professional and unparalleled experience that A Christmas Carol was. Not only is it a touching story about Christmas joy and love, but also we get to perform on a huge stage in beautiful costumes and share the happiness with audiences who are just as enthusiastic as we are!
What’s the most fun part about being in this play?
Definitely the most fun part is growing close with the cast. I have made so many friends and we have shared many laughs through rehearsals, tech days and shows. I especially love the ladies in my dressing room, because we always have the best conversations and they’re always there for me when I need them.
How does it help your acting studies by working with the adults in the cast?
I have already learned so much through watching the adults work and listening to their advice about the industry and a career in theatre. This experience has been so valuable, and the kindness and patience that every adult actor has displayed when working with the children and teen actors has been amazing.
Who inspires you most as an actor?
Every actor in the cast inspires me in a different way, but Erika Schindele, who plays Belle, is my absolute role model. She has been such a mentor to me throughout this process, and I can’t thank her enough for inspiring me to push myself to be the best that I can be. Not only is she extremely talented, playing multiple different roles and also serving as our dance captain, but she is so positive and kind that I can’t help but smile when she’s around.
What is your favorite part about the holiday season?
My favorite part about the holidays is the happy atmosphere and the general merriment that people feel in December. I especially love listening to Christmas music, decorating the house with lights and spending time with family. The holidays are my favorite time of year, and I am so lucky to get to celebrate by performing in such a special show.

Sebastian Naranjo

What character do you play?
I play the role of Peter Cratchit.
Why did you want to be in A Christmas Carol?
It’s my second time being in the play. I really wanted to be in it again because it was such a wonderful experience the first time and I learned so much. I knew that being in it again, I would get even more from it. I love performing in front of an audience and getting their feedback and emotions. It is also very important to put into practice all what I have learned in these six years at SCR.
What’s the most fun part about being in this play?
The best part is definitely the whole experience in general, being able to be in a show with such experienced actors and crew. It is also a huge honor to be part of the A Christmas Carol family.
How does it help your acting studies by working with the adults in the cast?
Being able to work with such great and experienced actors is such an honor, you truly learn so much from them both acting​-wise and on a personal level, it is great hearing all of their stories and how they got into the industry.
Who inspires you most as an actor?
Leonardo DiCaprio has always been a really big inspiration to me as an actor. The way he gets so into the role has been something I have looked up to. He is also a good person outside of the acting world, he is very conscious of the environment and the world; he is truly a great person to look up to.
What is your favorite part about the holiday season?
My favorite part is definitely seeing all the warmth in people. During this time, people start acting more as one and you are able to see and feel the love all throughout.

Chloe Ashbach

What character do you play?
Girl About Town. 
Why did you want to be in A Christmas Carol?
I knew working on this production would be an incredible learning experience.
What’s the most fun part about being in this play?
I love getting to see how the sets work and I love riding in and out on the moving pieces!
How does it help your acting studies by working with the adults in the cast?
I've been able to observe how the actors rehearse and perform their parts even though they’ve done these rolls repeatedly.
Who inspires you most as an actor?
Our director JD [John-David Keller] is most inspiring.
What is your favorite part about the holiday season?
I love surprising my family and friends with homemade cinnamon rolls!

Olivia Drury

What character do you play?
I play Martha Cratchit.
Why did you want to be in A Christmas Carol?
I was in the production three years ago and it was so magical that I could not wait to audition again!
What’s the most fun part about being in this play?
It's so much fun to be able to perform in a play so beloved by the audience and it’s great to share it with the wonderful cast. We also have such a blast telling jokes and goofing off backstage.
How does it help your acting studies by working with the adults in the cast?
It’s really interesting to watch how each of the adult actors differ in their artistic processes, and then beginning to apply their methods to your own process. There are definitely some great role models to learn from in this cast.
Who inspires you most as an actor?
My teacher at SCR, Hisa Takakuwa, inspires me most because she has a way of always making acting new and exciting. Her love of storytelling really transferred to me and inspires me to continue acting.
What is your favorite part about the holiday season?
I just love the general feeling the holidays bring. Everyone is so willing to be joyful and share it with their friends and family.

Lauren Dong

What character do you play?
Martha Cratchit.
Why did you want to be in A Christmas Carol?
I was very fortunate to have been in this show ​five years ago (2012) playing the role of “Girl About Town”​; I remember it being the most magical Christmas of my life. Not only that, but I really grew as an actor and it was an unforgettable educational and life experience. Just seeing the show gives me so much joy and this brings happiness to many people not just across Orange County, but on a global level as well. Most importantly, the story it tells is very beautiful and quite moving; and that’s what I love to do: tell stories. I love inspiring and being inspired, making people feel something and connecting with people in different ways. Being in A Christmas Carol means I get to be a part of and influence people’s holiday seasons and bring smiles to their faces. ​That’s what I wanted to do again this year.
What’s the most fun part about being in this play?
Performing four times a week with my cast, whith whom I get to create bonds. I get to be a part of another family for the holidays while being able to share my passion with them and share a story that brings people so much joy.
How does it help your acting studies by working with the adults in the cast?
Getting to work with adult actors is such an amazing experience because they are professionals who have been involved in the business and are excellent actors, both on stage and on screen. Observing them during rehearsals has been very effective to my learning and development as an actor. By working with them, I am also learning a lot from them through the ways they work and noticing their confidence in the strong, bold choices they make. They are very kind to the child actors, treat us like professionals, and make the process very fun and engaging more than it already is.
Who inspires you most as an actor?
If I had to pick one person, it would be Meryl Streep. I believe she really is the greatest actress of our generation. She is such a gracious and genuine actor who seamlessly blows everyone away on the big screen with her versatility. Her charisma is very charming and the characters she portrays are very intriguing to watch as she brings them to life. Not only is she an incredible actress, but she is an inspirational figure for women all over the world.
What is your favorite part about the holiday season?
Getting to come together with friends and family and to enjoy and be thankful for each other during this festive time! Also, the food is really a plus!

Winter acting classes for kids and teens start Jan. 9, 2018. Find out more and enroll.