What would you do if you were offered the chance to live forever? Would you?
That's the question that eleven year old Winnie Foster has to answer after discovering the magical secret of the Tuck Family in the beloved tale, Tuck Everlasting. Atlanta native Sarah Charles Lewis, who will portray Winnie in the upcoming musical adaptation on Broadway, spoke to me about living in New York, school, and memorizing lines.
How do you like it in New York so far?
Oh my gosh, it's so fun! Living in New York and doing a Broadway show is a dream come true. I've been training for this ever since I was five years old. Actually doing it and living my dream is incredible.
What inspired you to get involved with performing at such a young age?
Well, I went to this performing arts school back in Atlanta called RISPA. The owner of the studio was actually in 42nd Street on West End. She would always talk about how great it was and she always had so much advice, which made us so motivated to be on Broadway.
How is your experience different than that of your the older cast members?
The adults obviously don't have to go to school, just be at rehearsal, so they have all that time to work on the script and stuff. I have to go to school in the morning and look at the script to see what's different. It's a little difficult to have school in the morning and go to rehearsal straight after, and then have the show at night.
Another difference is that they've been on Broadway. They're all Broadway stars, and it's an honor to work with them, while it's my Broadway debut.
Have you ever read Tuck Everlasting or seen the movies?
Totally, yeah! I actually read it during my audition so I could get into my character, and then I read it again before rehearsal.
Are you home schooled, or do you go to school?
It's kind of in between. It's in the same building as the rehearsals, so I basically go in a room with all the other kids in the cast. There's a teacher in the room and she moves around each person and helps them out. It's not exactly school, it's not exactly homeschooling.
[Charles Lewis' mother, Jennifer]: The producers provide the tutoring required. As the parent, we're supposed to supply this curriculum. We actually unenrolled her from public school and enrolled her in a public school in Atlanta that specializes in long distances learning situations. They provide the curriculum for the tutor up here.
How did your friends and family react when they found out that you got the part?
On my last day of school, I was walking down the fifth grade hallway and there was a banner that said "Goodbye, Broadway Girl." Everyone signed it, and we had a goodbye party. When it was dismissal time and we started going home, they all were crying and were really sad. I was sad, too.
My family...I mean, it's awesome. We facetime every day and it doesn't feel like we're really far away from them [her father and brother] because we always talk to them.
[Jennifer]: They're going to come up for spring break and visit. Once the show starts, we'll be able to swap out. I'll go home and stay with our son, and her dad will come back up. There's been a lot of support from the family and the community.
What's the hardest part of the experience?
I think the hardest is that the script changes all the time. They change the blocking, even the lyrics and music sometimes. They change something everyday. It's so funny to me, because I'll come home on Tuesday and have it all memorized. Then I go in on Thursday, when I have it all memorized, and that's the day they change it.
It's frustrating sometimes, but it's really a good experience to be able to do it all.
What are you looking forward to most about opening night?
Just the thought of knowing that it's opening, that Tuck Everlasting is done, the show is set. No more changes! There's this big party and we get to dress up in really fancy dresses. My family is going to be there, and I'm sure I'll get to see Natalie Babbitt, the author of the book, which is so exciting. She's incredible.
Do you want to stay on Broadway as you get older?
Heck yeah! Are you kidding? I definitely want to keep on doing Broadway. But maybe when I get tired of Broadway, I'll want to move onto some Disney shows or movies or being a pop star. In general, I think I'll stick with performing and acting and singing.
Previews of Tuck Everlasting start March 31, 2016.