Zachary Conneen on Playing Harold Hill in ‘The Music Man Jr.’ at Bravo@KAT by Joel Markowitz

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Here’s Part 3 of Meeting the cast of Bravo@KAT’s The Music Man, Jr., playing next weekend at Olney Theatre Center’s Historic Mainstage. Today, meet Zachary Conneen.

Zachary Conneen.
Zachary Conneen.

My name is Zachary (Zack) Conneen. I am 14 years-old and in the 8th grade. I play Harold Hill and then Charlie Cowell, when the leads take turns for double casting. For the most part, my stage training as been hands on from the dozen or so shows I’ve been in locally. Most of them were with Laurie Issembert as the producer before she started the BRAVO@KAT program, so she always chose outstanding directors, choreographers, musical directors, and other staff to teach the cast what we had to know. I’ve also taken some improvisation classes at MD Ensemble Theater and some hip hop & breakdancing classes in local dance studios. I’ve been working with vocal coach Rosie Dyer for the past year, which has really helped me get through my voice changing and take my singing skills to the next level. The rest of my professional training has been in the past three years in Los Angeles, where I’ve studied On-Camera Techniques, Audition skills, Scene Work for film and TV, Improv, and even filmmaking and editing.

I started going to L.A. three years ago when I was pursued by some talent agents after they saw my stage performances from Maryland. I’ve already had a lot of success, filming about 10 short films for festivals, and being cast for guest roles on Network shows such as The Middle, Community, and Disney’s new show Crash and Bernstein. I will be going back as soon as The Music Man closes for pilot season when new TV shows are cast and presented for regular network slots.

Before I went to L.A., I mostly performed with Musical Theater Center for about five years. Some of my favorites were Beauty and the Beast (Lumiere), Peter Pan (Michael–I got to fly!!), The Wizard of Oz (Cowardly Lion), 13 (Eddie), The Pajama Game (Prez), and Seussical (Wickersham Brother).

Why did you want to be in Bravo@KAT’s production of The Music Man, Jr.? And why did you want to play this role?

I hadn’t done a stage show in two years, since we were living for extended times in California. We planned to be back in Maryland during this past fall semester, and when I found out that Laurie was starting the BRAVO@KAT program, and that Darnell Morris was going to direct, I just HAD TO audition (and we extended our MD stay so I could be in the show!) My two favorite roles were playing Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast and The Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz. Darnell directed me in both, so I was so excited at the chance to work with him again!

Actually, at first I just assumed I might be cast as Marcellus or if there was some funny sidekick role, since that’s kind of my “thing.” But after reading the part of Harold Hill during the auditions, I thought it would be such a great opportunity to be the actual leading man, not just a principal comedic type. So I brought my best to the audition and feel I have “become” The Music Man and made it my own…..so of course, there might be some humor added to this classic role–I just can’t help myself!! 

Introduce us to Harold Hill. How are you similar to Harold, and what do you admire most about Harold?

I think that in some ways I’m similar to Harold because he is sly, swift, clever, and well-dressed….and likes the ladies! I certainly wouldn’t want to be considered a “cheating” type, so in that way, I’m different.  I admire the decision he makes at the end of the show (I won’t spoil it)!

Have you ever appeared in a production of The Music Man before? 

I’ve never been in The Music Man, but it was fun to watch a local high school put it on and see the similarities and differences from our production.

What advice and suggestions did Director Darnell Morris give you about playing your character that has helped you mold your performance?

Darnell helped me to not to just “play” the character but to “be” the character. Also, he helped me to understand “why” I was saying my lines, not just memorizing them. I’ve had to do that a lot for auditions and TV/film roles, and it’s been a real growth experience over the years to really become the character I’m portraying.

Why do you think The Music Man is still do popular 55 years after opening on Broadway? 

I think that it is a classic tale with a family-friendly story and it’s always heartwarming to see the main characters fall in love. That will be a first for me on stage in front of hundreds of people. For that reason alone, everyone should come see it!

Zachary Conneen as Harold Hill in 'The Music Man, Jr.' Photo by Erica Land.
Zachary Conneen as Harold Hill in ‘The Music Man, Jr.’ Photo by Erica Land.

What has been the most fun for you while rehearsing the show?

Since I hadn’t been onstage for two years in Maryland, this was a whole new group of kids to meet and work with. It’s been so fun getting to know new people, as well as working with a few buddies I already knew! Working with Laurie and Darnell again was like riding a bike….and it was so nice to work with Bridgette, the music director, for the first time.  An extra special part that will be fun is that my 5 year-old sister will have her debut on stage as a River City Band kid. Since we’re so far apart in age, I didn’t think we’d ever get to be on stage together. I can’t wait to share the stage with her….but she might try to upstage me!

Why do you think young theatregoers will enjoy coming to see The Music Man, Jr.?

It’s really for all ages, an easy to follow storyline, catchy tunes, cool costumes, and fun choreography. Kids watching other kids up on stage is also important to give them confidence in case they might think about being in a show one day. That’s how I started. I saw Annie, with Laurie as the producer, in first grade. By second grade, I was up on stage in my first show! I had to wait until I was allowed to audition and was really very shy at that time (can you believe it?). I think performing on stage encouraged me to come of my shell and become the “ham” I am now!! If I never saw that first show, who knows what I’d be doing in life right now…..wow!

What’s next for you on the stage? 

Since I’m returning to L.A. the day after The Music Man closes, I don’t know what stage show I might be in next, or anything for that matter! We live a very exciting life right now, both on the East and West Coasts, and are open to all the adventures this wonderful business has to offer. I do know that the next episode of Crash and Bernstein that I already taped will be airing on March 4, 2013 on Disney XD. I’ve been called in a few times for the role of “The Slapper,” and I hope to be called in again once I’m in L.A. on a more regular basis.  Hope you all can catch an episode and I’ll let Joel know if I land any other roles to report about. It’s pretty cool to show other kids that you can be a local kid from Montgomery County and you can either go across the country to pursue your dreams or just stay right here in town and do the same. Either way, it’s an amazing experience and I really love entertaining people!

bravo-music-man

The Music Man Jr. plays at Olney Theatre Center’s Historic Stage – 2001 Olney Sandy Spring Road, in Olney, MD on Saturday, January 19, 2013 at 1:00, 4:00, and 7:30 pm, and on Sunday, January 20, 2013 at 1:00, 4:00, and 7:30 pm. Purchase tickets online for $18.00, or at the door for $20.00.

LINKS
Bravo@KAT, Theatre for Young Artists Presents The Music Man Jr. by Laurie Levy Issembert.

Our Marians: Josie Weinberg & Tobi Baisburd of Bravo@KAT’s The Music Man Jr. by Joel Markowitz.

Jacob Land on Playing Harold Hill in The Music Man Jr. at Bravo@KAT by Joel Markowitz.

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Joel Markowitz
Joel Markowitz is the Publisher and Editor of DCMetroTheaterArts. He founded the site with his brother Bruce to help promote the vast riches of theatre and the arts in the DC Metro area that includes Maryland, Virginia, and DC theater and music venues, universities, schools, Children's theaters, professional, and community theatres. Joel is an advocate for promoting the 'stars of the future' in his popular 'Scene Stealers' articles. He wrote a column for 5 years called ‘Theatre Schmooze’ and recorded podcast interviews for DC Theatre Scene. His work can also be seen and read on BroadwayStars. Joel also wrote a monthly preview of what was about to open in DC area theatres for BroadwayWorld. He is an avid film and theater goer, and a suffering Buffalo Bills and Sabres fan. Joel was a regular guest on 'The Lunch and Judy Show' radio program starring Judy Stadt in NYC. Joel founded The Ushers Theatre Going Group in the DC area in 1990, which had a 25-year run when it took its final curtain call last year. Joel is a proud member of The American Critics Association.