Jacob Hemsath and Ryan Michael Friedman are on the Casa Mañana stage, now through Sunday, in a show with an important message. Oliver, played by Jacob and Frank-N-Friend, played by Ryan help draw out the best in school bully, Butch. They joined me to discuss their roles in the show, and why this world premiere is so important.
Is this your first children’s show? If so, what are you excited for? If not, what other TYA shows have you been in?
Jacob: “I’ve done one other TYA (Theatre for Young Audiences) show in the past, but this is the longest running TYA show I’ve done, as well as my first show at Casa Mañana. I’m so excited to be at the Dome!”
Ryan: “I’ve been involved in many TYA shows including, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Tuck Everlasting.”
Tell us a little bit about your characters.
Jacob: “Oliver is a young genius. I think of him as a Jimmy Neutron, Dexter’s Lab, Sheldon Cooper type character. I love the complexity written for Oliver in this show. He not only just shows his ‘awkward nerdy’ side, but also his deeper [side] when it comes to his family, bullies and passion for his friends. I think he really grows throughout the show to create emotional and social depth that become as strong as his academic side.”
Ryan: “Frank is the children’s creation [who] helps defend them from the bully, Butch. Instead [he] finds another way to bring everyone together.”
What are some of the major themes you’ve noticed in this show?
Jacob: “Humanization. It shows every character’s best and worst qualities. When we see the best and worst in others, we can see that we are all human and need to have the compassion to [lift] others up when they need a helping hand.”
In your opinion, what is the most important trait to have in a friend?
Ryan: “Friendship should include many traits and qualities, one of them [being] honesty.”
In your opinion, what is the moral of this story?
Jacob: “The moral of the show is perfectly described in the lyrics, “no better than a bully.” No matter who rubs you the wrong way, being mean doesn’t make you any better. Showing love and compassion to everyone not only may help you but can bring changes of the heart to other people in your life.”
Ryan: “From my character’s point of view, the biggest lesson is recognizing that the differences within all of us are the best part of us.”
What traits do you see in your character that are ones of a good friend?
Ryan: “All the good qualities! Loyalty, kindness, love and sincerity.”
What advice do you have for children/students who are struggling with friendship?
Jacob: “My best advice is to be a friend and [be] kind to everyone. Sometimes it feels like it won’t pay off because some people might still be mean, but as you grow older it will help the right people come into your life.”
Ryan: “As a young student, I also struggled making friends because I was so shy and quiet. My advice would be to put yourself out there and not be afraid to talk to other students.”
How can you be a better friend?
Ryan: “Always be supportive and [have] positive energy around your friends.”
How has working in theatre developed your friendships?
Jacob: “Theatre friendships are definitely some of the best friendships. When we are all working towards something similar [with] competitive goals, you learn to encourage each other through the process.”
Ryan: “Having a common passion has been a major drive in all of my friendships. Especially in the theatre community, you are quick to develop very special relationships.”
Don’t miss your chance to see Jacob and Ryan on stage, through Sunday! You can find tickets here: http://bit.ly/2ZLDoIg.