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Volume 26, Number 5 — May 2019

Barter's Jr. Acting Company

Alexandra Eleas dancing with Michael Poisson in <em>Green Gables</em>.
Alexandra Eleas dancing with Michael Poisson in Green Gables.
Additional photos below »

The Child Actors of Barter Theatre Light up the Stage

By (Reprinted with permission from Barter's Esprit Newsletter) | March 01, 2007

You expect to see your favorite actors take to the stage and create magic in real life. Even more magic is created when Barter Theatre's Jr. Acting Company, the child actors of Barter, perform in costume under the bright lights to adoring audiences.

Throughout the year, Barter auditions local young actors for roles in Barter productions. Many children have taken advantage of these auditions and have gone on to perform in several roles at Barter as well as other venues. These students work very hard, not only missing school due to matinee performances but also staying up late for rehearsals. In 2006, seven children ? Alexandra Eleas, Maria Masters, Sydney Gounaris, Gabriel Gounaris, Hunter E. Wilson, Catie Lott and Rachel Boyd ? were either actors or understudies for Barter productions.

Alexandra Eleas, age 9, starred as Young Anne and Minnie Mae Barry in the fall 2006 production of Green Gables, her fourth role at Barter. Alexandra's favorite role was as Gladys Herdman in the 2005 production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by The Barter Players because "Gladys is so outrageous and so different from the real me." Alexandra's mother, Suzanne, considers her daughter's association with Barter to be one of Alexandra's greatest experiences.

Siblings Gabriel, age 11, and Sydney, age 7, Gounaris starred in the recent hit It's a Wonderful Life. Their mother, Leila, noticed that Gabriel had some stage fright when he was younger and enrolled him in an acting class. Gabriel enjoyed it, and his younger sister Sydney thought it was fun also, so they auditioned at Barter for The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Leila says she is in awe of each and every show, even if it is a little difficult being a chauffer to and from the theatre.

Other Barter young actors have a bit of a different perspective because they have grown up around the theatre. Harry Land, 14, is the son of Tere Land, Barter's Education and Tour Coordinator. Harry has had roles in Peter and the Wolf, Gypsy!, A Modern Christmas Carol and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. In Tere's former position as Director of the Education Wing, she ran workshops and summer camps at Barter. Harry and his older brother, Mitchell, were the first to sign up. Harry loved the camps, especially one on stage fighting. Tere and her husband Bob enjoy seeing their sons on stage because they are "devoting themselves to something that takes hard work," and at the same time, "they enjoy themselves."

Two children who have literally known theatre their entire lives are Mary Owens Davidson and Rachel Sabo-Hedges. Mary, age 6, the daughter of former Barter resident actors Melissa Owens and Derek Davidson, wanted to become involved in theatre to be around her mom. Melissa started Mary's participation with Gigi. Melissa says it was fun watching her daughter create an inner life for her character. Mary has many memories of "seeing Daddy do his funny falling down in Singing in the Rain," and hearing her mom sing in performances, but her favorite times are seeing her mom and other actresses "in all their different costumes and playing with makeup in the dressing room."

Rachel Sabo-Hedges, age 7, daughter of current resident actor John Hedges and former resident actor Karen Sabo, has also followed her parents' lead and been involved in acting at Barter in both The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and Gigi. Her favorite memory of Barter is sitting under the umbrella in the role of Little Girl in Gigi. Rachel says she enjoys having parents who are actors, and her father John said he encouraged Rachel to act because "I know how it has enriched my life."

Child actors gain great experience, have a blast working with professional actors and become stars in their own right.

A few roles for children are available this year at Barter. For more information, contact Associate Artistic Director Katy Brown, or watch for audition updates on our website or in your local newspapers.

Gabriel Gounaris in Miracle on 34th Street.

Sydney Gounaris played ZuZu in It's a Wonderful Life.

Mary Owens Davidson with Michael Poisson in Gigi.

Rachel Sabo-Hedges in The Best Chirstmas Pageant Ever.