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More than just a sweet little southern girl

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Q & A with junior Amara Clough on acting as a love interest in the winter musical.

Tori Swart

Tori Swart

Junior Amara Clough (far left) introduces herself with the other Jet girls in the musical number “Jet Set” in Catch Me If You Can.

Amidst the disguises, forgery and police chases in the winter musical Catch Me If You Can, lies a love story. Frank Abagnale, played by senior Paul Philips, falls for the only “normal” nurse within the hospital, Brenda Strong.

Strong is played by junior Amara Clough. We asked Clough about her experience with the character and being a part of the show.

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Q: How has preparing for this show been different from your performance in the 2014 summer show The Secret Garden?

A: Catch Me is harder for me because I connected to my character and the story in Secret Garden. My dad’s English, so the accent wasn’t something I had to worry about, and the setting was Yorkshire. I love Yorkshire and I’ve been there before, so I brought previous memories to my performance.

I would not say that I am completely the sweet southern girl, but I can be sweet and I can see some of the humanity in [Strong]. She does many things different than I would…it’s a little bit of a challenge.”

— Clough

Strong is different because she’s in her mid-20s. Acting as a child is a lot easier to portray than something you haven’t experienced yet. It’s a lot harder to find the motivation that you need to do the show when a show is something that you don’t connect to as much.

Q: How did you prepare for this role?

A: After reading through the show and getting an idea of the character, I watched the film and decided what I wanted to do with the role. I would get inspiration from random things, like pictures or media that I thought, “I could play off of that character a little bit.”

Q: What similarities or differences do you see between yourself and Brenda?

A: I would not say that I am completely the sweet southern girl, but I can be sweet and I can see some of the humanity in her. She does many things different than I would, though. It’s a little bit of a challenge, because I’m not used to playing this sort of character.

Q: What is it like having a larger role within this production?

A: There’s definitely a lot more pressure in playing a bigger role. When you’re in the ensemble, your cast is depending on you, but you have a community of people who are doing the same thing as you. If you need help, you can ask.

When you’re in a bigger role and you’re the only one in a scene, it’s a lot harder to find someone to back you up. So I feel personally a lot more responsible. I know that if I don’t do well, then it’s not going to happen.

Q: How have you been working on your song “Fly, Fly Away”?

A: I have a voice teacher, so I’ve been working on my song with him by myself. It’s something that I don’t want to keep pushing and pushing. I want to be able to perform the song, not be robotic about it and live in the moment. I want to make it believable.

The choreography is a lot of the story….it says a lot about the era the show is in. I love Goodlett’s choreography because it’s specific enough that we all look in unison, but it’s vague enough that you can put your own personality in it.”

— Clough

Q: What has it been like working with the cast?

A: The cast is great. I haven’t seen any serious problems with our class. There’s this stereotype that theater kids are overly dramatic. By not having that as an obstacle in the cast, I’m able to connect to the show more and have more fun doing it.

Q: What was it like when you first saw the set?

A: When we left for winter break, there wasn’t any set on stage, but when I came in on the first day back, it was built and completely done. That’s incredible. I love how now we have the opportunity to consider the set as we move and act.

Actors have also been able to help design the show too, like with how we were able to design the posters that will go on the walls. That’s exciting because you feel like your put more into the show than just going onstage.

Q: What has it been like working with choreographer Jay Goodlett?

A: Goodlett is excellent. He’s so unique because he can joke with us. For example, all of the girls were given Starbucks nicknames, and then he randomly changes them during rehearsals. It’s so funny, and it makes rehearsal so much more fun when he’s joking around with us instead of just being a teacher. It’s nice when you can be on the same level as adults.

Q: How important is the choreography to the show?

A: The choreography is a lot of the story. I don’t think a lot of people realize it until they see the show, but it says a lot about the era the show is in. I love Goodlett’s choreography because it’s specific enough that we all look in unison, but it’s vague enough that you can put your own personality in it.

Q: What are you looking forward to when you perform?

A: “Fly, Fly Away” is the first song that I’ve ever had where I’m the only one on stage. That’s going to be a new experience. I’m excited to see how the audience reacts to it, because it’s a different kind of show than what we normally do as Aves Theatre.

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Catch Me If You Can will be performed January 29-31 at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $10.

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