Natick High School sophomore Sara Cuozzo will be playing Ursula, the main antagonist, in Wellesley Theatre Project's presentation of the musical The Little Mermaid, Jr., that will be performed this weekend.
Natick Patch recently asked the 15-year-old some questions about this production and her overall performing career.
Natick Patch: This is the first time you’ve done a performance with the Wellesley Theatre Project, but what is your acting/performing background? What other plays have you been in?
Sara Cuozzo: I started doing little summer shows at TCAN when I was about 5 or 6, but I did my first “big” musical when I was 8, called “Suddenly on Christmas Eve.” The director of that production is actually my current vocal coach. I did all the shows at Wilson Middle School during my time there, and I was cast as my first lead, Annie (in Annie Jr.) in sixth grade. I also participated in five Natick Drama Workshop productions in middle school. Last summer, I performed in Les Misérables with Weston Drama Workshop. Ursula is my first lead role in high school, and I’m honored to be able to portray this character.
NP: What was your reaction when you first found out that you had received the part of Ursula, one of the leading roles?
SC: My mom called me and when I answered she said “Hello Ursula.” I think I screamed, but then I thought she was joking, so I went over to the computer to check. When I saw my name next to “Ursula”, I was elated! I knew right away that it would be a difficult role, but I was up to the challenge.
NP: How do you like playing the “bad guy” in the play? Is it challenging?
SC: This is actually the first time I’ve ever been cast as a “bad guy”! Previously, I’d only been cast as the “good” character, such as Annie, Cinderella and Mrs. Bucket. It is a challenge because I really have to dig into my inner evil and make sure I’m not being too nice!
NP: The cast of the Little Mermaid, Jr., is made up of a wide range of ages. As one of the high school actresses in the production, many of the younger kids probably look up to you. What’s it like to have a group of younger kids look up to you?
SC: It’s really amazing because when I think back to my first musical, I remember looking up to the older girls and wanting to be just like them. Now I’m the older girl! The younger kids are always asking me questions about what its like to be Ursula. I try my best to set a good example for the younger kids because I want them to learn and experience the joy that can come from doing live theater. Last rehearsal, a really sweet girl gave me a great picture of Ursula she found in a magazine, and it is now taped on my wall for inspiration!
NP: Putting together a production like this must take a lot of time. How have you been able to balance rehearsals with school and everything else that’s part of being a normal teenager?
SC: One of the main reasons I originally signed up for this show was that rehearsals are not as frequent as other theater companies in the area. I’m also a competitive figure skater, so WTP was the best option for me to keep skating on the same schedule. This might sound crazy, but I also take all honors classes, so I try to make the most of my study blocks in school, and get all my work done ahead of time. I do have to put most things on hold for tech week, because being Ursula is my main priority then.
NP: The Little Mermaid, Jr., debuts Friday night [tonight]. What are your thoughts/feelings as opening night approaches?
SC: Wow, it seems like rehearsals went by so fast! I’m feeling really positive about this weekend, but there’s also a part of me that is nervous about how things will turn out. I’m really excited for people to see the show, because everybody put so much work into it! Now I just have to mentally prepare myself and get into character for Friday!
NP: Lastly, do you know where we’ll be seeing you perform next after the Little Mermaid, Jr. is over?
SC: I’ll be doing “Rent” this summer with WTP!
The Little Mermaid, Jr., will be performed at Babson College's The Sorenson Center, located at 231 Forest St. in Wellesley. It will be performed tonight and tomorrow night at 7 p.m., and there will be a matinee on Sunday at 2 p.m. For more information on tickets, click here.