Semester I Special: Claire McEwen performs with energy, enthusiasm


Freshman Claire McEwen sings “Valerie” as freshman Sophie Pels looks on. The two were among the performers in Freshman Cabaret, which went up Thursday, Dec. 13 through Friday, Dec. 14 in the auditorium.

The Newtonite

[media-credit id=25 align=”alignleft” width=”187″] Freshman Claire McEwen sings “Valerie” as freshman Sophie Pels looks on. The two were among the performers in Freshman Cabaret, which went up Thursday, Dec. 13 through Friday, Dec. 14 in the auditorium.
by Perrin Stein
Three years ago as an ensemble member of “Guys and Dolls,” freshman Claire McEwen said she discovered her love of acting and singing through the excitement, enthusiasm and passion of the seventh and eighth graders in the show.
“I saw how much fun the older students were having, and it inspired me to want to do theatre,” she said.
Last month, McEwen took her hobby of acting and singing to a new level by performing in Freshman Cabaret, this school’s all-inclusive freshman-only show.
In the variety show, “True Colors,” which went up Thursday, Dec. 13 through Friday, Dec. 14 in the auditorium, McEwen sang solos in “True Colors” by Cyndi Lauper and “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse.
In addition, she performed in “Getting Business Done,” a skit by acting director sophomore Elena Rodriguez.
“It’s always so much fun to go from not knowing the songs and skits at all to being able to perform them,” McEwen said.
From rehearsals to the two performances, McEwen said she loved being a part of Freshman Cabaret.
“It was a great introduction into Theatre Ink, which is a very different experience from the acting I did at Bigelow,” she said. “Theatre Ink is more stressful than Bigelow Theatre because there are so many talented and experienced people.”
Specifically, in “True Colors,” McEwen was a member of the ensemble, whereas in her last show at Bigelow, she was the baker’s wife in “Into the Woods.”
This musical is filled with fairy tale characters who interact with the baker and his wife. McEwan said “Into the Woods” is her favorite show because she enjoys the juxtaposition of the realistic and magical characters. “It was great to be such a main role in my favorite show,” she said.
McEwen said performing as the baker’s wife was difficult particularly because she had to act and sing at the same time. “I received a lot of help from the director, who was lovely,” she said. “Before we went over a scene, he always asked me: ‘Who are you, who are you talking to and what is your motivation?’ These questions really helped me get into character.”
Incidentally, McEwen used these guiding questions for her Freshman Cabaret audition.
When preparing for her audition, she said she first learned the notes to the song “Times Like These” from the musical “Lucky Stiff.”
Then, “I thought through the three questions, deciding how the person singing would answer them,” she said. “Finally, I decided how to reflect the character’s personality through physical choices.”
According to Rodriguez, a director of “True Colors” with sophomores Ashley Campbell, Liv Berlin and Leah Moskowitz, “Claire’s friendly energy creates a warm environment in which everyone in the show can learn.”
In addition, “Claire was able to contribute not only her talent as an actress but a great energy to anything she was a part of,” she said. “She was able to take risks on stage, which is something that is difficult for a lot of young actors to master.”
Similarly, Campbell said, “She is so talented, and I was so glad to be able to work with her. She worked really hard in every number she was a part of. She had a lot to bring to the table, including her beautiful voice and personality.”
As a result of the hard work McEwen put in during rehearsal, Campbell said, “throughout the process she grew in confidence. I could really see that from the beginning to the end.
“When it came to the final performances she was so energetic on stage. I was really proud of what she accomplished.
In addition to performing in school productions every summer, McEwen takes her love of acting to Shakespeare & Company, an acting day camp in Lennox, where kids spend two weeks preparing and performing selected scenes and monologues from Shakespeare plays.
Last summer, McEwen was a member of a performance of various sections of “Richard III.”
“Performing at Shakespeare & Company is really fun,” she said. “I get more acting experience, and I always meet lots of great people who are also passionate about acting.”
In an effort to take her acting experience further, McEwen plans to perform as an ensemble member in “How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying.” Steve Borowka will direct the musical, which goes up Thursday, March 14 through Sunday, March 17 in the auditorium.
The show is about a young, ambitious man, J. Pierrepont Finch, who reads the book How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and rises from window washer to chairman of the board of a large, international company.
In addition, McEwen plans to try out for “Blood Relations,” directed by seniors Anna Nemetz and Sam Raby, in February.
“Honestly, I am trying to audition for everything,” she said. “Theatre Ink is a great place and I love acting, so I truly want to get involved.”