BY CARY GINELL
For their current touring production of Camelot, which plays this weekend at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, Theater League, in conjunction with Phoenix Entertainment, continues the show’s tradition by casting local youngsters in the role of Tom of Warwick, who appears in the final scene of the musical. In the scene, a crestfallen and defeated King Arthur is approached by a young boy who is enthusiastic and eager to do battle with the enemy. Arthur dissuades the boy from fighting and tells him to run home and tell future generations that once there was “a fleeting wisp of glory called Camelot,” where chivalry and civility trumped violence.
Two boys were selected to play the role of Tom of Warwick, alternating during the four performances this weekend. Logan Prince, 13, is a seventh grader at Medea Creek Middle School in Oak Park. Logan has already had a long list of credits in local theater, performing in school productions of Guys and Dolls (as Sky Masterson) and Seussical: The Musical (as The Cat in the Hat). He has already made two appearances for Cabrillo Music Theatre, in last year’s Meet Me in St. Louis and Bye, Bye Birdie. Logan talked about his work with Cabrillo: “I’ve been in ensemble parts mostly, because there haven’t been a lot of boy parts for the shows I’ve been in. So this is actually the first time I get to speak on this stage, so it’s pretty cool!”
Logan said that the hardest part about playing his role is getting into his character. We asked Logan how he thought Tom feels when talking to Arthur in the last scene. “It kind of makes me feel sad, because in the scene right before mine, the king and his wife are breaking up. But I’m really enjoying the experience of performing in the show.”
Gannon Hays, 11, is a sixth grade student at Mesa Verde Middle School in Moorpark. Gannon has been performing since the fourth grade, when he attended Walnut Canyon Elementary, a magnet school for the performing arts. Most recently, he appeared as Young Shrek/Grumpy Dwarf in Conejo Players’ production of Shrek, and has also performed in Conejo Players’ Mulan, Jr. (as Chi Fu), and in two shows at the High Street Theatre in Moorpark: Peter Pan, Jr. (as John) and Fiddler on the Roof (as Motel). For Gannon, his appearance in Camelot is his first at the Civic Arts Plaza. “It’s a lot bigger than I’m used to,” Gannon said candidly, “but I kinda like bigger. It feels very open.” When asked if the size of the theater and its large audience might intimidate him, Gannon replied, “I have always been a little more comfortable with bigger audiences, because with smaller audiences, you can see each individual face and see what they’re thinking and I’d go ‘oh, oh, is that bad?’ but here, it’s easier because there are so many people, you can’t do that.”
Like Logan, Gannon aspires to be an actor some day, but recognizes the odds against making it in the business. “There’s always a backup plan,” he said, as his mother Kelli nodded in agreement. “I’d like to work in computers, if the acting thing doesn’t work out. But I find this absolutely amazing and I’d love to make a career out of it.”
As for their favorite musicals that they’d like to perform in, Gannon likes Dogfight and Sideshow while Logan favors Grease.
On Thursday night, it was Gannon’s turn to play Tom of Warwick. He rehearsed his scene on stage with star Adam Grabau, who plays King Arthur, making sure to remove his glasses for the part and hit all his marks. He sat with his mother in the audience during Act I and then proceeded back stage after intermission to get into costume and get ready for his big scene. Of course, he performed his part flawlessly and received a rousing ovation from the audience during the bows. Another Ventura County star is born.