In Part Three of a series of interviews with the cast of Sterling Playmakers’ OLIVER! meet Ella Levri.
Joel: Please tell our readers where they may have seen you appear on our local stages and roles you have played.
Ella: My name is Ella Levri. OLIVER! is my third musical. In the fall of 2015, I was in the children’s ensemble of Main Street Theater’s Fiddler on the Roof and in the spring of 2016, I was in the children’s ensemble of The Pickwick Players My Fair Lady. You also may have seen me preforming with Studio Bleu Dance Center’s Vocal Arts. I’m a member of their vocal groups, Clefhangers and Treblemakers, lead by Tina Smothers. We have performed many fun places like The Empire State Building, The Cure Fest Candle Light Vigil, The National Christmas Tree, and Hershey Park.
Why did you want to appear in The Sterling Playmakers’ OLIVER!? Have you ever appeared in a production of OLIVER!? And if so-how is this production different and similar?
The number one reason I auditioned for OLIVER! is that I love music and singing. I am always looking for opportunities to learn more and get better. OLIVER! has so many talented actors and musicians that I have been able to learn a great deal.
Who are you playing and how do you relate to your character? Have you brought any personal experiences to your performance?
I am playing Oliver. You wouldn’t think I have much in common with him since he is a boy and does not have a loving family or home like I do, but I think everyone can relate to Oliver because he is searching for a place to fit in, be loved, and feel like he belongs. On some level I think everyone is searching for that!
I am about to start middle school and although it is a very exciting new phase of my life, I do feel a little like Oliver. I will be in be in a new school, with new students, and new teachers and will be searching for a place to fit in, be loved, and feel like I belong.
How have Directors Ashley Kinney and Kim VanArtesdalen helped you to mold your performance? What challenges have you had preparing for your role and how did your director help you with these challenges?
Since I have never had a lead role in a community theater production, I really relied on Ashley and Kim for guidance! I have grown so much as an actor because of these two amazing directors! They taught me things like cheating out, moving with a purpose, and how to relate to the character.
My biggest challenge has been to stay in the mindset of Oliver throughout the play. I’ve had to change my thinking from “I say this line then Dodger says this line and then Nancy says…” to “I AM Oliver and I want to meet Dodger because I think we could be friends.”
What do we learn about your character when you are singing your solo?
From Oliver’s solo “Where is Love” we learn that Oliver just wants to find a place where he is loved and where people will treat him right. I think this is why he so easily joins Fagin and his pick pockets, because they show Oliver a love and kindness that he has never received in his entire life.
What have you learned about yourself as an actor during this process?
Since Oliver is a boy, I have the extra challenge of convincing the audience that I am a boy. I had to learn how to walk like a boy, sing like a boy, and talk like a boy. This experience has taught me that I am up for any challenge and not to shy away from a character just because it seems like I can’t relate to them on the surface.
How have Music Director Colin Taylor, Vocal Director Wyndy Fredrick, and Choreographer Sarah Hardy helped you during rehearsals?
I have absolutely loved working with all three of these directors! During the performance I rely on Colin Taylor to keep me in sync with the orchestra. He always gives me a thumbs up or a smile when I am doing well, this really boosts my confidence and makes my performance better. Wyndy Fredrick has been helping to shape my vocal performances since the first day of practice. She is extremely talented musically and I have learned a lot about rhythm and stage presence from her. Sarah Hardy’s choreography is so fun! My favorite dance that she choreographed is “Consider Yourself.” Sarah worked hard with Dodger, Ryan Phillips, and I to make sure the scene shows Oliver’s transition into trusting Dodger.
Why do you think OLIVER! is still so popular so many decades after it opened?
I think most people love a rags-to riches story! Also the music in OLIVER! is timeless! I mean who hasn’t heard of “Consider Yourself” or “I’d Do Anything?”
What has your Sterling Playmakers experience been like?
One word sums it up: AWESOME! I’ve never met so many talented, kind, organized, and just awesome people!
What do you want audiences to take with them after seeing you perform in OLIVER!?
I hope everyone leaves OLIVER! saying, “WOW! That was a GREAT show!” So many talented people have worked so hard to make the show amazing: I know they will be talking about the costumes, the set, the acting, and especially the music for days to come! You don’t want to miss this show! Come see OLIVER!
Oliver! plays at The Sterling Playmakers performing at The Theatre at Potomac Falls High School – 46400 Algonkian Parkway, in Potomac Falls, Virginia. For tickets,buy them at the door, or purchase them online.
Meet the Cast of Sterling Playmakers’ ‘OLIVER!’ Part 1: Mike Baker.
Meet the Cast of Sterling Playmakers’ ‘OLIVER!’ Part 2: Madeline Curtis.
Meet the Cast of Sterling Playmakers’ ‘OLIVER!’ Part 3: Ella Levri.