- Last Updated on 12:22 PM 06/11/12
- BY Melissa Ridley Elmes/Special to The Gazette
When the email arrived in the early morning hours of a late spring day, Jocelyn Lonquist’s response was exactly what you would expect from a fairy tale princess.
“I woke my roommate up with a squeal. She asked what was the matter, and I screamed, ‘I got Cinderella.’ I was so thrilled and honored to be chosen for the role. I immediately responded with a big yes.”
John Michael Chappell was no less delighted to hear that he had been chosen to play opposite Jocelyn in the lead male role and echoes her delight at playing the princes. (“I cannot wait to play Cinderella! I think it's every girl's dream to play a princess”) with his own enthusiasm: “I am super excited to be playing Prince Charming in Cinderella mainly because I've always wanted to play a prince.”
For his part, Chris Jones, artistic director for The Prizery and the director of the Summer Theatre Celebration, was delighted to be able to offer this dynamic duo the opportunity. “You know, summer theatre has been such a blessing for us, for the people we bring in, for the children and local volunteers who get to work with them.
“We were worried we wouldn’t have the funding to be able to bring John Michael and Jocelyn here for this beautiful, magical show, and it was just such a joy to be able to hit ‘send’ on that email thanks to the incredible support and generosity of the people and businesses of Halifax County.”
Winking back the barest hint of a grateful tear, he added, “The magic of our production of ‘Cinderella’ is being created by everyone who makes a donation and buys a ticket. And Jocelyn and John Michael’s talent, their youth, their beauty, is just going to bring this story to exquisite life because of that support.”
No stranger to The Prizery stage, having been featured in last year’s Summer Theatre Celebration productions of “Sound of Music,” “Seussical the Musical” and “The 39 Steps,” Chappell is excited about the challenges of mounting “Cinderella, claiming: “The biggest challenge as I am preparing for my role, is trying to make the character as much of a ‘story-book’ prince charming as possible while being a believable character.
“So, in other words, I want to make the prince as charming as possible.”
Chappell already exhibits the charm and charisma you would expect from Cinderella’s true love, singing praises for his costar: “I [also] love the music that the Prince gets to sing with Cinderella, and I am looking forward to sharing the stage with the lovely Jocelyn Lonquist, who will be playing Cinderella.”
For Lonquist, while “one of the biggest challenges of this process will be the fast pace. I have never been in a show that goes up in two weeks” she feels that her strong work ethic and enthusiasm will serve her well.
“I’m excited to work hard.”
Besides, the hard work involved in longer hours and fewer rehearsals aren’t her greatest concern.
“I think the biggest challenge for my character will be the British accent that Chris added on Monday.”
However, the payoff for all her effort more than makes up for the many challenges of creating this iconic role.
“Cinderella is one of the greatest makeover stories of all time. I am excited to explore her innocence and charm. In addition, I adore the music, and I will relish every time I get to sing it in rehearsal and performance.”
Having completed his senior year at Birmingham Southern College in Birmingham, Alabama with a concentration in musical theatre, Chappell is thrilled to be back in South Boston for a second year. He describes himself as being “blown away by the hospitality of the South Boston/Halifax community.
“Those of us in the cast who are living together are settling in very nicely, and we are already getting to be really close as a cast and crew,” he added, naming this camaraderie as another reason he enjoys working with The Prizery’s summer theatre program.
Jonquist echoes his enthusiasm for the welcome they have received, and piles on praise for the place where she is hanging her tiara this summer.
“South Boston is great! The people here are fantastic, and so is the food. It is absolutely beautiful.”
Lonquist and Chappell have both personal and professional goals for themselves as they bring “Cinderella” to The Prizery stage.
Chappell’s earnest nature shines through as he explained, “My number one goal is to help put on a show that will keep people talking about the show for years.”
In addition, he added, “I hope that our show will touch the audience on many different levels, especially the younger audiences because this is, after all, a classic fairy tale story, and I know everyone will love it.”
Lonquist views this as a chance to grow and develop as a performer:.
“I’m excited to learn this summer. The cast is amazing, and I know that there is something for me to learn from each and every one of them.”
Her primary goal is “to take the audience on a journey. I want them to experience the magic and wonder that is Cinderella.”
She adds that locals should be sure to reserve their tickets because “It is the perfect show for kids and adults alike. It's a ton of fun!”
Cinderella and her Prince Charming will be live and in person on the Chastain Theatre Stage as the curtain rises on The Prizery Summer Theatre Celebration on June 21, with performances running through July 1.
For tickets call the box office at 434-572-8339 or visit the website at http://www.prizery.com/.