FALMOUTH – When two young Falmouth girls were given the lead parts in the Falmouth Theatre Guild’s holiday production, they decided the best way to tackle the huge roles was to work together.
That extra work paid off. Helena Marschall, 11, and Lily Rapoza, 12, have developed vibrant on stage personalities to match their colorful jester-like costumes.
Resembling the mischievous Thing #1 and Thing #2 in “The Cat in the Hat,” the two girls are the audience’s guide through the story, complete with sassy commentary.
As Narrator #1 and Narrator #2, they finish each other’s sentences and speak in rhyme throughout the whole show.
To memorize their lines, develop their stage personas and perfect their intricate stage business, the two met for extra rehearsals, sometimes one or two extra times a week at each other’s houses.
According to them, the preparation was half the fun.
The two have worked together to decide how they will say their lines and on their interaction throughout the show. Both have contributed good ideas, Lily said.
“I knew she’d be good to work with,” Lily said. “She expresses her opinion but not in a bossy way. She’s very accepting.”
Helena said, “We talked about how we would do things. We decided we’d have very different personalities.”
Their idea was for Lily to be the more high-strung and easily angered narrator and Helena would be the one who calms her down. They agreed on using different expressions as a way to show their separate personalities.
Lily admitted the challenges of taking on the co-leading role.
“It’s been super hard,” she said. But she said the key to knowing the lines backwards and forwards has been those extra meetings.
Helena also credited the extra practicing outside of rehearsals. “It makes it much easier,” she said.
Because of their intense study, they know each other’s lines as well as their own.
That part has actually made their on stage work easier, Helena said. “If she stumbles, I can pick it up.” And vice versa.
Helena was put to the test at one of the final rehearsals as Lily dealt with a costume malfunction and could not make it onstage for her cue. Without skipping a beat, Helena did both parts.
Afterwards, Lily said she could and would do the same for Helena.
“Sometimes we forget whose lines are whose,” Lily said.
Lily has had big parts in past Falmouth Theatre Guild holiday productions, but this lead role is a first for Helena. Helena’s training has come through working with longtime Falmouth Theatre Guild board director and performer Brian Switzer, who runs a children’s acting camp in the summer and also teaches middle schoolers—including Helena—at Morse Pond School.
Switzer said he is not surprised that Helena has tackled the role with aplomb. “She has impressed me with her bright mind and willingness to take risks. She’s interested in doing things and is always curious about exciting new possibilities and that lends itself to someone who would take a role and run with it.”
Melinda Gallant, director of “A Seussified Christmas Carol” spoke highly of Lily and Helena, calling them, “outstanding performers.”
She continued, “They have the timing of seasoned actors, plus they are cute and nice!”
Lily and Helena knew who each other were before being cast in the roles, but working so closely has made them pals.
“We’ve gotten to be quite good friends,” Helena said. “We’ve bonded a lot and gotten to know each other’s families.”
“She has a good personality,” Lily said of Helena.
Both girls said they have thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the show.
Helena expressed it best. “It’s amazing. Dazzling. It’s so fun.”
Falmouth Theatre Guild’s “A Seussified Christmas Carol” plays through December 15 at Highfield Theater in Falmouth. For tickets, go to www.falmouththeatreguild.org.
— Laura M. Reckford
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